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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Hampshire: Just Like Vermont, Only Backwards

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 4:42 PM

If the Midd Kid vid taught us what $50K a year buys you at Middlebury College, I guess this must be what half that — one-third if you're in-state — gets you at Keene State. Not a bad deal, all things considered. Anyway, here is "Granite State of Mind," a clever little spoof of Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind," from Boston-based satirists The Super Secret Project. Enjoy! (And note the nod to VT about midway through.)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Link Dump: The Best Show I Never Saw

Posted By on Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 3:07 PM

Word to the wise, if you ever check out a show at the new House of Blues (formerly Avalon) on Lansdowne Street in Boston, don't buy tickets for the Mezzanine. The mammoth nightclub's second floor balcony wraps around the sides and rear of room but has seriously limited sight lines. Unless you are among the first, say, fifty or so people there lucky enough to get a spot along the railing, there is literally no vantage point to actually, y'know, see the show.

So it was that I experienced Spoon at HOB this past Saturday, alternately trying to hop above the four and five deep rows of almost comically tall people in front of me for a glimpse of the stage, and craning my neck at a projection screen simulcasting the concert that was just delayed enough to be annoying. It was sort of like watching a Red Sox home game on TV at the Cask and Flagon, the famed Lansdowne Street bar that is literally twenty feet from Fenway Park — if you've never done this, imagine hearing a David Ortiz home run thirty seconds before you see it. I'm exagerrating a bit. But you get the idea. Thank God for the surprisingly reasonable Narragansett tall boys. And the sound. Good lord, the sound.

I honestly can't remember the last time I saw, er, heard a show with sound so crystalline and balanced. I've long thought that Spoon's Jim Eno (drums) and Rob Pope (bass) form rock and roll's coolest rhythm section. But I have a profound new appreciation for their work having heard them like that. It was electrifying. The same goes for keyboardist/percussionist Ed Harvey. As for lead singer Britt Daniel? Well, I still want to be him when I grow up. All in all, it was the best show I never saw.


Speaking of Britt Daniel, did you know that he used to be this guy?

And speaking of assumed names, Stephen King's kid might just be, well, the next Stephen King. Or would that be the next Richard Bachman?

Are you a local musician wondering how Obamacare will affect you? Our old friend Casey Rae-Hunter at the Future of Music Coalition is here to help.

Your pledge dollars at work! NPR currently has Dr. Dog's new album, Shame, Shame — the band's first for Anti- — available for your perusal here. The record hits shelves, real and electronic, on April 6. And here's an interview I did with bassist Toby Leaman about the record in January.

Finally! The guy responsible for Battlefield Earth apologizes.

The old gray lady of rock ’n’ roll rags, Rolling Stone, unveils its list of "Best New Bands of 2010" this Thursday. Chief among them are none other than our own Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, who got their start in, um, 2002. Nice that someone is finally paying attention to them. (BTW, it's just a coincidence that Thursday is April Fools Day, right?) Anyway, here's a new video for "Tiny Songs," from their forthcoming self-titled album, which is scheduled for release on June 6.

Last but not least, the Montreal Jazz Fest has just announced another slew of concerts for this year's edition. They have also apparently adjusted the scope of the term "jazz" to include the likes of Andrew Bird, Lou Reed, Lionel Ritchie and Steve Miller. On a related note, the Burlington Discover Jazz Fest now has a Twitter feed where they are soliciting suggestions for this year's lineup. I mean seriously, who wouldn't want to see Lionel Ritchie at the Flynn? 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Phish. In 3D. Yes, Really.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 25, 2010 at 12:02 PM

Ever see that episode of South Park where Cartman blows his "funny fuse" and loses his ability to laugh? Well, I believe I have officially blown my snark-o-meter …

PHISH 3D - IN THEATERS APRIL 30TH from Phish on Vimeo.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Apropos of Nothing

Posted By on Wed, Mar 24, 2010 at 2:11 PM

Sorry for the lack of postings this week. Lots on the ol' plate. Hows about I make it up to you with a link dump? And maybe an ice cream cone? Moving on …

First up, James Kochalka raised enough money for his Glorkian Warrior project. I'm guessing he's pretty, um, wired about that.

Our old pal, and former 7D intern, Tyler Machado, has a new music blog. He even beat me to the punch breaking the news about Marco Benevento playing a couple of shows at Parima. Do that again and see what happens, Machado. (Just kidding, Tyler … or am I?)

