Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Killers - "Boots" video

Merry Christmas everybody! Every year The Killers releases a Christmas song and video for the charity RED, and I think they've outdone themselves this year. Take a look:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How to keep your accounts secure

I'm sure most of you know about the Gawker breach, where hackers were able to get in and steal passwords and e-mail addresses from commenters. Recently they posted a how-to guide on using tabula recta for password security. I'm sure that wasn't a coincidence.

The truth of the matter is, you are responsible for your own security. And if you don't have an ancient codebreaker handy, here are some general tips for keeping your accounts safe.

1. Use a different password for different sites. Always. Unless it's a throwaway account you don't mind losing (or having another person control), keep your password different each time.

"Yes, but how am I going to remember them all?" you ask. Well, there are options like KeePass, or, if you want to do things old-style, just use a system you'll remember. Make sure your passwords are complex, using both letters and numbers--as well as punctuation, if you can. A mix of upper and lower-case letters is always a plus. Never make your password a simple word.

2. Delete credit card information from sites you don't use anymore. And don't use a debit card on the Internet--those aren't as secure as credit cards when it comes to fraud protection.

3. Keep your recovery information for your most important accounts up-to-date. If you have a main e-mail address with a secure password, don't have your "recovery e-mail" be one that's easy to access. If you lose access to a main account and don't know the recovery address, or it's since been deactivated ... also bad.

4. "Security questions" are a really good back door for people to get into your accounts. Don't choose the question "What is your mother's maiden name?" or "What is your favorite book?" and answer it truthfully. Instead, choose something no one else would really know. Maybe answer "What is your mother's maiden name?" with the maiden name of a character in your favorite book, or "What is your favorite color?" with a favorite movie that has a color in the title.

Make sure no one should be able to guess your answer, and that you'll remember it. Easier said than done, of course, and I sometimes wish security questions were optional, but if your password is secure this will just be additional protection. (And don't use the answers here--use unique ones.)

5. Most people don't think of this, but put a numerical lock on your phone, iPod touch, or other device you take with you outside of your home. It's no use having a super-secure e-mail address if you're logged into it on your unsecured iPhone and someone swipes it.

6. Don't sign up for an app on Facebook just to view a video or read some kind of post you see on someone's status. More often than not, your friend didn't post it--an app took control of their account and set it as their status. As a rule, I don't add apps at all, but if you want to use them, google them first to see if they're safe.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

MP3 roundup: Chasing Kings - "Empathy"


Chasing Kings is an indie rock group from Los Angeles, and they're currently promoting their debut EP The Current State of Our Future. "Empathy" is the first track, and don't be fooled by the briefly somber opening--this song is as jaunty as they come, and incredibly catchy.

Chasing Kings - "Empathy"

More about Chasing Kings:
Facebook
Myspace

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Book news!

Those of you who either know me or have been following my Twitter for awhile probably know that I'm a writer. And, short of a six-figure publishing deal falling into my inbox, I'm going release my first book myself next year. It'll be available as an e-book, and also in print form.

Here are some questions I have been getting from people:

What is your novel about?
Set in the year 2507, the book follows journalist Thomas Huxley as he tries to clear the name of an accused murderer, while being stalked by a girl who claims to be a time traveler. This leads, of course, to time travel adventures, starship battles, and epic fights to the death. It's book one of a series.

So I heard there's a rock band involved?
There is a fictional rock band, yes.

Are you going to keep up with Paisley?
Yes. Paisley Sound isn't going anywhere. I will be neglecting it at the same rate I've always been.  

Questions? E-mail me, or hit that comment button.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Katy Perry - "Firework" video

I don't normally do this, but this Katy Perry video was too good not to post. Yes, I know Lady Gaga was doing the firework-bra thing first, but this song has a good message for young people, and it's utterly hilarious. Yes, I feel like a plastic bag looking for a new beginning! I want to be brighter than the moon! And the part where people try to mug the magician is a thing of great beauty. Behold.

Monday, October 18, 2010

MP3 roundup - HoneyChild, "The Father"


Here's an elegant song that grabs you at the opening and sweeps you straight through it. The band behind it is HoneyChild, a Los Angeles-based indie group led by singer/guitarist Tobias Jesso. They're touring with Portugal The Man, and have a soft, intricate sound. "The Father" has lyrics with lovely descriptions of nature, delicate touches of bells at the bridge, and humming strings that run like an undercurrent in the background.

HoneyChild - "The Father"

You can download or stream their album Nearer the Earth for free on their official site, and buy the physical CD there as well.

Monday, October 11, 2010

MP3 roundup - The Jezabels, "Mace Spray"




The Jezabels (and I love that name) are a four-member indie rock/pop band from Sydney, Australia. Their first EP, The Man is Dead, came out in February of 2009; She's So Hard was released in November of 2009. Their newest EP, Dark Storm, came out October 1st. They've toured with Tegan & Sara, and have a delightfully synthpop sound, backed by heavy drums and singer Hayley Mary's gorgeous, smoky voice.

"Mace Spray," off Dark Storm, has gripping lyrics and great hooks, and is addictively listenable.

The Jezabels - Mace Spray

www.thejezabels.com - official site

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hipster on the prowl: Chikita Violenta and Ra Ra Riot, 9/27/10


I have been busy the last few weeks, but I did manage to catch Ra Ra Riot and Chikita Violenta play in Northampton, MA two weeks ago. We Barbarians played first, but I missed their set and came in just as the second band was setting up. I had never heard of Chikita Violenta before, but they're from Mexico City and played a tight, impressive set for about an hour. They had an incredible stage presence, and were joking around with the crowd between songs. I'd definitely recommend checking out their music.

Then Ra Ra Riot burst onto the stage, jumping into their first song (I believe it was "Each Year"). I've read that they play energetic shows, but they were so dynamic I could barely frame any shots for pictures (that's the singer up there). They played several songs from their new album, The Orchard, as well as some classics from their first, such as "Can You Tell." I had to leave at 11 because I had school the next day (I know, I know, I'm a total square, but it was a Monday night), so I didn't get to see if they played "Dying is Fine." But let's watch it together, shall we?



