American Laundromat Built to Spill Cinerama (band) Elk City Imaginary Scoop Joy Zipper Tanya Donelly The Rest The Smiths The Wedding Present Trespassers William Vivian Girls

The Smiths as covered by members of Built to Spill, Wedding Present, Vivian Girls, and…


(Doug Martsch covering a Smiths song that isn’t “Reel Around The Fountain”)

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything new from a member of the Smiths, so it’s perfect timing for a new Smiths covers album… especially one with tracks interpreted by the Wedding Present,  Doug Martsch (Built To Spill), The Rest (one of my favorite new Arcade Fire-ish Canadian bands), Katy Goodman (La Sera, Vivian Girls), and Tanya Donelly.  This latest tribute will be released on American Laundromat Records this Fall and they are still adding folks to the track listing… which currently includes:

Cinerama / London
Class Actress / Ask
Dala / Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me
Doug Martsch (Built To Spill) / Reel Around the Fountain (a la “Virginia Reel Around the Fountain” ?)
Elk City / I Know It’s Over
Greg Laswell / Half A Person
Joy Zipper / What Difference Does It Make?
Katy Goodman (Vivian Girls, La Sera) / track to be announced
Kitten / track to be announced
Mike Viola / How Soon Is Now?
Sara Lov / track to be announced
Sixpence None the Richer / I Won’t Share You
Tanya Donelly w/Dylan in the Movies / Shoplifters Of The World Unite
The Leisure Society / That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore
The Rest / Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before
The Wedding Present / Hand In Glove
Trespassers William / There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
William Fitzsimmons / Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want

Additional artists will be announced soon.

Who would you like to see covering what?  What band needs its own covers album?

A Paper Cup Band Amy Winehouse Antiques Black Kids Connan and the Mockasins Drug Rug Eagle*Seagull Elk City Great Northern Imaginary Scoop Lavender Diamond Les Breastfeeders Lost in the Trees Menomena Nicole Atkins and the Sea Peter Bjorn and John Sleeping in the Aviary The Fratellis The Motion Sick The Saps Tiger Saw Township Vinyl Skyway Wild Light

igAsh's favorite songs of 2007, with {some} free downloads!

I made a ‘Best of ’07’ compilation for coworkers and thought I’d share my picks with you, in no particular order. Hope you’ve got a little time to spare!

All downloads have been posted with permission from the bands themselves. Thanks bands!


1. Nicole Atkins and the Sea: “The Way It Is”

I think this is my favorite song of the year. Here’s the clip from Letterman.



2. Peter Bjorn and John: “Young Folks”

I’m such a sucker for whistling. And isn’t this the most visually satisfying video ever.


3. The Fratellis: “Whistle for the Choir”

I told you. Whistling = Love.


4. Eagle*Seagull: “I’m Sorry But I’m Beginning to Hate Your Face

This is one of my CMJ discoveries and I’m in love with the groove!

Eagle*Seagull by Denny Schmickle

5. A Paper Cup Band: “(Note to Self)

This CD got ripped to my iTunes and then met its fate in the large pile of CDs on my desk, but the songs on the iTunes caught my ear, especially this one, with a vibe a little Violent Femmes-like, sans Gano.

A Paper Cup Band, probably



6. The Vinyl Skyway: “Where?

I’m all sappy in love with these guys and their lovely harmony-driven sound. Guitarist Andy Santospago just released his own solo debut so check that out too.


The Vinyl Skyway


7. Amy Winehouse: “Some Unholy War”

Trainwreck what? Not a video for the song, just a funny YouTube clip I found called “Amy Winehouse taking a line.” Because really, who doesn’t love a trainwreck.


8. Les Breastfeeders: “Viens Avec Moi”

Total sucker for songs in French.


9. Elk City: “Totally Free

I really really really really love this whole album. P.S. Elk City singer Renee Lobue sends big holiday cheer to the imaginary world. We *heart* you back, Renee!


10. Lavender Diamond: “Open Your Heart”

It’s weird: I love this song, but just didn’t dig the rest of the album. Too many religious overtones, maybe. Oh well. This video is bliss.


11. Antiques: “These Things

Steven and Tim, who call themselves Antiques, are a couple of the finest people I know, and they make songs that warm your heart. Lots and lots of em! “These Things” is off their latest, Floodlight.




