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

Too many bands are dying

Filed Under: Random Thought, Wicked Good Music
Written by Brendan
Friday August 5, 2011

Figuratively speaking of course.  But seriously, this is getting worrisome.  I’m still upset about the loss of Drink Up Buttercup (RIP May 2011), Wolf Parade (RIP 2010) and Port O’Brien (RIP 2010), and now I’m mourning another.   The Middle East announced via Facebook earlier this week that they were ceasing to be:

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN,

writing to inform you that we’re ceasing. i’m not sure if we’ll make more music later on or not.

we don’t feel like playing anymore for a whole lot of reasons that i won’t list here and i’m afraid if we continued any longer it would just be a moneygrab. i’d rather go hungry. thank you to all those who came to shows.

we had fun.

t.s elliot wrote ‘you are the music while the music lasts’, but he also wrote that confusing little book about cats so don’t put too much stock in his quotes.

i’m very tired. until next time.

sincerely yours,

the middle east.

Yeah, that’s the same Middle East that recently released I Want That You Are Always Happy, my favorite album of the year to date.  While I do have to give them credit for going out on their own terms, I’m also selfishly pissed that I’m not going to see them perform live.  They were definitely on the top of my must-see list, and it really sucks to be adding them to the list of lost bands so soon.

To celebrate their work while mourning their loss, here’s The Middle East’s “Jesus Came To My Birthday Party:”

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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.

My favorite music of 2010

Filed Under: Music for a Mood
Written by Brendan
Tuesday December 28, 2010

Way back in the day (2004), my good friend Aaron (who you may know from his guest posts on this blog) shared with me a copy of his 2005 Favorite Music CD, introducing me to a whole new world of music.  It was that 80 minutes of musical joy that inspired me to start broadening my musical tastes, leading to a complete obsession with live music, an album purchasing habit that has become almost obscene, and eventually, this here blog.  In 2005, I decided to follow his lead and began compiling my own year-end CD to share with my friends, in the hopes that they’d also fall in love with some of the music, and share the experience with me.

It may be a little old fashioned to still make a CD (though I for one still use the CD player in my car), but 80 minutes does seem to be a good way for me to really pare down my favorite songs to the cream of the crop, as well as share it in a way that’s not too overwhelming for friends who may not be as obsessed as I am.  Below, I offer you a list of my favorite music of 2010.  The order doesn’t signify any sort of hierarchy — that would be way too difficult.  Instead, the songs are ordered as to present an enjoyable and cohesive listening experience.

If you like any of this music, please support the artists making it by buying their albums and going to their shows.  They continue to make my world a better place, and the only way they’ll keep doing so is if they are supported by their fans.

Angus & Julia Stone – And The Boys
From Down The Way ($5 right now on Amazon)

Midlake – Winter Dies
From The Courage Of Others ($5 right now on Amazon)

Dan Mangan – Robots
From Nice, Nice, Very Nice

Dr. Dog – Jackie Wants a Black Eye
From Shame Shame ($5 right now on Amazon)

Yeasayer – Ambling Alp
From ODD BLOOD ($5 right now on Amazon)

Wolf Parade – Pobody’s Nerfect
From Expo 86 ($5 right now on Amazon)

Wooden Shjips – Start to Dreaming
From Vol. 2

Drink Up Buttercup – Young Ladies
From Born And Thrown On A Hook

Frightened Rabbit – Nothing Like You
From The Winter of Mixed Drinks

Delays – In Brilliant Sunshine
From Star Tiger Star Ariel

Beach House – Lover of Mine
From Teen Dream ($5 right now on Amazon)

Decibully – Weakest Kind of Heart
From World Travels Fast

Gold Motel – Stealing The Moonlight
From Summer House

Good Old War – That’s Some Dream
From Good Old War ($5 right now on Amazon)

Efterklang – Alike
From Magic Chairs

Shout Out Louds – Walls
From Work

April Smith and the Great Picture Show – Terrible Things
From Songs For A Sinking Ship ($5 right now on Amazon)

Local Natives – Sun Hands
From Gorilla Manor ($5 right now on Amazon)

Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
From The Suburbs

Broken Social Scene – Meet Me In The Basement
From Forgiveness Rock Record

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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: farm @ Monkey House 9/25/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews, Local Bands
Written by Brendan
Monday September 27, 2010

farm - Sat., Cloudy, Calm, 36 F, 10:44 p.m.farm put on an impressive performance Saturday night to mark the launch of their latest album, Sat., Cloudy, Calm, 36º F, 10:44 p.m.

