Stranded In Stereo: May 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pollard Chirps With One Release, Takes Over With Another

In the canon that is the voluptuous catalog of Robert Pollard, there are songs after songs that the man churns out every morning. As he awakes with the sunrise, he sits next to his boiled pot of coffee, grabs his guitar and notebook before setting up the boombox, and hitting the record button. In 1999, well in to the career of his main project, Guided By Voices, Pollard erected his own imprint, The Fading Captain Series. For the next seven years, Pollard used it as a creative outlet, showcasing his solo output and many side projects which mainly were configurations of line-up's made up of GBV members past and present, instead they were under a different moniker. The Howling Wolf Orchestra featured Bob's brother Jimmy and guitarist Nate Farley, while the still going Circus Devils was Bob collaborating with producer Todd Tobias and his brother, ex-GBV bassist Tim.

After 43 albums, EP's, singles, and rare 7" what have yous, Pollard closed down the FCS , but not without immortalizing. On the two-disc retrospective, cleverly titled
Crickets, Pollard goes through the FCS discography over 50 songs. Fans of Bob (myself included, obviously,) were so thrilled by this release that the majority of them did not want to see the tracklisting until they purchase it, giving the uer that feeling one used to get in the days before file sharing. But for those who put their life savings in to owning #1 (Robert Pollard-Kid Marine) through #43 (Psycho & The Birds-Check Your Zoo EP,) Pollard has included six bonus tracks, previously unreleased and exclusive to the comp. What, like I'll give those away, either.

What I will give away is the follow-up to one of the greatest FCS releases. The Takeovers (Pollard and last GBV bassist Chris Slusnarenko) are issuing their second album,
Bad Football, on June 12. Featuring another dozen collabs from the Northwest to Dayton, Slusher was able to coerce such famous friends as Stephen Malkmus and Jon Moen of The Decemberists to collaborate with them on the follow up to last year's Turn To Red (greatest FCS release, ever?) Since the FCS has closed for business, though, Slusher is putting it out through his own Portland-based Off Records.

Download: The Takeovers - "My Will" [mp3] /// [Buy Here]
Buy: Crickets [Here]

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

SIS at the Club : The Rosebuds

I often find a hard to believe that bands just get better and better and better; I always tend to believe that bands hit an apex, hold there for a few years, and then either hold on to that apex for their careers, or hit a steady decline. One band that just keeps surprising me with every album and live set is The Rosebuds. For my Memorial Day weekend, rather than hit up the first huge festival of the year, I stayed in Bean Town and saw Ivan and Kelly rock it out for the (record) fifth time. But this time, it was a totally different game when supporting Night Of The Furies. After seeing them as a trio for the last 3 years, this was the first show I took in with The Rosebuds as a five-piece, augmented by Portastatic drummer Matt McCaughn, bassist (and one time Rosebuds touring drummer) Giorgio Angelini and guitarist and super-percussionist Justin (last name to be inserted here later. Can't think of it for the life of me!)

With the expansion in the line-up, the band becomes a monster like never before. Though he was confined to a chair due to a knee injury which may or may not have been caused from reprising his role as a NCAA college superstar, Ivan Howard still entertained the crowd with his southern charm and sprawling about his guitar neck with mulitple percussion instruments. New numbers like "Hold On To This Coat" and "Furies" the song were performed with a more raw and rocked approach as if someone's nerves had been severed and it was before that state of shock set in. The older songs never sounded tighter with "Waiting For The Carnival" being performed better than ever before.

The true highlight of the evening was after the chaos of "Furies," when Kelly and Ivan did a slowed up version of "Wildcat" before Kelly helped Ivan down to the front of the room where I stood and they did their campfire rendition of "Shake Our Tree," with everyone singing along and clapping hands. They then wrapped it up with "I'd Better Run," featuring Kelly on a Barbie toy piano, easily the best song on Furies. More high fives were passed around, as Kelly made mention to me (something along the lines of) how whenever I'm at their shows, I'm up in the front and sing along to all the songs. I'm just a fan. Note to Kelly - sing more songs on the next album as well. You've got a voice.

The Rosebuds Set List:
Silja Line / Hold On to This Coat / Cemetery Lawn / Hold Hands And Fight / Back To Boston / I'd Feel Better / Silence By The Lakeside / Blue Bird / When The Lights Went Dim / Leaves Do Fall / Kicks In The Schoolyard / Get Up Get Out / Waiting For The Carnival / Boxcar / Night Of The Furies // Wildcat / Shake Our Tree / I'd Better Run

Download: "I'd Better Run" [mp3] /// [Buy Here]

Thursday, May 24, 2007

My Formative Years: "Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness" by The Smashing Pumpkins, 1995

I try to stay away from all the major news hype that's on every spoon and fork website out there, but I can't ignore the return of one of the more important band's of my adolescence, The Smashing Pumpkins. The band (er, half of them plus 3 new people,) returned to the stage for the first time since 2000 playing to a sold out crowd in Paris. Playing 29 songs spanning their entire career over three hours, Billy Corgan lead the group (featuring original drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, and long-rumored newcomers Ginger Reyes on bass, guitarist Jeff Schroeder and keyboardist Lisa Harriton) through fan favorites and new tracks from the upcoming Zeitgeist, now due on July 10th as opposed to the ominously awesome July 7th. While testing out new material (first single "Tarantula," album opener "Doomsday Clock") they of course had to oblige their alt-rock standards of yesteryear ("1979," "Today," "Bullet With Butterfly Wings.")

