Sunday, July 31, 2005

Novel Soundtracks: Now a franchise

Novel Soundtrack: Kafka On The Shore

Since it's taking me forever to do these things, I can count my lucky stars someone else is taking it on - this time for Haruki Murakami's Kafka On The Shore. This from the excellent Ribaldry and Smaltz

It's spreading... if you throw in Largehearted Boy's book notes playlists, we have quite a library building here.

Novel Soundtracks: Killing Yourself To Live
Novel Soundtracks: Drive Like Hell
Novel Soundtracks: Fortress of Solitude
James Frey's My Friend Leonard
Jonathon Lethem's The Disappointment Artist

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Friday, July 29, 2005

It's Summer, Babe

Top 10 Super Summer Hummer

The playlist challenge from Robert (Rhapsody Radish): Name your top 10 songs with the word summer in the title.

I knew right away what would be #1 and #10, and the rest have been shuffling and out and around the ten for the past 30+ hours.

1. "Summer Babe (Winter Version)" - Pavement (Slanted & Enchanted, 1992) This is the song that first introduced me to Pavement (originally a Drag City single.) I was hooked from the start as Stephen Malkmus sings "Ice baby, I saw your girlfriend and she was eating her fingers like they're just another meal." #286 on Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

2. "Bummer in the Summer" - Love (Forever Changes, 1967) Arthur Lee was a L.A. hustler, desperately searching for the formula that would make him a star before forming Love. Here, in this powerful, churning, Bo Diddley-style rocker, Lee evokes the hustler repeatedly telling his lover " can go ahead if you want to, ’cause I ain’t got no papers on you."

3. "Hot Fun in the Summertime" - Sly & The Family Stone (non-album track, 1969) Seemingly sweet, but in actuality it's supposed to be a biting commentary on the race riots of the late-1960s.

4. "Indian Summer" - Beat Happening (Jamboree, 1988) Calvin Johnson's low tenor mixed with lyrical innocence makes this song a long time Beat Happening fave. Covered later by Eugenius (1992) and Luna (1993.) "Motorbike to cemetery / Picnic on wild berries / French toast with molasses / Croquet and Baked Alaskas"

5. "Hot Hot Summer Day" - The Sugarhill Gang (non-album, 1980) Ahead of it's time... who knew global warming would be heating us up this quickly - clearly time to revive this old skool rap classic. "Winter time is gone and dead / Summertime full freakin' ahead!"

6. "Feel Good Hit of the Summer" - Queens of the Stone Age (Rated R, 2000) Only 8 words in the song. ("Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marijuana, Ecstasy and Alchohol... Co-co-co-co-co-cocaine")
Side affects from this song include: Head-banging, fist-pumping, and shouting along.

7. "In The Summertime" - Mungo Jerry (In the Summertime, 1970) Always curious about this lyric: "If her daddy's rich, take her out for a meal / If her daddy's poor, just do as you feel." Regardless of whether or not the song is sexist (and classist?), this skiffle evokes summer like no other.

8. "So Nice (Summer Samba)" - Astrud Gilberto (w/ Walter Wanderly A Certain Smile A Certain Sadness, 1966) For sipping a martini on a nice outdoor patio. Step-daughter Bebel's version runs a close second.

9. "All Summer Long" - Beach Boys (All Summer Long, 1964) Just wouldn't be summer without The Beach Boys. "T-Shirts, cut-offs and a pair of thongs, we've been having fun all summer long." Not their best, but it's a great example of the 'California mystique' that Brian Wilson helped evolve (so much that it closes out the Cali summer movie American Graffiti.)

10. "Summer Madness" - Kool & the Gang (Light of the Worlds, 1974) I actually would rank this one higher, but DJ's spinning summer jams used to always end the night with this one, and so will I.

The last pesky track to get bumped: "Summer" by Buffalo Tom (Sleepy-Eyed, 1995) This song nowadays evokes a sort of bittersweet feeling of regret. It was the summer of '95 and felt like the end of both a great musical run that happened from the late-80's to the early 90's, and also the end of Buffalo Tom. They put out another album, but this one just feels like the end.

Crucial song that missing (not in Rhapsody): "Celebrated Summer" by Husker Du (New Day Rising, 1985) "It's back to summer, back to basics, hang around/ Getting drunk out on the beach, or playing in a band/ And getting out of school meant getting out of hand/Was this your celebrated summer? Was that your celebrated summer?"

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Cardinal is more

Cardinal Cardinal (Expanded)
Eric Matthews Six Kinds of Passion Looking for an Exit
I was fine for Cardinal to continue, but Eric was determined to have a solo career. I thought we would have ruled the world for a while and it would have been an easy conquest.
- Richard Davies (Magnet, #68)
When Cardinal released their self-titled debut in 1994, it sent a ripple through the current of music criticism. Now finally remastered and reissued with 11 bonus tracks, another set of fans can hear what baroque pop artists today owe to Richard Davies and Eric Matthews' band Cardinal.

Richard Davies brilliant songwriting and Eric Matthews nose for orchestral pop sounded especially fresh in the climate of grunge and lo-fi going on at the time. Formed in Boston following the demise of Davies' Australian great art-rock band (The Moles,) Cardinal was primarily Matthews and Davies, but also initially included Bob Fay, with the three collaborating and recording the impossible to find Toy Bell EP in Sept. '93. Fay left to join Sebadoh, while Davies and Matthews went to Portland to record their full-length, calling on Tony Lash (Heatmiser) for the three weeks it took to record.

Released to wide-critical acclaim, Cardinal started their album off with boundless pretention ("Listen to the sound that makes the world go 'round") and then proceeded to back it up. Lush, rich and yet slightly off, Cardinal relied on the past (Brian Wilson, Burt Bacharach,) but more then that, felt like a glimpse of the future. "If You Believe in Christmas Trees" starts the album with horns and strings... the perfect pop song, but then is immediately followed by the dark and languid guitar line of "Last Poems," with it's eery octave-set breathy vocals of Davies and Matthews. "You've Lost Me There" was always my favorite, and with one listen to the chorus, I remember why... it is a religious experience. The bonus tracks are a treat - especially the demos "If You Believe in Christmas Trees" and "You've Lost Me There." Stripping the lush arrangements down to their basics is kind of exhilarating. And the demo for "Tough Guy Tactics" is especially raw ("let's do the Kenny Rogers number" says a voice to introduce it.)

