Posts Tagged ‘Uncle Tupelo’

Monday, November 18th, 2013

A Wake For The Minotaur

Shearwater stream, set travels for Fellow Travelers

Photo By James HamiltonJames HamiltonFor some artists, an album of covers would be an afterthought, a stopgap between albums of original work. And that was what Shearwater’s new album Fellow Travelers was supposed to be – a quick and dirty collection of versions of songs by the many bands, big and small, that they’ve toured with over the years.

But as it happens with these things, it became something more – a fully-produced and fascinating expansion of the Shearwater sound, channeled through songs by Folk Implosion, Coldplay, and St. Vincent amongst others, as well as one original composition recorded with Sharon Van Etten, with whom they toured last year; one might wonder why they didn’t cover one of her songs, but let’s be honest – they’re not going to top the Tom Petty cover they collaborated on for The AV Club Undercover last Summer.

Fellow Travelers is out next week, but available to stream now via NPR. Further, they’ve announced that they’ll properly support the record by taking time out from recording their next (original) album for a will be embarking on a North American tour which will bring them to The Horseshoe on March 27 – those tickets are $13.50. And to round out the “we’re taking this one seriously, guys” announcements, they’ve released a video for their Xiu Xiu record from said album.

MP3: Shearwater – “Fucked Up Life”
MP3: Shearwater – “I Luv The Valley Oh!”
Video: Shearwater – “I Luv The Valley OH!”
Stream: Shearwater / Fellow Travelers

PopMatters has a stream of Model Rocket, the new album from Rhode Island’s The Brother Kite which I had an inkling was in the works but had no idea was already out (as of last week). As much as I complain about being carpet-bombed by press releases, I wish someone had told me about this!

Stream: The Brother Kite / Model Rocket

Paste has premiered a new video from Beachwood Sparks’ forthcoming release of their previously unreleased debut album Desert Skies. It’s out November 26 and Los Angeles Magazine finds out how and why their next album is 16 years old.

Video: Beachwood Sparks – “Make It Together”

Rolling Stone reports that The Flaming Lips will be releasing their cover of The Stone Roses’ debut album for Record Store Day: Black Friday edition on November 29.

Spectrum Culture gets Tanya Donelly to reflect on her time in Belly; the next and final (?) instalment in her Swan Song Series should be out in early December.

Pernice-Blake-Belitsky supergroup The New Mendicants – at least a supergroup if you’re a fan of Pernice Brothers, Teenage Fanclub, or The Sadies – will release their debut full-length Into The Lime on January 14.

Manchester Evening News, State, Reuters, and all interview various Pixies; they’ll be kicking off a new North American tour at Massey Hall in Toronto on January 15.

Rolling Stone reports that Uncle Tupelo’s debut album will be getting a double-disc reissue as No Depression: Legacy Edition on January 28, the bulk of the bonus goods coming in the form of the Not Forever, Just for Now demos bootleg that has been kicking around forever; stream one of the new old tracks below.

Stream: Uncle Tupelo – “I Got Drunk” (demo)

Rolling Stone has premiered a new video from Rilo Kiley, taken from their attic-clearing compilation RKives.

Video: Rilo Kiley – “Emotional”

Interview talks to Cameron Mesirow of Glasser.

NPR welcomes Okkervil River for a World Cafe session.

The Line Of Best Fit has an interview with Widowspeak.

The Cleveland Plains Dealer talks to Chan Marshall of Cat Power.

Monday, March 26th, 2012

SXSW 2012 Day Four

The Roots, Bob Mould, Blitzen Trapper and more at SXSW

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf you were to ask me what I thought MOG did – and for the life of me I can’t imagine why you would – the best I could offer is that they excel at getting my exhausted ass out of bed early on the Saturday of SXSW to go line up at The Mohawk so I can stand around for hours on end. They did it last year with a bill of Smith Westerns, Wild Flag, Okkervil River and TV On The Radio (I didn’t stick around for Big Boi but most everyone else did) and this year, the promised headlining double-bill of Bob Mould playing Copper Blue and The Roots was too much to resist.

