I have been thinking on this for a while and I think that I am going to just go ahead and do it. I am going to spend the month of July compiling a list of my favorite 500 songs… ever. Then I am going to record covers of the top one hundred and post them, one a day for 100 days, on the interwebs. Can you believe it. Oh my god. I think that this will be fun, and I also think that it will inevitably get me motivated to get working on some new My Brother, The Welder stuff. In the interest of full disclosure: this is not an entirely original idea, Bob Nanna (Braid, Hey Mercedes, City on Film… among others) did this a few years ago. Since he did his I have always wondered what 500 songs would make my list and how difficult it would be to record all of the top 100 (not surprisingly, several of Mr Nanna’s songs are likely to be on this list). I have held off doing this because it is a very overwhelming proposition to say the least. But now, oh now, I am ready (maybe).

The list will post here on August 1st along with the first cover (Which will be the 100th song on the list, then counting back to 1).

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So I am, admittedly, a little behind on this one… I have been meaning to put something up here about this record for a while and have been sidetracked by trips out of town and ridiculous summer colds. But, nonetheless, here it is now.

Bowerbirds are a band that I came across about a year ago and I really can say that it took one listen to Hymns for a Dark Horse for me to be pretty firmly in love with this band. Bowerbirds are made up of Phil Moore, Mark Paulson (both formerly of Ticonderoga) and Beth Tacular. Between the three of them they manage to pull off a pretty huge sound when they need to, the fact that the three are all very talented multi-instrumentalists plays a large part in this.

Since the first release of Hymns on Burly Time in 2007 it has seen a CD and LP re-release on Dead Oceans which brought them a pretty good amount of attention. Also the fact that John Darnielle has taken them out on the road and called them his “new favorite band in forever” couldn’t have hurt much either. You can’t really ask for a better endorsement than that.

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When I first started hearing that their new record was on the way I was understandably excited and managed to get my hands on it a few weeks ago. On the first listen I immediately heard a band that had refined a sound they skillfully established on their first album. The sound is more deliberate, and as good as Hymns is there is something in the presentation of Upper Air that shows more control from the players; more control over the songs and their writing and performance. Bowerbirds are a band that has fully come into their own with this record, and it has already solidified a spot on my top ten for the year to say the least.

The album comes out on July 7th, and they are heading out on tour on the 6th. Tour starts here in DC at The Black Cat… I can’t wait.

Preorder Upper Air (you can get the Hymns for a Dark Horse LP while you’re there too)

Bowerbirds Website

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So, the big news this week is that Sunny Day Real Estate is getting together for a reunion tour. I heard rumblings of this early in the week, and then two shows on the west coast popped up on Ticketmaster. By the next morning the east coast dates were appearing. Not since the Braid tour in 2004 have I really felt the need to pay much attention to a reunion like this. Though, as is the case with Braid, Sunny Day is firmly set in the higher echelon of bands that I couldn’t live without. They also share the distinction of being two bands that I, for various reasons, didn’t get to see when they were still together and touring. September 30th, however, will see a dream fulfilled: Sunny Day is playing at the 9:30 club and I will be there with bells on. The tour starts on September 17th, though I want to talk about something that has been a bit overshadowed by the excitement of the tour: Sub Pop is reissuing Diary and LP2 on vinyl and remastered CD on September 15th. This is great news for me, being someone who has longingly watched copies of Diary sell on eBay for ridiculous amounts of money… my day has come. The label is releasing both albums with bonus tracks and new liner notes, they should both be well worth picking up even if you already have them. As for the tour, most of the cities go on sale tomorrow morning, the rest will be soon to follow I imagine. The tickets are available at Ticketmaster or from the venues (save on those fees, people… get them at the venues if you can).

