What I've Been Listening To This Week

It's Friday afternoon and in just a few short hours I'll be cutting out of work early (admittedly, this early departure really just has to do with doing more work, only from outside of my cubicle), but until then, I thought I'd pass the time with a brief analysis of what I've been listening to lately.

I'm always interested in the ways we present ourselves vs. the ways we're actually, privately living. The music I write about here is a public expression of what I've been listening to, thinking about, seeing, etc., but the "private" side of things (all the things I listen to and don't write about here) is usually a totally different story.

So, here are my top ten artists this week according to my last.fm account:

1. Free Loan Investments Is their better springtime music than Free Loan Investments? Not today, there isn't. Their cover of "Rush Hour" from Shelflife's You're Still Young at Heart comp is making my heart flutter and my head spin.

2 & 3. Delta Dart and Mary Timony are tied for second place. I woke up in a Delta Dart kind of mood this morning and listened to their albums Fight or Flight and Lone Star. I've been really into Mary Timony's album The Golden Dove lately, especially the song "Blood Tree." I mentioned this on twitter and my friend Brittany said that Mary Timony is a witch who enchants all of her tunes, which is way better than Drew's claim that Mary Timony is a watered-down Sonic Youth ripoff.

4. Best Coast I'm still riding the high of seeing Best Coast in Oberlin a few weeks ago (review here) and have been listening to their tour CD-R & other tracks a ton (they would probably actually be number one for this week if last.fm had tracked the amount of times I streamed their new song.)

5. Mirah I don't know why, but this week I was in the mood to listen to Advisory Committee (I think this was probably inspired by the recently announced Thao and Mirah tour) & I'm always in the mood to listen to Mirah b-sides and compilation tracks ("Tumwater Falls" is the perfect springtime song.)

6. Pearl Harbor I just found out about Pearl Harbor this week from my friend April and wrote about their lazy California pop jams yesterday. This morning I ordered the repress of their Something About the Chaparral 12".

7. Little Red Car Wreck I wrote about Little Red Car Wreck way back when. Their album Motor Like A Mother is one of my mainstays and has been for something like 10 years now.

8. Allo Darlin' Are all of you too good for that free Allo Darlin' 7"? Hardly anyone has commented on that entry! You have until midnight (EST) on Sunday. Anyway, I've been really into some of the new Allo Darlin' tracks (especially "Dreaming" and "My Heart is a Drummer") and that is duly reflected in my last.fm stats.

9. Churchbuilder Churchbuilder is another band that I wrote about a long time ago. Akron based pop with dreamy synths and songs about Flannery O'Conor and bad northeastern Ohio weather.

10. The Lemonheads I was in a mopey mood on Monday morning and started my work week off by listening to the Lemonheads' album Car Button Cloth -- it's the perfect sad springtime record, especially with songs like "Hospital" and "The Outdoor Life."

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor, "Sunburn" (DOWNLOAD)
Pearl Harbor, "California Shakedown" (DOWNLOAD)

UPDATE You can get the repress of Something About the Chaparral (along with a cassette version of the EP) direct from Pearl Harbor for $15 (postage paid) today only (4/30/2010.) Further information and a PayPal link is here. I'm assuming they have a limited number of these available, so don't wait on ordering yours if you're sure you want one. These are now sold out, but the repress of Something About the Chaparral is now officially available on the Mexican Summer website. You can order it here.

I am just going to start lurking April for all of my new music. This morning she introduced me to Pearl Harbor, an LA duo who write and perform some seriously gorgeous shimmering pop songs that make me think of the following (in no particular order): Galaxie 500, unicorns, costume jewelry, roller skates, tv shows set in imaginary high schools in California, and the opening sequence of the Less Than Zero movie. Pearl Harbor makes beautiful, lush tunes and it's honestly difficult to stop myself from just writing things like: "lush, atmospheric, dreamy, etc." over and over and over.

What's especially interesting is that normally I am not interested in anything "lush, atmospheric, dreamy, etc." In fact, normally I think that kind of stuff is boring and I take pains to avoid it (with a few rare exceptions -- I guess up until now there was (aside from Galaxie 500) actually only one exception, Panda Bear's Person Pitch.) Just yesterday Drew and I were in the car and I was talking about how much I hate soundscapes, if that gives you any idea of what I usually don't like in a song.

Anyway, if Pearl Harbor can get me listening to the kind of stuff I normally ACTIVELY DISCUSS DISLIKING, I think it's safe to assume that they are good at what they do.

They currently have two releases to their name: There's a debut 12" Something About the Chaparrals on Mexican Summer (view it here). I am admittedly not sure of what's going on with this -- the first press is sold out, I've heard there's a repress on turquoise vinyl (which the Mexican Summer site seems to suggest is sold out -- BUT all over the internet it's listed as having a May release date and less than 24 hours ago Pearl Harbor posted about it on Twitter in a way that suggested it should be readily available... Perhaps weirdest of all: you seem to be able to preorder it from Best Buy. I am not entirely sure what that's all about. Maybe it's one of those "sold out at the label, still available through distros" situations?)

There's also the Slivers of You 7" available from Japanese mail order label Big Love (the link takes you to and English-language ordering page.) It sounds like Pearl Harbor will have a few of these to sell on their upcoming tour with Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti and Magic Kids (you can see tour dates on their MySpace.)