The lineup was great but that also meant the line up would be long, meaning that despite getting what was by my standards an early jump on the day, I didn’t get into The Mohawk until lead-off hitter Gary Clark, Jr. was already a little ways into his set. I wasn’t specifically familiar with Clark, but you didn’t need to read his Wikipedia page to know what he was about – the man was a modern/classic guitar hero in the Hendrix vein, blending blues, rock, soul and psychedelia into a lean, impressive package. Impressive not just for his chops, which were formidable, but because the man could also write a song, sing with feeling and inject his music with a genuine sense of urgency and excitement without being showy – no mean feat for a guitar slinger. I’ve always thought the best thing about Hendrix was not his guitar playing, but his ability to write a song; Clark gets that.

On average, my appreciation for The War On Drugs lasts for about 30 minutes; that’s why their in-store at Soundscapes last August was the perfect set for me to enjoy their spacey guitar jams and not get bored. Their set here was about 45 minutes and almost on cue, at about the half-hour mark the hypnotic effect of their really loud chill-out started to wear off. Until that point, it was quite a nice soundtrack for a sunny afternoon of standing around but still feeling like you’re going somewhere. But after that… well, email started getting checked.

Even so, they were an inspired one-two punch with Portland’s Blitzen Trapper, whose music shares a sense of quintessential American-ness, but theirs is a more wide-eyed and rambling take on it. It’s as though The War On Drugs take the highway while Blitzen Trapper opt to roam the woods. It’d been a while since I’d seen them live – way back when their buds in Fleet Foxes were just of opener status – but their recipe of big, Band-esque jams and extended guitar solos hasn’t changed too much. I have to say that while their albums tend to ramble a bit more than I’d like and haven’t managed to really get any staying power in my ears, they remain a good time live.

All of that was preamble, however, to what for me was the day’s main draw – Bob Mould playing Copper Blue. I’ve no doubt that most in attendance didn’t appreciate the significance of either the record or the fact that they were about to see it played live – even twenty years on from its release, not nearly enough recognize its rightful status as one of the best American rock albums of the ’90s – but those of us who did were, as the kids say, stoked. It was rightly billed as Bob and not a reunited Sugar, but Dave Barbe and Malcolm Travis had more than capable substitutes in Jason Narducy and Jon Wurster. Being a bit pinched for time, they wasted no time in getting set up and tearing into “The Act We Act” and if anyone ever wanted a picture of me losing my shit, that’d have been a good place to get it. Not that anyone would have expected it to, but age hasn’t slowed down or quieted Mould at all, with the recital running non-stop and even faster than the original recordings. Mould seemed to be having a good time of it, offering a few smiles when he wasn’t bellowing into the mic or unleashing hell via his old Stratocaster. A few glances around confirmed that most people weren’t really getting it, but for every handful of quizzical or bored faces, there was one in a state of ecstasy so that was good enough. It was a bit of a shame that they had to skip “Slick” due to time – hardly my favourite song but still part of the album – but having “Helpless”, “Changes” and “Hoover Dam” blasted in my face was as good as I’d hoped.

But you know what? As great as that was, it wasn’t the highlight. Even if Bob had brought out Greg Norton and Grant Hart to play all of Candy Apple Grey, it’d have probably taken a back seat to The Roots. I have to say that I’ve never seen The Roots live, or listened to a Roots record, or even watched the Jimmy Fallon show. I don’t even follow Questlove on Twitter. You would be hard-pressed to find someone less familiar with The Roots than me, but even with all that their 90-minute show was one of the best things I’d seen in forever, and I’d just seen Bruce Springsteen less than 48 hours prior. Of course, in a sense that makes it easier – I can’t comment on what they played (though the cover quotes of Guns’N’Roses, George Thorogood and Led Zeppelin were obviously identifiable) but can describe the whole experience as an explosion of music where we were invited to dance in the fallout. It was a hip-hop show, a rock show, a soul revue all at once and a exhibition of amazing musicianship and showmanship throughout. Perhaps the most amazing thing was that as incredible as it was to be witnessing all this from up close, the band looked like they were the ones having the best time – you cannot fake the kind of joy that they were radiating. The performance went pretty much non-stop for about an hour fifteen before the rest of the band took a breather and Questlove and F. Knuckles invited DJ Jazzy Jeff – yeah, that Jazzy Jeff – onstage for a 3-man drum-off, before everyone returned for the big finish. The Roots. Holy shit. If the festival ended right there, I’d have been just fine with it

But of course it didn’t; one more night to go.

Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields talks to Kelly Hogan for The Chicago Reader (Hogan covers The Magnetic Fields amongst others on her new record I Like to Keep Myself in Pain, out June 5, details at Exclaim) and to LA Weekly. The Magnetic Fields are at The Sound Academy on March 30.