They're still on tour across the U.S. for the next few months. 

Chikita Violenta - official site
Ra Ra Riot - official site

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Clementine: New, multi-platform music player

If you do a lot of work at your computer and like to listen to music at the same time, then check out Clementine, a free desktop music player. It works for several platforms and is easy to install, with smooth playback.

While a lot of other music players are clunky and mainly geared toward getting your music set up for an MP3 player, Clementine is a breeze to run, and is dedicated to desktop playback. Making and customizing playlists from your available music files is easy, and you can scrobble to Last.fm (or, if you're a paid subscriber for Last.fm, stream from their radio stations). There are even "love" and "ban" buttons (a heart and a "prohibited" sign, respectively).

Songs automatically fade in or out when you start them or change them, which is a lovely effect, but you can always disable that option in your preferences. When a new song starts, its name pops up in a box on the screen; when a playlist ends, it lets you know as well.

Another cool feature is "Rain," which plays--what else?--a calming loop of a rainstorm. Overall it's an excellent program, one that I would recommend to anyone who listens to music.

http://www.clementine-player.org

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Two Seconds Away - "Love Song" cover [free MP3]

Two Seconds Away have been running a project called New Music Monday for awhile, and today they released a great acoustic cover of Sara Bareilles's "Love Song." I really prefer it to the original. You can download the song, and read their post about it, here.

(Thanks to Sally for the heads-up).

Aaron and Andrew - "Rescue Me" [free MP3]

Aaron and Andrew just released "Rescue Me," a single off their upcoming album. It's a gem of an indie alt/pop song, with impressively polished soundscapes, and you can download it free for signing up for their mailing list. (I'd also recommend checking out their previous album, Pictures and Words, as well.) Take a listen:


<a href="http://aaronandandrew.bandcamp.com/track/rescue-me-single">Rescue Me-Single by Aaron and Andrew</a>

on Myspace
@aaronandandrew

Friday, August 20, 2010

Flooding in Pakistan - how you can help

I know this is normally a blog about music, but I noticed that not many people are aware of the damage from the Pakistan floods. Over a thousand people are dead, and millions are left without shelter, food, clean water, or medical care. If you want to help, there are several charities taking donations:

  • AVAAZ - donations will go straight to Pakistan
  • Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders - I'm not sure if you can earmark money specifically for Pakistan, but both are great organizations that are currently helping there.

Please spread the word. Even if you can't give much, every little bit can help.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Rescues - "Break Me Out" video

The official video for The Rescues' "Break Me Out," filmed at the Troubadour, was just released. It sounds great, and the editing and filming are top-notch:




myspace.com/therescues

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World


Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is the new movie from Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz"), based on the comic series by Bryan Lee O'Malley. It's a love story with video game styling and indie music.

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) has met the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), but has to fight her seven evil exes to date her. He's also the bassist in the go-nowhere indie rock band Sex Bob-omb. The movie has a fast pace in the first half, with scenes going from day to night in the blink of an eye. However, it finds its pace, and has some great moments.

Scott Pilgrim's ex-girlfriend Envy Adams (Brie Larson) has a fantastic rendition of Metric's "Black Sheep," and Scott's gay roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin) has a lot of great lines. The vegan police, Ramona's ever-changing hair, and the sister who's constantly on the up-and-up about Scott's activities were all nice touches. I haven't read the comics, but I adored the movie for its own merits, and especially loved the soundtrack.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Second Dan - "Angeline"


The latest band I've been adoring is Second Dan. Who was the first Dan, you ask? Who knows? They're a bit similar to U2 and Augustana, and are promoting their second album, Angeline, with a free show in New York on August 16th.

Their songs have a pop gloss, and they're lush and quite good. You can stream the album from their official site, but here are two you can hear off song.ly:

Second Dan - Today
Second Dan - Angeline

Official Site

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review: Color Theory, "The Sound"


Color Theory is Brian Hazard, who crafts electronic music and piano pop. I introduced you to his newest album last week, so here's a longer review.

The Sound opens with the clever "Song Named After a Girl," which takes the idea of a song about heartbreak and turns it on its head, and leads into the danceable "Extroverts at Play," which reminds me a little of Muse (but that's a good thing). "Too Close" is a bit softer and more tender, and we get into chiptune territory with the catchy "It Must Be Halloween."

"A Safe Distance" is a romantic, piano-driven tune; "Living a Boy's Adventure Tale," a fun A-ha cover. The next two songs are a little slower, but "Game Over" is quite endearing (especially with the quick, fluid piano solo), and "Two" is a track that shines, with stellar and haunting lyrics.

This is a good album to put on and just sit back and relax. Some of the songs could be tightened a bit, but overall, The Sound is an enjoyable album for electro music fans.

Tegan and Sara video: "Northshore"

Tegan and Sara just announced this video, and it features a very nice get-up-and-jump-on-the-floor indie rock song. Ripping up all those posters looks oddly cathartic, too:



Tegan and Sara | MySpace Music Videos

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Review of Will Stratton's "New Vanguard Blues"


Sometimes, it's not so much about how music sounds as much as how it makes us feel. Will Stratton's New Vanguard Blues carries a steady stream of quiet emotion, with acoustic guitar strumming and poetic vocals. It's indie folk, so understatement goes a long way.

From the lovely opener, "Bluebells," to the intense finale, "The War is Over," it's quite an enjoyable listen. The jangling guitar and impeccable vocals are quite charming. The album also has an intimate feel, and was recorded by Stratton in one weekend in July.

You can buy or stream it on his page at Bandcamp, and you can also follow him on Twitter.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Jonathan Coulton's "Re: Your Brains" - in sign language

Here's a funny and well-done video of music interpreter Stephen Torrence dressed up as a zombie and performing Jonathan Coulton's song "Re: Your Brains" - in American Sign Language.