The album is carried by Davies' songwriting, and there must be something in that to their demise, as following the release, Cardinal imploded almost instantly. Matthews longed to record a solo album, and Davies believed that Cardinal should be the primary focus.

Looking at their solo careers since, Matthews has had more commercial success (Davies garnering more critical acclaim,) so it's not surprising that the reissue comes closely on the heels of Matthews latest release, Six Kinds of Passion Looking for an Exit. In one sense, it's a great album... but that's mostly because he hasn't delivered one in nearly eight years. I don't hear a "Fanfare" anywhere, but the opening ("Worthy") and closing tracks ("Back to Light Brown") are up to snuff with his best work.

The track that jumps out here, though, is "Cardinal is More," which reads like an apology to Richard Davies, both in the title and in the lyrics ("You said I hated you, but it wasn't true.") Matthews writes about their prolonged silence and the joy of reconnecting (as they did to get the reissue of Cardinal together.)
"Cardinal was more than just a new band / Two men on an island / If memories run short, the legend grows silent"

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I recall the yellow cotton dress

Worst lyrics

Another Robert of the Radish special over at Blogcritics, bloggers pick their worst song lyrics, mine was MacArthur Park (written by Jimmy Webb, performed by Donna Summer.)
Spring was never waiting for us dear
It ran one step ahead
As we followed in the dance

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again
Oh, nooooo

I recall the yellow cotton dress
Foaming like a wave
On the ground beneath your knees
The birds like tender babies in your hands
And the old men playing chinese checkers by the trees

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again
Oh, nooooo

Does it really require any commentary?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Beating heart the prize

Bob Mould Body of Song

You'd think in a year where there's a lot of alternative veterans turning out strong material (The Go-Betweens, Frank Black, Teenage Fanclub, The Posies) that it wouldn't be surprising that Bob Mould would deliver as well. However, Mould had sworn off guitar-driven rock (following release of Last Dog And Pony Show 1998) and released an electronica album (the disappointing Modulate 2002,) so to hear his return to solo and his band Sugar's sound it is a welcome surprise.

In between the past couple records, (besides writing wrestling scripts) Mould seems to have picked up a few studio tricks. One seemingly offensive trick is the vocoder... "(Shine Your) Light Love Hope" has it throughout, and it initially feels out of place - what exactly does the former Husker Du's frontman have to do with a Kylie Minogue-type of song? But it grows on you (like that damn Minogue song did, drats!) There's another track that utilizes it a bit w/ a sort of club feel ("I Am Vision, I Am Sound") but rest assured, the album is not a dance album. There's plenty of classic unabashed rockers like the opener "Circles," "Paralyzed" and "Best Thing", that makes you think of Sugar's Copper Blue, but also has emotional touches like "Gauze of Friendship" and "High Fidelity."

It's a bit unfocused, seeming to want too badly to please his fans old and new, but uncle Bob is forgiven for any slight with the closing epic "Beating Heart the Prize." Good to have him back, with or without the dog and pony show.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Songs to off yourself to

Cinematic Songs for Suicide

This week sees the release of Gus Van Sant's Last Days, which looks at the downward spiral of a Kurt Cobain-like rock star in his last days before committing suicide. (Sorry... did I ruin the ending for you?)

In conjunction with that, IFC looks at cinema's greatest offings. What I find interesting with these is the songs chosen play during the event. I've created a list of songs that were either played during suicides of a movie or strongly associated with a suicide-centered movie.

Tomorrow I'm going to kill myselfThe obvious one that comes to mind is the prophetically appropriate "Needle In The Hay" (Elliott Smith) playing to the suicide attempt of Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson) in The Royal Tenenbaums. The song plays while he shaves is face and head and proclaims to the mirror, "I'm going to kill myself tomorrow." Which is inexplicably followed by an immediate slashing of his wrists. His blood joins the hair clippings on the tiled floor... it unfolds so creepily with Smith's meloncholy tune backing it.

"Que, Sera, Sera (What Will Be, Will Be)," recorded at the height of Sly Stone's drug abuse, is a perfect backdrop for a cinematic offing. Heathers is a movie that wouldn't get made this climate (a high school student ridding dynamite in the stands?) so it just might live on as probably the greatest example of how much high school can suck.

A couple of the movie suicides were actually uplifting, in a sense, and the music reflected that. "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" was a great song for Harold & Maude (we even played it at my sister's funeral this year) while the ending to Thelma & Louise played out like a celebration of a life lived without compromise (to B.B. King's "Don't Look Down.") Here's these and

1. "Needle in the Hay" Elliott Smith (Royal Tenenbaums, 2001)
2. "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" Cat Stevens (Harold & Maude, 1971)
3. "Que, Sera, Sera (What Will Be, Will Be)" Sly & The Family Stone (Heathers, 1989)
4. "Fooled Around And Fell In Love" Elvin Bishop (Boogie Nights, 1997)
5. "I'll Be Seeing You" Billie Holiday (Bad Timing, 1980)
6. "Better Not Look Down" B.B. King (Thelma & Louise, 1991)

Before considering killing yourself to one of these songs, click here.

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Mandy Moore is Aquaman's kryptonite

Entourage Ep 16

This week, we find out more about the brothers Chase... Vince is more then human (he makes mix-tapes for girls.)

Before that though, Ari has two magic envelopes for Vince... one is a check for $2mill, the other is a list of Hollywood actresses. Now that Vince is in as Aquaman, James Cameron wants to have Vince to be part of choosing who Aquagirl will be. (Having an aquagirl has got to be a little jab at the Batman series at it's lowest point.) Cameron's shortlist includes the usual suspects, Jennifer Garner (she's out - she's engaged,) Mandy Moore... eyebrows raised all-around. E's intrigued, but the rest not so much. Turns out Vince and Mandy dated years ago and haven't even said hello since. Vince shrugs it off, so E's not worried. Vince has a surprise for the gang as they drive out to Malibu - Jessica Alba's beach house is all their's while she filming Fantastic Four. All they have to do is watch her cats.