Back in October of 1995, I was 11 years old when (in chronological order) the third most important album of my youth was released (I only say in chronological order because I could never sit and try and take all the albums and rank them. That's just not fair. But I digress.) Do we even need to mention the title that is as epic as the record? (OK, it's
Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness.) So, as I was saying. I was in 6th grade, MTV was still doing the video thing, and Allison Stewart told me about the new Smashing Pumpkins video "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" that they were showing ever other damn hour the day it premiered. If you didn't like the song, by the time you saw the video a handful of times you were floored and were ready. You couldn't escape the apocalyptic drums of Chamberl
in, and the dare I say gargantuan guitar riffs from Billy? I heard them perform "Zero" on a MTV Rockumentary and was ready to hear this album that was as epic as those two songs. You've got two discs (Dawn to Dusk and Twilight to Starlight) that tell a story but don't. You've got songs of all range, trying out different tricks at every corner. Instead of 28 songs that were punch after punch to the jugular, those punches were interspersed with light blows. The title track that opens the album uses piano as the solo, the strings being the choir. "Tonight, Tonight" took it up a step to an anthemic floor, but it wasn't until "Jellybelly" that we had those monster riffs come abound.

Disc two of the album is probably one of the most diverse collection of recordings. Towards the end, after the onslaught and chaos of "X.Y.U.," you get wisked away by (the worst song, ever) "We Only Come Out At Night" that just reminds me of fairies floating around or something. But then beautiful laments like "Lily (My One And Only)" lead to the amazing finale, "Farewell And Goodnight," the only song that features all four members lending their vocal talent. And we can't look over the amazing final single from the album ("Thirty-Three") or the Doom sample ("Tales Of A Scorched Earth.") With the exception of "Come Out," I'd say that disc is flawless.

The main debate I find having with people sometimes is which disc is better? For me, without hesitation, is the second. "Where Boys Fear To Tread" is the perfect place to just pick up if you're listening to both discs back to back, with its chug-chug guitars and "oo-ooh" harmonies. "X.Y.U." tries to be the new "Silverfuck," but it's not and it's much better (best song on the whole album. Or should that honor go to one of the other 15 tracks that I would hand the title to?) I've even had people try and tell me they've made an ever better Mellon Collie by making their own sequence and trimming it down to one disc. But what do you cut? "Porcelina," no. "Ruby" you can't, nor "X.Y.U." It's definitely a challenge I propose to anyone reading this.

The Smashing Pumpkins, then:

The Smashing Pumpkins, now:

Buy: Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness [Here]

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Stranded Local Q&A: The Channels

For me, good indie pop is like a cold beer after a long day at work – instantly relaxing yet refreshing enough to give me the kick I need to keep awake long enough to make it from the bar back to my apartment. But the Channels are better than just a good indie pop band (they are the next level up from my usual Miller High Life: think Harpoon IPA). Especially fantastic is their song “The Moon” off their debut self-titled album.

The Channels formed approximately three years ago in Falmouth, MA after recording a few demos for a band called The Fine Brothers.

“We were recording for several days, first in Vermont then on the Cape, and at some point we got tired of the serious material that we’d been doing so we penned a quick ‘60’s tune called “Baby, You Make My Heart Sing” and recorded it in what seemed like a few minutes,” says guitarist/keyboardist Ben Svenson. “It was a lot of fun, and it sparked the creation of a band called the O-Rings which eventually morphed into The Channels when we discovered, after being booed and hissed at CBGBs, that it was an O-Ring malfunction that downed the Challenger.”

Read on to see Svenson answer the same five question SIS always asks.

Hailing from Boston, makes us better than all those non-Boston bands because

We namedrop the Red Sox a lot.

Name at least three bands that are still around and touring that you’d love to be on a bill with, and think it fits well

RaRaRiot, The Light, Deathbanjo

Your favorite Boston venue to perform in is
Tewksbury Methodist Church

Are there any genres that influence your music conceptually, rather than sonically? (In that you can’t hear from simply listening to the music, but from getting into the structure or mathematics of the song-writing, etc.)

No, although I do feel that, conceptually, our mathematical structuring of the material is subtly, perhaps imperceptibly, one extended tribute to Tears for Fears.

Your favorite local bar to hit up when not doing the whole band deal is

The Cellar


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New Release Tuesday

It's been a long time coming, but Voxtrot are finally dropping their self-titled debut this week. I remember one of their EP's being on in the background of an internship last summer and I was truly digging it, so when I finally got a hold of their album it sat for awhile. And then I remember, "hey, this was playing in the office last summer!" One of the standouts is the opening number, the aptly titled "Introduction." Unlike other albums that have a cut like this, it isn't just a few mere seconds of fading in noise that serves as a lead in to track two, but a real 3-minute song. The opening riffs of "Future Pt. 1" are reminiscent of The Walkmen's "Louisiana," but comes off sounding like something that could be a hit single if their cards are played right. With its intricate use of the xylophone and some strings, it's "Kid Gloves" that comes off as the best amalgamation of 80s college radio since R.E.M.

Download: "Kid Gloves" [mp3] /// [Buy Here]

For those of you who are like me and can't stand the wait for the new Wolf Parade album, can be made happy by the following. Spencer Krug's got a new Sunset Rubdown record out in October, and Dan Boeckner's side project, Handsome Furs, is dropping their debut this week. Unlike Krug's Rubdown which can be a little experimental at times, Boeckner and fiancee/other Handsome Fur Alexei Perry have a more straight-forward approach shall we call it? Standout track "Handsome Furs Hate This City" has Boeckner sounding like Beck and Nigel Godrich have a damned field day behind the boards. The drum machine loops of "Cannot, Get Started" have an eerie reminiscence of that new Rosebuds album I love so much. More than anything, like any output from anyone in or related to Wolf Parade, it's just another original effort that one can enjoy and not waste time comparing to their full-time gigs.

Download: "Handsome Furs Hate This City " [mp3] /// [Buy Here]

Also out today that's notable and previously blogged about:
The National -
Boxer /// [Buy Here]
Wheat - Every Day I Said A Prayer For Kathy And Made A One Inch Square /// [Buy Here]

Friday, May 18, 2007

MD Of The Week: Chris from KWAR

Admittedly, I don't know much about Iowa. It's one of the 14 states that I haven't been to, and isn't it all grasslands and Republicans? That might be, but there is something a little extra special going on in the little town of Waverly. Chris Lambertz has been running the music department over at KWAR for quite awhile now, and although he is moving on to GM, things looks as though they will continue to rock. We had a few parting words with Chris the other day.