I asked Paisley's most devoted reader (she gets every post delivered to her e-mail inbox) what she thought of that, and she said, "That's not possible. Zombies don't have the finger strength to do sign language." Well, too bad. Stephen does other songs in ASL as well, so I'd check out his Youtube channel. Thanks to MJ for the tip.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Color Theory releases new album

The Sound, the new album from Color Theory, is out today. Color Theory is the project of prolific musician Brian Hazard, who plays electronica and piano pop.

A full review is forthcoming, but let me just say that the first track, "Song Named After a Girl," is addictively listenable and quite clever. Check it out:

<a href="http://music.colortheory.com/album/the-sound">Song Named After a Girl by Color Theory</a>

You can buy the album at colortheory.com or on iTunes, or become a fan of Brian at his Facebook page.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Names video - "Data Romance"

Here's a beautiful song and video collaboration from the band Names and videographer Marco Aslan. I love songs like these, with lots of instrumentation and lovely lyrics at the end, and the gorgeous visuals suit it perfectly. Thanks to Sally for the heads-up:



http://namesmusic.ca/

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Updates for Paisley

There are new buttons at the bottom of every post, so you can quickly share an article over Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, etc. I may also design a new layout in the future, so stay posted.

As always, if you want to be notified of new posts right away, or get music news and retweets before they make it to the blog, subscribe to @kilexia.

I'm looking for someone to write music reviews and post about new releases and MP3s, mostly to cover for me when I go back to nursing school in September. If you're interested, send a sample review to paisleysound (at) gmail.com.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Le VICE (interview, free MP3s)


Le VICE are a four-piece group from San Francisco, led by frontwoman Alex Lee. They play a variety of sounds, including hip-hop and funky indie rock. Their songs have the spirited delivery of live shows, but with a studio polish.

They'll be releasing their self-titled debut on August 17th, but Alex Lee has already recorded two solo songs that were featured on "America's Next Top Model." And Le VICE just shot a video for "Hard to Be Ill," which should be out soon, and are playing two CA shows in August.

"Shy Guy" is a great song with plenty of beats, rhythm guitar and catchy vocals. "Hard to Be Ill" is more hip-hop, with some funky synth added to the mix. Take a listen:



"Shy Guy"



"Hard to Be Ill"


I also got a chance to ask Alex Lee a few questions:

Le VICE started out as a live project. What's a typical show like?

LV: It carries a lot of energy that you would expect from an indie or a punk band. So it's fun to dance to and sing to. But underneath it has really good music and great players. The fun of indie music with the bourgeois swag of hip-hop and rnb. Think hipsters on a yacht riding fixie bikes and drinking Cristal. That's from someone who watches. None of those words are mine.

On top of that I would say that you're watching friends play together. You can tell we're friends when you watch us play.

You blend a lot of styles in your music. What's your process for writing and recording?

LV: Depends on the day. Sometimes it comes organically. Just playing things and putting it together. Coming to the studio and playing on the synths and with all the gear. And voila, a song.

On other days, we'll listen to a song and say let's make a song like that. But when it's done it sounds nothing like what we were going after.

Generally, I'll write a hook on the spot to get everyone hyped up. Then I'll take it and finish it up verse by verse on my own when I have a little free time in my mornings.

What are some of your influences?

LV: Musically ... everything. When you take the music that the four of us like, it's all there. Hip hop, indie rock, classic rock, jazz, neo soul, rnb, house, and all the rest. We take from everything. No type of music really goes overlooked.


Le VICE (official site)

- Laura Bradford

Saturday, July 24, 2010

La Roux

I finally heard La Roux on the radio yesterday, and "Bulletproof" sounded amazing. The London duo is Eleanor "Elly" Jackson and Ben Langmaid, and their self-titled debut album came out in September of 2009. They play electro-pop reminiscent of the '80s style, and Elly has garnered some attention for her androgynous, glam-rock look.

They're also releasing a compilation album, Sidetracked; it will come out July 26th, but seems to only be available in the UK. It features several artists and includes Elly's cover of the Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb."

The American tour has been canceled because Elly contracted pharyngitis, but they should be continuing their tour in the UK in a few weeks.

How to contact

Paisley Sound is a blog mainly focusing on indie bands and artists. Please forward any submissions to paisleysound@gmail.com for consideration.

New York Summer

I'm keeping an eye on New York Summer, not just because they're actually from Oklahoma, but because of their charming alternative rock. They have a catchy mainstream sound (think Lifehouse or Augustana), but are a legit indie band.

People have been telling me about them for some time, but I only recently got a chance to listen to some of their stuff, and it's quite good. Their EP, Wait, is available now from their Myspace, for a free download or a donation. They've recently announced a new album, Ticking Clocks and Masquerades, which will be out August 24th.

In the meantime, you can hear four of their songs from a tab on ReverbNation or on their Facebook page. Take a listen:


Band website builder

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How to write a press release (and create buzz for your band)

Someone asked me about this awhile back, and I realized I'd need an entire post to cover it. Here it goes.

So you've got a band, and you've released an album (or are about to release an EP, or something like that). Maybe you play live shows, or maybe you're running a bedroom band. But whatever you do, you're going to want attention. (Don't we all?) If you don't have the money to pay for a street marketing team yet, you can still get the word out about your music, by writing a press release.

Press releases might sound intimidating, but they make the world of journalism go round. Most of reporting is digging for facts and trying to find interesting stories and calling and e-mailing people endlessly to confirm tiny little details. So it's a breath of fresh air when someone contacts us and says, "I have an interesting story and I've done all the basic legwork--do you want it?" Music blogs absolutely want these.

But first, some questions to ask yourself:

Am I timely? Music blogs don't want to cover an album that's two months old. Is your release date coming up? Do you have shows coming up soon? Timeliness will matter.

Do I have something to offer? A free press copy of an EP, an MP3 you're willing to share with the world, a great-looking music video--those will launch you way ahead of the rest of the competition.

