New Music: Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record

Broken Social Scene have grown to be the quintessential indie rock band. They've got all the right pieces and sound, plus, they're Canadian. At one point in time the band had 19 members and Broken Social Scene has some quite famous alumni including Feist, Emily Haines (Metric) and Amy Millan (Stars). The band is now trimmed down to seven members with Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning most importantly still around.

Forgiveness Rock Record is the bands fourth album (officially released May 6th) and although it's a little longer than it needs to be, it's probably the most focused songwriting the bands ever had. With the slow burner opening track 'World Sick' it's clear the band hasn't changed too much. There's a lot of really interesting stuff too, like 'Chase Scene' which, oddly enough, really sounds like it should be sound-tracking a chase scene. Other highlights include the cutesy pop of 'All In All', the Sonic Youth-esque 'Texico Bitches' and the mellow 'Sentimental X's' (where you get to hear all three songstresses mentioned above together). The absolute killer song in my opinion is the instrumental 'Meet Me In The Basement' which sounds like it would be a perfect opening or closing song in concert. Hopefully we'll get to see that if Broken Social Scene decide to come through KC again.

Here's Broken Social Scene playing 'Meet Me In The Basement' live last July, and it's pretty epic:



Concert Announcement: Holy Fuck

Another favorite of mine Canadians Holy Fuck will be in town again, this time in Lawrence at The Jackpot on Sunday, June 13th. Previously they'd headlined a bill at the Record Bar with A Place To Bury Strangers which was one of the better concerts of that year. They'll be touring behind their new album, Latin, which comes out on May 11th (pre-order here). It's really good so I'll hope to mention a few words about it when it comes out.

In the meantime, here is the first single from the album, 'Latin America':

New Interpol Track: 'Lights'

No matter how disinterested I've become with Interpol over the course of their last two records, I'll still check out their new stuff. Their second and third albums aren't bad by any means, but their first album is so great that most likely anything would have been disappointing. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to find 10 albums from the last decade I like more than Interpol's debut album, Turn On The Bright Lights. The band is finishing up their fourth and currently untitled album and have released the first track, 'Lights'. You can get the track as a free download but you have to cough up an email address.



Half-Assed Yeasayer Omaha Show Review
(now with extra grainy iPhone photos)

I made the trek to Omaha this past Sunday evening to see Yeasayer since they weren't making a stop in Lawrence or KC (which I don't think they ever have, someone please correct me if I'm mistaken). The show was at The Waiting Room, which if you have been wondering why Omaha is stealing so many shows from us, just see a show there and you'll know why. There isn't a single bad line of sight, the sound system is good and the place is new and clean. Getting drinks quickly in a sold out show helped as well.

This is the third time I've seen Yeasayer now, but the first time I've seen them play a headlining show. They've yet to disappoint me and prove to live up to their hype as one of the best live bands around right now. Songs from the new album sounded great next to what now seem like classics like '2080' and 'Sunrise' off the debut. Highlights from the show were 'Tightrope' (off the Dark Was The Night compilation), 'ONE' and 'Wait For The Summer'. If they ever end up coming through town anytime soon, don't miss it.


Concert Announcement: Marah

There is definitely a bit of discussion on my part about "bar bands" on this blog. I would consider bands like The Hold Steady, Drive-By Truckers and The Gaslight Anthem all to be in that category of bar bands making good. Another one that definitely falls into that category is Philly's Marah. They've been championed in the past by such characters as Bruce Springsteen and Nick Hornby...and for good reason. I've said before they remind me of what you might have gotten from the members of Drive-By Truckers if they grew up listening to The Boss rather than Skynyrd. They play straight up rock n roll and they do it well.

I saw Marah a few years back at the Austin City Limits festival, they played at 11:30 am and they blew the figurative roof off the place. They'll be at The Bottleneck in Lawrence on Friday June 18th and this is another one you won't want to miss. Their seventh full length album, Life Is A Problem, will be out on June 22nd.

As always, check out the full calendar HERE.

Here's Marah playing one of my favorites of theirs, 'The Dishwasher's Dream':



Concert Announcement: The Gaslight Anthem

There are few bands that look like they are having as much fun on the stage as the fans are. New Jersey's own The Gaslight Anthem are one of those bands. The Jeopardy of Contentment favorites will be at the Midland Theater on Saturday, July 17th. I caught them last year with The Heartless Bastards and they are a fantastic live rock band, don't miss this. Tim Barry will open.

