Month: September 2014

WEEKENDER: Real Estate play Bottletree Sunday night

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If you’ve kept up at all with indie music during the past 8-10 years you know it’s changing rapidly. There’s not a particular sound you can pinpoint and call “indie” anymore. So many new indie acts have adapted and recycled sounds from the past and pushed the limits into more of a pop sound. But there are, of course, the bands that have stuck around over the years with minimal change to their sound. Bands like Modest Mouse, Spoon, Wilco, and Arcade Fire and more recently Vampire Weekend are examples. Those bands have found a niche market, so to speak, and have grown into adult-friendly music. Or maybe their listeners have just grown into adults. Either way, those bands are still, for all intents and purposes, “indie rock” bands.

In the past five years, one band has stuck out amongst its peers as a true American “indie rock” band. That band consists of guys who grew up in the suburbs of northeastern America in New Jersey. That band is Real Estate.

Their first self-titled album came out in 2009 and featured “Beach Comber” a track that propelled them into the music atmosphere as a hazy, beachy, (also pinned as “lo-fi) surf-rock style band. Also on that debut, a song that absolutely floored me, “Suburban Dogs.” With the snare drum on the up beat and bass drum on the down keeping time throughout the song, and the phase shifting guitar noodling, “Suburban Dogs” sets the stage for a summer evening riding your skateboard home from your friend’s house as the sun sets on the paved road in front of you and you feel absolutely carefree. Let’s get this right, this album is perfect for summer weather.

In 2011, they released their second album Days on a bigger indie label, Domino Recording Company. This record had a bit more polish and sheen but still they stuck with their formula for writing and composing music. Still keeping with the theme of the previous record and the underlying idea of nostalgia, they turned out songs like “Green Aisles,” which is one of the prettiest songs I’ve ever heard, and “Out of Tune.” But this time, the band notched up the BPMs on tracks like “Easy” and the now crowd-pleasing “It’s Real,” the song everyone sings along with at shows. The band even had some minor chart success, reaching number 52. With this record, Real Estate was beginning to carve out a space in indie rock and get comfortable for the long term.

This year they’ve released yet another critically acclaimed record Atlas, again on Domino. They are embarking on another major tour, more promotional marketing, and even had a spot on “The Late Show with David Letterman” back in April. “Atlas” could be their most successful album to date, this time reaching number 34 on the charts, so far. By now you’ve probably read that they used Wilco’s studio space in Chicago with lots of instruments at their disposal to record “Atlas,” also garnering comparisons to Wilco. “Talking Backwards,” “Had to Hear” and “Crime” stick out as the most popular and catchiest songs on the album, and this time main songwriter and singer Martin Courtney tackles more recent topics and focuses on the future rather than reflecting on the past as he did so often on the previous albums’ songs.

On this record you begin to recognize songs as “Real Estate” songs. Not so much because they are on the album, but because of the instantly recognizable guitar stylings of one Matt Mondanile and the vocals of Martin Courtney you’ve grown accustomed to. You pick up pretty quickly on Matt’s style particularly on “Crime” in the same way you would pick out Britt’s voice on a Spoon song, or the instrumentation of a Vampire Weekend song. You don’t have to know it’s a Real Estate song to know that it’s a Real Estate song. This is a sure sign of a band making an impact in music.

Real Estate is quickly becoming a mainstay in American indie rock like the bands I mentioned above. They will be one of the bands that will hopefully have a long career and grow a larger and larger fanbase. I’ve met the lead singer, Martin twice now: once in Nashville a few years ago and earlier this year in Austin, and I can tell you that he is a driven and professional musician, not a guy looking to make noise on social media or soak up the hype or fame. The guys in Real Estate just want to make great guitar music. This is a great band, so pay attention!

When I heard they were finally coming to Birmingham, I was totally excited. Hopefully, you were able to pick up tickets for the now SOLD OUT show at Bottletree THIS WEEKEND,  but if you weren’t able to get tickets please make sure you find a tour date near by you and go see Real Estate. If you do have a ticket to Sunday’s show, I’ll see you there.