Here are the dates:

September 17th – Vancouver, BC/Commodore Ballroom
September 18th – Portland/Crystal Ballroom (Musicfest NW)
September 20th – Salt Lake City/Murray Theater
September 21st – Denver/Ogden Theater
September 23rd – Minneapolis/First Avenue
September 24th – Chicago/Metro
September 25th – Detroit/St Andrews Hall
September 27th – New York/Terminal 5
September 28th – Boston/House of Blues
September 30th – Washington DC/930 Club hell yes
October 1st – Philadelphia/Trocadero
October 3rd – Atlanta/CW Center Stage
October 5th – Dallas/Granada Theater
October 6th – Houston/Warehouse Live
October 7th – Austin/La Zona Rosa
October 9th – Tempe/Marquee Theatre
October 10th – Anaheim/House of Blues
October 11th – Los Angeles/Henry Fonda Theater
October 13th – San Francisco/Fillmore
October 15th – Spokane/Knitting Factory
October 16th – Seattle/Paramount Theatre

In other show news, there are some good ones coming up this week:

Friday, June 26th
David Sedaris (Reading and Signing) @ Borders Baileys Crossroads
The Wooden Birds @ Rock and Roll Hotel
(Oddly enough) Who’s Bad: Michael Jackson Tribute Band @ 9:30 Club

Saturday, June 27th
The Lemonheads @ Black Cat

Sunday, June 28th
Tiny Vipers @ The Red and The Black

Monday, June 29th
The Andalusians @ Black Cat

Tuesday, June 30th
~

Wednesday, July 1st
~

Thursday, July 2nd
Olivia Mancini & The Mates @ Rock and Roll Hotel

So this is a bit late. I have been out of town for a few days (during which time I managed to leave a bag full of 45’s and my favorite hoodie on a plane…), and haven’t gotten around to it. This week’s list will be starting on Sunday the 21st. It’s looking like a slow week for shows, check back for next week’s Upcoming Shows though, there are going to be some fantastic things going on in DC.

Sunday, June 21st
Camera Obscura @ 9:30 Club
Phoenix @ Rock and Roll Hotel (Sold Out)

Monday, June 22nd
Paper Chase and The Laughing Man @ DC9
Birds of Avalon @ The Red and The Black

Tuesday, June 23rd
~

Wednesday, June 24th
Patrick Wolf @ Rock and Roll Hotel

Thursday, June 25th
~

That is all for now.

A few years ago I was playing drums in a band called Fimfarum, and we had the privilege of playing a few shows with (then NC’s/now Baltimore’s) Future Islands back in 2007. We played a show at the old Warehouse here in DC, and we also did a radio show for University of Maryland’s WMUC with them and Baltimore’s Videohippos. I have been pretty in love with their music since then, and it seems to be a sentiment that more and more people are picking up. If you are unfamiliar with them the Beach Foam video (directed by Joe Stakun) is a great place to start in grasping the appeal that these guys have.

Underneath their reputation for inciting dance parties everywhere they go there is a truly talented group of guys. Sweeping keyboards, absurdly catchy synth hooks and driving bass lines provide a perfect canvas for Sam Herring’s guttural, impassioned vocals. If you haven’t heard much about them you most certainly will soon. I suspect that it was their relationship to Dan Deacon that prompted their move to Baltimore to take up a hard earned spot alongside the Wham City crew. Perhaps it was the departure of their drummer Erick Murillo (who seems to have been replaced by a very well programmed drum machine). Whatever the reason, the relocation has allowed them to get much more exposure and a lot more press. Opening for Deacon on his recent Bromst tour surely didn’t hurt either. Check out their newly released Feathers and Hallways 7″ (link below). They are also working on a new full length at the moment, keep your eyes open for that.

Future Islands Myspace

Buy the Future Islands/Dan Deacon 7″ split from Insound

Buy the Wave Like Home full-length from Insound

Upset the Rhythm  has the Feathers and Hallways 7″ & the Wave Like Home full-length disc for sale.

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The Rural Alberta Advantage’s amazing debut album, Hometowns, will finally be getting the vinyl treatment from Saddle Creek. I have been raving about this band for the past several months, and until now they have only had the album out as a self released disc that you could order from them/get at shows. Those who know me well know that I am no fan of CD’s, vinyl has always been my preferred format (and likely always will be), so I am very excited that, upon signing with Saddle Creek last month, the label announced it will be giving Hometowns a new US release in vinyl, CD and digital formats.