The two songs I've uploaded with this post are "Sunburn" (the first track off the 12") and "California Shakedown" (the b-side from the 7".) It's a real shame that The OC is no longer on the air, because this song would work seriously well with a California teens driving down the 101 montage. I can seriously see Summer Roberts' hair blowing in the wind when I listen to this. "California Shakedown" is a little darker -- a little more Sweet Valley High Elizabeth Wakefield remembers that time she was kidnapped and kept under the floor of a burning building. OK, maybe not that dark. It's probably a little more Jessica Wakefield remembers that time she almost let Bruce Patman take off her bikini top and thinks to herself, "I thought I knew everything back then." Which is, when you think about, still pretty dark.

So, there you have it. Pearl Harbor: music for girls who remember when they thought they knew everything.

Pearl Harbor on blogger
Pearl Harbor on twitter
Pearl Harbor on facebook
Pearl Harbor on MySpace
Order the Slivers of You 7" here

Pearl Harbor, "Sunburn" (DOWNLOAD)
Pearl Harbor, "California Shakedown" (DOWNLOAD)

New Best Coast Song

Black Iris is streaming a new Best Coast song, "Our Deal," from her forthcoming solo album. You can listen to it here.

I wish I had an arbitrary rating system that I used for this sort of thing, because I would happily give this "5 out of 5 cats" or rank it on par with "The OC season one" (versus, of course, later seasons of The OC.)

What I am trying to say here is: listen to this song. I have been for the last half hour. It's a gorgeous, lazy, mournful pop song. I'm beginning to think that Best Coast writes those types of songs better than almost anyone else.

I ran the random number generator this morning (5/3/10) and the winner is reggaechicken! I sent you a message via tumblr, but in case you see it here first, send me an e-mail with your mailing address so that I can send you your 7"!

I didn't anticipate having another item to give away so soon, but I've ended up with another copy of the Allo Darlin' The Polaroid Song 7" (b/w the lovely "Will You Spend New Year's With Me?") and what am I going to do with two? Raffle one off, obviously.

So, here's the deal: if you'd like to have an Allo Darlin' 7" of your very own, leave a comment by midnight on Sunday, May 2nd (EST) with one of your favorite summer jams and you're in the running.

If you're the kind of person who likes to have an edge in these sorts of things, you can link to Side Ponytail from elsewhere on the internet (and comment here or e-mail me at sideponytail@riseup.net to let me know!) and I'll give you 2 extra numbers when I run the random number generator on Monday morning. This is, obviously, not mandatory.

The previous giveaway was restricted to US residents... This one is not! So feel free to enter if you live abroad.

For those of you who might not be familiar with Allo Darlin', I've written about them on SP several times. They had my top single of 2009 with "Henry Rollins Don't Dance" and I am eagerly, eagerly awaiting their upcoming full length on Fortuna Pop (due in June -- but if you're lucky enough to catch them live, they're already selling it at shows.)

Allo Darlin' will be playing at the NYC Popfest (wish I could be there!) and has a lovely website with more information and some free downloads.

& here's a video for "The Polaroid Song":

Mirah announces tour with Thao!

I'm certainly blogging away this afternoon!

I'm super stoked to say that Mirah (who is, in case you haven't picked up on it by now, basically my favorite musician in the entire world) is hitting the road with Thao Nguyen. They'll be touring this summer as Thao and Mirah with The Most of All and I couldn't be more exuberant. They're not going to be hitting Ohio on this tour, but they're Detroit date falls on a Saturday, so I'll likely be making the trip up to Michigan.

I've got to say that I'm a little bummed that they'll be closing their tour at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. There's a good multi-part FAQ right here about MWMF's identity a space for "womyn born womyn" & what this policy means for the trans community. (The FAQ is divided over several pages & includes some good info, I suggest taking a look at it if you're not familiar with the MWMF.)

Dates are as follows:

Jun 9, 2010 - Albuquerque, New Mexico
Launchpad - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Jun 11, 2010 - Austin, Texis
The Mohawk - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Jun 12, 2010 - Houston, Texis
Orange Show Center for Visionary Art - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Jun 13, 2010 - Dallas, Texis
The Loft - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Jun 15, 2010 - New Orleans, Louisiana
One Eyed Jack's - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Jun 16, 2010 - Tallahassee, Florida
The Engine Room - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Jun 18, 2010 - Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Local 506 - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Jun 20, 2010 - Washington, DC
Black Cat - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Jun 21, 2010 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
First Unitarian Church - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Jun 23, 2010 - Cambridge, Massachusetts
Middle East - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Jun 24, 2010 - Brooklyn, New York
Music Hall of Williamsburg - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Jun 25, 2010 - Montreal, Quebec
La Sala Rossa - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Jun 26, 2010 - Toronto, Ontario
The Horseshoe - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Jun 27, 2010 - Detroit, Michigan
Magic Stick - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Jun 28, 2010 - Chicago, Illinois
Lincoln Hall - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Jul 1, 2010 - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Cedar Cultural Center - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Jul 5, 2010 - Denver, Colorado
Hi-Dive - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Jul 7, 2010 - Salt Lake City, Utah
Urban Lounge - w/ Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with The Most of All)

Aug 7, 2010 - Hart, Michigan
Michigan Womyn's Music Festival - w/ Thao with the Get Down Stay Down (Thao and Mirah with the Most of All)

Grass Widow, "To Where" (DOWNLOAD)

I wanted to write about Grass Widow last week, but just didn't have the time (I had to go out of town for work and wasn't able to get a post together.) But, better late than never, right?