1. How and/or why did you get involved with college radio?
On move-in day I saw a booth in our involvement tent that had a ton of cds and stickers, so I went to check it out. Someone asked me what type of music I liked, and they said that they had a radio show just like that and wanted someone new on it, so I signed up. I have been involved ever since.

2. Name five bands you are currently in to at the moment
Amsterband – Ozark indie rock
Lamb of God
Fair To Midland
Of Montreal

3. What kind of show do you do? When is it on? How can people listen to your show (do you stream online, frequency, etc.?)
I typically do my metal show once a week. I am on and off again on a morning talk show - La Manana on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 7-9 am. I also try to squeeze in my New Music show once a week to bring out all the new sweet music that is being sent to us.

People can listen at 89.1 FM, soon to switch to 89.9 (power boost late May - early June) or at We also broadcast on our television campus television channel when there is not a show programmed. That channel reaches the entire Cedar Valley on the cable channel.

4. How does your station help the community?
We offer free advertising to community events. We also promote businesses during events, if they help sponsor. We also bring local/national news updates 6 times a day as well as a weekly news show.

5. Can you give some advice to other MD's out there?
Keep your contacts close. Stay on their good side because they are the key to everything. If you can’t keep up with the work load, ask for help because being an MD is a very demanding job, but it is so rewarding.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Electrelane Slays, Feist Sings on a Motorway

Recently blogged about faves of mine, Electrelane, roared their way through their set last night at The Paradise. They played a handful of tunes from the amazing No Shouts, No Calls, but won me over with their opening tune, "Bells," off of 2005's Axes (which was tracked at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio studios in Chicago.) Guitarist Mia Clarke, what a hottie. Dressed in a t-shirt that read 'Moments Like These Never Last' and tight jeans and heels, she wailed like Kim Gordon and scraped her guitar along her amp on many occasions, the best moment being possibly Shout's bombastic "Between The Wolf And The Dog." The encore was even more interesting, as lead singer Verity Susman led the girls through a rousing version of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire" from behind her keyboards. What a good show. 9.7/10.

Download: "Bells" [mp3] /// [Buy Here]

Speaking of foxes, recently blogged about Canadian beaute Feist performed "I Feel It All" the other night on Jimmy Kimmel Live . . . on a moving bus. Go her. Watch her belt out this Reminder fave:

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My Formative Years: "High/Low" by Nada Surf, 1996

Flashback to Summer 1996: I was at my (Great) Grandmother's house, watching MTV as per usual, when at 8 in the morning, this cheerleader appears before my eyes. She stands in the hallway, talking to yet another cheerleader, before walking away and one of the most familiar guitar licks in my existence was played before me.

Cut to a man, Mr. Caws scribbled on the chalkboard, trademark black framed glasses, reading from
Penny's Teenage Guide To Dating, giving his students the rules and guidelines for dating in high school. As he continues to lecture the class, becoming more and more enthralled by the topic, he finally runs out of breath when they reach the infamous chorus. This finds Mr. Caws with pupils Lorca, Daniel and Elliot, Ira, rocking it on the football field.

Such a catchy song "Popular" was that it caught on and would eventually lump Nada Surf in to the ill-fated category of One Hit Wonder for the better part of a decade. 1998's amazing
The Proximity Effect went totally overlooked in the states (I found it was released thanks to one of those Columbia House inserts in Spin.) The story of this Brooklyn trio being dropped by a major label for failing to deliver "Popular: The Sequel" is an obvious tale that we can save for another time if you aren't smart enough to catch on. High/Low, their debut released on Elektra in July of 1996, packed the punch. Produced by Ric Ocasek, who was fresh off his producing stint with Weezer, brought the same deck of cards to Nada Surf's table. Scrupulous bass lines introduce us to "The Plan," before electric guitars squeal and cymbals crash. For the longest time, and now over a decade later, I'm still fixated on this one song and album opener "Deeper Well." They sounded nothing like "Popular," being more muddled and dirty. Other songs like "Treehouse" and "Zen Brain" are cleaner and radio friendly, while Daniel Lorca's turn at the mic on "Icebox" is the deepest of album cuts.

I've seen Nada Surf twice, and gotten the chance to spend quality time with them that involve me scribbling the nerdiest of journal entries that no one will ever read (though they are on the web somewhere.) It's just weird growing up, listening to this band you saw once on MTV, falling in love with their music because it connects with you on so many levels, and then 5 years later you run in to their dreadlocked bass player, say hi, and he drops his gear to talk to me for the better part of an hour before inviting me to join him and the rest of the band outside to talk about whatever. Like with Cake, it's funny that I was so young and listening to them, and now with the success of their later albums, Let Go and The Weight Is A Gift, that everyone is in to them. They've sort of enjoyed the best second coming I've known of, signing to Barsuk and playing by their own rules. And you know what, (ha ha,) they're more popular now than they were a decade ago.

It all started here:

Buy: High/Low [Here]

The Stranded Local Q&A: Auto Interiors

The Auto Interiors could easily take the title of Boston's king of power pop. On their latest album Let's Agree To Deceive Our Best Friends the band balances their love of classics that influened them (T. Rex, Big Star, The Small Faces) with their modern contemporaries (Brian Jonestown Massacre, New Pornographers, Sloan).

You can catch the band performing live tonight at the asement
at The Baseball Tavern in Boston.

Read on to see Auto Interiors co-founder Larry Mansdorf (guitarist) answer the same five questions Stranded In Stereo always asks:

Hailing from Boston, makes us better than all those non-Boston bands because

Boston has an incredibly competitive music scene. Playing with so many great bands forces you to constantly be at the top of your game.

Name at least three bands that are still around and touring that you’d love to be on a bill with, and think it fits well
Sloan, Cheap Trick, New Pornographers

Your favorite Boston venue to perform in is


Are there any genres that influence your music conceptually, rather than sonically? (In that you can’t hear from simply listening to the music, but from getting into the structure or mathematics of the song-writing, etc.)
Well, interesting question…There are some harmonic influences from both Jazz and Classical music. On the jazz side, the improvisational aspect is most appealing, on the classical music side, the concepts of tension, and resolution are explored in our songs.