Meanwhile Ari's getting primped for his time in the limelight - he's been chosen as #9 on a list of Hollywood's hottest under 40. Just one problem, though. Turns out he's turning 40 in a few days, and is ineligible. In a real world confluence, Jeremy Piven (who plays 'Ari') turns 40 today (July 26th.) Happy birthday Jeremy ("You've got Gold!") Turns out he was ratted out by his old assistant, Josh Weinstein, which now makes the score Josh 3, Ari 0. I have a feeling Ari's going to put some hurt on Josh's scene before season 2 is completed.

The gang goes grocery shopping in Malibu and Turtle is distraught to see there's no Fruit Loops to be found... except in Dr. Joyce Brothers' cart. So Drama distracts the famous psychologist while Turtle steals the goods. While Vince is talking to a fan, E finds out from Turtle that Mandy crushed Vince (E - "How bad could it have been?" Turtle - "He was stalking her... he even made a mix-tape for her!" E - "Oh my God!" Turtle - "I'm telling you, Mandy Moore is Aquaman's kryptonite.") Drama gets a call for an audition for a Hallmark Movie of the Week (w/ Joe Mantegna,) but he's got to get there in 2 hours, so he and Turtle jet back ASAP. E gets a call from Ari and apparently Mandy is Cameron's top choice, but it's come up that they had to shut down the set of "A Walk to Remember" for two days because of Vince. E confronts Vince on the subject, shrugging off the movie set fiasco, only owning up when E brings up the mix-tape ("Ok, yes I made a mix-tape... but I didn't send it.) It's funny that making a mix-tape is far more criminal here then stalking. E and Vince get ready for their diving lessons with an ex-Navy SEAL who does nothing to squash E's fear of diving and sharks ("There's nothing to be afraid of, I can revive anyone... well, there was one guy that didn't make it, but that was the Antarctic.")

Drama makes it, barely, to the audition, and writer Larry Charles is there again (episode 6 - does he look intimidating or what?) as well as the blackberry dude who made Drama have a fit before. This time Drama holds it together, though... at least for the audition. On the way back, a surfer (or as Turtle calls him "Point Break") rides his convertible PT Cruiser on their ass and Drama gives Point Break some lip as he passes which makes him stop and get out. Turtle calms Drama down enough that it looks like it will blow over until Point Break says says "Dude, didn't I see you on some tv show... like some 20 fu*kin' years ago!" and spits on their car. Turtle tells him "Go do it." Drama grabs a golf club from the back and proceeds to go Jack Nicholson on the cruiser until Turtle answers Drama's phone and finds out he got the part. Drama stops and raises his arms in triumph, just in time for cops to grab them, cuff him, and toss him in the car, while Drama continues to smile and celebrate his win.

While E and Vince bail Drama out, Ari calls and says that Mandy Moore wants to meet with Vince before taking the part, to make sure it's not awkward. Vince says no problem, as she's got a serious boyfriend anyway. Turtle, however, is sure she's single now which makes Vince, for the first time in the series, insecure and nervous about the date, giving a side not seen yet in the show. The gang has to sit and wait outside in the car while he dines with Mandy (Turtle to E "how do you like being manager now?") It is awkward and we find out that Vince proposed to Mandy some five years ago while they were filming A Walk to Remember, playing with our time and sensibility (Moore was like, 16 then?) Mandy reveals that she's engaged to be married and we jump to Vince telling E "It is awkward. Let's get her off the movie." Kryptonite indeed.

Full tracklisting with scene descriptions

Cross-sword traffic (Episode 15)
Crouching Turtle, hidden Drama (Episode 14)
More Bob Saget on drugs (Episode 13)
Bring out the suit (Episode 11 & 12)
My Maserati Does 185 (Episode 10)
Let's Hug It Out, Bitch (Episode 9)

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Anniversary of a couple 'Miles'tones

Isle of Wight Festival 1970

Today marks two major anniversaries in the career of Miles Davis.

The first is it's the 50th anniversary of his legendary performance at the Newport Jazz Festival, playing "Round Midnight" with Thelonious Monk. ("Monk plays the wrong changes," Miles complained to the Newport head George Wein. "Miles, what do you want?" Wein replied. "He wrote the song!")

The second is the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, where Miles performed for Europe (600,000 of them) electric for the first time. The bill included Jimi Hendrix and The Who, and he debuted another new band, which included Jack DeJohnette on drums and both Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett on keyboards.

A great show called Open Source detailed much of the performances, featuring George Wein (Newport Jazz Festival,) Marcus Miller (bassist and musical director of Miles' late career - and was the emmy-nominated musical director of Night Music,) and others.

Here's a streamed mp3 of the show... and yes, they podcast their shows.

Favorite remembered quote from Miles... Charlie Davidson, who tailored Miles' clothes in the 50's says:
"One day I asked him: 'Miles, do you really like Frank Sinatra?' 'Do I like him?' he said. "If he had one tit I’d marry him!'"
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A 'Giant Sucker' punch