My friend April introduced me to Grass Widow early last week when she posted one of their songs on her Tumblr. I was instantly smitten! Grass Widow fits in so neatly with a lot of what I've been listening to lately: fuzzy, hazy, pop music with female vocals. "To Where," the first song off of their first full length LP is a perfect summer jam (sorry for all of the "summer jams" talk lately, but in the interest of full disclosure, I am probably going to be yammering on about summer jams until September, AT LEAST. Until then, it is summer jam season.)

"To Where" is a perfect first track for an album -- it sounds like it's overflowing with enthusiasm, it makes me want to get up and move around, it is all muddled voices and bright colors and fast guitars, like a sonic water color, which sounds really cheesy until you listen to the song and realize that "it sounds like a water color" is actually the PERFECT SIMILE and I am a rock critic GENIUS.

Grass Widow is currently on tour and they're playing up and down the general west coast area with some killer bands -- including Brilliant Colors and Mike Watt and the Missingmen. April planned on catching their Portland show yesterday night and I certainly hope she did so that I can live vicariously through her experiences.

Aside from their full length, Grass Widow also has an EP out on Captured Tracks -- which, according to the Captured Tracks website, is sold out. Good news, though, a few distros still have it. If you're in the US, you can order from InSound and if you're in the UK you can order from Soft Power Vinyl and Rough Trade. You can order the LP direct from the band via their website (see links below!)

Grass Widow's official website
Grass Widow on MySpace

Grass Widow, "To Where" (DOWNLOAD)

Record Store Day 2010

This past Saturday was the third annual Record Store Day, a highly anticipated event for Drew and something that I more or less enjoy. I had to work Saturday morning, but was able to meet Drew in the line to get into Music Saves, one of the independently owned stores on Waterloo Rd. near the Beachland. The line more than doubled in length while we were waiting and by the time we were done shopping and had checked out, there was still a decent line of people waiting to get into the store.

My haul is (mostly) pictured above & breaks down as follows:
  • Dum Dum Girls/Male Bonding split 7"
  • Thermals/Cribs split 7"
  • Surfer Blood/Holiday Shores split 7"
  • Built to Spill 7"
  • Superchunk 7"
  • Let's Wrestle/The Love Language split 7"
  • Unusual Animals vol. 1 (Asthmatic Kitty split 7", free in my grab bag!)
  • Music Saves loaded me up with additional free goodies including stickers, a Helper T-Cells CD, a Sufjan Stevens comic book, Cleveland postcards, & the center from a copy of the new Hold Steady album, which was pressed here in Cleveland (this will probably become a coaster)
  • USED a copy of the Barbarians' "Moulty" 7" from the Blue Arrow (also on Waterloo)
  • USED VIA MAILORDER The Softies' "Love Seat" 7", Best Coast "Make You Mine" 7", Skatterbrain's CD-R comp If You Like Everything, There's Nothing Left to Love!
I think that's everything...

The Blue Arrow and Music Saves put on a joint series of shows featuring local bands Prisoners (this was Drew's third show playing with them), The Muttering Retreats, Tastycakes, The Very Knees, and Cloud Nothings. I think I caught a little bit (or all) of everyone's sets (with the exception of the Muttering Retreats.) Cloud Nothings were a lot of fun (they played my favorite song of theirs & staple of this year's summer jams, "Can't Stay Awake") & so were Prisoners (who will be apparently playing a ton of shows in the coming months, so I guess I can look forward to Drew never moving his amplifier out of our living space.)

Maybe it's the Ladypalooza stuff going on over at Tiger Beatdown, but lately I feel as though I have been hyper conscious of the way my gender informs the experiences I have out and about in the "real world" as it relates to music. "Sexist Encounters with Music Snobs" have become an institution in my journal (dudes who work at Guitar Center who tell me, "If you just practice hard enough, even you could be in a band!," record store clerks who I assume that I basically exist as Drew's mobile record holder, people who ask me if I am a "groupie"), but I feel like lately I've been hyper aware of positioning myself as a female within record culture and wondering what that means in a larger context. This is all a very long way of saying that waiting in line on Record Store Day, I was subject to some conversations that totally helped me to understand why my girl friends don't want to go to the record store with me or go to shows or even talk about music in a way that is more meaningful than, "Oh yeah, I really like that song."

I found myself having a sort of on the street existential crisis because I became totally paranoid about whether or not I was one of Those Elitist Record People who talked about things like having rare Deerhunter singles (FULL DISCLOSURE: I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHO DEERHUNTER IS!) I heard a lot of people talking about their music blogs in ways that both made me both ashamed of having a music blog and proud of myself for never talking about it in real life (which is kind of weird, I mean, why should I be proud of myself for not sharing something?)

Ultimately, I have some mixed feelings about Record Store Day. I say it all the time, but community is one of the main things that drew me into an ongoing appreciation of music & while I love that Record Store Day, in many ways, helps to foster a sense of community by getting people to go out and support independently owned stores (& from what I hear, people in Cleveland showed a lot of support), I don't get a sense of community from listening to people brag about who has what (I mean, we might as well just get it out there, my ability to collect records is a direct product of my class privilege) or seeing people re-sell Record Store Day releases on eBay (Blur's ONE SIDED 7" is selling for upwards of $100 on the auction market -- over $100 for JUST ONE SONG).