Is this the right blog for me? Most music blogs profess to be "indie blogs," but from just a few posts it's clear they have specific preferences for music. Take time to read many of them and choose which ones fit your project.

(Also: local blogs and newspapers that are dedicated to covering specific cities will be more accommodating to covering a local band, so explore that angle.)

What am I looking for? Getting a positive review in a music blog won't shoot you to Lady Gaga status. In fact, it may not even net you any sales. It will, however, get your name out there, maybe win you some fans, and make it more likely that blogs will write about you in the future. 

--

With all that in mind, here's how to write the press release. Newspapers have a specific format, but with the arrival e-mail and links, some flexibility is allowed for music blogs. However, the following would be acceptable to have:

- a short greeting
- your band's name and what you're promoting (album, EP, etc)
- what your hook is (New video released? Are you giving something away for free? Offering music blogs a press copy of the album for review?)
- a short bio and link to your band's web site
- links to sample songs, if any (and if you can offer them for download, say "Approved for posting.")
- links to promo photos and any new tour dates
- an offer for interviews, if you want to go that route

Some bands I know also have a dedicated e-mail for promotions/talking with fans, so their name shows up whenever they send a message. It's a nice touch.

Sample:
New music and free downloads from The Krebs Cycle
Hey, I hope you're having a great summer! I'm pleased to announce that my band, The Krebs Cycle, is releasing a new album, Enzymes, on July 1.
The Krebs Cycle formed in 2009 in Cytoplasm, NY, and plays indie rock. Our web site is [link], and we are playing a release show at the Anaerobic Theater on June 30. Our album will be available on iTunes and Amazon.com. Press copies and interview opportunities are available.
Simple, huh? Now write up something similar, put that in an e-mail and send it to music blogs that 1) take submissions for review, 2) review the same type of music you play. If you've hit the right targets and you're good, some of the music blogs will do a post on you. For some places to get started, check out the list of music blogs on the right panel. By the way, Paisley Sound also takes submissions of indie rock music.

Let me know in the comments if this guide was helpful.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Frightened Rabbit - "Living In Colour" video

This is a great idea for a video; it's made from footage taken at live concerts and moments on the road during Frightened Rabbit's recent North American tour. The song is "Living in Colour," off their album The Winter of Mixed Drinks.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Circlebirds: Like birds, but with circles [free MP3]


Time for some new music. Circlebirds are a bit like Fleet Foxes, with an acoustic kick and lush vocals; they're indie pop, but have a folk influence. Here's a track off their second album, Complexities:



"New Miracles"     

I love all the little bleeps and bloops (the video game-esque music at the beginning is a great touch) and the starts and stops. It's just a fascinating song, instrumentally. Starting at 2:47 and until the end, it's got brilliant acoustic guitar and then a smooth outro: the vocals and instrumentation blend together before there's a soft ring and the song ends. It's like fireworks: a buildup, flash of sound, and then beauty. 

Circlebirds on Myspace music

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Album Review: The Rescues, Let Loose the Horses

Everything the Rescues has done so far has led up to this album, and it's sure to be the breakout hit of the summer.

Fans may have already heard some of the tracks, including the charming "Can't Stand the Rain" and the pure emotion of "Let Loose the Horses." It's all here, bundled together, and flows even better as a cohesive album.

The fact that all four band members are also incredibly talented singers creates an interesting effect: rather than a simple linear collection of songs, the Rescues can play around with different styles--alt-country one minute, charming indie soundscapes the next--making each song a little spark all its own. Out Tuesday, June 22nd. [The Rescues]

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Free EP from My First Earthquake: Crush

My First Earthquake released a new EP, Crush, just in time for summer. It's an endearing little album, and has all the synth lines, crazy rhythms and melodies you've come to love.

The four songs are a free download on their site, and might just be the band's best output yet.
<a href="http://myfirstearthquake.bandcamp.com/album/crush">Pick Up Stick Up by My First Earthquake</a>

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Richard Walters, "Brittle Bones" [free MP3]

photo from www.myspace.com/richardwalters

Richard Walters is a singer/songwriter from the UK. His song "Brittle Bones" is tender and evocative, and the style reminds me of Dream of Sleeping: quiet, reflective, acoustic. Instead of drums, there's a tambourine, and there are lush vocal harmonies. It's very sweet but self-conscious, a lovely song you can put on the stereo to lay back and watch the stars.



"Brittle Bones" [download]

His first album, The Animal, is out now. You can also download a free 5 track live album by signing up for his mailing list, and he'll be playing a show in London in September.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Rescues: "You're Not Listening"

I predict The Rescues will be the next band to go mainstream. How can they not? They each have amazing talent as singers, with songs that are written and performed with incredible emotion. Plus, they're as good live as they are in the studio (perhaps even better). Check out their performance of "You're Not Listening" in West Hollywood, CA. Stunning.



They're currently on tour across the US, and their EP is out now.

The Rescues on Myspace

Friday, May 28, 2010

Future Fires' "Levels" hits #1 on Uvumi

photo from www.facebook.com/futurefires

Future Fires (previously known as Tomorrow Midnight) currently have the #1 song on Uvumi with "Levels." Congrats, guys! You can also listen to it and download it (along with their song "Distant Skies") on their page at Bandcamp.

<a href="http://futurefires.bandcamp.com/track/levels-2">Levels by Future Fires</a> Levels

<a href="http://futurefires.bandcamp.com/track/distant-skies">Distant Skies by Future Fires</a> Distant Skies

If you like what you hear, go be a fan on their Facebook page to keep up with them.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"I salute at the threshold of the north sea of my mind": Frightened Rabbit, Northampton MA

I finally caught a live show in Northampton, MA on May 1, featuring the very awesome Frightened Rabbit. They played for a packed crowd, and from the first song brought a massive amount of energy and talent to the show.

"Swim Until You Can't See Land" is a favorite of mine, and their delivery here was absolutely beautiful, just like the album recording. "My Backwards Walk" was a rocked-up version of the original, which I really liked.