Six Feet Under Ep 59

(As always, spoilers ahead.) For those that were hungering for Claire's old art crew, they're back this episode (which includes the even-creepier Russell [pictured.]) Brenda finds out they're having a girl and that the baby's developing normally. Or is it... too soon to tell. This, of course, sets off Nate - the not knowing part. They argue about it as Nate drags Brenda to a Quaker friends meeting, where they sit all silent and occasionally stand up and say something meaningful like "friends, I need a ride." Brenda can't get into it like Nate, but then again for him it seems to be more about staring into Maggie's eyes. Nate plans on going back because Maggie needs a ride (don't they all?) but Brenda declines. Claire runs into her old art pal Anita (while making a lowest-of-low-on-the-totem-pole coffee run for her co-workers) and gets invited to ex- Jimmy's art show. "Everyone will be there" says Anita, giving Claire a shudder. Ruth agrees to baby sit Durrell and Anthony (Durrell: "you look like a witch!") and proceeds to bake some cookies like a good gramma. Meanwhile, Durrell takes Anthony out on a joyride in Keith's SUV, which David sees as he comes home. David then let's his mother know her style of parenting just won't cut it, so Ruth takes her cookies and goes home. Ted's interest in Claire is raised when he sees her crawling out of the back of her 'avocado' hearse in the parking lot, and invites himself to the art show Claire was probably going to skip out on. Fisher and Sons, er... Diaz, meet to discuss their future. David proposes buying a crematorium, Rico says they need to reach out to the latino community more, and Nate wants them to look at Green Funerals (inexpensive environmentally-friendly funerals.) Everybody hates one another's proposals, meeting ajourned. Claire goes to her art show with Ted and instantly runs into ex- Russell, who's looking crazier then Billy. After some awkward moments with Ted, he runs off to find Jimmy, whom he's apparently enamored with now. Claire talks w/ Jimmy and Anita and looking through Ted's eyes, realizes what the viewers have been thinking "what in the world were you doing with those losers?" Russell cracks and busts his wine bottle on Jimmy's phallic Giant Sucker Statue: "This is indestructable!" Jimmy tackles Russell and as Claire watches her ex-boyfriends wrestle below a giant sucker, she finds some closure w/ her fu*ked up friends. Keith finds out that Durrell has been clocking miles in his SUV and is furious until he talks with Anthony and finds out that Durrell just wants to clock some fun before they get thrown back into the foster cesspool. Keith decides to make Durrell believe that he has a future there by planning a trip to Mexico and a snowboarding vacation with the boys which causes David to pee his pants in glee. Rico finally gets some cajones and confronts 'Nessa on her ice-cold bitch act with a threat to leave and it's revealed that she loves him but just can't get to forgiving him. She's still ice, but there's at least the hint of a thaw for Rico to hold on to, however cold and slightly freezer-burned the notion still seems. Brenda continues complaining about Nate to her boss, who finally says what we've been thinking ("Brenda, shut the fu*k up!") and tells her that if she wants Nate to open up to her, maybe she should open up to him. So she decides to try the Quaker thing again and surprise Nate by showing up for the friends meeting.... and he'd be surprised all right, if he weren't sewing his Quaker oats with Maggie instead of being at the meeting. But this is Six Feet Under, so punishment is swift and Nate's brain thing is back and he's flat-out on Maggie's floor post-coital. The fact that his brain tumor might've returned might explain a lot of his ridiculous behaviour lately. But questions remain... is he dead? (Or will they leave that for Brenda to take care of later?) Don't have a clue, as there were no previews. That's right, none... like it's the end of the season or something. Creepy.

Full tracklisting with scene descriptions

Staring into the abyss, Quaker style (Ep. 58)
The loss of the loss of virginity (Ep. 57)
Accept, adapt and adopt (Ep. 56)
Life is not a vending machine (Ep. 55)
Six Feet Under: Ep. 54
Mortality, insanity, paternity and more insanity (Ep. 53)
Requiem for a soap opera (Ep. 52 - Season 5 premiere)

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

It was the greatest show on television

Night Music (1988-1990)

Stereophonics' latest release (Superman EP) has a great version of The Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog" and it got me thinking about all the great versions of that song over the years... which reminded me of one of television's great moments. Does anyone else remember a television program called Night Music with David Sanborn? The show was put together by Hal Wilner and featured such a great eclectic group of artists who, as a highlight, would often jam together for a song. The highlight had to be Sonic Youth, The Indigo Girls, Daniel Lanois and David Sanborn playing the aforementioned "I Wanna Be Your Dog." Other truly great (and surreal) moments include:

- Sonny Rollins sitting in with Leonard Cohen and Was (Not Was) doing "Who By Fire"
- Nick Cave, Charlie Haden, and Toots Thielemans getting together to play "Hey Joe."
- John Cale, Richard Thompson and Shawn Colvin trading verses on Cale's dolorous version of "Heartbreak Hotel" with BJ Cole on pedal steel and Sanborn on sax
- Todd Rundgren, Ellen Foley and Taj Mahal performing a scene from 'HMS Pinafore,' with Sanborn, Pat Metheny, Christian Marclay and the Night Music band all dressed as sailors behind them.
- Conway Twitty singing "It's Only Make Believe" with The Residents dancing behind him in eyeballs.

Someone needs to pull Lorne Michaels (SNL, Broadway Video) ear and get him to release these on DVD... it's time has come.

Episode listings here, w/ songs performed (the ones I could remember/confirm.)

More about Night Music:
Was originally called Sunday Night... then became Michelob presents... Night Music
Ran for two seasons - 1st season on NBC ('88-'89,) 2nd Season in syndication ('89-'90)
Squeeze co-founder Jools Holland co-hosted the first season and went on to do his own late night music show for the BBC2 (Later with Jools Holland.)

Night Music references:
Sonic Youth's performance can be found on their video Screaming Fields of Sonic Love
Discussion of the series on
Referenced in this Austin City Limits piece (Cincinnati CityBeat)
John Hiatt's performance referenced here

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Pardon me, but... your bird's on fire

Here's the first look at My Morning Jacket in Cameron Crowe's new film Elizabethtown, starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst (opening October 14th.) Their part is as a band who play at a wedding and they set off the sprinklers when their prop bird catches on fire (while playing "Freebird.")

They've got a new album coming out as well, Z, and Stereogum has the first track from it ("Off the Record".) The album was produced by legend John Leckie (Pink Floyd, New Order, Stone Roses) and is due to hit stores October 4th.

In the meantime, here's their great live EP with the palindrome name:
Rhapsody playlist: My Morning Jacket Acoustica Citsuoca

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Reassembled Soundtrack

Play it: Reassembled Soundtrack: Wedding Crashers

One of the problems with soundtracks is they sometimes leave off the best songs (whether it be for contractual or monetary reasons or just to keep the soundtrack onto one disc.) Add to that the fact soundtracks often appear in Rhapsody with even more songs missing (or only available for purchase.) For these reasons I've reassembled some of my favorite soundtracks over the past few years and will pull them out every once in awhile when the time is right.