The Gaslight Anthem's new album, American Slang, is out on June 15th and is pretty fantastic.

Here is The Gaslight Anthem with special guest Bruce Springsteen playing 'The '59 Sound' live at the Glastonbury festival in 2009:



Not so Super(grass)

To my extreme sadness and recognition on the passage of time and our eventual demise, it was announced last week that the rock group Supergrass will be calling it quits after this summer, following a few one-off shows in their home country of Britain.

My sadness isn't directly related to their breaking up, although it hurts a bit. Supergrass was a quality outfit and one of the few Britpop groups from the 90s to have staying power and create consistently solid and stylistically varied albums. Releasing six albums, they were always well received by critics and were known for solid live shows (2/3 of the band put out a cover album under the name Hot Rats, produced by Nigel Godrich). So their break up does put a small hole in the current music world (unlike the break up of my beloved Oasis, although I contend their last two albums were solid).

Mostly, my melancholy is based on seeing in a press release that the band had been together 17 friggin' years. 17! Which means they got together in 1993. I started listening to them the following year, so this is a band that I have been following for the most part since they began. For 17 years.

Wow. It's not like this is The Who and they were together 30 years before I started buying them, or any other group that was at least a decade into their existence. I started with them, and their end line is almost two decades later.

This was a big reminder on the passage of time, not only how quickly it goes by, but also how it often fails to effect our perception of music and groups we love. I realized with every album that Supergrass was getting older, as was I, but all I had to do was put on their I Should Coco, and they were 19 again (and in many was so was I). That is part of the wonderful magic that music embodies for us, and while I suppose it can seem a little pathetic (especially to younger listeners who haven't been listening to any groups long enough to generate a sense of time passing), it's also very sweet and reassuring. You're not living in the past- you're just hanging out for a little bit, recalling some sensory memories of getting the first Supergrass CD for Christmas in Wichita and listening to it up in the attic bedroom where my dad once listened to his albums, or laughing at the title track "In It for the Money" with my roomate and thinking how British that title is. When a band that has been with you long enough ends its existence, it ultimately reminds us of our own past and mortality and that eventually, whether it's musical differences or heat failure, we have to call it quits.

The topic I pose then is: What artist's(s') breakup or end has been particularly hard on you? It could even be a group that hasn't been around long, perhaps causing you to mourn "what could have been".

Thanks for our time together, boys!

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New Music: Plants & Animals, Caribou and The Tallest Man On Earth

Plants & Animals - La La Land

Montreal's Plants & Animals are back with their second LP, La La Land, which is officially out today. Their first album, Parc Avenue, was a favorite of mine so my expectations were high for this release. Although I don't feel like it's as strong overall as their first full-length, the flashes of brilliant songwriting show their face a few times. Songs like 'American Idol' and 'Kon Tiki' are great springtime or summertime jams but the best track on the album might be 'Undone Melody'. It's a slow burner of a track that builds up to a rocking ending, which I always enjoy. This is definitely an album worth checking out.

Caribou - Swim

Dan Snaith has been recording music under the monikers of Manitoba and Caribou for almost ten years now. Caribou broke out in 2007 with the fantastic Andorra but the new album, Swim (also out today), should make Snaith even more of a name for himself. Caribou has seemed to drop a lot of the indie rock sound on this album in favor of great synth beats, and I can't really complain. There are some really great dance tracks on here; the opener 'Odessa' and 'Hannibal' in particular. This record deserves the best new music tag P4K handed it today, and don't forget to check them out at The Granada in Lawrence on June 6th.

The Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt

Although this came out last Tuesday, I've been slacking and I definitely thought it was worth mentioning. I feel in love with Sweden's Kristian Matsson's solo project The Tallest Man On Earth the first time I heard his debut album, 2008's Shallow Grave (which was my 7th favorite album of '08). When I first heard this follow up, I was extremely wary if this was going to be half the album Shallow Grave was. I'm glad I stuck with it because The Wild Hunt may not be quite as good, but it's a grower for sure. It's a lazy comparison, but I'm gonna say it anyway, if you're a fan of Bob Dylan, you'll most likely enjoy The Tallest Man On Earth.