All that said, I would more or less call Record Store Day 2010 a success.

"My Thoughts on Riot Grrrl"

Conversations with Drew have shown me that there is no quicker way to bore people to tears than to offer them a chance to hear my thoughts on riot grrrl, but there has been so much ongoing discussion around the idea of a "riot grrrl revival" in the so-called "blogosphere" that I feel like I can't help but continue putting my opinions out there, especially because I seem to have found myself in the unpopular position of thinking that a "riot grrrl revival" is A) unnecessary and B) perhaps a bad idea.

I feel like whenever I have these discussions online, I have to throw in this obligatory, "But I love riot grrrl!" and yeah, I do. I came of age listening to riot grrrl records, riot grrrl heavily informed my personal politics, and I still have a heavy admiration for many of the musicians involved in riot grrrl. All that said, I feel that even from my first general moments of interest in the riot grrrl movement, I understood riot grrrl as something that existed as a specific cultural moment in time. I never wanted to call myself a riot grrrl, but I feel like my general detachment from the riot grrrl label did nothing to compromise my interest in the intersections of music and feminist politics. But, all that said, I still find myself getting apprehensive when I see all of the buzz about a riot grrrl revival.

I feel like there's been a lot of talk about how "original" riot grrrls are protective of/territorial about the riot grrrl movement. That they are, perhaps, trying to keep all of the riot grrrl for themselves. I don't think that is true AT ALL. In fact, I think that they are working to encourage parties who are interested in riot grrrl by telling them, "You are already valuable and should be doing your own thing," and I don't think that there's anything wrong with that message. I think they're also working to make people who weren't a part of the original riot grrrl scene more cognizant of some of riot grrrl's troubled history in the hopes of preventing a scene that blindly and unintentionally reproduces those same failings. While many people speaking out in the interests of having a riot grrrl revival have indicated that they are aware of these issues, there seems to be a general consensus that "we're all more educated now and these things won't be problems anymore," which is an approach that really worries me.

Just because someone is well-intentioned and aware of their race, class, or cis privilege doesn't mean that they are immune from saying/doing problematic things (we all know that no one is immune). More importantly, it also doesn't mean that they are necessarily any better prepared to respond appropriately in the event they do or say something that is racist, classist, transphobic, etc. The volume of people I have seen saying that when it comes to the riot grrrl revival "race won't be a problem, class won't be a problem, transphobia won't be a problem," seems to suggest a complete and total lack of both interest and willingness to seriously engage around these issues and what they meant for riot grrrl/what they will mean for a riot grrrl revival, and that lack of serious engagement leads me to think that these issues will continue to be problems within the context of a "future" riot grrrl movement.

I'm also a little bit troubled by the general attachment to the riot grrrl name. To me, at this point in time, such an attachment suggests more of a brand name identification than anything else. I can be a girl, play a guitar, make a zine, write letters to friends, engage in community building, etc. all without calling myself a riot grrrl. Naming something is a very loaded act and I wonder, if we're all so aware of riot grrrl's problematic history and the bad baggage that the riot grrrl name often carries for working class girls, pocs, and transfolk, why we want to carry that name over into a movement that is supposedly more inclusive and aware.

While I understand the value in drawing both musical and political inspiration by looking backwards, I sometimes worry that by fixating so wholly and fervently on riot grrrl that we erase the women who were doing musical and political work before riot grrrl and who continue to do so in its wake. I feel like we do this even when it comes to original riot grrrls themselves. I mean, members of bands like Bikini Kill, Sleater Kinney, and Bratmobile have not stopped existing -- in fact, many of them are continuing to work on their own creative projects. Yet many people continue to fixate on what they were doing 15 years ago as opposed to what they are doing in the here and now. I also worry about the tacit assumption that all lady punks have a vested interest in the riot grrrl movement -- there are plenty of people out there who explicitly do not want to identify as riot grrrls and when we push their critiques to the margins in the hopes of "keeping it posi," we effectively engage in the same silencing of marginalized populations that some of the original riot grrrls engaged in.

I’m in no way opposed to a movement that encourages girls/ladies/women/ANYONE to empower themselves, especially when that empowerment occurs through expressing themselves and creating work that reflects their thoughts and experiences. I am 100% for working to create an environment that facilitates girl-centric music, writing, and art, that isn’t afraid to both personalize and politicize those cultural products, that promotes networking between girls that helps to create an infrastructure where girls are more able to take their bands (or other projects) on tour, can connect with other girls who share their interests and beliefs, can share resources with each other & support each other, etc. What I don't understand is why people feel the need to organize such a movement around the riot grrrl name. I'm all about intent and having a reasoned out though process, so I'm really interested in the why around all this. Why call it a riot grrrl revival? I've heard a lot of people saying, "Because I love riot grrrl," and to me, that's just not a strong enough response to counter the concerns that the riot grrrl name often evokes.