M. Ward’s new one A Wasteland Companion is up and doing the stream thing at NPR ahead of its release next week, April 3.

Stream: M. Ward / A Wasteland Companion

Paste is all about Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s, post a video session to go with their feature piece. The band are at The Garrison on April 5.

East Village Boys sends Michael Stipe to interview Perfume Genius’ Mike Hadreas while The Los Angeles Times, Dallas Voice, and San Diego City Beat don’t need to celebrity proxies. Perfume Genius is at The Drake on April 8.

DIY has details on The Flaming Lips’ contribution to this year’s Record Store Day exclusives – The Flaming Lips & Heady Fwends celebrity collaboration album. Look for it (and probably not find it as it’s sold right out) on April 21.

Also coming out for Record Store Day are the first three Uncle Tupelo albums for the first time on vinyl since they were originally pressed back in the early ’90s (I assume – maybe they went straight to CD?). Until now, you could get Anodyne and the Anthology on wax, but not No Depression, Still Feel Gone or March 16-20, 1992 and also the literally-titled The Seven Inch Singles box set of four 7″ singles.. So this is good. Details at Exclaim.

Lower Dens are streaming a new track from their forthcoming Nootropics, out May 1.

Stream: Lower Dens – “Propogation”

S. Carey has posted a song from his new EP Hoyas to download. It’s out May 8.

MP3: S. Carey – “Two Angles”

Deer Tick are coming to town for a show at Lee’s Palace on June 11 in support of last year’s Divine Providence.

MP3: Deer Tick – “Miss K”

Drowned In Sound talks to James Mercer of The Shins and gets to know those who are now his bandmates. The Shins are at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 4.

Blurt interviews Andrew Bird.

Pitchfork is streaming a new tune from Sharon Van Etten, the b-side to her “Leonard” single. The Georgia Straight and San Francisco Bay Guardian also have conversations with her.

Stream: Sharon Van Etten – “Life Of His Own”

Daytrotter has posted a session with Wye Oak.

Blurt profiles Of Montreal.

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

"Dead Flowers"

Uncle Tupelo covers The Rolling Stones

Photo via GumbopagesGumbo PagesI know it’s not by design – at least I hope it’s not – but both Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar seem to have gotten on synchronized creative schedules the last few years, with both Wilco and Son Volt’s releasing new records not only within the same calendar year, but even with months or even weeks of each other. It’s not entirely a recent phenomenon – both their debuts came out within six months of each other way back in 1995 – but after that they seemed to begin deliberately avoiding each other in the record stores and media cycles, probably hoping to avoid the endless comparisons and Uncle Tupelo connections, kind of like I’m doing now.

These days, however, both acts seem to have established their respective identities and stories – Tweedy the sonic adventurer with a fondness for polished ’70s pop and Farrar the dusty country troubadour – and the threat or promise of a Tupelo reunion is so implausible that their last records – Sky Blue Sky and The Search – came out within a couple months of each other and their latests, Wilco (The Album) and American Central Dust, a fortnight and week ago respectively, and few give it a second thought.

Except the likes of me, who use it as an opportunity to revisit their old band and revel in its ragged glory. This Rolling Stones cover was a staple of their live sets early on in their career. I’m not sure where or when it dates to, specifically, but signs point to the Summer of 1988. It comes from the Covers & Oddities ’88-’93 bootleg which has been circulating forever. And while you don’t really hear much Stones influence in either act these days, it’s worth noting that “Cocaine and Ashes” off the new Son Volt record was inspired by the story of Keith Richards snorting his father’s ashes. So there’s that.

The Arizona Republic has an interview with Jay Farrar.

MP3: Uncle Tupelo – “Dead Flowers”
Video: The Rolling Stones – “Dead Flowers” (live in Houston 1972)
Video: The Rolling Stones – “Dead Flowers” (live in Amsterdam 1995)

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Massage The History

Sonic Youth at Massey Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt’s a long way from CBGBs in New York to Massey Hall in Toronto – geographically, stylistically, even temporally. The former defined by its role as the primordial ooze from whence punk rock first emerged, the latter known largely for the legendary folk and jazz artists who graced its stage. CBGBs was a place to begin, Massey a place to arrive, but the path between the two is one that’s been trod by few acts. As of this past Tuesday night, Sonic Youth became one of them.