The time is right for this first one, Wedding Crashers, as the soundtrack was released this week. The movie is a hilarious comedy starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as divorce mediators who find their way into different weddings and bridesmaid's dresses each week.

The soundtrack album released represents a trend some are calling 'The O.C. effect,' or, more to the genre, the 'Garden State effect.' The album features 'it' acts like Bloc Party, Spoon, Rilo Kiley, Death Cab for Cutie and The Flaming Lips (man, they've been doing a lot of Soundtracks lately.) However, none of these artist's songs actually appeared in the movie. Seriously. One song that did, however, was Coldplay's "Sparks" (from Parachutes) - and it was left off the album. So of the songs that appeared in the actual film and on the soundtrack we're left with Robbers On High Streets' "Love Underground," The Weakerthans' "Aside," and Guster's "I Hope Tomorrow Is Like Today" for newer acts; and "Shout" by The Isley Bros. and a rousing rendition of "Hava Nagilah" done by Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson & The Klezmer Juice Band.


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Loving Labor day

Bumbershoot 2005 - Friday
Bumbershoot 2005 - Saturday
Bumbershoot 2005 - Sunday
Bumbershoot 2005 - Monday

This past weekend, the full lineup and schedule was finally set and announced. The 35th annual Bumbershoot, Seattle’s award-winning arts festival, will feature four days of more than 2,500 artists on over 20 stages and venues. One of America's largest urban arts festivals, Bumbershoot takes place in the heart of the city at Seattle Center during Labor Day weekend, September 2-5, 2005.

Of all the days, they loaded up Monday with lots of eardrum goodies. Monday features The Decemberists, Devo, Okkervil River, Tegan & Sara, Ted Leo + Pharmacists, Los Amigos Invisibles, Brazilian Girls and Earlimart just to name a few. With baby in tow (in bjorn, to be precise,) I think we'll be staying at the smaller outdoor venues, probably seeing Los Amigos Invisibles (Bumbrella Stage,) Okkervil River (Backyard Stage,) and Tegan & Sara (Backyard Stage.)

Late yesterday it was announced that Ani DiFranco has cancelled her summer tour, so she's out for Bumbershoot - no act has been announced to replace her Saturday 4-6PM slot on the main stage. I'm not sure what's going on with her as her site has no info on it whatsoever.

Sasquatch Music Festival

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Frank Black goes Nashville

Frank Black Honeycomb

Recorded just prior to The Pixies reunion tour of 2004, Honeycomb almost feels like an instrument to completely differentiate Charles Thompson's personas Frank Black & Black Francis. Knowing that he was going to ressurrect the screaming persona in the Pixies, Black seems like he felt free to explore a path even further away from that persona then his recent albums with the Catholics. It apparently is supposed to an homage to Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, an album which had an effect on young Charles Thompson.

It apparently took only four days, and included long-time Nashville session musician favorites like organist Spooner Oldham; guitarists Steve Cropper, Buddy Miller and Reggie Young; and drummer Anton Fig.

Much like Elvis Costello did prior, with Almost Blue, Frank Black's Nashville album may shock the sensibilities of long-time fans. But while Almost Blue was entirely made of covers, Black eases the shock some by penning 10 of the 14 tracks. Of his new songs, "I Burn Today" does to country what "Headache" did for power pop, and "Another Velvet Nightmare" is a great drunken tale that sounds like a honkey-tonk Leonard Cohen. Of the covers, the "Dark End of the Street" comes out as genuine as Gram Parsons sang it (The Flying Burrito Bros.,) with his band playing it soulful like Percy Sledge's version. And Doug Sahm's "Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day" is a good reminder that Black cites him as an influence on his post-Pixies work.

The true gem here, though, is the song "Strange Goodbye," which details the unraveling of his marriage. Sung as a duet with his soon to be-ex-wife Jean, it's both upbeat and so utterly endearing, it breaks your heart with a smile. Stands only behind "Headache" in his post-Pixies body of work.

The album, on the whole, is pleasant and rewarding to the ear. If it suffers anything it's the unevenness of the second-half of the album. It begs the question, though... is this Frank Black now that Black Francis is back? Or is it merely a forced truck-stop break on his trip across the Americana landscape?

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Eat some Cripple Crow

Devendra Banhart sampler

I've already gone into (painful) detail the joys and jollys of said Banhart (with the Freak Folk movement,) but couldn't resist one more. You can stream tracks from his new (and yet to be released) album Cripple Crow here. It sounds like he got the Brian Eno bug... the last track streamed is a bit "Sound and Vision" (David Bowie/Brian Eno.) Certainly not just a freak and an acoustic guitar anymore... there's some electric guitar (folkie gone electric?) some drums, and piano. Songs, as you can imagine, sounding more like good ol' rock and roll. It will be interesting to hear the reaction of his (and freak folk) fans to it.

Freak Folk
Freak Folk Beginnings

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Cross-sword traffic

Entourage Ep. 15

This is the second week in a row HBO has messed up the tracklistings for their shows (last week was Six Feet Under.) It's finally been fixed, but now I gots to remember wha happened. Oh, yeah, no I remember...

