Monday, March 21, 2011

Jam + Cover jam of the day: "This Must Be The Place" + "Bret Easton Ellis Novel"

Artists: Miles Fisher (covering Talking Heads and Bret Easton Ellis) + Netherfriends
Songs: "This Must Be The Place" + "Bret Easton Ellis Novel"
Film/novel: American Psycho

The entertainment value of this video by Miles Fisher is decidedly more dependent on your familiarity with the film American Psycho than the Talking Heads song. I'll confess this song was totally new to me (my knowledge of 1980s music is terrible, even with good music from that era, for whatever reason) so I can't pass too much judgment on the cover version. I will say a few things, though, because I'm already here and I have some opinions. For one, I hope this isn't a "great" Talking Heads tune because I'm pretty underwhelmed. For two, this song wasn't even featured in the American Psycho soundtrack, but it was in the film Wall Street (twice!), as well as Lars and the Real Girl and He's Just Not That Into You, plus the TV shows Judging Amy and Northern Exposure, so there's that. For three, it's been covered by some well-loved indie artists (here's a version by MGMT from a live show way back in 2003, and here's a version by Arcade Fire that was recorded as a B-side to "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)"), so there's also that. Maybe I should be writing about those versions. But no, because, for four, this video is a super homage to so many scenes from the American Psycho film that it has to be shared. I actually watched the film for the first time (straight-through, anyway, I've caught pieces on TV before) a few months ago, then started reading the novel a few weeks thereafter, and I just finished that a few days ago. If you haven't seen the film, this video will seem really weird and incomplete and the song will probably sound like an unnecessarily cheesy 90s electro-pop remake of a classic 80s single. But coupled with a boatload of references to so many classic scenes from the film (working out in the living room, comparing business cards, picking up Christie, axing Paul Owen/Allen to Huey Lewis & The News, pointing to the mirror mid-threesome, etc.) and Fisher's seriously striking resemblance to Christian Bale's portrayal of Patrick Bateman, and the bookending body-bag scenes, and the way that the song actually kinda grows on me ... yeah, it's pretty fun. Is it an outstanding work of musical art? No. Is it entertaining? Hell yeah.

Here's Miles Fisher's version:

and here's Talking Heads' original version:

In case you're curious, Miles Fisher is an actor/musician who you may remember as Paul Kinsey's friend/drug dealer on Mad Men (and for that you may have an "Aha!" moment like I did; a friend shared this video with me when we were talking about the film a few months back, and I just now looked up who this guy is, and now it all makes sense). He also has an EP of electro-pop available to buy, and his videos have a lot of views on YouTube, so there's that, too. Seems like an interesting fellow!

Lastly, I'll share this video of an actually great song that I really like from a (current) artist I really like (and wrote about before) and it's a superb video made by the artist himself. This is Netherfriends' song "Bret Easton Ellis Novel" and it's a great tune and it's perfectly appropriate to share here, so enjoy this stop motion animation:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The best Pavement album ever?

That's a tough/easy question to answer depending on who you ask, it seems. Sadly, you might hear an answer of, "Who?", on occasion, but if you ask the right party, they'll either have an immediate answer, or they'll say that they can't really decide. At least, this is what I've noticed. The reason I'm bringing this up now is that the following exchange occurred at my place the other night during a weekly poker game. One guy was looking through my vinyl cabinet for something to play, found the Pavement section, and then this happened:

D: Without sounding too uncultured, what's the best Pavement album?

N: Slanted & Enchanted.

S: You said that rather matter-of-factly, N.

N: Well, that's because it's a matter of fact.

(Names abbreviated to unnecessarily protect the completely innocent.)

