A collection of musically themed musings by Brendan Bush in Burlington, VT

Podcast 1 (alpha) – Hip-hop since 2008

Filed Under: podcast, Standout Albums
Written by Brendan
Thursday April 29, 2010

OPRcast 1: hip-hopThis is the real reason I started doing this actually. I don’t get to spend enough time with other music junkies these days, and it’s really tough over email to communicate about every new album that comes out and every show you’ve been to. The year-end compilations are definitely the best method I’ve had up until now of sharing the really staggering amount of good music that my ears consume every year.

But I feel like there has to be something better. So I’m giving this a whirl – 30 minutes podcasts of varying genres and inspirations, mostly from albums that have come out in the past several years. Looking to try something new? Give it a whirl. I’ll post them here for streaming over the web, and they’ll be available via iTunes Podcasts for those of you so inclined.

This one is specifically for Eric and Erik. I’ve been sporadically buying hip-hop albums over the past few years, and felt like I’d finally put together a small collection worth sharing. Also, I’m seeing k-os at The Higher Ground on Saturday, so I’ve been on a bit of an afternoon hip-hop kick (like Red Bull, I think my days of hip-hop in the morning are over).

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download mp3 | iTunes (not available yet)

Track List
Fornever – Murs and 9th Wonder | Fornever (3:38)
What About Us? – Mr. Lif | I Heard it Today (3:00)
I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman – k-os | Yes! (3:12)
Say What’s Real – Drake | So Far Gone (3:51)
S**t is Real – Tech N9ne | Killer (3:43)
Get it right now! – Del The Funky Homosapien | Funk Man (4:52)
Scared – Jake One f/Blueprint | White Van Music (2:30)
The Leak – Elzhi | The Preface (3:34)

p.s. Lil’ Kim is coming to Higher Ground!?! How is she still touring? Or not incarcerated? Or alive? Were only it 1997, I’d be there in a heartbeat (admittedly, I put on Foxy Brown’s “Ill Na Na” as I began writing this post).


Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Coming soon to Burlington

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Wednesday April 28, 2010

I hope anyone in the Burlington area can appreciate with me what amazing music our local venues are bringing to town these days. It’s actually bordering on too much good music at once (ok, that’s not technically possible, unless two shows overlap and I have to miss one).

There’s a handy Google calendar over there on the left that lists good upcoming shows in Burlington and Montreal, but I really feel the need to share with you the plethora of good acts that’ll be in the area over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, April 28
White Rabbits @ Petit Campus, Montreal
Listen | Tickets

Saturday, May 1
k-os @ Higher Ground
Listen | Tickets

Sunday, May 2
Yeasayer @ Le National, Montreal
Listen | Tickets

Wednesday, May 5
JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound @ Monkey House
Listen | Tickets (available at the door)

Friday, May 7
Shout Out Louds @ Cabaret Juste Pour Rire, Montreal
Listen | Tickets

Sunday, May 9
Givers @ Monkey House
Listen | Tickets (available at the door)

Tuesday, May 11
Drink Up Buttercup @ Monkey House
Listen | Tickets (available at the door)

Thursday, May 20
Midlake @ Le National, Montreal
Listen | Tickets

Unfortunately, it’s looking like I’m going to miss at least 2 of the Montreal shows. I wonder how much a cab costs…

Anyhow, thanks to Monkey House and Higher Ground for continuing to bring good music through the Burlington area – I really feel like this is the best the national indie scene has been represented since I moved here a little over 3 years ago. Keep up the good work!

[as a side note, I wanted to acknowledge my hatred for myspace, while still giving the site credit for being the easiest way to hear a few songs from any given band. sorry for including so many links there, but I think you'll find it as useful as I do for pure music sampling purposes. unlike iTunes, Amie St. or emusic, myspace lets you hear full songs, which I think is really important in judging the merits of a band.]

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

This week’s music purchases

Filed Under: Live Shows, New Releases
Written by Brendan
Tuesday April 27, 2010

On Friday I ended up picking up “Swim” by Caribou, and I’ve only been through it once with not much to report. I’m out of downloads at emusic for the month, and Amie St. didn’t have any of the 5 albums I was interested in listening to, so I didn’t pick up any of today’s releases.

However, I did get sent “atlas” by the american dollar (another fantastic first to encourage me to keep doing this – free music!), and I’m really into it. It reminds me a lot of Explosions in the Sky, with a little bit more of an electronic/digital feel. But it has the same depth and texture as an Explosions album, as well as similar euphoric crescendos and crushing decrescendos.

I’m not sure I’ll make it to their upcoming show at the Monkey House (June 24) — I kinda feel like I need to be outside to really experience and appreciate this genre of music live — but I can definitely recommend the album to those keen on the “post-rock” or “experimental rock” styles of music.