12. Drug Rug: “For the Rest of Your Life”

This Boston duo & co. had a great 2007, releasing their debut on Black & Greene records (label of Apollo Sunshine drummer Jeremy Greene) and supporting the Fiery Furnaces on a brief tour. Their hometown shows are consistently packed.

Here they are playing this song at PA’s Lounge in May.


13. Sleeping In the Aviary: “Gloworm”

Another reason I *heart* Madison. This video features “Gloworm” and “Maureen.”


14. Connan and the Mockasins: “Sneaky Sneaky Dogfriend”

I caught these guys at CMJ and fell for their quirky charm. This songs completely delights me. Know how I feel about whistling? I’m equally taken by handclaps.


15. Township: “Give It To It

I’ve been telling you about these guys for as long as I’ve been writing for TIG. They won the WBCN Rock ‘N’ Roll Rumble (a battle of the bands whose claim to fame is crowning ‘Til Tuesday in the early ’80s) and they’re really incredible. Pure straight up rock ‘n’ roll here.

(And, odd little snippet: The photo on the cover of Performer, below, was taken in my Grandmother’s bathroom. True story.)


Township cover


16. Menomena: “Rotten Hell”


17. Tiger Saw: “Kick and Snare

A Boston-area collective with a revolving roster of members, led by Dylan Metrano. This song features crooning vocals by Sam Rosen on the lead-in. Yum.


Tiger Saw by Lara Woolfson


18. Black Kids: “I’ve Underestimated My Charm (Again)”

A recent discovery for me, this Florida band is riding a wave of indie buzz. This song is pop gold.


19. Great Northern: “The Middle”


20. Lost In the Trees: “If You’re Afraid of the Dark

Someone wrote about this band here on TIG earlier this year, so I checked them out and am particularly crazy about this song for its lush vocal harmonies.

Lost In the Trees


21. The Saps: “Broke My Spine”

Chicago band whose album I reviewed months ago. This song stuck with me and I really adore it.

The Saps


22. Wild Light: “California On My Mind

Fresh off opening for Arcade Fire in the US and Europe, and with only an EP release so far (but a full length coming soon), these guys are briefly back home in Boston preparing their world domination. Seriously, don’t resist, just fall in love with them now.


23. The Motion Sick:30 Lives

Good peeps, good hooks, and an especially awesome bridge. Brilliant video too. Will be submitting a review of their new record The Truth Will Catch You, Just Wait…, which features this song, very soon!




Dead Confederate Elk City Imaginary Scoop

Your imaginary questions answered! (In case you missed it)

Just wanted to mention that the reviews in which your fabulous imaginary questions are answered by TWO awesome bands (Elk City and Dead Confederate) have been posted, in case you missed them in the flurry of live reviews.

Go see what they had to say in response to questions like:
"Do you make music for yourselves or others?"
"What's your ideal jeopardy category?"
"Beatles or Stones?"
and many many others.

CMJ Part 1
CMJ Part 2

You'll find your answers if you scroll down to the bottom of each of those pages.

I must say, it was very fun to go out there armed with my voice recorder and your questions. You guys came up with lots of good stuff!



13ghosts Connan and the Mockasins Elk City Hooray for Earth Liam Finn Live Show Review The Brunettes Wild Light Yo Majesty

CMJ 2007: Part 1

Each fall, countless college radio staffers and music industry insiders descend on NYC for the CMJ Music Marathon, a five-day bonanza of rock shows during which in all certainty you will miss many of the bands you went to see due to scheduling conflicts and filled-to-capacity venues. In turn, you end up discovering some band that you never heard of before, or just finding a place to rest your aching feet.

This was my second year attending the madness, and here are my highlights from the first half of the week.

After arriving on Tuesday and getting my press badge, I met up with my friend Fat Asian Baby for some Birmingham, Alabama bands at the Lit Lounge. On the stage upon my arrival was 13ghosts, a bearded bunch of Southern gentlemen whose melodies were striking and lovely, and whose sound was full and dynamic. I had never seen them live and I was very impressed. Worthy of note: 13ghosts have worked with Maria Taylor (of Azure Ray), who appears on their album Cicada.

On Wednesday I ventured out for the New Zealand showcase at The Delancey. My purpose was to see The Brunettes, who I've been crazy about since I saw them open for Rilo Kiley in '05. The afternoon show began with a greeting and introduction by actor Rhys Darby, in character as Murray Hewitt — manager of Flight of the Conchords. He cracked me the shit up, and the small crowd laughed heartily along with me.