The boys are in Sundance for the premiere of Queens Blvd., and James Cameron is supposedly coming to see it as well. After landing at the airport in Sun Valley, E runs into big producer Harvey Weingard -a not-so-subtle mock o' Weinstein, eh?- in the toilet and sets up a meeting. The boys meet their driver, who is a sexy Peace Corps babe (played by Sarah Carter) and for some reason she finds the peanut gallery cute. Ari surprises the gang with a snowball, and gets buried with their return fire. Laughter, hugs and banter ensues, with Ari making sure he's in on the Harvey meeting. The peanut gallery pursues Peace Corps driver, and also discover they've got bunk beds. Turtle's a bottom, apparently. Drama invites PCD to the sold-out showing of his fave Spanish director, and, to Drama's chagrin, Turtle sneaks in, bribing the door with one of Vince's Sundance basket gifts (a Sidekick, get it?) Meanwhile, E, Vince and Ari meet with Harvey who on the spot offers Vince the part in an adventure movie in Australia. Ari tells them to take the offer, even though it conflicts w/ the shooting of Aquaman. It's the safe thing to do, but Vince tells E he doesn't want to play it safe. Then a (topless?) girl in the hot tub (played by MTV Road Rules' Angela Trimbur) tells Vince and E to get to the gettin' on. The peanut gallery goes back and have some drinks with PCD (Sarah Carter) and after some lame flirtatious attempts tell her that their tired of going against one another for her affections and she needs to choose. She moves in and kisses Turtle (Drama looks dejected,) then she comes back and leans in to kiss Drama (Drama looks confused - cut to Turtle who looks horrified.) She kisses Drama and then says "show me your bunk beds." At the premiere for Queens, the boys are out front and Turtle and Drama look like they just lived through a Tsunami. After some prodding they confess that "they crossed swords" during their threesome the night before. Director Walsh has taken a razor to his hair to relieve anxiety over the failure of his movie ("my mom hated it, but she doesn't know shit!") E breaks it to Ari that Vince wants to wait on Aquaman, and Ari dares him to tell that to Harvey. E does, and gets screamed at, spit on, and told that he and Vince will never work in the industry again... all the while Cameron's in the background smiling and shaking his head ("that Harvey!") Walsh announces to the crowd that if anyone's got to pee, hurry up as the movie is 4 hours (!) They take their seats and we get the black and white opening... then we get "The End" (presumably four hours later.) That's when they find out Cameron left 10 minutes into the movie. Panic sets in. But Drama, who brought his fave Spanish director with him, finds out he's got an audition in his bullfighting movie. So there's that. Frustrated, the gang decides to hit the slopes. At the top E confesses that perhaps they should've taken some lessons. A phone call from Ari reveals that Cameron is on the line and he offers the part of Aquaman to Vince. Ari happily tells the gang that "we'll be getting drunk with Russell Crowe and headbutting Kangaroos" before you know it. Ahh, happy endings. Last one down the mountain has to read the credits....

Full tracklisting with scene descriptions

Crouching Turtle, hidden Drama (Episode 14)
More Bob Saget on drugs (Episode 13)
Bring out the suit (Episode 11 & 12)
My Maserati Does 185 (Episode 10)
Let's Hug It Out, Bitch (Episode 9)

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Staring into the abyss, Quaker style

Six Feet Under Ep. 58

Fresh on the heals of death comes another Six Feet Under... it's got me in too funky a mood to recap, but here it goes anyway. Our stiff this week is a case of SFU/Entourage synergy, with the actor who plays Wicks (the money behind Queens Blvd.) plays the stiff of the week (SOW.) This SOW is a Quaker who quacks in a theater, while the actors figuratively die on stage. Maggie's a Quaker too, and as part of the hip L.A. Quaker scene, she knows the SOW. So she calls Nate in the middle of the night, sobbing, and Nate's sleep-filled eyes light up, and it's not because he's getting some business. Durrell and Anthony discover David and Keith's gay porn collection and a lesson in privacy ensues. Brenda is picking out maternity wear when she gets a call from the Doctor telling her she might not need such clothing. It seems their unborn child might have a disability (of course it does, this is Six Feet Under we're talking about here,) but more tests need to be done. Brenda doesn't want the test and Nate doesn't want his life to be hard. Claire turns down a chance to drink with her co-workers because her shit don't stink (or it actually does, but not as bad as her co-workers when they repeatedly mimic Austin Powers' yeah, baby.) Ruth is quick to inform Claire that she's not better then everyone else, and Claire tells Ruth that she's looking into the abyss when she tries to do art now and it feels painfully alone - to which Ruth identifies with too much and quickly changes the subject. You see Ruth is trying on beards, Kaballah, her knitting circle, a Jay McInerney reading ("I used to use his coke-dealer" says Ruth's former soap star knitting friend,) pretending to be alright. Farmer Hoggett informs her that he's getting married again and Ruth goes to her friend's cocktail party and loses it ("just let me die alone!") flushing her famous potato salad down the guest bathroom. Rico's found that being home isn't what it's cracked up to be, as it seems Vanessa wanted him closer so she could show him how little she feels for him (and it only takes Rico 4 or 5 shots to the head with a blunt hint for him to get it.) David and Keith decide to go to Durrell's school performance on bio-diversity against his will, and after a charming song on Dutch Elm's disease, finally make a connection with him and they all go out for, uh... something that's not pie at Marie Callendar's. Ruth loses her way to the Jay McInerney signing and ends up at Farmer Hoggett's fiance's office and gives her a blow-by-blow of the madness of king george. After another night of staring into the abyss (and meeting a cute lawyer, Ted, at the office) Claire decides to go out with her co-workers for pichers o' brew after work (yeah, baby.) With the romantic atmosphere of a mechanical bull & requisite pichers, Claire shoots the shit with Ted ("being a lawyer's only one part of me.... I'd like to you show you my other parts" - yikes!) Beer goggles-in-tow, she appears to be hooked. Fuck art, I guess. After a pep-talk from mommy sensitive ("come on Brenda, don't you think I wanted to abort you and Billy?") Brenda decides to look at it from Nate's point of view and goes to tell him, but finds him looking rather un-funeral-home-director-like into Maggie's eyes. So instead she tells him to to whatever he wants to do, she doesn't fucking care anymore. They both silently make their choices as Nate looks back into Maggie's Quaker eyes and Brenda goes back to buying maternity clothes.

Next week: Nate sews his Quaker oats

Full tracklisting with scene descriptions

The loss of the loss of virginity (Ep. 57)
Accept, adapt and adopt (Ep. 56)
Life is not a vending machine (Ep. 55)
Six Feet Under: Ep. 54
Mortality, insanity, paternity and more insanity (Ep. 53)
Requiem for a soap opera (Ep. 52 - Season 5 premiere)

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

A treat and a tribute

Here's video of Michael Dahlquist doing his own acapella version of Silkworm's "Treat the New Guy Right" from their Lifestyles lp back in 2000.