Live in Oberlin (Last Night)

Best Coast Tour CD-R (DOWNLOAD)

Last night Drew and I went down to Oberlin for the Best Coast show and I'm so glad that we did. It was definitely the best $5 I've spent on a recent night on the town. I was a little hesitant about another night at the Sco after the bad experience Drew and I had when we saw Girls/Dum Dum Girls, but it must have just been the crowd that Girls drew. The audience for the Best Coast show was much smaller & on the whole, uncomfortable invasions of my personal space decreased by about 100%, which was much appreciated.

The opening band, Geffika, was a duo (drums & guitar) that played some pretty heavy, sludgy rock. Their music wasn't really my style, but I did like the last song that they played -- it felt much faster compared to the rest of their set & seemed more like a hardcore punk song. Even though I wasn't super into Geffika, I really appreciated having the experience of seeing them play. Even though I try not to be, I'm (in many ways) very limited in what I listen to, especially when it comes to music made by women, so it was really cool to have an experience that forced me outside of those limits. It was also cool to know that Jessica, one half of Geffica, is Bethany's childhood best friend. One of the main things I appreciate about independent music is the idea of communities as opposed to scenes & I feel like seeing Geffica and Best Coast play together really reinforced that for me.

Best Coast played an awesome, awesome set! Bethany had a gorgeous sonic blue Fender Mustang with a tortoiseshell pick guard (I don't know why, but I've been really into noting people's gear lately) & her band was spot on. I loved the interplay between Bethany and Bobb Bruno & their drummer was awesome too!

They played a long set of short songs (if that description makes any sense) including a couple of covers, songs from their 7"s, and a bunch of really wonderful new songs that have me super stoked about their rumored upcoming full-length.

All of the Best Coast vinyl is long sold out (I feel lucky to have what I do!), but the band was selling CD-Rs of their current discography decorated with Lisa Frank stickers. While it's not my typical policy to share full releases, I've ripped and uploaded my CD-R since all of BC's vinyl is way out of print (and currently being trafficked on eBay for more than 5 or 6 times it's original sale price -- something that I feel very strongly about, in the "HEY, THAT'S WRONG" sort of way) & since not everyone will be able to see Best Coast, I'm sharing this. That said, if you have the chance to see the band, please support them and buy a shirt and/or a CD-R. It's worth it!

For those of you who are new to the Best Coast party, Best Coast started out as Bethany Cosentino's bedroom recording project -- fuzzy guitar pop inspired by California, cats, and weed. Bethany writes some beautiful songs and I love the way her music sounds with a full band. She's released a handful of all now sold out 7"s with Art Fag, Black Iris, & some other labels and has a rumored full length album on the horizon.

If you want to sample a song before you commit to downloading the tour CD-R, here's the video for "When I'm With You" (the A-Side from a 7" released on Black Iris.)

ALSO: Of course, the day I publish an article on Liz Phair vs. Rivers Cuomo (see here), Drew decides to wear a Weezer shirt to the Best Coast show & Bethany says to him, from the stage, between songs, "I like your Weezer shirt," and after the show even goes so far as to say, "I wasn't trying to be a bitch/make fun of you when I said I liked your shirt, Weezer rules!" She then went on to explain that she learned how to play "Keep Fishing" for this tour, but that her bandmates didn't, so they haven't been covering it. Oh Rivers Cuomo, can I go a single day without you playing a pivotal role in my life? Probably not.

Best Coast Tour CD-R (DOWNLOAD)

Ladypalooza at Tiger Beatdown

(Liz Phair performing "Fuck and Run" live in 1995)

Sorry for the lack of updates this week! I've been busy prepping a piece for Tiger Beatdown's music series "LADYPALOOZA: The Tiger Beatdown Lilith Fair Experience, But If Lilith Fair Didn't Suck, And Also Were a Blog." My piece -- some jumbled thoughts on Liz Phair's "Fuck and Run" vs. Weezer's "Tired of Sex" -- went up this afternoon, so if you're interested in some lighthearted cultural criticism centered around 90's alternative rock and pop, I recommend that you head over to Tiger Beatdown and check it out.

In other SP news, tonight I'm seeing Best Coast (!!!) and this Saturday is Record Store Day, so expect some concert reviews along with some "what I bought" type stuff.

Allo, Darlin' (Dreaming 7")

Just the other week I posted about the video for Allo, Darlin's new single, "Dreaming," and bemoaned that the 7" had yet to be made available for online purchase (view post). Well, good things come to those who gripe on the internet, because this afternoon I got this latest installment of Fortuna Pop's e-newsletter saying that the 7" is up in the shop and available for order. (Clearly I have already ordered a copy.)

If you'd like to order one for yourself (and I highly recommend that you do), just head over here. Shipping is free within the UK, but if you're having it shipped overseas, it's a bit more. With the shipping charge and the exchange from British Pounds to US Dollars, my total was just over $7 (not too shabby, considering it has to travel across an ocean to get to my record player.)

If you don't want to shell out for the 7" (or, you know, if you don't have a record player), the single is available as a free download here.

You can get more Allo, Darlin' (including some super charming demo recordings) at their Official Site

Tullycraft (Well, Tullycraft-related)

So, who do you love? I certainly hope the answer is Tullycraft. I still remember the first Tullycraft song I ever heard -- the inimitable "Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend's Too Stupid To Know About" (link goes to a YouTube video) -- it was everything I wanted in a song, sweet (but a little snobby, just like me!), an instant mix tape staple, and an index of new bands to check out.