I chuckled out loud, as did some others around the table, but that was the extent of the discussion. I went back to focusing on losing at cards and forgot about the whole thing. But now that I think about it, I don't really have an immediate answer to that question, like N did. I can think of good sections of albums that I enjoy, a multitude of favorite songs and lyrics and guitar riffs and so on, but none of the albums particularly stand out as an overwhelming favorite to me. I'd like to investigate this further. I recently got the Watery, Domestic EP in the mail from an order I made with Matador Records (in addition to the Slow Century DVD) and that completely rounds out my collection of Pavement vinyl. I've acquired all of the LPs (Slanted & Enchanted; Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain; Wowee Zowee; Brighten The Corners; and Terror Twilight) at various record shops as I find them (all at pretty good prices for new vinyl, I might add). I know there are a bunch of other EPs and singles out there, but it seems like those 5 LPs and 1 EP are the "main discography", so to speak, or at least the easily acquirable ones. Sometime in the not-too-distant future, I hope to devote an entire afternoon (or more) to sitting down and playing them all in a row and settling on a favorite. Maybe one will jump out immediately. Maybe I'll be more confused than ever. Who knows, really? It will be fun, that's for sure.

In the meantime, what's your favorite and why? I'm really curious about the reasons for these types of decisions. Feel free to chime in with just an album name for the sake of a general poll, but I'm more interested in logical and/or metaphysical explanations, here. So have at it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Upcoming concerts this week: Laura Stevenson & the Cans / Eureka Birds / Low Water, Harlan Twins, Nik & the Central Plains / Magik Markers, Sic Alps

I wasn't sure that I would be around the 'Burgh this week (spring break for me, woo) but as it turns out I didn't really feel like traveling so here I am in town. Lucky for me, too, because there are a number of shows this week to which I'm planning on going (huzzah, grammar). You should consider checking them out, as well.

Tonight, Monday March 7, we have Laura Stevenson & the Cans at 222 Ormsby in Mount Oliver. I saw this band play with Maps & Atlases and Cults at the Brillobox last August and was really impressed with their sound. They squeezed a lot of people on stage (five or six, I think) and put together a lovely folk/rock hybrid sound. Lead singer Laura had an endearingly playful stage persona, but between the giggly banter she put on some serious displays of singing and songwriting talent. The band, too, did well weaving between stripped-down folk arrangements and some loud-and-proud rock riffs. They have a new album coming out next month entitled Sit Resist and have already released a single track, "Master of Art", an mp3 of which you can download here for free (huzzah, grammar). So I've never actually been to this venue, but it is apparently a popular DIY/donations-only/house-show spot, and it's a short walk from a stop on the 54C, which is how I'll be getting there. A Facebook event says they're asking for a $5 donation with doors at 6:00 and show at 6:30. Also playing are Brightside, WifeBeater, and Fuck yeah, dinosaurs!. I don't know anything about these bands, so I won't pretend to here. In any event, see yinz at the show, and in the meantime, here's their music video for "Holy Ghost" (from their previous debut record, A Record).

Laura Stevenson & the Cans on the web: Website, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Bandcamp, Artist page on Quote Unquote Records, Wikipedia,

Tomorrow night, Tuesday March 8, we have Eureka Birds at the Commonplace Coffeehouse in Squirrel Hill. I didn't know anything about this band until they emailed me out of the blue last week, but I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the songs they had recently posted on Bandcamp. It's tough to even pick a few genre labels that apply to them, so you should just head over there and listen for yourself and enjoy the lovely indie pop with some folksy/bluesy arrangements. Aw shucks, I couldn't help but name some genres, but don't let that dissuade you. They're on a short midwest tour on the way to Austin for SXSW, so they'll just be a duo at this particular show, with singer/keyboardist Justin and bassist/drummer Kevin, although they're usually a four/five-piece with guitar, bass, drums and cello. I've been to Commonplace once before for a caffeinated beverage and it was scrumdiddlyumptious, but I had no idea they put on shows. It's not exactly a big place so, if you're planning on going, be sure to get there on time to grab a seat and order your cappuccino before the espresso machine presents itself as a noisy distraction. See yinz at the show, and in the meantime, here's a video of them playing "Oh! My Dear", from their debut self-titled album, live on WTMD radio in Towson, MD.