The singer took the stage near the end with a heartfelt acoustic song, and talked with the crowd throughout the show, including joking about the merch table. Finally, the band put every last bit of energy into "Keep Yourself Warm."

Other than that, the only exciting development in my life is that I'm finishing up my next-to-last year of nursing school this month, so I have to stay glued to my books to study for finals. I should be returning to my regular posting schedule by the end of the month.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New video from September 29th: "Downstairs Upstairs"

My good friend September 29th posted a lovely video for her song "Downstairs Upstairs." It has a really chill, summery feel to it. Check it out:

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Vision of a Dying World: video, songs

It's Friday, and it's time for something a little different. The Vision of a Dying World, founded in Las Vegas, is a project led by  musician Jackson Nathan Milgaten. His sound can be described as alt-country/psych folk, and it's quite compelling. Here's Jackson performing "Mantra," off his EP I Will Not Fear What I Don't Understand. It starts off slowly and steadily, but the middle hooks the listener:



He also performs in The Paddle Boat. They're on tour right now, and you can view their shows here.

More from The Vision of a Dying World:

"Do I Have to Stay"

"Mantra"

His next show:

May 21 2010, 8:00 pm
The Che Cafe W/ Sean (AJJ) & Jehova’s Fitness
La Jolla, California

If it's something you're interested in, click here to buy the album.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Housekeeping stuff, and how to contact

I joined MOG, so I will be tinkering with the layout a bit to add the extra banner and stuff they require. You can also follow my Twitter (@kilexia) for music-related thoughts and retweets, as well as links to new blog posts. You can send any tips there or to my e-mail (kilexia at gmail.com) as usual.

If you want to trade links to your blog, send me an e-mail or a tweet. Thanks!

New shows for How I Became the Bomb

How I Became the Bomb posted some new shows for next month:

May 6, 2010 Slims Downtown - Raleigh, NC
May 7, 2010 Plaza Bowl - Richmond, VA
May 8, 2010 The Boot - Norfolk, VA
May 15, 2010 Ashville Art Museum Fanaticon! - Ashville, NC
May 15, 2010 The Boiler Room Fanaticon after party! With the Falcon Lords. - Ashville, NC
May 27, 2010 The Eighty Five With the Falcon Lords. - Columbus, GA
May 29, 2010 JJ's Bohemia With the Falcon Lords. - Chattanooga, TN

Friday, April 16, 2010

EP Review: Quiet Company, "Songs for Staying In"

 Songs for Staying In (****1/2)

After three releases, you begin to know a band. This EP marks the third outing from Quiet Company, indie rockers from Austin, TX, and you can tell they're working as hard as ever. It's full of catchy songs; it's romantic, it's celebratory, it's glorious.

In fact, it's hard to pick out individual parts to critique--everything blends together so smoothly, I feel like it would be missing the point to do so. So I'll just give a brief rundown of the songs, and point out some highlights:

"How Do You Do It?" may be the band's most fun song yet, from the repeating line "How do you do it, you're always on top?" to its cascading outro. "Things You Already Know" has an interesting muted effect on the verses, and includes perhaps the best use of a kazoo in an indie rock song yet. (Is that a Grammy category? Do they take nominations?)

"Hold My Head Above the Water" features whistles and strummed guitar, with a duet by vocalist Taylor Muse and his wife, and lovely echoing effects toward the end. However, I think the star of the album is "Jezebel," with its raw, emotive vocals punctuated by soft piano melodies, and then flourished by lovely guitar work.

"If You Want" is reminiscent of the band's earlier songs, especially the callback about a "nation of two." It's earnest and fun, with plenty of energy, and is a total celebration of marriage. "The Biblical Sense of the Word" also has a crashing, go-out-blazing ending that I've only seen The Shins pull off with as much skill. On the whole? Two thumbs way, way up; this is an album you'll want to put on repeat again and again.

Songs For Staying In is currently available at Quiet Company's web site. You can also listen to some of the tracks there, and see a new video about the album every Monday. Their CD release party is with The Rocketboys in Austin, TX on May 7th.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Antlers announce new tour, live webcast

The Antlers just announced a new North American tour with Phantogram, then a tour with The National in Europe. There's also going to be a live webcast of their show at In Vino on Sunday, 8pm EST. Dates are below, and check out their web site for more info.

The band is promoting their album Hospice, which has earned numerous accolades. Here's their performance of "Kettering," a heartbreaking but skillfully written song:



Tour:

04-08 Stony Brook, NY – Stony Brook University
04-11 New York, NY – In Vino Wine Bar
04-16 Columbus, OH  – The Basement ^
04-17 Urbana, IL – Canopy Club ^
04-18 Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon ^
04-20 Minneapolis, MN – Varsity Theatre ^
04-21 Iowa City, IA – The Blue Moose ^
04-22 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall ^
04-23 Ann Arbor, MI – Blind Pig ^
04-24 Rock Island, IL – Rock Island Brewing Co. ^
04-26 Boulder, CO – Fox Theatre ^
04-28 San Diego, CA – Casbah ^
04-29 Costa Mesa, CA – Detroit Bar ^
04-30 Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour ^
05-01 San Francisco, CA – Independent ^
05-03 Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge ^
05-04 Vancouver, BC – The Biltmore Cabaret ^
05-05 Seattle, WA – Live on KEXP 12pm PST
05-05 Seattle, WA – Neumo’s ^  
05-19 London, UK – Scala
05-20 Salford, UK – St. Phillips Church
05-21 Leeds, UK – Brudenell Social Club

05-22 Glasgow, UK – Stag and Dagger Festival
05-24 Dublin, Ireland – Academy
05-25 Amsterdam, Holland – Paradiso
05-27 Dudingen, Switzerland – Bad Bonn Kilbi
05-29 Barcelona, Spain – Primavera Festival        
06-02 Boston, MA – House of Blues #
06-03 Boston, MA – House of Blues #
06-04 Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory #
06-05 Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory #
06-06 Washington, DC – Constitution Hall #
06-08 Toronto, ON – Massey Hall #
06-09 Toronto, ON – Massey Hall #
06-16 New York, NY – Radio City Music Hall #
07-01 Tromoy, Norway – Hove Festival
08-06 to 08-08 Chicago, IL – Lollapalooza
09-10 Isle of Wight, UK – Bestival
09-12 Dorset, UK – End of the Road Festival

* w/ Editors

^ w/ Phantogram

# w/ The National

The Autumn Film announce tour dates

Lots of tour dates are being released left and right from some great bands, and I'll be posting a few over the next few days (as well as working on an album review for Quiet Company's latest EP). Here are dates from The Autumn Film, who are promoting their new album The Ship and the Sea, which you can listen to on their web site all week.