Michael took a whole day to do it, and you can see it by looking at the window as it goes from light to dark as the video cuts between the different takes. A cat in one scene disappears in the next, and Michael's excitement and enthusiasm just bubbles over.

AMG had this to say about Silkworm (who are now no more):
Continually churning out the classicist-without-being-retro goods, they hold an accomplished spot between the likes of CCR and the Minutemen. Not as famous as the former, and not as wild as the latter, but as fresh and timeless as both.
I miss Michael and I miss Silkworm. So sad.

Gerard Cosloy (Matador Records owner and sports blogger) talks about Michael
Discussion on bboards
Discussion on Electric Audio boards

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Absolutely senseless...

Surreal twist to the story.... the murderer was a model.

Here's the woman (R), Jeanette Sliwinski, who murdered Michael (drummer for Silkworm), John (guitarist for the Returnables) and Doug (drummer for Exo) in her attempt to commit suicide.

She drove her shiny red Mustang at 70 mph into their little Honda Civic, and came out with barely a scratch on her God... er... plastic surgery given body.

While you can't pretend to understand the mind of someone committing suicide, the senselessness of this act is beyond belief. She mentioned she got in a fight with her mom earlier and she was distraught. Wow. Perhaps mommy was going to take away her trust fund.

She's been charged with three counts of murder and two counts of battery. Prosecutors may seek the death penalty, according to Colleen Daly, Cook County assistant state's attorney.

Tim Midgett has stated (Chicago Tribune, July 15th) that without Dalquist, Silkworm is no more. "He can't be replaced." That's true... Silkworm was the sum of the three parts - replace him, and it's not Silkworm. They were a great band.

Discussion on bboards
Discussion on Electric Audio boards
An in-depth piece from the Chicago Tribune, which has a lot of nice quotes from folks who knew them
Here's a local Chicago video news piece on the accident.

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Friday, July 15, 2005

Silkworm drummer Michael Dahlquist dies

Silkworm RIP

Sad news
Yesterday around lunch time Doug Meis, the drummer for Exo and the Dials; John Glick, the guitarist for the Returnables; and Michael Dahlquist, the drummer for Silkworm all died in a car accident in Skokie. They were coming back to work from lunch and were hit by someone speeding attempting to kill herself.

A Note from Silkworm's Tim Midgett here.

This really hit me hard today...Michael was a wonderful human being who had a lot of love for his friends and family. He ran site and always seemed to have a lot of fun doing it... quick with self-deprecating humor and respect for Silkworm's fans. I had many funny email conversations with him as I know a lot of fans did. He was the last of the band to move to Chicago from here in Seattle, and I never realized how much I missed seeing him around until I heard about his death on the radio today.

He really loved being in Silkworm and playing music (and was a great fu*king drummer!), and now it's been taken away from him, Tim & Andy, and all of us, and it's truly, truly sad.

I don't know what else to say other then I miss him terribly.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Tom Yorke does roots rock

Brandi Carlile Brandi Carlile

She's billed as an 'Artist to Watch' by Rolling Stone, Paste and Interview. Her album cover shows her looking both cute and unbearably serious... like she's ready to play the troubled new girl in town on The O.C. On top of all that, she was a teen playing at Lillith Fair, on the local stage when it came through here back in 1999. All this makes my subconsious sound the post-lillith-pre-packaged-teen-crap alarm. But she's local and recommended, and truly, I just can't resist.

Thank God I did, as this is truly a great find - think Thom Yorke fronting a roots-rock band, or Neko Case with a Jeff Buckley fixation, or "Fake Plastic Trees" as played by Son Volt...well, you get the picture.

Brandi Carlile, 23, grew up in the foothills of the Cascade Mountians, in Ravensdale, which is 50 miles SE of Seattle where she met her band - the twins (brothers and Seattle natives Tim and Phil Hanseroth.) I think the bros. arent' in the Rhapsody fold, as the songs they wrote exclusively don't appear in the Rhapslibrary, unfortunately. Having grown up in rural Washington State, myself, perhaps I'm biased in my judgement, but there's not much to complain about this release. It's a debut that doesn't sound like one, and I'm still amazed at how many debuts are released these days that sound like the artist has been recording albums for some time (Ray Lamontagne, Raul Midon.)

My only complaint would be about John Goodmanson's production, it's a bit tidy for my taste, but considering the wide swath that Columbia/Sony's going for here (again, the album cover,) I completely accept it at face value.

And what a face.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Bi-coastal birth announcement

There's something in the water
Eli's got more new friends... and we have a bi-coastal birth announcement.

Lying in this corner, please welcome Jonas William Kowieski

Born on the fourth of July (hear that Tom Cruise?) weighing in at 7.8 lbs and measuring 19.5 inches.

Good news Jonas: San Diego has nice weather year round. Bad news Jonas: It will be 21 years until you (and Eli) can go to a show at the legendary Casbah. Greg (daddy) and I have to go in your absence when we visit soon.

Being held in this corner, please welcome Parker Marguiles

Born July 10th, Parker has daddy's (Q's) lips and hair, and already appears to have Q's selling ability. I know we're sold.

Nice work Dana! D.C.'s got the Black Cat, so that's where I'll be.

Ok, enough with my cheesy baby talk... as you were.

Welcome Emmitt
Proud papa holding Eli
The Mighty Quinn

Freak Folk

Freak Folk

With key additions finally making it to the Rhapslibrary, I can now talk about the Freak Folk (in some circles also being referred to as "Psych folk") movement that the music world's been 'abuzz' about since last year. We left off yesterday with the psychedelic (and unclassified) folk music of the 1960's and 1970's, but that doesn't get us all the way there yet.