(And here's an (unintentionally?) hilarious promo video they made.)
Eureka Birds on the web: Website, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Bandcamp,

On Friday night, March 11, we have Low Water and Harlan Twins and Nik & the Central Plains at the Brillobox in Bloomfield/Lawrenceville. Low Water will be releasing their new CD The Taste You Know And Enjoy (the name comes from Squirrel Hill's Aiello's Pizza, hah). I have yet to see Low Water and Harlan Twins play live, so I'm looking forward to that, while Nik & the Central Plains are becoming one of my fave local bands. Should be a fun night of local music (well, Low Water are based in Brooklyn, but a few of them are Pittsburghers). See yinz at the show, and in the meantime, here's a music video for Low Water's tune "Go" from their 2008 album Twisting the Neck of the Swan.

Low Water on the web: Facebook, MySpace
Harlan Twins on the web: Facebook, MySpace,
Nik & the Central Plains on the web: Facebook, MySpace,

On Saturday night, March 12, we have Magik Markers and Sic Alps playing at The Shop in Bloomfield/Lawrenceville. I saw Magik Markers play to a small crowd at Garfield Artworks about a year ago and was really blown away (it made my Top 10 live shows of the year list). Meandering drum/bass jams with scattered guitar shredding and spoken-word weirdness... it was truly a spectacle to behold, and I can only imagine the vibe will be even better at The Shop. I don't know anything about Sic Alps but I just gave a listen to a couple of free tracks I found online, and they have an excellent noisy garage rock/pop sound. Should be a great combination. See yinz at the show, and in the meantime, here's a video of Magik Markers playing live at a club in Brooklyn in 2007. It is definitely a "free jam". Enjoy.

And here's a fan-made music video for one of my fave songs of theirs, "Taste".
Magik Markers on the web: Website, Facebook, Blog, MySpace, Wikipedia,
Sic Alps on the web: Website, Facebook, MySpace,

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Vinyl find: The Kingsmen / "Louie, Louie" b/w "Haunted Castle"

(Check out the first post in this series for the back story.)

Artist: The Kingsmen
Album: "Louie, Louie" b/w "Haunted Castle" 45 RPM 7" single
Label: Wand Records
Released: 1963

The concept of a B-side to a hit single no longer seems relevant in the digital era, does it? Remember when that shit mattered? I don't --- before my time, ya know? Do you think I can start this post with four questions in a row? Hell yes, I can, can't I? Oh shit, that's five, isn't it? Damn, I might as well go for six, eh? Is anyone still reading?

Anyhoozle, you absolutely know the A-side of this single by The Kingsmen. If you don't, you are not a human being who has ever owned a radio or seen a television program, so why the hell are you on the internet reading this? I don't think I have much to say about "Louie, Louie" except that it doesn't seem to have lost any of its luster as a straight-up rock 'n roll hit single. There's something about the way the singer yelps out those half-mumbled, fully-obscured lyrics and the keyboard chords chime with just the right amount of off-kilter melody and rhythm that sounds so perfect, and it probably will forever. Hearing it doesn't have quite the shock value as it must have back in 1963, and I don't think I will ever think of it as a covert "drug song" with "obscene lyrics" (although the singer may have been on some shit during recording, who's to say?), but it certainly endures as a classic garage rock single, worthy of its timelessness, for sure. Now, for five bonus points, can you name the original composer and performer of "Louie, Louie"? 30 second pause That's right, it was Richard Berry! You can collect your bonus trivia points if you buy me a beer at a show. In the meantime, relive the magic of The Kingsmen's "Louie, Louie" below (with all the lyrics!), and check out some famous and not so famous cover versions here: Richard Berry, Beach Boys, Paul Revere & The Raiders (my fave version of these, FWIW), Motorhead, Toots & the Maytals, Joan Jett, and finally Pittsburgh's very own 1960s scuzz punk band Swamp Rats (I got a compilation of their singles recently, been meaning to write something about them; keep your eyes peeled). Also, the crazy (and unverified) find of the day: this youtube user claims to have audio recording from the first ever Nirvana show, including some random bass riffs that sound like the intro to "Louie, Louie". Hmm, judges?