Mojo's
Columbia, MO
04/14/2010
8:30pm
w/ Jaguar Shark
$5 tickets!
Doors 8:30PM, show at 9:30pm


The Walnut Room
Denver, CO
04/30/2010
7:30pm
w/ Sleeping at Last, Jeremy Larsen
Tickets available online for $9/$12 Day of Show.
Order Here!
Doors at 7:30pm, show start at 8pm
21+


Everyday Joe's
Ft. Collins, CO
05/01/2010
6:00pm
w/ Sleeping at Last, Jeremy Larsen
$10 advance/$12 Day of Show
Order Here!
All Ages
Doors 6:00pm

Show Start 7:00pm

Sail Inn
Tempe, AZ
05/07/2010
8:00pm
w/ Nobility Obliged
21+
Show starts at 8pm

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tomorrow Midnight releases new track, "Levels"

Tomorrow Midnight is a NY indie rock band comprised of Hiro Williams (vocals, bass), Judson Winquist (guitar), and Evan Cooney of Flight Crash Companion (drums). They just released "Levels," their latest single, and are leaving it up to the listeners to set their own price to download it.

They also have other songs available for purchase on their profile at Bandcamp, and you can become a fan of their page on Facebook to keep up with new releases. I love the smashing opening and heavy drums in "Levels," and the strong delivery of the vocals reminds me of early stuff from The Killers. Check it out:

<a href="http://tomorrowmidnight.bandcamp.com/track/levels">Levels by Tomorrow Midnight</a>

Names announces new EP: "Paint"


Names will release their new EP, Paint, on April 20 on iTunes, and they've scheduled a release party for the same day at Lux in Vancouver. The album's name was inspired by the artists who create paintings for the band.

The electro-pop band creates such a full amount amount of sound, it may be surprising that they're quite minimalistic in their instrumentation. For instance, their live recording of "Monome Jam" shows them create a lush song with only vocals and a monome:



For more information, check out their web site or follow their Twitter (@Namesmusic).

Friday, April 2, 2010

Quiet Company announce new EP

Quiet Company is officially releasing their new EP, Songs for Staying In, on May 11, but it's available now for download if you pre-order the CD ($8, includes shipping). Their release show is May 7, and they will be sharing a new song and video on their site every week until the release.

Their previous albums, Shine Honesty and Everyone You Love Will Be Happy Soon, were two big favorites of mine (you can read my review of the second album here) and I already know I'll love the album from the track listing they released:

1. HOW DO YOU DO IT
2. THINGS YOU ALREADY KNOW
3. HOLD MY HEAD ABOVE THE WATER
4. JEZEBEL OR "A SONG ABOUT MY FRIEND AND THAT WHORE HE DATED"
5. IF YOU WANT
6. THE BIBLICAL SENSE OF THE WORD

You can check out the band's web site for more info or to see the first video, or check their Twitter for updates.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Download Squad praises Uvumi

Erez Zukerman of the Download Squad posted a very cool and thoughtful article on Uvumi today. He also interviewed Marshall, Uvumi's founder and lead developer, so check it out!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Young the Giant announce national tour



I used to listen to Young the Giant nonstop way back when they were called The Jakes, because their song "Schizophrenia" was in my writing playlist. They recently announced a new tour (with Minus the Bear), and you should go to one of their shows if you can because their music is fantastic. Here's what they had to say in their press release:

"We are currently in the studio in Los Angeles working on our debut record.  To follow our progress in the studio check out our twitter page for photo updates (@youngthegiant).  We can't wait to get on the road and play some new songs! Hope to see you all this spring!"

Dates:
Apr 25 St. Andrews Hall - Detroit, Michigan
Apr 26 Newport Music Hall - Columbus, Ohio
Apr 28 Madison Theater - Covington, Kentucky
Apr 29 Town Ballroom - Buffalo, New York
Apr 30 Webster Theater - Hartford, Connecticut
May 5   Wilbur Theatre - Boston, Massachusetts
May 6   Trocadero - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
May 7   9:30 Club - Washington, Washington DC
May 8   The National - Richmond, Virginia
May 9   The Fillmore - Charlotte, North Carolina
May 10    Variety Playhouse - Atlanta, Georgia
May 11    Revolution LIVE - Fort Lauderdale, Florida
May 12    The Ritz Theatre - Tampa, Florida
May 14    House of Blues - Houston, Texas
May 15    Granada Theatre - Dallas, Texas
May 16    La Zona Rosa - Austin, Texas
May 18    Sunshine Theatre - Albuquerque, New Mexico
May 19    House of Blues - Las Vegas, Nevada
May 20    Mayan Theatre - Los Angeles, California
May 21  Glass House - Pomona, California
May 22   SOMA - San Diego, California
May 23   Marquee Theatre - Tempe, Arizona
May 26    Regency Ballroom - San Francisco, California
May 27    Knitting Factory - Reno, Nevada
May 28    Roseland Theater - Portland, Oregon

Want to buy tickets? The band has you covered. Check out their Facebook page for more info.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wakey!Wakey! - "Twenty-Two"


Wakey!Wakey! is a Brooklyn-based quintet led by the masterful singer and pianist Mike Grubbs. Their debut album, Almost Everything I Wish I'd Said The Last Time I Saw You, was released on Feb 2. Grubbs' voice is captivating, and I absolutely love the rousing chorus in "Twenty-Two." The lush backing vocals and whistles complement the song nicely.

