I am having a hard time coming up with an opening sentence about Groom, a truly wonderful band from Dublin, Ireland. I have typed and deleted these words about thirty times now. I probably never would have heard of them had they not sent us an email with clips from their latest EP release At the Natural History Museum (due out April 24th on Tight Ship Records). That would have been a shame because they are fantastic. Natural History contains six songs about death as seen through the eyes of fictional characters. The themes range everywhere from despair to pondering eternity, loneliness to suicide pacts - all performed as charming, beautiful pop songs that defy the dark nature of the subject matter. Check out the song "Let's Die Together."
EAR PWR, the evil creation of Devin Booze & Sarah Power, has not so quietly been terrorizing the Atlantic coast states for the last couple of years with their infectious twee dance anthems and amazingly fun live shows. I remember seeing them at last year's WE Fest in Wilmington NC and just couldn't stop smiling. The duo has long been splitting their time between Asheville, NC and Baltimore, MD, but I have heard a nasty rumor that Baltimore is now their official home. NC will miss you. The pair have a new album (Super Animal Brothers III, due out May 19th) and a new label (Carpark Records) and have spent the last 8 months or so touring the US, leaving a trail of happiness in their wake.
One of the most impressive things about EAR PWR is that Devin, a recent grad from UNC-Asheville's Bob Moog founded Music Technology department, uses his skills to create the synths that EAR PWR uses to make its disco magic! Clearly there is a great deal of time and effort that is put into making the electronic music creations that power the show. And it is here that the true brilliance of the band shines through. If you get a chance to see EAR PWR live, I highly recommend doing so!
We recently caught up to the pair via email and took the opportunity to ask them some highly dorky questions!
Viva: What is the most embarrassing band you loved as a kid? Sarah: Bush Devin: Blues Traveler
Viva: What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you on the road? EP: Funny things happen constantly when we're together, so it's pretty impossible to narrow it down. But, we were in an earthquake in LA and it was really funny. I know it doesn't sound funny, but it was!
Viva: What other band names did you seriously consider before going with EAR PWR? EP: Beer Shwr and Cheer Flwr
Viva: Who has the worst van etiquette? EP: Gerrit of Future Islands
Viva: Your live show is dependent on technological gizmos and contraptions. Does your gear ever betray you? EP: Yes, all of the time. We've had to replace everything in our set up at least once. We've went through 4 megaphones!
Viva: Who’s in heavy rotation on your iPod? Sarah: Jay-Z & The Beach Boys Devin: Dr. Sakis
Viva: What was the worst fight over nothing that you got into with each other after being road weary and exhausted? EP: Hmmm, we really don't fight. Sometimes I get mad at Devin if he doesn't have both hands on the wheel.
WE Fest, held every year in Wilmington NC at the Soapbox, has announced that this year they are hosting a short film contest as part of the five day indie rock extravaganza. If you are interested in submitting a film, or know someone who is a short film maker, send an email to WE Fest Film Director Rocco Taldin. firstname.lastname@example.org
For more info about music, art, or any of the other WE Fest 2009 activities, check em out here: WE FEST 2009
At some point this month, Kill Rock Stars will be releasing a brand new four song 7" EP from Stereo Total entitled Anti Love Song! Françoise Cactus & Brezel Göring are still going strong after more than a decade of churning out some of the most entertaining synth-pop/garage/new-wave/disco ever recorded. The track "(I Hate) Everybody in the Discotheque" is particularly entertaining. The duo is starting out on their first US tour in quite a few years on March 18th in Boston, then making their way across the country and back leaving a trail full of satisfied audiences in their wake. See below for the entire tour schedule. The release date of the new 7" seems to be up in the air, but keep checking the KRS site for details. It's totally worth the money.
Tour Dates: 03/18 - Boston, MA @ Middle East 03/19 - Quebec City, PQ, Canada @ Le Cercle 03/20 - Montreal, PQ, Canada @ Le National 03/21 - Toronto, ON, Canada @ Lee's Palace 03/22 - Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop 03/23 - Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge 03/24 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry 03/25 - Omaha, NE @ Waiting Room 03/27 - Denver, CO @ Bluebird 03/28 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court 03/30 - Seattle, WA @ Neumo's 04/01 - Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom 04/03 - San Francisco, CA @ Bimbo's 04/04 - Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theater 04/05 - San Diego, CA @ Casbah 04/09 - Dallas, TX @ Granada 04/10 - Austin, TX @ Emo's 04/11 - Houston, TX @ Walter's 04/12 - New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues 04/13 - Atlanta, GA @ Earl 04/14 - Chapel Hill, NC @ Cat's Cradle 04/15 - Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar 04/17 - New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
Power pop genius Michael Benjamin Lerner aka Telekinesis is set to make his debut on Merge Records with a eponymous full length CD release. Drawing influences from nearly every decade, the songs on Telekinesis! are full of charming melodies and fantastic instrumentation. Take a listen to "Coast of Carolina" in the player below and take a look at the video for "Tokyo." The album is due out April 7th.