The other day I found out about an exciting project -- a proposed tribute album to Tullycraft, whose list of participating artists is just as fabulous as the artists listed off in "Pop Songs..." Wish I'd Kept A Scrabpook is the project's tentative title & you can expect it to feature tracks by Rose Melberg, The Smittens, Bunnygrunt, Math and Physics Club, and more.

So, what's the catch? In order to move forward with the comp, Lee needs to raise $1,000. There's a kickstarter.com page where you can read more about the project and, if you're feeling generous, make a donation. Kickstarter requires a minimum donation of $1 & your donation is only deducted from your account if the project meets its fundraising goal by the predetermined deadline. Donations will be open for Wish I'd Kept A Scrapbook until May 15th. The good news is, Lee has already raised $400 for the project! If you check out the donations page you'll see that depending on how much you donate, you can receive goodies like free mp3s, stickers, t-shirts, even getting your name in the liner notes!

If you're a Tullycraft fan, I really encourage you to support this project by making a donation.

If you're new to Tullycraft, you can check out their official site which happens to feature a totally boss daily mp3 blog.

Last night was a rough one. Drew and I drove out to Oberlin to see Girls and Dum Dum Girls at the Sco, an on-campus venue in Oberlin's student union. I was really looking forward to the show -- we had seen Girls twice before (once in Portland opening for the Pains of Being Pure at Heart and once in Cleveland opening for Los Campesinons!), but we had never seen a show where they were headlining. We had also heard that they had added a keyboard player to their line up, so I was interested in hearing how that changed their sound. I was also super stoked to see Dum Dum Girls. I've been listening to them a lot over the last six months or so but had never had the chance to see them live until last night.

The opening act, Leisure, sounded like something my mom would listen to while making Sunday brunch.* The lead singer landed somewhere in between Robert Smith & the dude from Spandeau Ballet & they were heavy on keyboards and jangly guitars, which are things I normally like a lot, but for some reason they just weren't doing it for me last night. Maybe I am just destined to hate on opening bands? I hope not. The crowd was very thin during this portion of the show, but as their set started to wind down, the venue began to get really crowded.

Dum Dum Girls were great -- they started off slow with their cover of "Play With Fire" from the Jail La La 7" & then proceeded to pretty much play all the hits. I was especially happy to hear "Catholicked" and "Yours Alone." I had it in the back of my head that it would be nice to hear "Ship of Love," but they didn't play that one. The band was fantastic though. They sounded great, they played a great set, they seemed really nice, etc. I loved their Silvertone guitars Towards the end of their set (maybe the last two songs?) the crowd started to get weirdly aggressive, though (really crushing in towards the stage, moshing, etc.)

Girls played a fantastic 13 song set that included the bulk of the tracks from their debut LP, Album. Their stage presence was right on & it was just fun to watch them play. Honestly, they get better and better every time we see them. Unfortunately, I started to have a really hard time with the crowd during their performance. Everyone was packed in super tight, a lot of people were being unreasonably aggressive, & people who weren't moshing were talking super loud and playing with their iPhones and Backberries. I'm not a huge fan of having to ward off unwarranted physical contact and I had to do that a lot last night. It was like some weird exercise in fighting off my inherently punk instinct to spit on people who invade my personal space at a show.**

It's hard, because I really don't want to make this about the crowd -- I feel like these experiences should ultimately be about the music & both Girls and Dum Dum Girls played an amazing show to an awful audience last night, which is admirable, but also terrible because, seriously, I think people who take the risk of putting themselves out there in such a public way should at least be treated with respect. (Also, can people not repeatedly scream out requests? Or is this a thing that has to happen? I feel old and crotchety for having these complaints, but I would really rather listen to a band play through their set without each song being punctuated by some dude shrieking, "Play ___!!!" but maybe that is just me.)

In fact, I think a big part of it is just me. On the way home Drew and I were talking about how we both staunchly situate ourselves within the "No Fun" camp. I mean, I hated college kids back when I was one and working full-time in higher education hasn't done a whole lot to facilitate a change of heart. So, being packed in with like 300 college kids is basically one of my worst possible nightmares. On top of that, I am secretly a 15 year-old sanctimonious straight-edger who has an unreasonably short fuse for the ways that people are prone to heckling bands and encroaching on other people's personal space while wasted.

Also on the way home, I was talking with Drew re: my thoughts on Japandroids (who we saw on Tuesday night) and the idea of "dude bands" drawing a particular audience which results in a particular atmosphere at their shows. I think if you were to compare Japandroids to Girls, while both are all-male ensembles, most people would walk away with the conclusion that Japandroids are a dude band and Girls aren't, and while the Japandroids show certainly attracted a large number of straight-up bros, the Girls show attracted an extreme number of the even more insidious "hipster bros," the majority of whom didn't seem to have any concern for making sure their actions reflected a desire for everyone at the show to both have a good time and also feel safe. At the Japandroids show, I was near a group of bros who were very friendly and very courteous, and also took the time to talk to the people around them (mainly petite girls who had elbowed their way up front so that they could actually see the band), saying "Hey, I really love this band and am probably going to get really into it, but if I get too close to you or if I bump into you or anything like that, let me know so that I can back off." It would have been SUPER COOL if some of the dudes at last night's show had shown similar concerns instead of assuming that they could grind all over me.

