You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Jayhawks are back together

Well, not really, but that sure has a ring to it, doesn't it? Besides, we've got something almost as good. Old friends Mark Olson and Gary Louris, (aka Mr. and Mr. Jayhawk) are back together after more than 10 years of a radio silence, in which both of them recorded solo albums and didn't speak to each other. (Tsk tsk, boys.) The buzz is that Ready for the Flood is stripped-down Jayhawks, focusing more on the boys' legendary high-lonesome harmonies and acoustic picking than any of the alt-country production that characterized their earlier work. Yes, although there are still some movers, here, including "Chamberlain, S.D.," an electric barroom rollicker, remnsicent of Rainy Day Music's "Come to the River." For the nerds, of course, there's trying to get a handle on how their songwriting has settled and matured in the last 10 years. But the real joy, of course, is sitting back and listening to these guys' voices intertwine -- nothing's been lost, thank God, and nobody since the Louvin Brothers has done this sound better.

I wish I could say the two will be on their way to New York in the near future, but alas, they won't. Their two shows at Minneapolis' Varsity Theater this weekend are sold out, of course. For the lucky, here's where they'll be:

Feb 15 Sun Louisville, KY
Phoenix Hill Tavern
Feb 17 Tue St. Louis, MO Blueberry Hill
Feb 18 Wed Columbia, MO Mojo’s
Feb 19 Thu Cedar Rapids, IA CSPS
Feb 20 Fri Chicago, IL Park West
Feb 21 Sat Minneapolis, MN Varsity
Feb 22 Sun Minneapolis, MN Varsity

For more Jayhawkiana, I recommend Chris Riemenschneider's in-depth profile of the twosome on, as well as Olson and Louris's MySpace.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

No place says L'Amour like Bushwick, Brooklyn

It is a proven fact that there is no problem in life that cannot be solved by going to the Bushwick Libary. This is a perfect opportunity. It takes place Saturday, February 14, from 3 to 5 p.m. (Yes, that is Valentine's Day, which to many people is a problem in and of itself.)

There's also been rumors of pantomime and commemorative quarters.

Readers are:

Rohin Guha
Matt Carney
Aaron Short
Marc Jaffee

Something also might be done to their voice boxes, I'm not sure. The Bushwick Libary is at Bushwick Ave. and Seigel St. in Brooklyn.

Bushwick Reading Series on the Internets

Camera Obscura are as good as they ever were

Shameless self-reference: Camera Obscura was the first album review I ever wrote, of Underachievers Please Try Harder. Seven years after it came out, because I needed a clip for the magazine internship I was applying for. I chose it for three reasons 1. because I liked it, 2. because it reminded me of the kind of music I would probably make if I had the inclination to turn my songs in to records and 3. I knew I would have a lot to say about it.

A few years later, Camera Obscura has not let me down -- there's still a lot to say about them. Unlike most frothy indie-pop bands (they're even more frothy than most, and that's saying a lot these days) they aren't afraid to take influences from whoever they want, from Bill Haley to Leonard Cohen.

My Maudlin Career drops April 20th, and the proud Scots fly in for a rare two-night stand in New York -- March 24th at the Bell House and the 25th at Mercury Lounge.

Camera Obscura on MySpace

Friday, February 6, 2009

You know what's cold? Alaska in Winter. That shit is really, really, really...cold.

Alaska in Winter: Berlin

You realize that when you're sick, it's impossible to listen to any music except that music you listened to you when you were sick when you were 12, right? Well that's my roundabout way of saying that for the past two weeks, I've been listening to nothing but Jewel and the soundtrack to Newsies. I've been sicker than I've been since the fall of my senior year in college, when I was living in Big Pink in Tucson, Arizona. Yes, it's The Cold That Wouldn't Die. So it took me until now to get around to Alaska in Winter, which is pretty much the exact opposite of anything you want to listen to when you can't get warm.

And not just because of the name. The track here, Berlin, is off Holiday, Brandon Bethancourt's sophomore release after last year's Dance Party in the Balkans, which was written in Alaska and not the Balkans, whereas Holiday was written in the Balkans, not Alaska. (Well, Germany, but close enough). Either way, that shit's cold: the Vocoder gives it an inhuman touch, and its sleepy and melodic electronica recalls that great winter of 1997 in Minnesota, or something around there. Some time period with a lot of North Face jackets and running around the basement of the local Lutheran church, and swimming in the high school pool. All right, maybe there's a strange comfort-food quality to it after all.

Bethancourt plays tomorrow, Feb. 7, at the 92Y Tribeca. 200 Hudson St., 8:30 p.m. doors, 9:30 p.m. show.

Alaska in Winter on MySpace

Oh, and be patient with me, please, as I slowly Tussin my way back to good health.