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Looks like they are doing a bit of touring with hints that they will be announcing more dates soon. If they are anywhere near you, you owe it to yourself to go. They put on a fantastic show.

Rural Alberta Advantage Website

Preorder the LP from Saddle Creek

Preorder the LP from Insound

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I went to my friend Bryan’s house last night to watch the epic cinematic masterpiece that is The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Bryan’s friend Andrew was there, he is someone that I see at a lot of shows and we eventually started talking about what shows were coming up. The point is that I seem to have this conversation a lot with people so I have decided that I am going to start compiling upcoming DC shows on my blog. If nothing else it will be a good way for me to keep up with shows a little better. I am going to try to do it on Thursdays, and it will be for shows coming up in the next week, starting with Friday. Here you are:

Friday June 12th
Bill Callahan @ Black Cat ($15 – 9:00)
Apostle of Hustle @ Rock and Roll Hotel ($10/$12 – Doors 8:30/Show 9:30)

Saturday June 13th
Joe Lally & Glorytellers @ Black Cat (Backstage – $8 – 8:00)

Sunday June 14th
Sunset Rubdown @ Black Cat ($13/$15 – 8:00)

Monday June 15th
Laura Gibson @ Black Cat (Backstage – $10 – 9:00)
Clues @ DC9 ($8/$10 – Doors 8:30/Show 9:00)

Tuesday June 16th
John Vanderslice & The Tallest Man On Earth @ Black Cat ($14 – 8:00)

Wednesday June 17th
Peaches @ 9:30 Club ($20 – Doors 10:00)

Thursday June 18th
Future Islands @ Velvet Lounge ($8 – Doors 7:30/Show 9:00)
Metric @ 9:30 Club (Sold Out – Doors 7:00)

Have fun.

taylor

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So, my friend Andrew in an engineer for the NPR affiliate here in Washington, and they get a lot of promo stuff thrown their way. Recently one such item was the forthcoming book Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records. I was flipping though it the other night and was immediately excited about getting my own when it comes out in September. It is a very well put together chronicle of one of the most significant indie labels around, with tons of pictures and interviews with bands past and present that have worked with Merge. It is a personal look inside the label, one that leaves you (me at least) remembering clearly why you love and invest so much energy into the music that matters to you. There are chapters wholly devoted to Neutral Milk Hotel, The Magnetic Fields, Superchunk, Spoon, Lambchop and several others. This is going to be an essential for the library of any self respecting hipster, you can count on that.

Although XX Merge is sold out, there is talk that the book will be available for sale there in July. If you are going to be heading to NC for the festivities you might want to pick it up.

Or you can pre-order from Amazon

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The Harlem Shakes are a band that I first heard after coming across their Daytrotter session about a year ago. I was pretty quickly taken in, and soon after I got their Burning Birthdays EP. The EP is fantastic, and the six songs it contained got a lot of play around the apartment/on the iPod. So needless to say I was really happy when I heard that they had a full length coming. It came at a time when I was feeling a little bummed about rock and roll. I mean that almost everything I listen to these days is a little quieter than in days past, I have to admit that there aren’t a great number of rock bands that I’m all that into right now. Technicolor Health was a quick remedy to this. This Brooklyn based band is taking great strides to resuscitate my faith in rock music.

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The record is one that is full of really nice guitar and synth hooks. Likewise, some of the vocal melodies are just as memorable as any of the other instruments and the record is rich with well placed, beautifully executed backing vocals. On top of all of this are lyrics that are at once dark and comfortingly playful in their delivery. At times the band is exceedingly tight, while at other times they are brilliantly sloppy. I remember someone describing Karl Blau’s Beneath Waves as being really sloppy, and that, to me, is why that is such a great record. There is as much to be said for controlled clumsiness as there is for a really tight beat and melody. The point is that they know when to lay it on; the album goes between the two to build a really interesting, effective sound. In all this record is a cut above many new albums I have heard lately, I wholeheartedly recommend this one. They are touring with Passion Pit right now (here in a few days… should be great), check them out if you can.

Strictly Game mp3

Harlem Shakes Website

Harlem Shakes Myspace

Buy the LP from Insound

-taylor