Anyway, Dum Dum Girls have their first full length out on Sub Pop (you can read my thoughts on that here & Girls are still riding high on their LP Album which came out on True Panther Sounds. They're still touring & if they're coming anywhere near you, you should definitely, definitely catch them. Don't let my crabbing stop you!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the keyboard player is a good addition for Girls.

* In case you are wondering: My mom's typical Sunday brunch music includes stuff like Weekend, if that helps you piece their sound together.
** An exercise I had limited success with.

Live in Cleveland (Last Night)

Japandroids, "Young Hearts Spark Fire" (DOWNLOAD)
Japandroids, "Wet Hair" (DOWNLOAD)

Last night Drew & I went to the Grog Shop to see Japandroids & it ruled! I was still vaguely bumming about the show we saw the other night and was worried about tonight being another bust, but Japandroids were fantastic. Drew had to work, so we missed the first opener (Two Hand Fools) and arrived at the very end of the second opener's set. The second band, Jaguar Love (ex-members of the Blood Brothers & Pretty Girls Make Graves), just wasn't my thing (or Drew's, for that matter), so it was no big deal that we only heard them play about two songs.

The main opener, Avi Buffalo, was from Long Beach, CA & has an album coming out on Sub Pop later this month. Honestly, and I feel kind of like a jerk for saying this, I feel like I don't legitimately remember enough of their short set to really describe their sound, which is why I will never be a music journalist. BUT, a perusal of the "About" section of their webpage reveals that they view their music as being analogous to Lou Barlow, Bob Pollard, and Bill Fox -- which is something I just didn't hear. Maybe it's because I'm so steeped in GBV songs that I wouldn't recognize their subtler influences on a band? Do I just think a song needs to be a cover of "Gold Heart Mountaintop Queen Directory" to sound like a Bob Pollard song? Whatever. They were nice kids & clearly very enthusiastic to be playing, though they seemed a little shaky. (I don't blame them, it was their first show on the tour & Cleveland crowds can be pretty hard to read sometimes.)

ANYWAY, what I am really talking about here is Japandroids, who ruled. They played their entire album, Post-Nothing, along with a couple of other songs. For those of you who aren't already familiar with Japandroids, they're a two piece (guitar and drums) from Vancouver who play exceptionally enthusiastic rock music. The first time I heard their album was sometime last summer when Drew & I were driving up to the Chagrin Falls area to pick up a bike. The car windows were down and the first track on their album, "The Boys Are Leaving Town" (which also happened to be the first song they played last night), sounded awesome. I really wish that I had better descriptive writing abilities, because I feel like a jerk for wanting to use words like "intense" or "powerful" or "soaring guitars," but seriously. All of those things.

Something I've been thinking about a lot lately (perhaps as a result of all the riot grrrl revival talk) is the idea of dudes in music & music that reflects a distinctly male experience & how that music (supposedly) exists as an oppositional force that alienates women from participation in music scenes. I feel like a lot of people I know would classify Japandroids as being a "dude band" -- I mean, they are two dudes and they do write songs about girls and beer and there were an awful lot of bros with their fists in the air at last night's show, BUT I also feel like it's worth mentioning that I don't know that I necessarily buy Japandroids as a dude band. I do think that there's a universality to what they're doing & even though last night's audience was predominately male, I don't think that's suggestive of their music being "dude-specific" & totally foreign to female experiences. I'm not really interested in entering into heavy critique mode right now, but gender politics in music and the supposed universality of dude music & intimate specificity of female music is something I've been mulling over lately & last night's show had me thinking about it again.

Japandroids are continuing their tour in Champaign, IL tonight. For more dates and info, check out their webpage. If you're a fan & have worn out your copy of their album, they have a new release of old releases called No Singles coming out at the end of this month. You can pre-order it here. No Singles compiles the 2 5-song EPS that Japandroids released before signing to Polyvinyl. My closing thought on the show: one thing that Japandroids have in common with Miles Kurosky is an excellent t-shirt selection.

Finally, a thought TOTALLY UNRELATED to any of the above, I was listening to Stone Cold Bikini on WRUW this past weekend & when "For Tammy Rae" came on I found myself thinking, "At this point in my life, I think I would really appreciate a shoegaze version of this song."

Japandroids, "Young Hearts Spark Fire" (DOWNLOAD)
Japandroids, "Wet Hair" (DOWNLOAD)

Live in Columbus (Last Night)

Last night Drew and I drove down to Columbus to see the xx and jj at the Wexner Center for the Arts. I never really planned on being negative on this blog, I mean, if I listen to something and don't like it, why on earth would I waste time writing about it? BUT, I'm trying to make an effort to write about the majority of the concerts I go to (mainly so that I don't forget I've been there.)

