Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My favorite records of 2009

Now, I must admit that I did not stay as up to date with new releases as I have in past years. But these are some of my favorites of 2009:

St. Vincent-Actor
Grizzly Bear-Veckatimest
The Decemberists-Hazards of Love
M.Ward-Hold Time
Laura Veirs-July Flame (This is technically a 2010 release but she sent them out late December and I love it.)
Dark Was the Night-Various Artists (How could someone not like this album?)
Wilco (The Album)-Wilco
The Fruit Bats-The Ruminant Band

So, I know the list is lacking but I have a long list of albums I want to buy soon. This year I fell in love with many artists and dug into their history which is why this list is short.

Let's Play Catch Up

So, I know it has been a very long time. School, college applications, and other activities have kept me from updating. But, here is my amazing year in music:

I saw Death Cab for Cutie in early May for a birthday present. Ra Ra Riot and Matt Costa opened and it was my first time seeing Death Cab. It was a very good show.

I saw the Fruit Bats play at Grimey's in September for Labor Day. The Ruminant Band was one of my favorite albums of the year and it was great seeing those songs performed live.

I also saw Ben Kweller play at Grimey's in March. He only played four songs but they were requests so it was a random assortment.

I got to see my absolute favorite band, the Decemberists, play my favorite venue, the Ryman, in September. It was one of best shows I have ever been to and seeing Hazards of Love in its entirety was so excellent. Shara Worden was mind blowing. My friends and I were so blown away by her. During the encore of "Sons and Daughters," Colin invited people up on stage and everyone sang along. I got to meet Colin after the show which was amazing.

I saw St. Vincent and Andrew Bird play the Ryman in October. Both were wonderful, even though Andrew had a cold. Annie Clark's voice is so beautiful and Andrew is so talented.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

This is all I have been listening to lately. It is absolutely amazing and so worth the wait.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What I have been up to...

So, I know it has been a while since I have posted anything, but I have actually had some of my writing posted on Out the Other, a great Nashville music blog run by Janet Timmons. She asked for some help on a huge project of doing profiles of every artist playing at Bonnaroo. I did 4 profiles, including St. Vincent, Band of Horses, Ben Sollee, and Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band. I will post links on here. Also, I should be posting things soon, so, stay tuned.

Ben Sollee:

Band of Horses:

St. Vincent:

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Carson Ellis Interview

Carson Ellis is one of my absolute favorite artists and creates the album artwork for one of my favorite bands, the Decemberists. I love all of the artwork she creates because she really does tell a story through her artwork. It goes perfectly along with the Decemberists' music and she illustrates the songs and album concepts perfectly. Not only is she the mastermind behind the Decemberists' album artwork, but she also has done the artwork for children's books and other albums. Her artwork shows she has true patience and talent and is absolutely meticulous. I got the chance to ask her a few questions about her artwork, future projects, and what she likes doing in her spare time.
Also, please pick up a copy of the Decemberists latest album, The Hazards of Love. The album is absolutely amazing and worth every penny.
How did you and Colin meet and how did you start doing all of the artwork for the Decemberists?
We met in college at the University of Montana. We were roommates. Back then I made some flyers for his old band, Tarkio. Later I moved to Portland about the time he was starting the Decemberists and he promptly put me to work making flyers, album art, t-shirts, website illustrations, etc.

What inspires you?
Right now I'm inspired by all kinds of folk art, poster art from the 60s, vintage labels, medieval art and typography, lots of book illustrators (Alice and Martin Provensen, Garth Williams, Ivan Bilibin, Maurice Sendak, Tomi Ungerer, Pauline Baynes among many others), Russian literature. I'm always inspired by the natural world, especially the woods around my house.

What is your favorite medium?
If I had to choose one, I'd say pencil, though I love ink and watercolor too.

Who is your favorite artist?
It's so hard to choose just one. Maybe Ben Shahn.

What projects do you have lined up for the future?
Right now I'm working on album art for a new Laura Veirs record. I'm also illustrating a book called Dillweed's Revenge by Florence Parry Heide. Once I'm done with that I'll be illustrating a version of the Illiad by Cynthia Rylant.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to knit. I'm also an amateur quilter and gardener. I love to spend time in the woods and with my family. I love yoga. And I travel a lot.