Eric, has been deeply involved in the pre-war country blues scene (Charlie Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson etc…), and has incorporated some of the alternate tunings, and fingerpicking in our music.

Your favorite local bar to hit up when not doing the whole band deal is

The Druid


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New Release Tuesday

You can't buy it in stores for another two months, but the two John's (Flansburgh and Linnell) want you to have their new album slightly earlier. The Else, the 12th album from They Might Be Giants, is out today via the wonderful world of iTunes. It's packed full of their signature, zany, quirky, whatever you want to call it. The building opener "I'm Impressed" leads in to the funk of "Take Out The Trash." It's an album that I think of as top heavy: as the 13 songs go on , they kind of just lose their luster by the end of it. Maybe it's just because I'm a fiend for sequencing and felt it could be arranged differently? Either way, it's early in the game to break out my formal opinion on an album and filled with great tunes ("Contrecoup" and "With The Dark" are standouts) that are augmented by the production of the Dust Brothers and longtime collaborator Pat Dillett.

For those who rather just hold a copy of it so their CD collections look proper, The Else hits the shelves of stores on July 10th.

Download/Buy: The Else [Here]

Something that is more on the radar of today's release schedule is the 6th album from Chicago's famed Wilco, Sky Blue Sky. The album comes across (to me at least) as the most cohesive effort; this could be in part to the approach the band took to recording Sky. According to Jeff Tweedy, rather than him demoing the songs and presenting them to the band, this was the first time the songs were birthed by the entire band. Wilco found themselves jamming and feeling each other out to get the dozen songs. Rather than fill the album with the experimental moments found on A Ghost Is Born or the standout Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, the album gels together as one of the better AM Gold records of the 1970s. "White Light" has a down home feel with the minimal slide guitar and piano sprinkles here and there; "You Are My Face" has choral harmonies throughout that keep the song moving along. They do take a brief pause looking at the more recent output with "Impossible Germany," with a lead guitar hook that could've been anywhere on Ghost. Pitchfork apparently didn't like this record, but I think it's just fine. Wilco enthusiasts take note: a special edition of Sky comes bundled with a DVD, featuring footage of the band performing their new songs and interviews with the band as well.

Stream: Sky Blue Sky [Here] /// [Buy Here] /// [Buy Special Edition Here]

Monday, May 14, 2007

SiS at the Club: LCD Soundsystem

Ever since I relocated to Boston in January, the one show i was looking forward to finally occurred Friday night when LCD Soundsystem took command over the Avalon. There were already tons of people out there by Fenway at the Sox game, but the club was packed and the band was ready to give them what they came for.

As the band took the stage, featuring Hot Chip's Al Doyle on guitar, Margret Wang on keyboards and vocals and Pat Mahoney on the drum kit, the started belting out the opening the beats as James Murphy made his way toward center stage. Using an old style boxed microphone that almost made him look like the announcer at a boxing match, he was the ringleader. Sometimes he played the cowbell, sometimes he banged on some drums, but most importantly he kept the crowd moving for the better part of 90 minutes. He didn't say much, but the only memorable quote he had dealt with how if you're on the dancefloor, and you were dancing alone without some girl nearby ... that's not the way to do it. Their set was chocked full of the best songs on their latest album, Sound Of Silver, playing all but the title track (which is the only song I don't care for.) Live, the songs get new interpretations that sometimes work (like the what seemed to be sped up post-punk angst of "Movement," while the closer "New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" ended the evening on the extended jam) while sometimes, said interpretations don't work (the key change just doesn't seem right on "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House.") Either way, it was a night I won't forget: my neck is still sore from dancing this Monday morning, and I really don't dance much.

LCD Soundsystem Set List:
Us V Them / Daft Punk Is Playing At My House / Time To Get Away / North American Scum / All My Friends / Get Innocuous / Tribulations / Watch The Tapes / Movement / Yeah // Someone Great / No Love Lost / New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down

Opening up for LCD was Yacht, solo project from Jona Bechtolt of The Blow. Hailing from Portland, he reminded me of another Portlander: Panther. All Jona did was humor the crowd, hit play on his laptop or whatever it was I couldn't see from the side of the stage, and he sang and danced through his entire set. He jumped down and danced with the audience mid set, while also taking part in an impromptu Q&A session, even answering one of mine. (Question: How was it for Yacht to play on a Yacht? Answer: It was awesome!)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Post Hardcore Archives: The Warmers

The Warmers
, like many bands in The District, only existed for a brief time, just over three years, but they released an amazing album in 1995 that essentially heralded the "new class" in th Washington DC area. Alec MacKaye was no stranger to the scene. On top of the obvious connection [his brother, duh], MacKaye was a veteran of three bands: Ignition, the Untouchables and the absolutely amazing Faith, while Juan Luis Carrera operated Slowdime Records and drummer Amy Farina previously played in Mr. Candyeater and Moats Definitely, as well as playing with Lois Maffeo in her band.

While adhering to the standard post hardcore template, the band created songs that were wide open and minimalist. It was a step in the right direction for the scene, and it was an exciting time as a host of new bands were playing out, bringing even more kids out to shows. Growing up in suburban PA pre-internet, I heard about a lot of these bands long after the album was out or sometimes in the pages of Punk Planet, but with The Warmers' eponymous debut, Alternative Press [yes, it used be sort of cool] gave the album a great write up, and I was lucky enough to be able to find it that weekend. After the album's release, the band played out and ended up recording a few more tracks that finally came out in 2004, as the Wanted: More EP.

Amy Farina is currently playing with Ian MacKaye in The Evens. As for the rest of the group, I haven't the slightest idea.

Download: "Mad at the Man" [mp3] /// "RSVP/In Cadence" [mp3] /// Buy here

My Formative Years: "Washing Machine" by Sonic Youth, 1998

This week, Rusty takes a look back at one of the greatest records from one of his all-time favorite bands . . .