Wakey!Wakey! - "Twenty-Two" (listen/download)

You can also catch their next two shows if you're attending SXSW:

Sat 3/20 @ Iron Gate Lounge, 11PM (Yelp Showcase) 111 E 6th Street
Sun 3/21 @ Encore, 2PM (Obscure Magpie Two Headed Party) 611 Red River Street

More info:

@wakeywakey
Myspace
wakeywakeymusic.com

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Interview: Soar (Somerset Oh & Rhode)

This week I caught up with Ian MacCarthy from the Australian band Soar (short for Somerset Oh & Rhode). The band, composed of MacCarthy ("Experiment Rhode"), David Llewellyn ("Bright Oh") and Charles Nicholls ("Charles Somerset"), create spirited acoustic music on Second Life. They've also done some shows for charities, including autism research.



When did you start getting together and making music?  
We formed way back in 1989 and recorded our first album around then. For most of this century we have been apart because we all moved away from each other ... hundreds of miles in fact so performing music together just couldn't be done anymore. We dabbled in recording music over the convening years by sending files to each other which each one of us would then add our instruments/vocals to until a song was finished.

Then Second Life came along. Bright joined first in around 2007 and told me all about this wonderful 3D world. It took me a good year and a better computer before I was willing to "risk" Second Life. Late in 2008, after having absorbed this new world, I started to check out the music scene in SL and thought "heck our music is much better than a lot of these performers." So I approached Bright and suggested maybe we could "perform" in here. It took a bit of convincing as well as getting Charles set up in SL as well ... he'd been on the sidelines the whole time.

Eventually, after we had completely set ourselves up as a SL band and got a manager and were thoroughly rehearsed etc, we debuted in March 2009 after having written and performed a tribute song, "Too Many Tears," for the victims of the terrible bushfires in Victoria, Australia in early 2009. This song was the perfect vehicle to launch us in SL and we garnered a number of interviews including one with CNN. We performed the song on SL TV as well and even got our tribute song played on Sydney radio!

Very cool! For those who aren't familiar with it, what is Second Life? How does it help you as performers?
Second Life is a free 3D virtual world where users can socialize, connect and create using free voice and text chat. It was launched in 2006. For Soar it is the only way we can perform live because of the distances we live from one another. We had never really performed live previously so we had no idea whether we had an audience out there who would like our music. This was the easiest way for us to find out and we were amazed we had a following almost immediately.

The comments from SL residents over the last year about our music have been incredible. Other people have built (virtual) venues just so we could perform at them! We also perform regular gigs for charity - our number one charity being for autism. We even performed live to the soldiers in the Gulf last year!

My time in SL has definitely been one of the highlights of my life, as it has for Bright and Charles!

What style of music do you play?
Well, it is predominately acoustic-based and if the songs need "producing" we add drums, electric guitars, bass and keyboards. No matter what form the song is in it will always have our harmonies, courtesy of our love of The Beatles, Beach Boys, America etc. Most of our songs are usually slower ballads/love songs but once in awhile we will do more uptempo material. We have also done a few guitar Instrumentals in the style of The Shadows, Ventures etc.

Some of our songs have very Australian themes to them like "Brindabella" (which is a small range of mountains); "Cry The Lucky Country" (about how artists vs. politicians see our land); and "Camvilla" (about a pioneering family in the gold fields). The majority of all the songs we write are about love, gained and lost. We hope that we have a style that is timeless. It has worked for quite a few years already.

What's your process of writing and recording like?
Well, because of the distances between us, all our music is recorded and performed over the net. Because today's technology has come so far the quality is still very high even when we convert our recorded wave files to MP3 so we can e-mail tracks to each other. We all have home studios so the quality is fairly high to start with. When we perform in Second Life, as it's impossible to stream 3 people all at once, we pre-record all the backing tracks for our songs without the lead vocals and acoustic guitars and then Bright and Charles sing and play live over them in Second Life. This gives us a very professional sound that seems to be appreciated by most people.

When do you plan to release your CDs?
We have just finished mixing our first real CD which contains all of our earliest songs. This should be available next month (April) sometime. No title at present. It will be available in Second Life and through our website: Brightoh.com.

Following this we will dive straight into our next CD which will contain some of our more recent songs. Hopefully this will be available before September. After this there will be at least another two CDs. We have a backlog of over 70 songs in all stages of completion and we are writing new ones almost daily it seems!

Thanks for Ian for the interview! You can find more of Soar's music at BrightOh.com, ReverbNation, and Soundclick.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spotlight, SXSW 2010: Frightened Rabbit; MP3s for We Were Promised Jetpacks, Fangs

It's that time of year again: SXSW! However, rather than partying in Austin, Texas, I am stuck at home studying for a nursing test. So it goes. If you attend the festival, let me know how it goes!

But in any case, I'll be doing a few spotlights on some SXSW acts. First up is some great bands from Scotland - Frightened Rabbit, We Were Promised Jetpacks, and Fangs.



Frightened Rabbit is an indie rock band with a great sound and epic, emotional songs. I only got into the band quite recently but they've been a big name in indie music for some time. I particularly like "Swim Until You Can't See Land," and I think it sums up their sound well.

We Were Promised Jetpacks is another band who sound like they'd be phenomenal live; they have a huge sound, and I've been a fan ever since I heard "Quiet Little Voices." Fangs is an electro/new wave band with a snazzy sound and a big fan following.   