Up first was Liam Finn, eldest son of Crowded House frontman Neil Finn. Accompanied by only a female vocalist named E-J Barnes (who herself was exceptionally talented), Finn's set began on a quiet acoustic note, but suddenly a flurry of pre-recorded instruments blasted through the speakers while Finn jumped behind a drum kit and pounded away. This trick could have been hokey, but Finn pulled it off beautifully a number of times throughout the set, bouncing back and forth from guitar to drums and from acoustic to full "band," all the while delivering stunning vocal duets with Barnes.

The BrunettesIt was bizarre to be two feet away from The Brunettes in a tiny venue after having seen them on a huge stage last time, but there they were, setting up their gear right beside me. They banged out several of their signature playful pop songs, though seemed to stick with their newer material from Structure and Cosmetics. Adorable and endearing as always, they had a full band that included horns, and on one song, co-leader Heather Mansfield busted out on clarinet before they launched into a "YMCA"-style dance to the letters "B-A-B-Y" for the song "Brunettes Against Bubblegum Youth," which leads the new album. (There's a YouTube video of this performance out there but the quality is not great. Google it up if you dare.)

I hit the Puck building (this year's CMJ headquarters) to see my current band crush Wild Light do an afternoon set on Thursday. Finishing their set when I arrived were U.K. band Connan and the Mockasins, who totally reeled me in. They were wacky, but good-wacky, with a guy singer who sounded like a girl and fun jagged rhythms alongside playful lyrics. They achieved a real lo-fi sound with guitar, bass, and drums and collaborative vocals. Check out their "Sneaky Sneaky Dogfriend," which you can download at their MySpace.

Wild Light came on next and completely melted me as usual. They're from Boston, so I have seen them a few times, but now that they're touring with Arcade Fire my chances are fewer and farther between. They make immensely pretty indie songs with lots of lush harmonies and complex melodies, and each of the three frontman switch instruments and lead vocal duties while Seth Kasper (also of Boston's Hooray for Earth) provides the beats behind them. They get it right at every turn, and you just sort of listen in awe of how good it is.

From there, I hit Piano's for two vastly different shows on different floors: Elk City upstairs and Yo Majesty downstairs. These shows were scheduled to happen at different times, but because of the downstairs schedule being delayed, they actually happened in tandem, which put me in a conundrum. I started with Yo Majesty, who I saw once before opening for Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS) and loved — and this time they only made me love them more. Inexplicably down to two members from three, and with a dread-locked DJ supplying the backdrop, Shunda K & Jwl. B quickly captivated the crowd, who obeyed their commands ("Jump! Jump!", etc.) and ate the whole thing up. I stayed for four songs, including favorites "Club Action" (often cited for its repeated "Fuck that shit" chorus) and "Leather Jacket," before heading upstairs.

Elk City were well into their set, but thankfully I caught a handful of songs. I'm crazy about their album New Believers, and was thrilled to finally see them in person. Their music and general demeanor was fitting for a lounge-y atmosphere, though the daylight streaming through the windows seemed a little out of place (it was still only about 5pm). Singer Renée LoBue sang with visible passion and clarity despite the sadly small crowd (which doubled after Yo Majesty's set ended). After their set I got to chat with Renée and bassist Barbara Endes, who answered your imaginary questions. Read on to see what they had to say, and check back for Part Two, featuring the rest of my CMJ adventure and another imaginary interview!

Q: Beatles or Stones?
Barbara: Why do you have to choose? Right now for me it's the Stones, but I grew up listening to the Beatles.
Renée: The Who.

Q: Have you guys done South by Southwest before?
R: No, we'd like to.

Q: Do you have any thoughts on the difference between CMJ and South by Southwest?
B: There's a lot more pot in Austin.
R: And a lot more barbecue.
B: It's all on one strip so you kind of wander from bar to bar and you don't have to deal with cabs and subways. That takes some of the time out of it.

Q: What New York bands should the imaginaries be checking out?
B: Camphor's pretty cool. They're our labelmates.
R: We just got back from Pop Montreal, and we saw that band Man Man, who I've never seen before. I think they're from New York. I liked them.
B: We like Elizabeth Harper a lot too.

Q: Do you have any pre-show superstitions?
R: I don't shave my legs.

Q: Really?
R: Yeah. I swear, on the day of a show I won't shave my legs.