Do you have any hidden talents?
Mmmmm. Nothing comes to mind.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Yes, lots!
Please check out Carson's site:
And make sure to buy the Decemberists' albums so you can see Carson's excellent artwork in person: http://www.decemberists.com/

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Morning Benders Interview

The Morning Benders are a really great band whose album, "Talking Through Tin Cans", was one of my absolute favorites of 2008. They have been touring in support of the album with a ton of great bands like Ra Ra Riot, White Rabbits, Port O'Brien, etc. The band, made up of Chris, Joseph, Julian, and Timothy, make some really great music. I highly recommend you buy a copy of either "Talking Through Tin Cans" or their eps and 7 inches they have for sale. Or, if Itunes is your thing, then download the album, which Itunes called, "The best of 2008", also! And, for no money at all, download their great "Bedroom Covers" which features the band covering the Smiths, the Cardigans, and Paul Simon. I got the chance to interview the band, and they discussed their success on Itunes and musical influences. Make sure to catch these guys on their February-March tour.

So, "Talking Through Tin Cans" was really well received, especially on Itunes. How do you feel about Itunes and music downloading?
Although I'm definitely the kind of guy who buys albums and likes to hold things in my hands, I'm all for it. iTunes is an amazing thing for people to be able to get music instantly. And if you can't afford it, just download it. We don't mind. Come to a show if you can.
How did the Morning Benders get started?
Well I was born on Feb 25th 1985...
You guys have toured with so many great bands, who have been some of your favorites to tour with?
Ra Ra Riot were a lot of fun to tour with, and a great band. Love the White Rabbits. Can't wait to play with them again.
Who are your musical influences?
Right now I've been listening to a lot of Flying Lotus, Deerhunter, Chief, Animal Collective, and Department of Eagles.
Where has been your favorite place to tour?
I love New York, that's probably my favorite place to play.
Where did you get the idea to do the "Bedroom Covers"?
We just love to play our favorite songs. It was a pretty natural thing.
What was the last album you bought?
Merriweather Post Pavillion
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
No way!!
Any hidden talents?
I cook a mean stew.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Princeton Interview

Princeton is a really great, LA based band. I got the chance to see them with Ra Ra Riot in December and they really blew me away. I bought their Bloomsbury EP and fell in love. Even though it is just four songs, it has rarely left my cd player. The band is made up of twin brothers, Jesse and Matt Kivel and Ben Usen. They have toured with a ton of great bands and received a ton of positive praise from multiple music blogs. I got the chance to ask Jesse, who sings and plays guitar, some questions about their Bloomsbury EP and touring.

What was the recording/writing process like for the Bloomsbury EP?

It was tedious and painful. But seriously, it was a very difficult record to record. We had little experience recording the orchestral instruments that appear on the record and did it all ourselves in our house so we just didnt have the space to stretch all of our gear out. We would spend hours in matts bedroom writing flute and string arrangements and only getting maybe one part done in a day. The song writing process on the record was easy though. Two of the 4 songs on the EP were already written before the concept (Leonard Woolf and Ms. Bentwich) and because we were excited about the concept the other tracks came quickly.

Who are your musical influences?

I think we each have our own key influences. To name a few I would have to say The Kinks, John Cale, Jonathan Richman, Sam Cooke, Scott Walker, Arthur Russell

Why did you decide to base the EP on the Bloomsbury collective?

Matt and I were studying various members of the group and decided it would be a better and more attainable idea then recording our full length. We were simply too unorganized at the time to record a full album so an EP was much more manageable.

How would you describe the Los Angeles music scene?

I would say it is fractured. There are so many different types of bands and "scenes" that there is nothing really unifying it. One thing I believe is that LA has some of the friendliest and supportive musicians I have known. Its a great city to meet other musicians who enjoy what they are doing.

Where has been your favorite place to tour?

For me my favorites would be probably portland and San Francisco. Two great cities.

What has been your most memorable show?

My most memorable show would have to be the last show of the Ra Ra Riot tour at the Ottobar in Baltimore. We had three different songs where members of the band came on stage to play with us and it was just a great night.

What was the last album you bought?

I just bought the After Dark compilation on vinyl.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Too many to list. At this point I don't even consider them guilty pleasures, I just think of them as me fully enjoying all aspects of my life. It just so happens that these aspects of my life include Dan In Real LIfe, and most of Hugh Grants body of work. That guy is charming.

What are Princeton's future plans?

We plan on releasing a full length sometime this year and enjoying our lives.