San Francisco standouts Deerhoof have teamed up with music collaboration website Indaba to issue a challenge to anyone interested to write their own version of the song "Buck and Judy" from their Offend Maggie release. They have posted both the sheet music to the song as well as all the original individual tracks to the song. So, you can keep their vocals and add your own music. Replace the keyboards with kazoo (not recommended). Add additional tracks. Change the lyrics. Or, just scrap it all and do an entirely new version. Post your new version to the website and let everyone hear your creation. You can hear "Buck and Judy" by watching the video below. If you are at all interested, just follow this link:
Leave it to the Canadians to come up with one of the most clever videos ever made. Earlier this week, Winter Gloves debuted "Let Me Drive" which was a track from their 2008 album About A Girl. It's incredible. Take a look!
Caroline Weeks, best known for her work in Bat For Lashes, is releasing a new solo record Songs For Edna on April 7th. The album consists of 9 tracks of stark, minimalist folk with lyrics borrowed from late American poet Edna St. Vincent-Millay. The works are hauntingly beautiful and the sparse, honest recording quality makes for an intimate listen. Check out the track Elegy in the player below. This is perhaps the most interesting vocal performance since Joanna Newsom's Ys. Take a few minutes to explore Caroline Weeks. It's worth it.
Owen Ashworth aka Casiotone For the Painfully Alone is releasing his fifth full length CD Vs. Children on April 7th. Also, if you have been paying attention, Advance Base Battery Life a collection of rarities and singles comes out just a few weeks earlier on March 10th.
Vs. Children is a bit of an instrumental departure for Ashworth. Rather than the fun electronic keyboard sounds, the songs are built with piano, organ, Mellotron, and acoustic drums both live and sampled. But the amazing songcrafting and lyrics remain unchanged. Ashworth is a master at setting mood and relaying emotion without it ever feeling forced or overly sentimental. The songs allow the listeners to glean their own meanings. Plus, how could you not fall in love with lyrics like "...and raise a little family on Schlitz and Mickey Mouse..."? Check out the song "Optimist Vs. The Silent Alarm" in the player below. Other stand outs from the album include "Killers" and "Traveling Salesman's Young Wife Home Alone on Christmas in Montpelier, VT."
We caught up with Casiotone For the Painfully Alone via the internet and got him to answer some rather daft questions:
Viva: What is the most embarrassing band you loved as a kid? CFTPA: I really loved Huey Lewis & The News when I was in grade school. I think I had all of their tapes up until Small World. By the time I was in middle school, I mostly listened to the Hip Hop and R n' B FM radio station. I didn't even know the names of a lot of the artists, but I liked the beats a lot. I got really excited about U2 after that, and I bought a lot of import singles and stuff. My collection of 1980's U2 vinyl has been described as "shockingly extensive." I don't feel particularly embarrassed about anything I used to listen to, though. Some artists I still enjoy more than others, but there's not accounting for taste, as the old saying goes. Or, as Mark Twain once said, "The rumors of my record collection have been greatly exaggerated."
Viva: What was the first album you bought? CFTPA: It was probably Sports by Huey Lewis and the News. Before that, I mostly listened to my parents' Beatles and Paul Simon records.
Viva: What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you on the road? CFTPA: It would have to be the totally mind-bending ten minutes I spent trying to de-code a questionable abbreviation of the word "cockatoos" while trying to catch up with the elderly couple driving a speeding Volvo with a truly unfortunate personalized license plate.
Viva: You build your songs live on stage from bits and pieces of various technological gizmos. Has your gear ever betrayed you? CFTPA: It happens all of the time. I only blame myself, though. And by myself I mean the various manufacturers.
Viva: Your lyrics often seem highly introspective and intelligent, is there any portion of your personal life that is off limits when it comes to song writing? CFTPA: I don't actually write about my personal life very often. The songs are mostly baloney. I think I am a relatively private person, so I would say that most of my life is off limits when it comes to song writing. The only times I really sing about myself are when an actual event strikes me as especially symbolic of a much larger kind of theme or situation, but even then, I have no qualms with changing the details. Generally, I find it way more satisfying to just make stuff up.
Viva: On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your loneliness pain level at these days? CFTPA: I'm going to give it a 2. More often than not, I look forward to the spare moments I get to myself these days. If I had more lonely days, I would probably get more reading done. I have certainly had some painful and lonely times in my life, but the name of the band was always meant to refer to the listener, more so than the person making the music. Sorry, lonely dudes!
Viva: Who’s in heavy rotation on your iPod? CFTPA: I recently downloaded the first three seasons of This American Life from Audible.com, so I've been listening to a bunch of those. I have also been listening to the podcast version of Seattle talk radio program called Too Beautiful To Live with Luke Burbank. I listen to that when I'm walking to the post office or Trader Joe's or whatever. Sometimes I listen to music, too. Here are some really nice MP3s that I've bought recently:
Bob & Fred "I'll Be On My Way (Instrumental)" Them Two "Am I A Good Man (Instrumental)" Parallel Thought feat. MF DOOM "Vomit" The Impressions "We're Rolling On, Pt 1" The Mar-Keys "Last Night" The Kingsmen "Louie Louie" The Troggs "With A Girl Like You" Rich Boy "Throw Some D's" John Carpenter "Theme (From Halloween)" Mariah Carey "Touch My Body" Tracey Thorn "The Book Of Love" David Bazan "Please, Baby, Please (Demo)"