WEEKENDER ROAD TRIP: Squallfest in Lexington

“A squall is a sudden, violent, gust of wind usually associated with active weather or thunderstorms.”

“A squall line is a line of thunderstorms that have a common lifting mechanism. Lifting mechanisms tend to occur in bands“.

By the definition of “squall” and “squall line”, it’s safe to assume that the definition for “Squallfest” would be: A sudden, violent, gust of rawk that tends to occur within the bands on this line-up.

Now, what the hell is “Squallfest”?

Squallfest is a two-day music festival, held in Lexington, Kentucky with a portion of all tickets($18-$20) sales going to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. The festival, which will have two stages, will be held at the massive, 11,000sqft, live music venue Buster’s Billiard’s & Backroom in the Lexington Distillery District.(Fun Fact: the building that Buster’s now calls home was built in 1860 and was part of the first registered distillery in Lexington.)

That being said, if you love music or historical buildings or music held in historical buildings, you need to make the trip to Squallfest.

Now, let’s talk about the important things, the music. This line-up really does perfectly accompany the festival title (and made-up definition), all these bands pack a heavy punch of rawk fused with punk, metal, and rocknroll with one common factor running rampant through most of these bands; southern roots. Headlined by Nine Pound Hammer and The Dopamines, check out the schedule below, make your plans, “grab the ticket and take the ride”; all the cool kids are doing it!

Friday September 19th 2014

8:00 – Doc Feldman and the Infernal Method

8:45 – Christian Lee Music

9:30 – The Past

10:00 – Sonic Deville

11:00 – Those Crosstown Rivals

*Doors at 7:00 PM music starts at 8:00 PM sharp!*

Saturday September 20th 2014

(frontroom)

5:00 – Vibrolas

6:00 – Arlo McKinley & The Lonesome Sound

7:00 – Josh Nolan

8:00 – Jeremy Porter and the Tucos

9:00 – Bad People

10:00 – The Dopamines

(backroom)
4:30 – Alcatraz Shakedown

5:30 – Todd Farrell Jr. & the Dirty Birds

6:30 – Paper Bridges

7:30 – Bohannons

8:30 – Alone At 3AM

9:30 – Ned Van Go

10:30 – Those Crosstown Rivals

11:15 – Nine Pound Hammer

Doors at 3:00 pm music starts at 4:30 PM sharp!*

Tickets: $10 day of show / $18 pre-sale – http://www.ticketfly.com/event/656321-squallfest-2014-lexington/

Playlist: Squallfest 2014 Playlist<

FLASHBACK FRIDAY! WHISTLE EDITION!

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I’m really psyched about this week’s video because it’s such a fun song. Back in 2006, a little group from Sweden called Peter, Bjorn, and John released one of the catchiest songs ever called “Young Folks”. The band has released other music heard in commercials and elsewhere but this song is probably their most popular. In fact, it was so popular that even Mr. Kanye West sampled and used the song for himself! You can listen to that here.

Here’s the amazing video:

 

MEGA POPULAR BAND GIVES AWAY THEIR NEW ALBUM, EVEN IF NO ONE WANTS IT.

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Unless you are totally off the grid you’ve probably heard about Apple’s announcement regarding the latest piece of technology that they are releasing in the coming months and that you are supposed to buy. Yes, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be released soon, AND the latest in wearable technology, the Apple Watch will also be here next year. Two fantastic opportunities to further sever true human interaction (kind of a cynical statement but think about it).

Now, I’m not one of those blowhard Apple haters who shares hilarious memes on Facebook about Apple finally catching up to Samsung. I don’t care about that. I’ve been an iPhone user since the first one hit the shelves back in ‘07, but like probably a lot of other people, I JUST got an iPhone 5S recently, and low and behold, my technology is now outdated. But, I don’t really care about that part either. I’m here to talk about another part of that announcement- the release of a piece of music that coincided with the announcement of these new Apple products. I guess you could say, the release of a product to help announce the release of another product. I’m talking about that U2 album.

