Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fleet Foxes / Blitzen Trapper @ Black Cat Backstage

With G.L. and Rob using the tired excuse "my parents drove 762 miles to see me so I should probably hang out with them", I was the sole Rockist to venture the wilds of the Black Cat backstage last night for the enticing Pacific Northwest double bill of Blitzen Trapper and Fleet Foxes. I had interviewed Marty of Blitzen Trapper -- for those of you at the show, the taller fellow on the right with very curly hair who played a variety of instruments -- for DCist last week in preparation for the show, and G.L. has often spoken of the band's live strengths.

Not to mention of course, that Rob picked up Fleet Foxes' debut Sun Giant EP and confirmed the universally excellent reviews these guys are getting. Marty himself had even lauded them numerous times in our interview, emphasizing that they were not to be missed. I'd agree. The EP's title track, done a cappella as it is on record, and was as striking and bold a statement of purpose as you're going to get from a band of chamber pop aficianados. The multiple part harmonies seemed more involved than they really were -- the small room, strong pipes, or some crafty doctoring techniques made just a couple voices sound like half a dozen -- and all those Crosby, Stills, and Nash allusions seemed appropriate. But as someone who's familiar with the majority of their catalog (for better or worse), for me the clearest touchstone is David Crosby's solo debut, If I Could Only Remember My Name. It's an album that's propped up by a couple strong, folky tunes, but succeeds by creating a lush atmosphere with warm, thick vocal harmonies and a laid-back, singalong vibe. It's a true Rockist album -- rare, underappreciated, imperfect, but not hard to love if given the chance. Of course, us here in the blogosphere will no doubt ensure that you have that chance with Fleet Foxes; you'd be wise not to pass it up.

I've already written a novel by blog standards, but a few quick words about Blitzen Trapper. About as affable and laid-back an indie rock troupe as you'll see (not unlike fellow Northwesterners The Long Winters in that regard), they performed a really strong and varied set. They began with "Devils-A-Go-Go" and then promptly took it down a notch with a mostly solo tune from lead singer Eric Easley about cocaine. Something was wrong with Marty's acoustic guitar early on, but it seemed to kinda get fixed during "Summer Town". An excellent new, poppier tune led into the set's strongest moment, "Furr", the title track from their upcoming September release. A Dylanesque stomp introduced as a song "about space travel and the jungle", it went over very well with the sold out Backstage crowd. I also really enjoyed "Jericho", a classic Neil Young-inspired midtempo rocker with Marty on lead. Naturally, "Country Caravan" had an extra bounce in its step, and the closing "Woof & Warp at the Quiet of the Giant's Hem" was like a mid-90s Flaming Lips outtake. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed it, my girlfriend enjoyed it, the crowd seemed to like it (until the encore) -- there was something for everybody.

Fleet Foxes - "Mykonos"
Blitzen Trapper - "Jericho"

Friday, March 21, 2008

Five for Friday

It's officially springtime, when bloggers everywhere are returning from SXSW to tease you with tales of how awesome it was. It's also time for them to roll out their "it's officially springtime" posts, and start using descriptors like "California rock", "sun-kissed melodies", and "shiny pop goodness" until all you want to hear is an early demo of Metal Machine Music or maybe some acoustic Mogwai or something. Here are some unrelated songs for your listening pleasure:
The Raveonettes - "Black Satin"
The Dexateens - "Slender Thread"
Sun Kil Moon - "Lily and Parrots"

Monday, March 17, 2008

Five Neil Young Covers.

Slow day around here after a long weekend spent both literally sweating at the raucous Rockist outing at the Black Lips' Black Cat show on Saturday and figuratively sweating out the announcement of the NCAA brackets. Seemed like a good day for a few covers, and for some reason Neil Young was on the brain. I tried to get a good selection of not-so-often covered material here (with one obvious exception).

The Mobius Band - "Razor Love"
A fairly recently released tune off Neil's 2000's Silver and Gold.

Buddy Miles - "Down By The River"
This one's been passed around the net a lot lately since Miles passed away. Always a classic, this time a little funkier.

A tune that rarely gets its due off On the Beach, leave it to Tim Rutili and the gang to pull this one out of the hat.

Okkervil River - "Mellow My Mind"
In my top 5 all time Neil tracks, both as a perfect set closer and for Neil's absurd voice cracks in the original. Will Sheff's voice suits this tune pretty nicely.

Emily Haines - "Expecting to Fly"
First recorded by Neil with Spectorite producer Jack Nitzche on Buffalo Springfield's finest hour, Buffalo Springfield Again, the original featured Neil's tentative vocals and huge, swooning strings. This one's a cool take from Haines' Minnesota Public Radio sessions.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

School of Language Setlist- 3/10/08 - DC9

I won't guarantee the accuracy of this list. 9 beers and no notes make me question my memory.

Rockist Part 1
Disappointment '99
Poor Boy
Keep Your water
This Is No Fun
Extended Holiday
Marine Life
Rockist Part 4

It turns out, through a conversation with David Brewis after the show, that we may have had an unconscious effect on the naming of the 4 part "Rockist" tracks.

Oh, and check out Medications. They were fantastic.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Today Show: Indie as F***

Anyone catch the Today Show this morning? Due to, umm, living arrangement diplomacy, I typically flip back and forth between Matt, Meredith, Al, and the Gang and Sportscenter or Mike and Mike (should I not be sharing this?).

But this morning, I encountered a pleasant, but odd surprise. During a segment on the increase in traffic congestion and commute times in America, they used both the Arcade Fire's apocalyptic-turned-utopian anthem "No Cars Go" and Wilco's Big Pink-style rocker, "Walken" as background music. Both somewhat clever tunes to use given the subject matter. Of course, both bands have something of a relationship with NBC, having done Saturday Night Live in the past year (Wilco just last weekend, where they actually did "Walken").

Still, kind of a surprising choice, don't you think? Anybody have any other instances of this -- besides Wilco's now ubiquitous presence in automobile advertising? By the same token, has anyone noticed that one of Fox NFL's producers seems to throw a healthy dose of indie rock into their coverage. Last year I swear they played Pavement and the Pixies back-to-back. If you have any knowledge of this, please, let us know.

Arcade Fire - "No Cars Go" (Live at Judson Memorial)
Wilco - "Walken" (Live at the Pines Theater)

Also, just because I've been playing these a lot of late:
Arcade Fire - "Ocean of Noise" (Live at Judson Memorial)
Wilco - "ELT" (Live at the Riviera)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Finally Given Our Due

David Brewis, of the often mentioned Field Music, recently released Sea from Shore with his newly formed band, School of Language. Although there's little difference between his old and new bands (not that we're complaining), save for a little reverb and some experimentation, he does give TRS a shout out IN FOUR PARTS!

Here is Part 1 of Rockist, obviously a gift to us for our unwavering support...

School of Language - "Rockist Part 1"

and another for good measure.

School of Language - "Disappointment '99"

Check out School of Language with Medications and Go Home Robot at DC9 on March 10. You might run into a Rockist.