The year was 1995, and some of the greatest bands in the upper echelon of indie rock headed south to make some records. The supposed Kings of Lo-Fi, Pavement, headed down to record the epic Wowee Zowee, while Guided By Voices left the basements and four-track recorders of Dayton, Ohio behind them to start the sessions for Under The Bushes Under The Stars (those sessions were ultimately scrapped.) Another band that made the trek to Easley Studios in Nashville was New York's kings of No Wave/Punk/Whatever you want to call them, Sonic Youth. The funny thing about all this is when Matador reissued Wowee Zowee last year, I was telling a friend back home about how some of the greatest records of this year were all tracked at the same place. And when I opened up the booklet that came with the Wowee set, there was an essay, and one of the first sentences mentions how all these bands came down there to record with him. Sadly, in March 2005, the famed studio that also committed to tape the works of Wilco (A.M.,) The White Stripes (White Blood Cells) and the late Jeff Buckley (he was recording the follow-up to Grace at the time of his death.)

But this isn't an essay about what the greatest recording studios of our time and its output, but one of the greatest albums to come out of that era. More like 1994's
Experimental Jet Set, Trash & No Star than 1988's breakthrough Daydream Nation, Washing Machine comes off as a relaxed effort at times, while also returning to testing the listener with songs that went on at great lengths.

The title track, sung by bassist Kim Gordon, starts out sounding as poppy as the soda pop she's buying. You can picture her shaking her hips to the groove, but then two minutes in it's also like an orchestral movement change. It's an entirely different meditation for the seven minutes that remain. "Junkie's Promise" will always be known as the song that is apparently a tomb to the late Kurt Cobain, while Lee's contribution of "Skip Tracer" still stands as my all-time favorite Sonic Youth song. At least of the one's he sings. The album, on several occassions, threatens to break its calm pace that the album takes over the chorus of its hour duration. For the first half of the album, they seem to keep it in check with a dull roar here or there. Halfway through, after the sweet tale of "Little Trouble Girl," as told by Gordon and other famous Kim who plays bass, Kim Deal, the outro of "No Queen Blues" is filled with clanking wrenches and the controlled distortion they are noted for. "Tracer" does the same thing for its ending, but it's almost just like a synapse in the brain, its brief. But all comes to a finale grander than any other with "The Diamond Sea," the near 20 minute opus that is one of Sonic Youth's most noted songs that they ended every show on the
Washing Machine tour with. The song brings to fruition the classic Sonic Youth sound: Thurston Moore's lament over tranquil guitars which are eventually slayed by the walls and waves of distortion that go throughout the rest of the album, closing the book that is one of their most timeless records.

For me, I did not come across this album until the summer of 1998. After seeing the video for "Sunday" on 120 Minutes, my 14th birthday found me scoring copies of A Thousand Leaves and 1992's Dirty (at that time, I would always swear I got this album second because "100%" was one of the first videos I ever caught on MTV. I do remember seeing that video, but can also remember back to a time when I saw all those damn critters crawling around in the video for Def Leppard's "Animal." I'm shuddering at that thought.) I wanted to have more of their music in my life, and I didn't know where to go next. I acquired a used copy of Daydream Nation at a record store downtown, and ordered Washing Machine for 99 cents or something like that through Columbia House. I remember sitting on the floor of my mom's kitchen as I blared "The Diamond Sea" out of the boombox, floored by a band that could keep a song going on for this long. I'm not even sure that I really liked it back then, I think I did? I liked it, and still like it, because it stands out as what I find to the be the most unique record in the Sonic Youth catalog. It's a record you can have on in the background while having a glass of wine, while it's the same record you blare as you scorch down the highway. It's an album to fall in love to, and it's an album to break up over. It's an album to annoy the parents with (when my parents heard "The Diamond Sea" or one of the more out there recordings from their SYR series, my mom's fiancee came to the conclusion that this band could shit in a can and I would buy it. I had to mull that one over.)

Download: "Skip Tracer" [mp3] /// "Little Trouble Girl" [mp3] /// [Buy Here]

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Stranded Local Q&A: The Appreciation Post

I'm not quite sure if The Appreciation Post is Boston's only band with a Moog, but they are certainly the only band in Boston that has me digging the sweet, sweet sounds of a well-executed synthesizer.

The band has shared the stage with artists such as Dashboard Confessional, Method Man, Wheatus, Piebald, The Forecast and Moneen, and the Weekly Dig has called The Appreciation Post “sarcastic and dark lyrics paired up with punchy, upbeat melodies, gang vocals and a Moog stand out against the Boston music scene like a flower blooming in a lake of shit.”

The band teamed up with producer/engineer Mike Poorman (Hot Rod Circuit/ Piebald) at Strangeways Recordings for The Appreciation Post’s latest EP. Titled Brighter Sides, it was released in February and is available at Smartpunk, Interpunk, iTunes, Download Punk and Newbury Comics or via their Web site. You can check out The Appreciation Post live on Friday, May 25 at TT's.

Jim Keaney (vocals/guitars) and Rogger Lussier (moogs) took the time to answer the same five questions Stranded In Stereo always asks.

Hailing from Boston, makes us better than all those non-Boston bands because
Roger: Hailing from Boston makes us better because we understand and grasp our impending doom.

Name at least three bands that are still around and touring that you’d love to be on a bill with, and think it fits well
JIM: I wouldn't have been able to say this particular band a year or 2 ago, but they reformed... The Rentals! They were a giant influence on us growing up. Other bands that might not have an influence on us, but would make a lot of sense to play with right now would have to be Motion City Soundtrack & Ozma. They rock the synthesizer too!

ROGER: I'd like to share a bill with Sherwood, Motion City Soundtrack or Saves the Day

Your favorite Boston venue to perform in is
JIM: Greatwoods.

ROGER: TD BankNorth Garden.

Are there any genres that influence your music conceptually, rather than sonically? (In that you can’t hear from simply listening to the music, but from getting into the structure or mathematics of the song-writing, etc.)
JIM: Caveman-rock for sure. They really had something going with the whole 1, 2, 3, 4 pattern. We use it in almost every song. Pure genius if you ask me. And you did.