How's your bracket? Probably not as good as this kid's. His is quite possibly the only perfect March Madness bracket remaining in the country. Oh, and did I mention he's autistic?

Speaking of sports, ever wonder how your salary compares to, say, stupidly rich pro athletes? According to this nifty little time waster from ESPN, Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer — newly signed to an unfathomably huge contract — makes my annual salary for every 1/3 of an at bat. Or put another way, after every strike. I knew I should have paid more attention in Little League. 

Burlington-based songwriter Anders Parker (will I ever get tired of writing that?) has a new album of guitar instrumentals called Cross Latitudes. It is available only via download. Check it out here.

Congrats to Waylon Speed, who were just added to this year's Gathering of the Vibes fest. They are also releasing a sweet little debut album this weekend, which you can read about here.

For yet another year, I couldn't go, but here's the best piece about SXSW I've read so far, from the New York Times' Jon Pareles.  

Feels more like March today, doesn't it? Honestly, I'm a little relieved. St. Patrick's Day was way too early for signs of spring like Sun Dress Day, geese flying north or the Beansie's Bus pulling into Battery Park. Anyway, for some reason dreary March weather always puts me in the mood for Sufjan Stevens. That's not a bad thing.

Last but not least, I hope to hell this trailer is real.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Real Skinny

Posted By on Fri, Mar 19, 2010 at 3:02 PM

In my column this week, I mentioned that beginning this weekend, cozy Burlington creperie The Skinny Pancake would be taking an "intermission" until April. That's true. They are. What I didn't mention is that said intermission actually begins on Sunday, and that the 'cake does have two shows scheduled before they close their doors. Whoops! Anyhoo … 

Tonight, Seth Gallant and Maryse Smith take the stage for some singer-y songwriter-y sweetness. So if you're looking for a place to escape the madness of, um, March Madness that will surely grip downtown Burlington this evening, you could do worse. (Go Cats Go!)

And speaking of Gallant, the In Memory of Pluto front man will be at Radio Bean on Saturday playing with a new group called (at least for now) The Dirty Watts. According to Gallant, the band features members of IMOP, Cannon Fodder and "a dude that works at City Market." (Point of order: how many local bands don't feature a dude who works at City Market?) And just what does the new group sound like? Gallant writes, "The music is like the Rolling Stones' album Beggars Banquet." Giddyup.

Back to the 'cake, tomorrow night, Turkish-Balkan outfit Lokum will rock the joint's last show until April. According to an email from owner Benjy Adler, SP isn't expanding their footprint, but will essentially be re-imagining the layout to make it more conducive to table service and, one would guess, live music. And also, more Dan Bolles-themed crepes …

My apologies for the confusion/omissions. And here's wishing everyone a great (and warm!) weekend.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

R.I.P. Alex Chilton

Posted By on Thu, Mar 18, 2010 at 3:26 PM

Really bummed about Big Star/Box Tops front man Alex Chilton's passing yesterday. I discovered the songwriter through Elliot Smith's cover of "Thirteen," shortly after moving to Boston in 2000. The combination of Chilton's sweetly innocent lyrics and Smith's fractured voice resonated deeply with the homesick and perpetually lovelorn guy I was in my early twenties. Ten years later it still does. If there is such a thing as a perfect song, "Thirteen" might be it. Regardless of who is singing it — Jeff Tweedy has a nice version too — that tune will forever be on my "desert island" list.

In memory of Alex Chilton, here are two videos I hope you'll enjoy. The first is Big Star performing another personal favorite, "September Gurls." Local guitar god Bill Mullins does a great of version of that song, BTW. The second is is "Thirteen," sung by the man who lead me to Big Star, the late, great Elliot Smith.

Thanks, Alex.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Texas Two-Step

Posted By on Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 12:19 PM

This just in: Burlington/Texas-based psychedelic rock band The Cush are soon to be just "Texas-based" psychedelic rock band The Cush. The Texas natives typically spend the winter months in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Most years, their return to VT is a highly anticipated sign of spring. But according to a source close to the band, this time around they are planning to stay in the Lone Star State, permanently.

When reached for comment, the local music scene collectively had this to say: "Really?  … Fuck."

