Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The Walkmen - new album

Listening right now to the new Walkmen album, which seems to be a great return to Bows + Arrows form...

It is also both remarkably good value, and good for the soul. Here's the band's note:

You & Me is now available for $5 at www.amiestreet.com/thewalkmen .

For every record purchased, $5 will be donated to the  Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

I don't know how a $5 album makes $5 for a (great) cancer centre, but this is a wonderful idea. Buy a few copies!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

The Morning Benders - free music

The Morning Benders have made a big dent in my listening in the last few weeks - I love the loose limbed, fun, feel of their debut, Talking Through Tin Cans (see previous post). Now they've gone a step further and released, for free, an EP/ album of covers recorded in their apartment. (They call it Bedroom Covers, but don't get the impression that this is just a mirror and a hairbrush - the covers are excellent choices, their versions have depth and soul...)

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Vandaveer, AdultAlternative session

Mark Charles Heidinger, AKA Vandaveer, was someone I'd missed out on. On the recent UK tour with These United States, Mark (playing bass in the photo) combines a great voice and simply great songs. He is also a genuinely warm and nice guy...

We were lucky enough to get him to sing songs from his fantastic album, Grace and Speed. As always, click on the song titles to go to YouTube to see these in higher quality video and audio.

Monday, 14 July 2008

These United States session

Rapidly becoming one of my favourite bands, These United States stopped by The Old Chapel at the end of a successful UK tour that included three performances at Glastonbury.

With an immense songcraft, and a remarkable ability to reinvent their own songs (just listen to So High So Low, from the first album reworked here), the new material previewed in the session has a nailed on Basement Tapes/ Highway 61 Revisited feel. (In a good way. It would be easy to throw that out as a comparison, based on sound alone, but the songs stand the comparison easily.)

Here's what I wrote about their first album, A Picture of The Three Of Us At the Gate To The Garden Of Eden:
With the new intelligence raging through American popular folk/ Americana/ rock, the congestion among bands that build rock into their psych-folky harmonies is hard to penetrate. However, These United States may just be strong enough to break through it all - lead man Jesse Elliott shows a Paul Simon knack for a melody and a sense of song dynamics that can leave you breathless. Songs like First Sight, or The Business, come across like early 70s classics from the bleeding edge of 2008. Elliott's voice recalls M Ward's - well, it's actually a dead ringer - but the music is a lot more varied; there's some Andrew Bird in there, surely. Led by Elliott and his friend David Strackany, These United States drafted in more than 30 Washington, DC and Midwest-based musicians, and deployed them sparely and wonderfully across the record. In places a fragile thing, in others as solid as metal, the imagination behind A Picture can seem fevered - you get to the end of it like you get to the end of a good modern art gallery - still slightly puzzled, but in no doubt that you now see things differently.

Enjoy these videos of this incarnation of These United States: main man Jesse Elliott (left), Mark Charles (of Vandaveer; middle) and J. Tom Hnatow (right). If you click on the titles, you'll go to YouTube, where you've the option to watch in higher quality (sound and video). Look for some songs from Vandaveer soon. 

Friday, 11 July 2008

Black Cab Sessions

One of the coolest sites about sees a fantastic collection of artists playing a song in the back of a black cab in London.

Have a look at this video of Stephen Fretwell, and then head to here for the full collection.


Friday, 4 July 2008

Lance Armstrong - Death Cab fan

Interested to read that Lance Armstrong is in love with this Death Cab For Cutie song, and seems to have pretty reliable taste in music to add to the other reasons to like the guy...