ROGER: TV Theme Songs and Elementary School Orchestra, mainly. The Theme Songs because they're catchy and fun and the Orchestra because after our shows our parents take us out for ice cream and tell us how good it was.

Your favorite local bar to hit up when not doing the whole band deal is
JIM: Personally I like to drink at TT The Bears in Cambridge, MA. There are many nooks and crannies for you to privately pass out in. That's a huge benefit, because no one likes to pass out in the open.

ROGER: I'm a big fan of the Silhouette in Allston because it's really close to my apartment and has free popcorn. I'm all about free stuff. Also they just recently started serving Chinese food there and if there's one thing I love more than free stuff, it's late night Crab Rangoons with a pitcher of cheap beer.

**NOTE: All photos courtesy of Chris Morris**


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

New Release Tuesday

This week, we take a look at two bands from across the pond who hit up the land of the Grand Ole Opry to track their new albums, and a movie that's getting a rather exciting Special Edition.

When I first saw The Clientele two summers ago opening up for labelmates Spoon, I was impressed. I was also unimpressed. As it got late in their 10 song set, all the songs seemed to run together. It was as if the trio from London had spent too much time with Lou and Co. while Luna was also stopping in for afternoon tea. That fall when they released Strange Geometry, I had warmed up to them. And now that their fourth album has hit the shelves of the shops, the tongue in cheek title God Save The Clientele, I'm in love with their brand of 60s and 70s stylings. The Monkees and The Byrds might be the best way to describe Alasdair MacLean's vocals and guitar work as they are meshed together through 14 songs. Strings are lush and expansive throughout songs like the opening bounce of "Here Comes The Phantom;" "Bookshop Casanova" is a classic disco hit that never happened with more shrieks of strings and tambourines aloof. Oh, and lest I forget "Dreams Of Leaving," the album's closing tune. It's the most devastatingly beautiful song of all time. Musically it's beautiful and brash, lyrically you will cry your eyes out. They'll tour the US with Beach House in June (their song, "Master Of None," is one of the many songs on my Song of the Year ballot,) go see them for I won't be able to make it.

Stream: God Save The Clientele [Here] /// [Buy Here]

I remember the blood curdling red shade of Brakes' debut album, 2005's Give Blood. Inside the single fold of the digipak was nothing I expected: it was an album filled with songs that were like brief synapses of the brain. 16 songs, most of them barely touching the two minute mark. They're a british mini-supergroup of sorts fronted by former British Sea Power bassist Eamon Hamilton and backed by former members of Electric Soft Parade. In the middle of the loud snaps was the delicate rendition of the Johnny and June Cash classic "Jackson." It floored me. I remember one night on my old radio show, I played their version at one point and closed with the original tune. Anyway, Brakes are releasing the second album in the states finally (it hit their native shores last November,) but thanks to some other band, they now have the luxury of being called Brakesbrakesbrakes in the United States (that rhymed, right?) For The Beatific Visions, the band went down to Nashville with the legendary Stuart Sikes to track 11 more songs that come across as a more cohesive effort, but still pack the chaotic punch of Blood. Again the songs are brief, save the near 9 minute epic ender "No Return." The title track is a great pop song that should be on several summer mix tapes, while "Porcupine Or Pineapple" channels the energy of Hamilton's tenure in BSP.

Stream: The Beatific Visions [Here] /// [Buy Here]

So, I was minding my own business this morning, reading the Rolling Stone blog, when I saw an ad for this: a 2-disc, Tom Hanks Director's Cut Edition of the classic 1996 film, That Thing You Do! Now with an additional 40 minutes and enough supplemental material to make you pronounce Oneders incorrectly (O-knee-ders was how the MC at the talent show pronounced it, they then changed the spelling to Wonders much to the chagrin of their lead singer, played by Johnathan Schaech.) The first disc also has the theatrical cut for those who wish to see the movie how it was initially burned in to our retinas, while the second disc features an HBO Special, A cast reunion, and the usual trailers and TV spots. I'm excited about the feature entitled That Thing You Do! Song Title submissions. Could Adam Schlesinger (of Fountains Of Wayne fame) have written songs that were too saccharine?

View: That Thing You Do! Trailer [Here] /// [Buy Here]

Monday, May 7, 2007

Auto Interiors: "Green Arrow"

Power pop hasn't sounded this good and fresh since Regretfully Yours came about in 1996. Auto Interiors second album, Let's Agree To Deceive Our Best Friends, is a tome to the great 3-minute song. The 11 tracks that fill this album are filled with huge drums, even larger guitars, and heavenly vocals that easily could pass for early Kinks meets the hey-day of Jawbox.

The center piece of this power pop pie is actually the album's closing number, "Green Arrow." The anthemic guitars that start the song off are soon joined by a driving force of a beat as the vocals of Eric Waxwood attempts of fighting with fire are drowned out by the molten rock and lava of instrumentation. AI's drummer, Bruce Corporal, feels that "Green Arrow" is the best song in their canon of songs, one that was re-recorded from their 2001 debut,
No Frill Halo Flight, because it is a song that only gets better with age. And it is definitely a song that will be stuck in your heads for the rest of the day, I mean, the first time I spun the album I kept spinning "Arrow" so much that it's now almost the song post frequently played in my iTunes on my office computer. That's the power of power pop.

Download: "Green Arrow" [mp3] /// [Buy Here]

Friday, May 4, 2007

Electrelane Hitting The Shores For "Calls"

So I've spent the last 16 hours with No Shouts No Calls, the 4th studio album from Brighton quartet Electrelane. It's dark sounding quality of production goes back to Seachange's 2004 opus, Lay Of The Land, the only difference this time around is it's the near-angelic vocals of Verity Susman. The album's 11 songs present a duel between her earthly delivery with the rest of the band's performance on a number of instrumental tracks.