At first, the venue seemed a peculiar choice – putting a band whose reputation was built so heavily on dissonance in a room with the most splendid acoustics in the city. But in truth Sonic Youth became about so much more than just noise a long time ago and the complexity of their songs really were demanding of the room in which they were performed. Plus it held about the right amount of people.

I didn’t arrive in time to catch most of openers The Entrance Band, but did hear enough to find it ironic that such a trad-sounding hard rock band would be supporting such an avant-garde one. I didn’t feel like I’d missed much but if I did, I could console myself with the knowledge that they’d be back in town on August 20 at the Annex Wreck Room supporting Nebula.

I’ve already come clean about being only a casual Sonic Youth fan, but most of that enthusiasm has been built on their most recent records, say from Murray Street up to and definitely including their latest The Eternal as they’ve struck what, to my ears, is the perfect balance of atonality and melody. And having only ever seen them once live before, at Lollapalooza 2006, I was pretty excited to do so again. From the buzz in the hall, it was pretty clear everyone else was excited as well but I suspect that most were much more hardcore than I and thus exponentially more stoked. Takeaway: people were looking forward to the show.

And the long-time fans were catered with the first song, “She Is Not Alone” dating back to the band’s 1982 debut. Of course I didn’t know this song – it and most others were verified via set list – but it was a slow, hypnotic sort of dirge featuring massive guitar freak-out from Thurston Moore that many probably hoped would be a set loaded with classic material. These people would probably be disappointed. With “Sacred Trickster”, the band made it clear that they would not be partaking in any career retrospectives – they were still creative and vital and had eyes dead set forward, and would prove it by playing eleven straight songs from The Eternal.

Now these were some of the songs I was most familiar with, but that’s a pretty relative statement – I don’t find Sonic Youth to be a band I necessarily enjoy on an individual song basis, but more as a whole aural experience and that’s exactly what they delivered. A massive, dense and cinematic sonic rendering that was simultaneously aggressive, gentle, intense and detached. Seemingly incongruous guitar parts wove around each other perfectly, lunging and lurching around the alternating vocals of Moore, Lee Ranaldo and Kim Gordon, all of whom initially looked every bit their age but with every song, became more and more ageless – the healing power of music, I suppose. And you know, for a band that’s been around as long as they and are so unquestioningly influential, it’s remarkable how no one but no one sounds like them. Following a stunning rendering of “Massage The History”, featuring the unexpected sight of Moore on acoustic guitar, the band finally threw the old-timers a bone with a searing set closer in “Pacific Coast Highway” from Sister. The two encores were similarly steered towards older material with the exception of “What We Know”, the final Eternal track that hadn’t yet been aired. If they’d run them in order, they could have billed it as a “Don’t Look Back” show, albeit for their newest record.

I can understand if some fans felt let down by the focus on the new stuff – I would have even liked to have heard some Rather Ripped stuff, as that may be my favourite recent album of theirs – but with a catalog as broad and deep as theirs, there’s no way they could have satisfied everyone. But from a sheer performance point of view, I can’t believe anyone was actually disappointed in any way by the show they were given. Simply epic.

There’s further reviews of the show at The National Post, eye, NOW and Fazer. Check out interviews with the band at Crawdaddy, eye, The Toronto Sun and Spinner.

Photos: Sonic Youth @ Massey Hall – June 30, 2009
MP3: Sonic Youth – “Sacred Trickster”
MP3: Sonic Youth – “Incinerate”
Video: Sonic Youth – “Sacred Trickster”
Video: Sonic Youth – “Incinerate”
Video: Sonic Youth – “Death Valley 1969”
MySpace: Sonic Youth

Blurt has an interview with Dinosaur Jr, while Exclaim has assembled a career-spanning timeline of their existence. They’re at the Phoenix on September 30.

The Big Takeover has a massive five-part interview with Bob Mould. He’s at the Mod Club on October 5.

Gibson Guitars talk to Neil Young about Archives Volume One.

Wilco (The Album) was released this week and in its wake comes Wilco (the media glut). There’s interviews with Jeff Tweedy at Time, The New York Times and JAM while American Songwriter chats with Nels Cline and Paste with Cline and John Stirrat.

St Louis Today and The Colorado Springs Independent discuss Son Volt’s American Central Dust with Jay Farrar.

PopMatters considers the legacy of Uncle Tupelo.

Steve Earle talks to He’s at Massey Hall on July 11.

Daytrotter is sharing a session with Mark Olson & Gary Louris, recorded in March at SxSW.