The Cush, currently at SXSW in Austin, will be back in VT later this month, albeit briefly, and have announced a pair of farewell shows at The Monkey House on April 9 and 10. We'll be sure to pass along more details as they become available.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Clamming Up

Posted By on Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 2:02 PM

For some reason, I've been on a big WRUV kick lately, which is unusual as I don't listen to a ton of radio. Maybe it's their nifty new website? Anyway, I just tuned in to the "dino rock" stylings of "Chocolate and Sweets" hosts Em and Emmy, who introduced me to my new favorite band and undoubtedly a summer 2010 staple, Oakland's Shannon and the Clams. Check it out.

Tuesday Link Dump

Posted By on Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 4:00 AM

It's Tuesday morning, it's bright and sunny outside and I'm stuck inside waiting for a repairman to show up. Sounds like a recipe for a link dump.

Today marks two months to the day since I quit smoking. Here's yet another reason why I'm glad I did.

I can't remember the last time I read the Sunday comics. I'm guessing it would be the last time I read a physical daily newspaper … on a Sunday … that had comics. Anyway, this past Sunday, local harmonica player Mark Lavoie snuck his way into this week's full color installment of Hi & Lois. I was always more of a Bloom County/Outland guy, myself. But this is pretty neat. In the strip, Ditto thinks he has the "Annoying Sister Blues" so he learns to play his brother Chip's harmonica by listening to old blues records - including one by Lavoie. By the way, you can catch Mark at 51 Main in Middlebury this Thursday.

Pitchfork Media is looking for interns in Brooklyn.

Came across this funny Wikipedia entry for "Music of Vermont" while reviewing the new Lady Lioness album last week. Gotta love Wikipedia.

This Boston Globe article makes the case for professional tribute bands. My one-word rebuttal: no.

Speaking of tributes, with Rough Francis set to release their debut EP of original songs this Friday, feels like a good time to revisit the story of Death. I think Jeff Howlett would agree.

Pure Pop was burglarized last week. According to police, the suspect is tall, male, white and still listens to CDs.

T-minus 19 days until Opening Day.

And last but not least, my current favorite band that I just discovered yesterday, Larry and His Flask, who will be at 242 Main this Thursday.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

No Newsom? No Problem!

Posted By on Mon, Mar 15, 2010 at 6:16 PM

If you're like me, you pay attention to the calendars of larger venues around the Northeast. Personally, I just like to stay on top of who's gonna be at Paradise Rock Club in Allston next week (Beach House), who's coming to Metropolis in Montreal next month (The XX) and who's at Iron Horse in Northampton in May (Horse Feathers). And who is, um, not coming to Burlington. Ahem.

Come to think of it, I can't recommend this as a healthy pastime at all. It's really more a source of constant frustration. There is nothing so deflating as finding out an artist you've been hot to see is touring the Northeast and hitting every reasonably sizable city in the region except ours. Especially when, as is the case with Joanna Newsom, they have an off day between, say, Montreal and Boston.

Now, just so we're clear, I'm not ragging on our local booking folks and club owners. By and large, they do a terrific job, especially for a town/region our size. And frankly, they are usually as bummed as you and I when folks like Newsom do a flyover. Rather, this is just one of those little irritations of living in and around Burlington. You learn to live with having to go to Boston and beyond to see some of your favorites. Like, for example, Spoon at House of Blues on March 27 … WOOHOO!

Excuse me. Where was I? Ah, yes. Joanna Newsom. The hell with her.

Every now and then, when certain stars pass us by, others align just so and things unexpectedly work out in our favor. Tuesday night should prove to be just such an occasion.

The Monkey House has scored a serious coup with the last minute booking of, well, Joanna Newsom's band. Or at least some of them. Since they have an off day, Newsom's supporting act, Kevin Barker will play a set with Brooklyn's Robert A.A. Lowe (a.k.a. Lichens). Newsom band mates Ryan Francesconi and Neal Morgan will also plays sets, as will our own cosmo-rural crooner, Brett Hughes.

Barker actually made a stop at the Monkey last July with Happy Birthday and Paper Castles. In a quickie column bit I wrote about the show, I mentioned that our old pal Greg Davis had suggested I might really dig Barker. Not surprisingly, Davis was spot on. Sadly, I missed the show — something about the Quad, I imagine. But Barker's solo debut You & Me stands among my favorite albums of 2009.

Here's a clip of Barker performing with his band last year. And Ms. Newsom, maybe you wouldn't have such a tough time moving records if you played more places like Burlington …

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