Whereas "Tram 21" is built around a pulsating bass line and a tight farisfa jam that meshes with the harmonies of Susman her other femme fatales Emma Gaze and Mia Clarke, "To The East" starts off with more of Ros Murray's infectious bass hooks and the . The highlight where it all comes together is the penultimate "Cut And Run." The joyous occasion of the ukelele painting the visions of being on the Hawiian shores of sunset get rained down on by the heart wrenching tale of love lost. Even the vocals sound as bright as the music when Susman laments 'Do do do we're like fish in the sea / And I thought you were the one for me.' What's the word I'm looking for here, irony?

No Shouts No Calls is out Tuesday on Too Pure and the band will play a handful of headlining dates in the U.S. with The Blow (that band that sings about holding me like the parenthesis that this last sentence is being held in.)

Tour Dates:
05/14 - Bard College - Annandale
05/15 - Irving Plaza - New York
05/16 - Paradise - Boston
05/18 - Lee’s Palace - Toronto
05/19 - Chicago Theatre - Chicago
05/20 - Chicago Theatre - Chicago
05/22 - Empty Bottle - Chicago
05/23 - Triple Rock - Minneapolis
05/26 - Sasquatch - George
05/27 - Schnitzer Hall - Portland
05/29 - Greek Theatre - Los Angeles
05/30 - Greek Theatre - Los Angeles
05/31 - Troubador - Los Angeles
06/01 - Greek Theatre - Berkeley
06/02 - Greek Theatre - Berkeley
06/05 - The Parish - Austin
06/07 - Creepy Crawl - St. Louis
06/08 - Andy Warhol Museum - Pittsburgh
06/09 - Johnny Brenda’s - Philadelphia
06/10 - Black Cat - Washington DC

Download: "To The East" [mp3] /// "Cut And Run" [mp3] /// [Buy Here]

Thursday, May 3, 2007

My Formative Years: "The Dandy Warhols Come Down" by The Dandy Warhols, 1997

This week, Rusty picks up where the inaugural My Formative Years post left off, looking at the second of what he uncommonly refers to as the "Trifecta" of albums that came out in that magical year now a decade ago.

The summer of 1997 brought to me a lot of great things that I still enjoy today. One of them was The Kids In The Hall; thanks to weekday reruns on Comedy Central, I was introduced to this Canadian sketch comedy show and such memorable characters as The Chicken Lady, Gavin, and Bellini. That, and I was able to go, "Hey Dad, look, it's Dave from Newsradio!" Needless to say, he wasn't impressed by my findings. The other thing I discovered was again, thanks to MTV surprisingly enough, some great music. Every Sunday night, I found myself glued to the TV set to catch the newest installment of 120 Minutes, the only show that mattered on MTV. Started in the late 1980s, the show was a haven for new and undiscovered bands. Think of it as college radio's equivalent to TV basically. I remember Matt Pinfield starting off the show, and saying they had a new video to show from Portland, Oregon's The Dandy Warhols. The name alone intrigued me, and I knew that I would like them, I just did.

Low and behold, I was right with my intuition based on a band's tribute to the artist Warhol and the whole factory scene of the late 1960s. The video was for their single, "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth" and it just floored me. It was insatiable pop that I couldn't just shake. For the next several days, I was humming the song in my head, it's infectious moog in the second verse, and daydreaming about key bassist/percussionist Zia McCabe. Now, I was 13 at the time, and I honestly didn't know what in the world Courtney Taylor meant when he sang 'Heroin is so passe.' Was he praising the drug, or was he lashing out against it? Thanks to the 2005's
Dig!, an amazing documentary based on the tumultuous friendship between the Dandys and their comrades the Brian Jonestown Massacre, I learned that Taylor had written the song for BJM leader Anton Newcombe. The look on Anton's face when he first hears the song blaring from the tape deck was priceless: the guy was in shock, he didn't know what to do or say.

I've noticed over time that you grow to love songs instantaneously, but as the years pass by those songs lose their meaning. Upon my initial owning of
...The Dandy Warhols Come Down, their second album and first for Capitol, it was songs like "Junkie" and "Hard On For Jesus" that were the front runners as favorites. "Cool As Kim Deal" was something I noted in an unpublished 1997 review for my junior high school's paper, The Thunder, as a song about their love for a member of The Breeders who had died (I obviously have been schooled since then, and know that Kim Deal is alive and well. I met her once.) But today, it's more of the A-side that still sticks with me, "Orange" specifically. It was such a simple song and infatuated me with its production. The same, hollow drum beat, simple guitar and three bass notes trudged along for almost six minutes. None of my friends dug it, but I did. The beautiful lament "Green" was my 'I have a crush on you, let me scribble the lyrics to you in a note during 5th period' song in high school. Let me tell you how successful that was.

But I digress. I don't know if they've made an album that has topped this. Maybe it's follow-up, 2000's Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia might top it, but that's up for discussion. What some may not know is that when the band was signed to Capitol in 1996, the album they handed over was rejected by the label. They were told to return to the studio and record some hits, and "Junkie" and "Everyday Should Be A Holiday" were born. Songs like "Good Morning" and "Boys Better" went through some drastic changes, but the band still acknowledges their beginnings. You can get the appropriately titled The Black Album at their official webstore. Compare and contrast and see which one holds up better. Their near 10 minute rendition of "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald" is rather amazing.

"Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth"

Buy: ...The Dandy Warhols Come Down [Here]

Post Hardcore Archives: The Most Secret Method

As mentioned in weeks past, the late '90s were sort of a renaissance in the DC scene -- there just seemed to be so many great bands forming, playing out and sharing ideas that every night out at a show would most likely be a memorable one. Formed from the ashes of Jury Rig, Lincoln and Fine Day was The Most Secret Method, a power trio in every sense. They were a band that were almost too good, yet they never really got their due as they were often overshadowed by bands that didn't deserve the attention, at least not as much as they did. The band came together in the summer of '96, playing at the center of the DC scene, the Black Cat. They supported and were supported by all of the DC greats of the last half of the last decade, going on hiatus in 2000 and finally playing their last show in 2002 at the same place they started, at the Black Cat, with Black Eyes and the Gena Rowlands Band. The band released two albums while they together -- Our Success and the unforgettable Get Lovely.