So anyway, Drew and I bought our tickets for this show way back. I think the xx was still riding the hype of being on some "Best Albums of the Year" lists & jj hadn't gotten that awful review for jj no 3 on Pitchfork (not that that matters, I mean, who cares what Pitchfork thinks? But still, it was harsh.) I had never really listened to either band, but Drew was interested in going & I was feeling a little more adventurous in terms of concert attendance, so we got tickets. Later on, I developed an affinity for jj's Human League-ier sounding tunes, as noted here & started to look forward to the show.

jj's set started out with Elin playing two songs (one of them was "Are You Still in Vallda?") on the acoustic guitar with no accompaniment. It was a sweet way to start out the set and it made me think that maybe some of the recent live reviews I'd read about jj were, perhaps, unnecessarily harsh, but then it was all downhill from there. I don't really know what to say -- I guess, watching jj perform was a lot like watching someone do karaoke. The entire set was, more or less, Elin singing along with the album. For the majority of the songs there was no one else on stage with her -- unless you count the projected images of running caribou and Elin rolling joints. It was just kind of a bummer. Jaokim came out with a guitar for a couple of songs and sort of mimed playing it -- then he went and sat on the far end of the stage behind some speakers for the rest of the set. I don't know, the whole thing was just weird and kind of depressing. Elin's voice was lovely and I still like their music, but can't imagine ever wanting to see them live again. (Side note: when I initially wrote about jj, I mentioned my main affinity for them being that they reminded me of the Human League -- imagine my surprise and delight when the between set music was extended dance mixes of songs from the Human League's album, Dare.)

Compared to jj, the xx was tremendous! They were dynamic and very together and also extra, extra polite and friendly, which is something I really appreciate in a band's stage presence. Unfortunately, their music just really wasn't my thing. While watching them I found myself thinking, "The xx would play a really, REALLY good set at the Bronze," and then I thought, "How unusual that I should think that? I just saw a band and thought that." I mean, I've probably only seen a few Bronze-esque bands in my lifetime. How strange to see two within a week of each other? So, this morning I'm doing some googling and (surprise!) it turns out that the Big Pink and the xx actually toured together. A Bronze Band Roadshow. Anyway, while technically proficient, the xx just didn't do it for me. The crowd was super into it though -- lots of girls with digital cameras singing along to every song.

I was extremely surprised when Drew tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I wanted to leave before the band came out for their encore. Drew NEVER does that. He STILL complains about shows that he had to leave early in high school. In the years that we've been going to shows together, we've only ever left one show early prior to last night. (Side note: last night Drew kept saying how he had no clue the xx was so popular and that the crowd they attracted was very different from what he expected, which led me to say, "I bet one of their songs was used on a tv show that's popular with college girls." Drew said he didn't think so, but a quick perusal of the xx's WikiPedia page says they had a song used on Grey's Anatomy, so, you know, there's that.)

So yeah, it was just kind of a weird night out. But tonight we're going to see Japandroids and tomorrow we're going to see Girls and Dum Dum Girls, all of which will probably be much more our speed.

Lion Eater

Lion Eater, "It's Been Such A Long Time" (DOWNLOAD)

Normally I'm reticent to post a song by someone when they don't have a release (or at least more songs somewhere!) for a number of reasons (1. I'd love people to support the artists I feature by purchasing their work, 2. It drives me crazy when I find one great song by someone only to find out that they don't have anything else available). BUT, I'm going to make an exception for this song because 1. It's ruling my heart right now and 2. You can still support Lion Eater by buying the Sand Witches demo.

So, Lion Eater is the name that Izzy from Sand Witches released this song under. It's a sweet, simple tune with just guitar, vocals, & a piano that reminds me of a melodica. I could listen to this song over and over (which is what I've been doing while writing this entry) and am dying for Izzy to put out a tape.

This is a perfect springtime song -- sort of sad, sort of hopeful, but very, very catchy. I definitely see this becoming a fixture on any spring and summer mixes I might make.

If you like "It's Been Such A Long Time," definitely check out Sand Witches and I will for sure report back if Izzy releases any other songs!

Lion Eater, "It's Been Such A Long Time" (DOWNLOAD)

Giving It All Away!

I ran Random.org's "true random number generator" this morning & the winner is commenter #8, Brittany! At first I thought that I should generate another number because how truly random could it be if it picked someone I actually know, but then I realized that with only 11 commenters (the majority of whom I know either in real life or on some corner of the internet), it would actually be a lot weirder for the winner to be someone I didn't know. Anyway, thanks to everyone who commented! I will for sure be checking out your music recs and there will be more give-aways in the future!

Hey pals, how are you doing? I'll be honest, I'm in an exceptionally good mood. Last night's show (Prisoners, Good Touch Bad Touch, Psychedelic Horseshit, and Strange Boys) was a lot of fun (even though Drew and I didn't get home until 3AM, which is WAY TOO LATE if you ask me.) It's sunny and unseasonably warm out and I'm off work for the next couple of days. On top of that, my Sub Pop copy of I Will Be, the new Dum Dum Girls LP came in the mail today, along with a free copy of the "Jail La La" 7". Since I already had a copy of the "Jail La La" single, I figured I might as well give this one away. "Jail La La" is Dum Dum Girls' first single on Sub Pop & the b-side is a cover of "Play With Fire" by the Rolling Stones.

So here's the deal: If you're interested in perhaps receiving this in the mail, comment on this entry by midnight (Eastern Standard Time) on Sunday, April 4th with a couple of your current favorite songs and/or bands. On Monday morning, I'll use a random number generator to pick the winner!

Because of the cost of shipping, this first giveaway will be open to US residents only. Future ones might open up to overseas shipping, we'll see how things go. In case you were wondering, the 7" comes with a download code for mp3s of both songs.

In case you can't remember how "Jail La La" goes, or if you've just never heard it before, have a video!