Q: What if you've got a bunch of shows?
R: I don't shave my legs. I don't care. If I have like four shows in a row, I'm just going to be some hair and some heels.

Q: What's your ideal Jeopardy category?
R: Fashion Passion
B: Whiskey and Frisky

Q: What does Elk City really need right now?
R: We need two things. Number one: We need to go to Austin to play South by Southwest. Number two: We need to make love. That covers it.
B: You mean every day right?
R: Yeah.

Q: Do you make music for yourself, or for other people?
R: I think it differs. I make music for other people, and I'm not embarrassed to say it. I don't make music for myself.
B: All these dichotomies… I make music for the Rolling Stones.

Q: If you could fight anyone alive or dead, who would it be?
B: George Bush.
R: The Hamburglar.
B: I think you'd win. He's got really high c
R: I don't know though, he's got that mask on and he's all mysterious.

Q: What are your thoughts on Radiohead's self-release?
B: It's a great record, and I think they can do whatever the fuck they want. Any band could do what they're doing, and should do what they're doing, but because Radiohead's doing it and they're huge, everybody's talking about it. But any band who puts their shit on the web is rolling the dice, and some people are going to pay for it and some people aren't anyway. It's already kind of the case, isn't it?
R: I think they can afford to do it because they're Radiohead, but I also think they're making a statement about the current climate of the music industry. I hope music is still valued as much as it was. It's a little scary. Art should be free, but that's a contradiction in terms sometimes for the artist so that opens up a whole other debate. In a nutshell, I do admire them for doing it. I think they're almost doing it as a commentary on the climate of where the music scene is today, so for that alone, I respect them for doing it.
B: It's also like a challenge to listeners: 'Most of you are going to get this for free if you want, but think about it before you take it for free. Give us like two fucking bucks if that's all you want to pay for it.' I think it makes people think a little bit.

Elk City Friendly Fire Record Review

New Believers

Elk City's moody, dreamy pop sensibility makes for a serene and fulfilling listening experience. Though the songs on New Believers have structure, the band takes risks and lives outside of the box, resulting in an album that is respectable, genuine, and exquisite.

The booming, melodramatic songs sound like the soundtrack to a love-drunk evening spent in a dark, smoke-filled lounge, martini in hand. "Cherries In the Snow," the opener, seems poised to be a "single" — it's on the band's MySpace player, it's the free download available through Insound, and it's even set to appear on an upcoming TIG AstroPop Podcast — but somehow it's a strange choice to represent this album. It's a striking, PJ Harvey-flavored song, but it's more aggressive and less romantic than the majority of the album, so don't let it be your only impression of New Believers. As the album moves on it introduces more fluid, lovely melodies with subtle but effective instrumentation.

Singer and songwriter Renée LoBue has a captivating voice that's both soothing and alluring. Her soft vocal deliveries make for an effortlessly organic sound. At times it calls to mind the White Stripes songs on which Meg sings — stark and honest — though with more soul. It's also not surprising that Elk City member Sean Eden was formerly with Luna, as Elk City's sound has a similar dreamy quality.

One of the strongest moments comes in the transition between track six, "Totally Free," and track seven, "You Got Me." The former is a sultry semi-ballad with LoBue's vocals echoing while male harmonies back her up on the title words. The song ultimately erupts in feedback-y guitars before dropping off. "You Got Me" is an up-tempo piano-led throwback to early-'60s girl pop. As the first segways into the second, they are the ultimate contrast and yet they complement each other lavishly. In fact, Elk City's songs are all stylistically unique.

"Silver Lawyers," "My Type of Criminal," and "Nighttime" are the slower numbers on the album, each lovely and serene. The recording has an airy or spacious quality to it, a la Radiohead. Band member Ray Ketchem produced, recorded, and mixed the album, and he clearly understood LoBue's vision for these songs, creating exactly the right mix and allowing them their breathing room. "Cherries in the Snow" and "White Walls" are more rock 'n' roll, with lots of electric guitar. LoBue sounds a bit like Debbie Harry, especially the more recent, matured version. The remaining songs fall somewhere in between, always delivering on Elk City's promise to keep things sonically interesting. Also contributing heavily to the stunning sound is the instrument choices — pedal steel, dobro, and Hammond organ all appear, adding subtle nuances.

All in all, New Believers is a solid and compelling album that will stay in heavy rotation on my iPod.