That song was pretty popular, staying at #2 on the charts for 6 weeks. (Seriously, it was never #1? My mind is blown.) The B-side to this song is a 2:45 instrumental entitled "Haunted Castle" and I wonder if anyone ever listened to it. I'd never heard nor heard of it, but I really like the sound. It has the same driving organ/guitar melody of the A-side, with a fun guitar solo right in the middle, and some punchy drum fills, and the dreamy organ chords that just seem to hang on the ends of the measures before picking up into the next beat are oh-so-catchy.
The weird thing is that I feel like I just keep waiting for the singer to chime in, like he keeps missing his cue verse after verse and then, after almost 3 minutes, the band just calls the whole thing off and calls it a day. Or a song, as it were.It's a catchy tune, for sure, but I can see why it's a B-side. Maybe I'm beginning to understand this whole B-side business after all... In any event, I'm glad to have randomly come across this record in a giant box of 45s, even if it does have big Xs draw in sharpie over the copyright info on both sides, and the letters "WAG" written on side B, too. Curses, past owner!

Upcoming concerts: Wednesday March 2 in Pgh / The Seedy Seeds at Brillobox / Verona Red at Garfield Artworks

Jeez, I've been pretty bad about updating here lately :-/ School & work beckon! I'm just popping in to remind you of the concert calendar we're maintaining over at Draw Us Lines. We try to stay up to speed with the bands/venues that we recommend, but surely we can't be aware of everything, so let me know via email about any events that should be included! Specifically, tomorrow night (Wednesday, March 2, 2011) there are a couple interesting shows happening in the Bloomfield/Garfield area.

At the Brillobox, you can catch The Seedy Seeds, The Wine, the Women & the Bomb, and Robin Vote. It's not easy to describe the sound styles of The Seedy Seeds since they've managed to fused banjo and other folk instruments with electronic pop melodies and synthesizers and male/female vocal harmonies, which leaves me with too many adjectives to fit together, so I'll just steal the term "Appalachiatronica" from an old Idolator article. I've been streaming a bunch of tunes from their Bandcamp page lately and I think it would be interesting to see them put these together live. Playing with them are two Pittsburgh bands. The website of The Wine, the Women & the Bomb is pretty but kind of uninformative due to the prose that's straight out of a high-minded fantasy novel (including a Nietzsche quote, even), but the songs streaming on their Bandcamp page give off a solid rock vibe: lots of guitars and drums, intricate rhythms, forceful vocals, etc. Robin Vote described themselves as "glam-jazz" and "doom-folk" in a feature on Pgh Music Report; I can't claim to know much about those genres so I'll let their songs speak for themselves (as well as the novel whence the band name.) All in all, seems like a crazy interesting mix of genres and styles; this should be a good show. Tickets are $7 at the doors (open at 9:00 pm). Here's a video for The Seedy Seeds' song "Drive Me To The Center".

At Garfield Artworks, you can catch Verona Red, Wine & Spirit, and Boulevard of the Allies. They just released a new EP, Pound, that you can stream on Bandcamp. After listening to it a few times recently, I can say that you wouldn't be wrong in saying that Verona Red have some bluesy/swing stylings, but there's some roots rock 'n roll in there, too, and it sounds like it would be pretty exciting to see at a "cozy" venue like Garfield Artworks. Local openers Wine & Spirit and Boulevard of the Allies (a truly local name, even) fit that bill, similarly; based on the songs I listened to today, they seem to draw from the same kinds of Midwest/Southern blues influences with some upbeat swing and rowdy rock 'n roll. Can't go wrong with that. And hey, Pgh Music Report did a feature on Boulevard of the Allies recently, too, so check that out. Tickets are $5 at the doors (open at 8:00 pm, 18+, BYOB). Here's a video of Verona Red playing their new song "Kitchen Song".

I'm not sure if I'll make it to either show due to life and such, but feel free to comment here if you're planning on going or did actually go and enjoyed yourself. Cheers!