One more quick note – Caribou will be at La Tulipe in Montreal next Wednesday, May 5, though I’ll be at JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound at the Monkey House.

The American Dollar - Atlas Caribou - Swim


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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Standout Album – “Magic Chairs” by Efterklang

Filed Under: Album Reviews, Standout Albums
Written by Brendan
Monday April 26, 2010

Efterklang - Magic ChairsI’m still trying to navigate my way through the ins and outs of copyrights, etc., so I’m starting this series of posts with a band who has the mp3 I’m embedding available for free on their own website.

Anyhow, I listen to a lot of music — perhaps too much. Some albums I listen to only two or three times before putting them into the b-list that exists in my head. Others I’ll listen to obsessively until feeling some burnout. And others I’ll put on about once a week for an extended length of time.

It’s that last category of albums that I want to draw some extra attention to, in the hopes that you’ll give them a listen if you haven’t.

Today’s example is “Magic Chairs” by Efterklang. An mp3 of “Modern Drift,” the first song on the album, is embedded below for your listening pleasure.

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Magic Chairs is full of wonderful vocal melodies and a lush mixture of orchestral and electronic sounds. From the jubilant “Modern Drift” to the synth-driven pop of “Scandanavian Love” to the breathy whispers of “Natural Tune,” Magic Chairs floats around in an ethereal realm all its own. It’s simply beautiful music performed by an impressive array of Danish pop-rockers.

I was able to see Efterklang at La Sala Rossa in Montreal last month, and their performance was as flawless as their latest album.


Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Wrapup: An Horse & Kaki King @ Higher Ground 4/21/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews, Live Shows, New Releases
Written by Brendan
Thursday April 22, 2010

I’m definitely a sucker for advertising and the power of suggestion. So when I saw Higher Ground‘s facebook post about Kaki King and An Horse playing yesterday, I figured why not. I checked them both out on myspace and both had songs that I liked, and it was a bonus that the show started at 7:30 (what’s with Monkey House shows starting so late? I love music, but I’m getting old, and I love my sleep almost as much…).

An Horse was a song or two into their set when I arrived in the Showcase Lounge. There was a decent crowd for a Wednesday night show, and it was pretty diverse (Bassnectar was playing in the Ballroom and sold it out). Apparently Kaki King doesn’t attract the same audience that Erin McKeown does, which is what I was half-expecting (I was one of maybe 5 men at the last McKeown show at HG).

An Horse @ Higher Ground - Burlington, VT

Anyhow, An Horse is a two-person Australian sound machine (Kate Cooper on guitar & vocals, Damon Cox on drums & vocals). They showed flashes of Black Keys, leaving me looking around to see if any other instruments were being played offstage somewhere. Damon was at times a whirlwind, reminding me a bit of Paul Banwatt from Rural Alberta Advantage (who is a freaking maniac with drumsticks). His vocals were also a great addition to the band’s sound.

Kate Cooper’s dry Australian humor and stage banter made her all that more engaging. She is clearly bucking the increasing trend of homogenized/Americanized accents, creating a very unique sound with a fairly heavy Australian accent (“I” sounds like “oi” etc). She has a great singing voice and has written some compelling lyrics.

I love An Horse, and will definitely make it a point to see them again (hopefully headlining so I can hear more). Any two person band that makes that much sound and makes it sound so good is always a big draw.

On to Kaki King, who is as good on the guitar as people say she is. The photo above has her using a technique of slapping, plucking and thumping that I’ve never seen before. She also had some witty stage banter, and was on a mission to not allow her friend who was there taking photos to get a good shot (she kept sticking out her tongue or making ugly faces when the camera was in her face). But I just couldn’t get into her songs. Each time a new song started out I felt like I’d really be into it, but 30 seconds or so in, they all seemed to lose their muster.

I think that maybe an additional vocalist might help beef up what I think was the major factor in my disappointment, which was Kaki’s vocals. It’s not that she’s a bad singer – not at all – but the quality of her vocals just don’t match up with the quality of the accompanying music. I kept thinking that she’d make one hell of a lead guitarist and backup vocalist in someone else’s band (which is why I’m really excited about the record I bought – more below).

I also couldn’t get past whatever plastic newfangled wind instrument was being played along with the drums and guitar. It might be that the sound mix was off, but I didn’t feel like it was actually making any noise. It also made the guy playing it look like he was just writhing around on stage smoking out of some new-age bong. He had a trumpet on the ground next to him, and since I left early, I missed him playing it, but I just kept thinking how much better it would have been if he’d been playing it all along…

Kaki King @ Higher Ground - Burlington, VT

On my way out, I stopped by the merch table and added 3 news albums to this week’s music purchases: “Rearrange Beds” and “Beds Rearranged” EP from An Horse and “Black Pear Tree” EP on vinyl from The Mountain Goats and Kaki King. Both An Horse releases are wonderful, and I highly recommend their LP. I haven’t listen to “Black Pear Tree” yet, but I’m definitely brimming with anticipation at what has the potential to be an amazing collaboration.


Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

This week’s music purchases

Filed Under: New Releases
Written by Brendan
Wednesday April 21, 2010

Yesterday I bought “Sleep Mountain” by The Kissaway Trail, “Shame Shame” by Dr. Dog, “Tango 3.0” by Gotan Project and “Travellers In Space And Time” by The Apples in Stereo.

All four are amazingly solid albums, from the retro-rock of Dr. Dog to the big orchestral sound of The Kissaway Trail to the shiny pop of The Apples in Stereo and the South American rhythms and hip-hop influences of Gotan Project.

All four are definitely worth picking up (The Apples in Stereo album is only $5 on Amie St right now).

I’m aiming to see An Horse and Kaki King at the Higher Ground showcase lounge tonight, and will hopefully have a wrapup to post in the next day or two…

Dr-Dog-Shame-Shame The-Apples-In-Stereo-Travellers-In-Space-and-Time Gotan-Project-Tango-3.0 The-Kissaway-Trail-Sleep-Mountain



Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

7 Questions for JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound

Filed Under: 7 Questions, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Tuesday April 20, 2010
JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound

who's bad?

I’ve been a music fan and fiend for nearly my entire life — I can’t think of a time that music didn’t at least partially define who I am or was. But it didn’t occur to me until just recently to start writing about it. So I have to say I was both surprised and amused that after only posting 7 entries to this nascent collection of musical musings, I got an email from a label representative, asking me if I’d be interested in interviewing a soul band with an upcoming show at The Monkey House.

Obviously I jumped at the opportunity, made all the more satisfying by the fact that the band – JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound – is really good. Posted below is the first of what I am optimistically expecting to be many such Q&A sessions written here. Without further ado, 7 questions for JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound, answered by bassist Ben Taylor except for the question specifically addressed to guitarist Billy Bungeroth:

Q: What are the two most recent live shows you have each been to (other than shows you played at)?

A: The Gossip @ The Barton Theatre, Adelaide, Australia – they happened to be playing there while my wife and I were on our honeymoon. Beth Ditto is the one of the most amazing performers I’ve ever seen — she genuinely makes a connection with the audience.

Diplomats of Solid Sound @ Martyrs, Chicago – an amazing soul/jazz group from Iowa City, featuring some great Hammond organ and sax playing, plus the lovely ladies of the Diplomettes singing up front.

Q: Have you met an audience you couldn’t make dance?

A: No, every audience we play for dances. [having listened to a bunch of their music, I'm not at all surprised]

Q: Do you ever wish you were in the audience at your own show, or do you get the same high playing music that others get listening to it?

A: I wish I could see this band. We saw JC sit in with the Diplomats of Solid Sound once and it was mind-bending watching him work the crowd. I get higher playing it, and I have the best view in the room.

Q: (for Billy Bungeroth): Given your blog post on new can’t-miss bands, I see we share an interest in both hip-hop and indie rock. What’s the first hip-hop album you owned (and was it vinyl, cassette or CD)? What’s the first non-mainstream or “indie” rock show you went to? [mine are Big Daddy's Kane's "Long Live the Kane" cassette and Rogue Wave/Fruit Bats/Chad VanGaalen in 2005 - 17 years later]

A: Public Enemy’s “Nation of Millions” on cassette (with James Brown’s Greatest Hits on the flip)
Fugazi, NoMeansNo, The Ex @ Sacred Heart Church, Washington DC 1991

Q: Chicago question – Ever been to the Wieners Circle in Lincoln Park? if so, what’s the worst thing you’ve been called by one of the staff? [I got called "you Beavis looking honkey motherf***er"]

A: Yes, but since it’s usually during the day, and I was sober, they were pretty nice. when I asked them to hold the mustard, they asked “you don’t fuck with mustard?!!”

Q: I’ve been inspired into a funk/soul renaissance by a friend (and Sharon Jones). What inspired you to start playing soul music (a band, a generation, an artist, or just a groove)?

A: It started with finding out who Public Enemy, Tribe Called Quest, and the Beastie Boys were sampling, progressed through a heavy Motown/Stax/Aretha/Meters/Funkadelic/James Brown kick in college, but not bothering to play it live until I met Billy and JC, cats who could actually walk it like they talk it.


Thanks to Ben and Billy for taking the time to answer some questions. And thanks to Billy for introducing me to Cool Kids. Here’s a reminder that JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound will be at The Monkey House in Winooski on Wednesday, May 5. See you there!

“JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound are for the people remaining awake through a great revolution… for people who want to move and not just sit tight… for soul people! Guaranteed to make you dance by any means necessary, JC Brooks is the new sound of Chicago.”

p.s. if you only counted 6 questions then you are paying too much attention. here’s the 7th question, which wasn’t answered: Howard Zinn was an inspiration to many – as a civil rights and anti-war activist, an historian, and a proud liberal. what made you write a song about him?


Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Streaming on NPR: Broken Social Scene “Forgiveness Rock Record”

Filed Under: New Releases
Written by Brendan
Monday April 19, 2010

NPR is currently streaming Broken Social Scene‘s upcoming release “Forgiveness Rock Record” (out on May 4) in its entirety. I’m 5 minutes in, and I’m ready to forget about the Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning albums and finally move on. If the first song is any indication, then Broken Social Scene is finally back.

Check it out here:

or head over to the NPR site.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Wrapup: The Morning Benders @ Monkey House 4/16/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews, Live Shows, New Releases
Written by Brendan
Sunday April 18, 2010

As my first thought, I just want to say that I love the Monkey House. It’s amazing that a venue that size (~100 capacity) is able to bring bands like The Tallest Man on Earth and The Morning Benders to the Burlington area. Not only that, but the bartenders were attentive, the crowd was generally friendly and respectful, and it’s pretty hard to find a bad place to stand there.

Moving on, and I’ll get these out of the way quickly – though the crowd was generally respectful, there was WAY (and I don’t capitalize frivolously) too much talking going on from the back of the room. Yes, it’s still a bar, and yes, there is a pool table. But why waste $12 extra for a ticket to a show you only marginally pay attention to? You can definitely buy the newest Morning Benders album for less than that, and I bet there is a better place to play pool on a Friday night. So I’m just saying…

(also, I wish I had brought my SLR because I’d love for quality photos to accompany these posts, but the Monkey House photo policy requires explicit permission from the band, and I unfortunately never got an answer from the band’s manager)

I’ve done some intentional damage to my ears in the past few years, there’s no disputing that. But like various other things, it’s taken me this long (30+ years) to figure out that it might be better to start with prevention instead of instigation. So I donned my heavy duty construction-grade earplugs early, having heard ringing for at least 2.5 days after The Hold Steady show the week before. And as it’s always really tough to gauge the true sound of a show with earplugs in, I may have had it better or worse than those standing around me — but I thought the Morning Benders sounded great.

The musical depth of their recently released album “Big Echo” could truly be felt at The Monkey House. The vocals were crisp and comfortably sung, the guitars were steady and strong, and the bass and drums made me move. If I paid more attention, I’d say that they may have played the entire new album (though not cover to cover). We also got to sing happy birthday to Tim the bass guitar player, whose earnest smile made it worth having to hear myself sing.

Having put “Patient Patient” from their 2008 release “Talking Through Tin Cans” on my favorite music from that year, I do have to say that I was sad to not hear a single tune from the album. But I gather that album was personal and the band feels good about moving on, so I’m glad I was along for the ride. The Morning Benders are fresh-faced (literally and figuratively) and entertaining, and I definitely recommend seeing their show.

Looking forward to seeing these guys again at Osheaga. Maybe this time they’d at least give me all 1:58 of “Damnit Anna”…

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Strikes and gutters

Filed Under: Live Shows, Random Thought
Written by Brendan
Wednesday April 14, 2010

I often end up in discussion leading up to and after shows at the Higher Ground about the relative values of the music scene in Burlington.

On one hand, I get to stand up front with room to move comfortably at 90% of the shows I go to there. I’ve been to many shows in the Showcase Lounge (the smaller of the two stages) where a band that easily sells out the Black Cat or even 9:30 Club in DC doesn’t even have 50 people in the audience (see Band of Horses, Ra Ra Riot, Rural Alberta Advantage, Princeton…). So there’s a real intimacy that is more difficult to obtain in a bigger city.

I also rarely have to worry about obsessively following the web sites, twitter feeds and facebook profiles of bands I like and venues that are close by. Not that I don’t still do that, but I don’t have to, because even if I stop paying attention for a week or two, there’s still very little chance anything comes up that sells out that quickly.

On the other hand, bands like Band of Horses, Ra Ra Riot and Rural Alberta Advantage have to play to half- to quarter-sold shows. There always seems to be enough really engaged people in the audience at those shows, so the numbers don’t feel as meager as they could; but there’s also definitely something missing. Something like seeing Metric at Metropolis in Montreal amidst a crowd of Canadians who’d driven 3 times as long as we had to get there.

And of course the money for these bands has to be an issue, which makes me all the more gracious to the bands who do choose to make Burlington a stop on their tours (and the labels who support them).

To summarize: I’m glad that I got to stand comfortably, 15 feet from the stage at the Hold Steady show last week. And I’m glad that I didn’t miss them like some poor souls in the many cities they sold out before and continue to since. And I hope they and bands like them continue to come back.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.