In the 1990's, there arose a new underground folk ethic that was both a reaction to the louder underground music that was prevalent at the time, and to folk music's tendency to take itself too seriously. Dubbed by Adam Green as Anti-Folk, the artists included Green's (and Kimya Dawson's) The Moldy Peaches, early Beck, Calvin Johnson, and even Ani DiFranco, sharing an affinity for melding folk traditions with punk ethics, penning ironic and sometimes nonsensical lyrics. [Much of the early Elephant 6 collective recordings (specifically early Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal,) it should be noted, reflected some of this trend as well and are of influence.] Coupling this with parts of the alt-country movement (Uncle Tupelo, Freakwater, and especially Will Oldham's version of Americana) and a steady diet of the anti- and psychedelic folk from the 1960's & 70's, young artists began a trend in the 2000's that is now verging on exploding (for indie standards, it has already exploded.) It's permeating into the mainstream with movie soundtracks (Iron & Wine's contributions to Garden State and In Good Company) and, of course, television's The O.C. (Sufjan Stevens.) While the albums by Iron & Wine (Our Endless Numbered Days,) Sufjan Stevens (Seven Swans,) Devendra Banhart (Rejoicing in the Hands,) Joanna Newsom (The Milk-Eyed Mender) and Animal Collective (Sung Tongs) each have garnered an album of the year claim for 2004 from different critic's lists. It's hard to find a credible critic's list for 2004 that didn't have one or more of these releases in it's top 10.

Devendra Banhart, 23, is one of the main reasons the phrase 'freak folk' came into being. Devandra (which means "king of gods" in Hindi) sings like a 1930's bluesman with a voice that cracks with tension... combined with this off-kilter visual lyrics it makes for a non-traditional folk experience, hence 'freak.' It's achingly beautiful, though, and full of mystery - much like his life story. For someone so young, he's already spent years wandering and homeless, giving more levity to his earnestness. Never shy about naming his influences, Banhart even coerced his idol Vashti Bunyan out of seclusion to sing on a song "Rejoicing in the Hands." Banhart, to cement his freak folk royalty status, put together the first and (so far) only definitive compilation of the genre with the release Golden Apples of the Sun (which you can listen to in it's entirety here)

Joanna Newsom, also 23, is another 'freak' of folk. A self-proclaimed folk harpist (as opposed to classically trained harpist,) her songwriting incorporates elements of indie pop, Appalachian music, avant-garde modernism and is.. well... quirky. Her child-like, helium-flavored voice can either sound soft and sweet or like she’s punching the words out - with a yowl - and more then any other freak folk artist, it creates a polar division - you either love it or hate it. I sit on both sides, refuting my own statement. I'm both drawn and repelled at the same time. She's almost obsessively adored by her fans, and that speaks volumes right there.

Animal Collective interweave plenty of acid-laced Brian Wilson harmonies and wackiness into their brand of folk. The band is composed of Avey Tare (aka David Porter) and Panda Bear(aka Noah Lennox) and established their unique brand of folk in New York City in 2000. What followed was a flush of frustrating but captivating rush of recordings, finally leading to their fabulous release, Here Comes the Indian (Paw Tracks, 2003.) It brought the listener to the crossroads of psychedelic, noise, and folk music, with it's acid-fried psychosis, crop-circle field recordings and, at times, absolute chaotic abandon. 2004's Sung Tongs (Fat Cat,) reigned in some of the crazed chaos, and, while still challenging, is quite accessible. It's an odd thrill to find yourself singing along to something that initially feels like it has no structure. This year's EP release (Prospective Hummer, Fat Cat,) continues in the same vein and finds them employing the services of (idol and influence) Vashti Bunyan on a song ("It's You.")

Both Iron & Wine and Sufjan Stevens are, in many interpretations, left out of the 'freak folk' genre, instead being lumped into the more traditional 'neo-folk' classificiation. Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) is Florida singer/songwriter whose beautiful lo-fi recordings found their way to SubPop, who signed him and asked for more. Beam sent two albums worth more of his whispered acoustic gems and it was trimmed to one album (the beautiful The Creek Drank The Cradle,) and an EP (The Sea and The Rhythm.) He then transitioned fluidly from the lo-fi sounds of his home to the hi-fi studio sound for, Our Endless Numbered Days, which came out last year to accolades and movie soundtracks. His Woman King EP (still not in Rhapsody - ??) is decidedly less 'freak-folk' sounding, more blues-oriented, which is at least partly due to the further involvement of Brian Deck (Red Red Meat, Califone.)

Sufjan Stevens latest release, Illinois (on the top of many best of the year so far lists,) is definitely less freak-folk sounding then previous releases (as it owes as much to classic rock as it does progressive folk,) but still is full of his soulful folk epics. A flurry of disco strings cannot hide what lies beneath. A singer/songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist, Stevens continues his 'states project' having already released his opus to home state Michigan (Greetings From Michigan: The Great Lakes State, Asthmatic Kitty, 2003.) Even though he uses loops, it's abated with lightly strummed guitars and stark banjo picking giving it a rustic northern folk aesthetic. Whether or not it's 'freak folk' is up for interpretation, but for our purposes here, he's in with the freaks.

Speaking of freaks, Josephine Foster certainly qualifies as one (it's a term of endearment here, folks.) Foster is a part of the freak folk bands Born Heller and Children's Hour as well has working as a solo artist. She's most often compared to 60's UK folkie Shirley Collins (who you can listen to here.) "Earthen hymns, cosmic madrigals, flapper blues and acid folk are sewn into one luminescent patch" on her solo recordings. It's at times disturbing and wonderous, definitely not for the faint of heart. Truly puts the freak in freak folk. Likewise, Antony & The Johnsons can also be freakish. Lumped into freak folk in part because of Antony's association with Devendra Banhart (Devendra lends vocals to a song on their latest release,) it's also due to the vocal style which is a warbled histrionic affair. The track "The Lake," a musical adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's poem of the same name, is a chilling piano/cello/guitar-accompanied lament that appeared as well on Banharts compilation, Golden Apples of the Sun. Antony's latest release, I Am a Bird Now, is at the top of many best of the year lists so far.

Freak Folk Beginnings

Freak Folk Flies High (SFGate, Thursday, April 14, 2005)
The Next American Movement (Paste Magazine, #14)
Freak Folk's Very Own Pied Piper (NY Times, December 12, 2004)
Devendra Banhart can't listen to his own album (but you should) (Splendid Magazine)
Sly, silly with more than a touch of poetry (MSNBC, June 22, 2005)

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