u2 from the 90s

A bajillion dollar company teamed up with a bajillion dollar mega-star band sharing their music in order to make that bajillion dollar company seem hip and cool. U2 shocked the world by releasing their album via cloud technology to iTunes, iTunes Radio, and Beats users for, get this, FREE. Everyday internet users around the world scour the web for opportunities to get free music. In an unparalleled, totally original move, U2 gave their album away for free to Apple, a company that other artists and bands have been struggling with regarding receiving the money they deserve for their album sales. Then, Apple turned around and gave U2’s album to all of their customers for free. That’s only part of it though. Music is a form of art and artistic expression. Art can be sold or can be given away, and it’s up to the recipient to truly determine the worth and value of the art, we all know that. But, I have questions about the integrity and authenticity of this band, and whether they are still attempting to create art or are they just attempting to grow their brand and popularity by churning out product after product? It’s hard to figure that part out since they are already one of the most popular bands of all time. So my question is, why do this? What’s the gain?

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For the past few days, I’ve been pondering if this move was ludicrous and slightly offensive to real music lovers or totally brilliant. I’m leaning towards the former part of that statement because I don’t think it’s cool to force your art, music, or even opinions on other people, particularly in such a creepy, Big Brother way, and I am not alone. The social media universe exploded with anger and frustration about U2 secretly sliding their piece of music into 500 million people’s iPhones, causing Apple to create a website with instructions on how to delete the album from your library. Here’s what I’m saying, people actually don’t want a FREE piece of music when forced on them.

Is U2 a bad band? I’m not a huge fan, but I don’t think so. Also, please forgive this statement but, like everyone with ears, I really dig their older stuff much more. Did I even listen to this album? Nope. This isn’t an album review, it’s a conversation-starting blog post. Did U2 need to do this? No, they did not. Did Apple need to do this? No, THEY did not.

But, like Bono put it in a recent quote to the media, “The blood, sweat and tears of some Irish guys are in your junk mail” and you got this music anyway. Too many times bands and artists partner with major corporations in giant marketing campaigns to force their music on people instead of letting us make up our own minds. Jay Z did it last year with Samsung, and now U2 has done it. Now, I don’t have any problem with bands making money and gaining exposure through commercial licensing. Honestly, if you talk to any up and coming band, they will tell you licensing is one of the very few ways to make money as a struggling musician these days because companies like Apple don’t want to pay fair amounts to bands and artists. But, when you’ve forced your music onto the masses the music becomes, not a piece of creative artwork, it becomes a product. And I don’t know about you, but free or not, I ain’t buyin’ it.

Album Review: Caleb Caudle – Paint Another Layer on My Heart

Caleb Caudle‘s “Paint Another Layer On My Heart” does what I believe to be Caleb‘s best quality as a songwriter; tells a story. Each track on this album vividly “paints” a picture of the meaning behind the songs and the lyrics leave little room for questions or second-guessing. The only thing this album really leaves room for is a place to insert your own life experiences and emotions and watch how every song can relate to each one of us; it’s amazing, sad, beautiful, and heart-breaking.

The 10-track, sophomore album from Caudle, has a glaring underlying theme that rattles true within the state of touring musicians today: The hardships of life on the road. Caudle doesn’t leave room for guessing. These songs are full of lyrics about missing your loved ones, not being home for the holidays and frankly, having to face your own demons and misery on your own, without anyone else to blame or make excuses. It’s not all puppies and rainbows, it’s real life music but somehow Caudle has figured out how to make it sound beautiful.

Caudle was able to corral some other great musicians within the “alt country family” to assist in the instrumentation and backing vocals on “Paint Another Layer on Heart”; Whit Wright of American Aquarium (pedal steel) and Lydia Loveless (vocals). Loveless wastes no time in making her presence known and solidifies her spot on the album with her harmonies on the very first track “How’d You Learn”. On the track “Another Night”, which is a personal favorite of mine, Wright’s pedal steel screams through the shadows while Caudle‘s bellows lines such as “I make up excuses, and I feel less useless, try not to scratch on the 8.” Woah. I’ll give you a second to let the goose bumps subside and your eyes to dry up… Although I had a really tough time choosing my favorite track on the album, it was between “Come on October” and “Trade All The Lights”, I had to go with the latter; it’s full of emotion, desire, want, despair and it also perfectly blends the backing vocals of Loveless and the sweet, soft riffs of Wright’s pedal steel with Caudle‘s descriptive lyrics to create a beautiful song that will remain one of my favorites of 2014.