MP3s (click to listen, or right click & save as):

We Were Promised Jetpacks - "It's Thunder and It's Lightning" - download
Fangs - "Cos I Said So" (Kid Gloves remix) - download

SCOTLAND @ SXSW 2010:

March 17th: Hudson Mohawke / Frightened Rabbit / We Were Promised Jetpacks / Codeine Velvet Club / Unicorn Kid / Tommy Reilly (The Parish - 8pm - 2am)

March 19th: Broken Records / Twin Atlantic / Young Fathers / Fangs / The Law (Latitude 30° - 2pm - 5pm)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Thesixtyone users respond to site change

It's now been over a month since the complete change of thesixtyone.com's interface, and the protests have died down. Apparently people are still using the new interface, but more and more often I'm getting e-mails from listeners and artists about uvumi, bandcamp, and cherrypeel--with nary a peep about thesixtyone. That's understandable. Social features of the site are gone, and in their place are pretty pictures.

To recap. The old:



The new:

 

I gave the new site a chance again this week, when I was trying to make a playlist. I discovered, however, that any playlists I make on the "old 61" don't show up on the "new 61," and vice versa. In my two years on thesixtyone I made over a dozen playlists containing hundreds of songs, and to recreate them on the new site, I have to search for each song individually, click on it (at which point it auto-plays), and then add it to the playlist. Time-consuming much? If I can't even carry over my saved stuff from the old site, what good is the new one? Eventually, after just one 10-song playlist, I went back to work on a research paper.

But don't take it from me; take it from some long-time users of the site.

"I do not in fact believe this is a new design of the same site," said SallySilvera, the site's top user. "This is a completely different website, with a completely different concept and purpose."

"The interface is not user-friendly," said Allison, AKA squeakyfingers. "It is a very graphic-heavy site, and the way that it is set up tends to hurt my eyes, literally. The big, bright pictures tend to give me headaches (I am prone to migraines) and detract from the overall look. I also find that its very hard to discover new music there, which is what I mainly used the site for before."

"I actually tried to work with it for about half a day," said ThomasAD3, another long-time user. "Every few minutes I found something else that had been eliminated. Navigation was so frustrating as to be nearly impossible. All traces of the game had vanished, save a meaningless 'rep' number.  Radios were gone. 'Walls' had disappeared, so communicating with friends was no longer possible. In the first week I went back a few times to bump a protest song, or check to see if any of the changes had been reversed. Now I never sign in at all."

"Let me be very clear, this is a completely different site with completely different uses and goals," said mathmanmrt. "The only thing it shares with the old one is the name."

Even many artists were up in arms about the change (and the lack of answers from the site's admins). State Shirt posted on his blog about the issue. For now, some users have embraced the change, many have quietly transitioned into it, and some have gone to other music sites like uvumi.com.

“My hope for Uvumi is that it becomes a breeding ground for new talented underground artists," said squeakyfingers. "I really hope that it becomes a place where listeners and artists can meet and discuss all aspects of music. I am of the opinion that how underground artists create a fanbase and sell records is by communicating and reaching out to them. The more the artists interact with the people who listen to them, the more likely that listener will buy their CD, go to their show, or tell their friend about 'that awesome band.'"

"So far the site runners seem to share this opinion," she added. "They have been very open with all of the new users and are really trying to foster a community. I like that they care about what we as listeners and consumers think of their 'product.' They are working hard to make the site the best it can be. It has its quirks, but it is worlds easier to use than the new t61, and the site owners are appreciative of feedback and willing to listen. That is tops in my book."

As for myself? At first I missed having people leave messages on my wall, and the ability to leave artists a quick note telling them how awesome their sound is. But when those methods of communicating on thesixtyone were eliminated, I got into Twitter, where I can talk to bands and find out about new releases faster than ever.

Instead of buying credits on thesixtyone, I download music from iTunes, Amazon, or directly from the artists. Many of my group members on thesixtyone are now on Uvumi, where I can keep up with them. One month later, it seems, I'm not missing very much at all.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Portugal. The Man: new album, American Ghetto


Portugal. The Man (yep, that's how they punctuate it) just released a new album, American Ghetto, on CD, digital download, and vinyl. The band plays sultry indie rock, and their song "Sugar Cinnamon" tore up the charts on thesixtyone awhile back. It seems the band's still on a roll: they're currently on tour with Port O'Brien, and they've released a song from the new album ("The Dead Dog") as a free download. Have a listen.


                           

Thursday, March 4, 2010

OK Go - This Too Shall Pass video; The benefits of music embedding

First, here's an OK Go video that went viral practically overnight. It's for the track "This Too Shall Pass," from the album Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, and it's wildly creative, taking the idea of a Rube Goldberg machine to a whole new level.



Interestingly enough, OK Go's guitarist and lead singer, Damian Culash Jr., also published an op-ed piece in the New York Times last month. He talked about the success of the 2006 video for "Here It Goes Again" and how it put the band on the map ... and went on to mention their record label's subsequent disabling of the embedding feature for the band's videos. He concluded:
In these tight times, it’s no surprise that EMI is trying to wring revenue out of everything we make, including our videos. But it needs to recognize the basic mechanics of the Internet. Curbing the viral spread of videos isn’t benefiting the company’s bottom line, or the music it’s there to support. The sooner record companies realize this, the better — though I fear it may already be too late.
I've seen other bloggers point this out before, but Culash nails it here: video embedding helps spread the word about music. When bands go out of their way to make lovely, creative, official videos for their best songs, record labels owe it to them to allow the videos to be shared.

By the way: the band made another video for "This Too Shall Pass," just as creative and inventive as the video above (if not more), but you have to watch it here on YouTube because embedding is disabled. It also has about a third of the number of views despite being posted two months earlier. Quite the difference a little embedding feature makes, huh?

The Autumn Film: The Ship and The Sea

 

The Autumn Film's new album The Ship and the Sea is out tomorrow, and it's available for order here. I haven't had a chance to hear it yet, but I'm a huge fan of the Autumn Film and the songs I've heard already are fantastic.

Here's their video for how they made "Ships on The Ocean Floor":


Ships On The Ocean Floor from The Autumn Film on Vimeo.