Concert Announcement: Muse, Erykah Badu, MGMT & more

I'll freely admit that Muse is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. The music snob in me thinks I should dismiss them as some mainstream, derivative junk, but in reality Muse pretty much rock. I wasn't a huge fan of the last album, but I loved Origin of Symmetry through Black Holes and Revelations; not to mention that they're an amazing live band as well. They'll be at the Sprint Center on November 2nd and Metric will be opening, so it should be a great show.

There are a handful more shows that I've missed posting about in the last few weeks. The highlights include:

05/14 Phantogram @ The Riot Room, KC
06/08 The Temper Trap/War Paint @ The Crossroads, KC
06/08 Erykah Badu/Janelle Monae @ The Midland, KC
06/13 MGMT @ The Uptown, KC
06/13 Lightning Bolt @ The Jackpot, Lawrence
06/17 Lou Barlow @ The Record Bar, KC
07/06 Modest Mouse/Avi Buffalo @ The Crossroads, KC
08/18 The Black Crowes @ Voodoo Lounge, NKC
10/30 Roger Waters performing 'The Wall' @ The Sprint Center, KC



Video: Future Islands - 'Tin Man'

I already posted a video of this song a while back when mentioning that Baltimore's Future Islands will be at The Pistol Social Club in KC on June 2nd. This is the official video though. I'll mention it again but the new Future Islands album, In Evening Air, is one of the better albums I've heard this year and will be officially released on May 4th. Here's the video for the fantastic first single on the album, 'Tin Man':



Classics: Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska

Great storytellers in music go back a long way. Much of my favorite music is the storytellers of old country music like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. Someone that could tell a great story about real people that may be a bit down on their luck. There are plenty of songwriters still around that are carrying that torch. Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley of Drive-By Truckers are two great examples of great storytellers in music today. It's a bit out of the country music vein but Craig Finn of The Hold Steady is also a fantastic storyteller. Where as Drive-By Truckers lyrics are soaked in booze, Finn's tales are hopped up on pills and LSD. There have been plenty of great storytellers in between as well like Gram Parsons and especially Bruce Springsteen. There's no better example of Springsteen's ability to tell a great story in a song than in the the 1982 album, Nebraska.

Bruce recorded all of Nebraska with only a guitar, harmonica and vocals. Instead of polishing it up in a studio, what he recorded as the demos are what you hear on the album. The albums starts of with the chilling title track which is about mass murderer Charlie Starkweather's killing spree sung in the first person. It's really pretty creepy if you pay close attention to the lyrics. The second song on the album may be my favorite Springsteen song of all time in 'Atlantic City', which is another tale of someone caught up with the wrong people and also contains some of my favorite Springsteen lyrics.

'Highway Patrolmen' might be one of the best old fashioned storytelling songs of all time. The song finds two brothers, one a cop and one a criminal. The song tells about how the cop always looks out for his brother, even when it conflicts with his duties as a highway patrolmen. It's touching really and I dare anyone to find a better story within a single song ('Long Black Veil' excluded).

I really could go on and on about each track. Whether it's 'Used Cars' about a family without enough money to get by or 'Johnny 99' about a man driven to crime by bad luck and bad decisions; every track is pretty damn amazing. The album ends with a perfect closer of 'Reason To Believe', because as heartbreaking as this album is, it's nice to end anything this sad with a little hope.

Here's a live, acoustic performance of 'Atlantic City'...the video ain't great, but the audio is fantastic:



New Music: Avi Buffalo

I'm going to try and get back on here with some frequency after being pretty sick recently. I've still been able to listen to plenty of music as I faded in and out of conscientiousness, and one thing that I really enjoyed was the new Avi Buffalo album. Out officially on Sub Pop records on April 27th, it's pretty much what you've come to expect from Sub Pop, which is pretty fantastic pop albums.

As if you needed another reason to check out this show, Avi Buffalo will be opening up for Japandroids at the Bottleneck in Lawrence this Tuesday, April 13th. It should be a good one.

Here is 'What's In It For?', a track off Avi Buffalo's self-titled debut album (which you can Pre-order it HERE):