Paint Another Layer on My Heart, which was released by This is American Music (T.I.A.M), is a great nod to the more classic country/singer-songwriters of our times. Caleb‘s Caudle approach of painting glowing pictures through each song, writing honest, real, relatable lyrics is refreshing and inspiring; I can’t recommend this album enough. Do yourself a favor; get the album, catch a live show (he tours like a man running from the law), and see why “Paint Another Layer On My Heart” has received a spot on my “best of 2014” list.

You can find the record on iTunes or at thisisamericanmusic.com.

There goes FLASHBACK FRIDAY again!

This Friday we take it back to 1988 with the song “There She Goes” by jangle-pop band, The La’s. You might remember the cover by the band Six Pence None the Richer from 1999 but I prefer the original. This is a quality pop song by a very short lived and underrated band from the 80s and 90s. The video is nothing special but the song is super catchy and easy to play on guitar if one is so inclined.

Have a good weekend!

 

Everyone loves Freedom

You may have heard this before, but there’s a new football team and a new league setting  up shop in Birmingham. Maybe you are jaded about such an event. Maybe you remember all the failed attempts at establishing a competitor to the NFL in a meaningful way. Did you go to Stallions games like I did? Birmingham Fire (the CFL)? The infamous Birmingham Blast (changed to Bolts)? Steeldawgs? Americans? AAFL team that never actually played a game?

I was down with all of them, except Americans because I wasn’t alive. I’m all for football in my city. I don’t care. You want to go in motion before the snap? Great. A league run by Vince McMahon? I guess. Some weird abomination in the BJCC with nets? Uh. Kinda hate it, but I will allow it.

I remember, quite clearly sitting next to my father seeing Joe Cribbs run for the Stallions when I was very young. I love football. I would like more of it.

Today, I see some people mentioning the new team on Twitter.

The Birmingham Freedom.

According to the NAFL website, this name was chosen to reflect Birmingham’s rich history in the civil rights movement. That’s an unassailable stance (which al.com commenters will probably assail and bum me out).

But what bothers me is the language. “First Down, Freedom!” “Freedom’s backfield is deep this year”. “Freedom comes out ahead of the Sentinels, 21-7.”

I hate things that are vague concepts as team mascots, like the Jazz or Heat. It’s just unwieldy and very, very unSouthern. We have Tigers, Blazers and uhh Crimson Tide. Hm, maybe this is because I’m an Auburn fan. Anyways, it’s a terrible name. A well done logo, for sure. All of the NAFL graphics are pretty good, for what it is. Some of the logos have some janky text on them, but it’s clear they actually hired a graphic designer.

So the name makes me cringe a little. I was ready to be mad about it, but then I saw this.

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That’s a bird wearing a hat.

I repeat, that’s a bird wearing a hat.

BIRD. HAT.

I can’t stop looking at it. It’s mesmerizing. I joked, sort of, that I wanted a hat with a bird wearing a hat on it. But I kind of do. I want to go to these games. I want to celebrate the fact that we are the most American of all teams, and that everyone else we play, whether it be the Memphis Kings or the North Carolina Red Wolves,  hates Freedom. Dirty Communists, how dare you even lift one finger to stop Freedom.

If they have any sense, they’ll have Auburn bring up an eagle for the pregame festivities. Everyone loves it when the eagle flies. But with one addition. Can you guess what it would be?

THAT EAGLE WILL DON A HAT BEFORE IT FLIES.

To satiate Alabama fans, I am perfectly OK with an elephant wearing a Ben Franklin costume.

To those wondering what I would choose for a mascot, it would be a Yellow Hammer. The Alabama Yellow Hammers. It would not be a bird. It would be a yellow hammer. Everyone in attendance would have hammers and every night is dollar beer night.

If that’s not freedom, I don’t know what is.

In lieu of that, I’ll take some Freedom please. I declare our rival to be Memphis, and we will destroy them.