Almost as memorable as the band's music is the artwork of drummer Ryan Nelson, which adorned all of their releases and many of their show flyers. When I lived in DC, my room was covered with show flyers, but the ones that people always noticed featured Ryan's artwork.

Currently, Ryan Nelson is playing in Dischord band Soccer Team, as well as previously doing time with The Beauty Pill, Oswego and Routineers. Johanna has played with all star group The Gena Rowlands Band, and as for Marc, I have no idea what he's up to. Acting, maybe?

Download: "Louise Lake" [mp3] /// "Spill More Blood" [mp3] /// Buy here

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Stranded Local Q&A: Movers & Shakers

Last weekend I caught a set from Movers & Shakers and they instantly reminded me of The Replacements although their Myspace descirbes their sound as “a whiskey-soaked cigarette cooking the heroin you’re about to shoot up while Tom Waits plays on the jukebox through the walls of the dive-bar bathroom. Plus some reggae.”

Tomorrow you can check them out at the Abbey Lounge in Cambridge with Bread and Roses, Tomorrow the Gallows and Serious Geniuses. This July they are on the road with Boston’s Lock and Key.

They officially formed just shy of a year ago when Dan Wallace (bass/vocals) and Matt Price (guitar/vocals) moved down south to Austin, TX. After mastering their sound, they moved back to Boston and joined up with one of the best damn drummers I’ve seen in a while (Mikey Holland).

Read on to see Matt from Movers & Shakers answer the same five questions Stranded In Stereo always asks.

Hailing from Boston, makes us better than all those non-Boston bands because
We have to lock ourselves into a practice space all winter long just to stay warm. Huddled together in a tiny room like that with a couple guitars laying around, you can really bang out some powerful stuff.

Name at least three bands that are still around and touring that you’d love to be on a bill with, and think it fits well
Tom Petty, I doubt we could gather the courage to even leave the dressing room, but if we could, it'd be the best night of my life. Against Me. The energy at their shows is unlike anything I've seen, I'd like to get a taste of that. And I have to say Green Day. What of it?

Your favorite Boston venue to perform in is
My heart still aches for the Reel Bar, which didn't have a long run. Playing there was the most fun I've had in Boston, and the capacity couldn't have been more than 50. The cover was $2 and the beer just as cheap, and every single person in the bar was there to have a big night. The Middle East ain't too bad either.

Are there any genres that influence your music conceptually, rather than sonically? (In that you can’t hear from simply listening to the music, but from getting into the structure or mathematics of the song-writing, etc.)
I think a very wide spectrum of music (and art in general) influences all of us profoundly. I often find myself impressed and inspired by somebody creating something that I would never dream of attempting, but that's what they do and I do what I do. Seeing anybody perform something that they truly believe in, even if it is the last thing I'd want to put on the stereo, is always an inspiration.

Your favorite local bar to hit up when not doing the whole band deal is
I've recently fell for Bukowski's in Inman Square. Mikey (drums) and I just moved to the neighborhood and it reflects exactly what I dig about the area. I have spent more nights than I'd like to say at the Model in Allston, sometimes aware of it, sometimes not. Their staff deserves a medal for the nonsense they have to put up with. Sorry!


Watch Out For: Vampire Weekend

You might've read about them on every other blog, but I've finally caught on to the excellence that is Vampire Weekend. Don't be afraid of their name or think they're some scary goth band, they're the exact opposite. They make sunny, happy beach music is what I'm gonna call it. With the amount of hype this New York quartet is grabbing up recently, I'm gonna peg them as this year's Cold War Kids. They've got a string of songs floating around the interweb, and we'll be releasing a 3 song single later this month.

Equal parts Walkmen and
Remain In Light-era Talking Heads, the band blends the atypical indie sense to more Worldly beats and grooves. The music and lyrics are perfect songs to listen to at sea: "Wolcott" sounds like the song left on the cutting room floor from The Life Aquatic. "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" puts you there on the shores of the beach; with bongo drums and jittery guitars its the perfect song to drink a Corona to at the beach this summer. What's even better, though, is the super addicting "Oxford Comma" (I've listened to it 10 times today and there's no end in sight.) With it's simple repetitive drum beat and wurlitzer taking command, it's the catchiest song I've heard all year. It's breaks pace for a moment but comes back to the source. And that guitar solo, ah I can feel the summer breeze approaching.

Download: "Oxford Comma" [mp3]

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

New Release Tuesday

Leslie Feist is a fox. 'Nuff said. Back when I was in college, me and all of my guy friends didn't just go ga ga over her hot bod and, depending on the picture, adorable face, but man what a set of pipes she has. I first saw her open up for Broken Social Scene in the Fall of '05, and she just had the sold out crowd captivated. Where her second album, Let It Die, featured a handful of originals interspersed with covers (Ron Sexsmith's "Secret Heart" taking the cake,) The Reminder is a collection of soaring originals. The album has a feeling and sound all its own that I am still at a loss for words to describe. At times, the record comes off sounding like its just a bunch of mics strategically placed in a big empty room and catches what he can here and there. The vocals of "How My Heart Behaves" sounds like she has the woes in the hallway while the piano is trickling from the ballroom on the opposite end. "My Moon, My Man," the album's first single, is classic Feist: the catchy beat, and her signature voice that just goes to show she's going to be around for awhile.

Stream: The Reminder [Here] /// [Buy Here]

In a more non-traditional album release, the UK outfit
The Crimea have decided to give their second album, Secrets Of The Witching Hour, away as a free download on their website. At my old job, I would spend my days listening to satellie radio and that's how I got introduced to this band. Warner Bros. had signed them in the states and released an EP ahead of the album, Tragedy Rocks, but I don't even think it saw the light of day over here. Now the band has an idea to market themselves by letting you have their album at no charge (you can buy it on CD via their website June 4.) The band figures this will introduce them to new listeners, and will make money via touring, and maybe it's working: as of this post, I was downloader 5,327 since midnight. At least "Bombay Sapphire Coma" is finally getting a proper release.

Download: Secrets Of The Witching Hour [Here]