The show was well attended, with about 50-60 people there when farm took the stage. As a quick aside, it was great to see a show at the Monkey House that well attended. The last couple shows I saw there (Givers, Drink Up Buttercup) were all but empty, so it was a nice change in energy, and brought a much more intimate feel to the bar. It was also nice to see Maryse Smith — who recently opened for The New Pornographers — in attendance, supporting fellow VT musicians.

The band — who records as a 3-piece — was joined by their friends Sam Boutin and Brennan Mangan for this show. Even with 5 people on stage, they managed to make the constant trading of instruments look almost effortless. At least three of them took a turn on lead vocals, and duties were shared on the drums, keys, guitars and a variety of other instruments. While it would be pretty easy for this to become a distraction to the audience, they were quick and seemingly practiced enough to make it interesting.

Most of their set was from their new album, though they also played 3 or 4 songs I hadn’t heard before. My favorites were “anticipating snow” and “hotel manners” though really there were many highlights. The only thing that felt out of place to me was opening with “is it wrong?”, a sleepy, spacy, stripped-down song that, while beautiful, didn’t really pull me into the show right away.

I found myself drawing comparisons between Port O’Brien (particularly the vocals on “getting cold” which sound remarkably similar to Van Pierszalowski’s voice) and Wild Sweet Orange, though farm definitely has a sound all their own. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing farm again, and recommend that Burlington indie music fans check these guys out soon.

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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.

A little something for your ears

Filed Under: podcast
Written by Brendan
Thursday September 2, 2010

As this is a blog about music, I thought I’d put some together for you to listen to. If you happen to enjoy it, I highly recommend you pick up an album or two. The Villanelles album is currently available as a free (legal) download here (just click on the image at the top of the page). And the Local Natives album (one of my favorites of the year) is available for $5.99 right now from Amazon.

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A little something for your ears
Artist Song Album
Villanelles Wait It Out Villanelles
Young Galaxy Long Live The Fallen World Invisible Republic
Decibully Somewhere in the World World Travels Fast
Drink Up Buttercup Young Ladies Born And Thrown On A Hook
Efterklang Modern Drift Magic Chairs
Emanuel and the Fear Dear Friend Listen
Maps & Atlases Pigeon Perch Patchwork
School of Seven Bells Babelonia Disconnect From Desire
Magic Kids Hey Boy Memphis
Local Natives World News Gorilla Manor
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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.

7 Questions for Drink Up Buttercup

Filed Under: 7 Questions, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Wednesday May 12, 2010

I’m not going to dwell on last night’s DUB show at the Monkey House – let’s just say that I counted this time, and there were 9 people there. I was one of two that stood up to watch the show. The band was great – they definitely put everything they could have into it, considering the circumstances. Video of them playing “Even Think” from their recent release “Born and Thrown on a Hook” is at the bottom of this post.

Drink Up Buttercup @ Monkey House, Winooski VT

I had the chance to talk to James Harvey, the lead vocalist, after the show. He was very down to earth and assured me that even though they drove from Montreal to Maine to Vermont (note to tour director: Montreal-Vermont-Maine would have made more sense) and were not feeling all that well, they still had a good time and didn’t regret making the trek.

James was also kind enough to send me answers to 7 questions I had, posted below. Thanks to Jim for the thoughtful answers, and thanks to DUB for coming to play in Burlington, even if I didn’t get to see the trash can in action.

BB: Your album “Born and Thrown on a Hook” reminds me of something I wrote in 2007 about Okkervil River’s “John Allyn Smith Sails” – the coolest reworking of the coolest song about suicide that I’ve ever heard. You also mix beautiful sounds with macabre settings — is that an intentional juxtaposition?

JH: I’m not really a dark person, I love playing music that sounds fun and singing pretty melodies. I definitely view the world as an extremely dark place though, and I muse on that a lot when I’m writing my lyrics. Lyrically I think that a lot of the songs on our record are warnings. Maybe the world isn’t as dark as I think it is. Hopefully not. I’m just saying, people who you think are your friends have spoken ill of you for infinitesimal personal gain. You have been cheated on, even if you don’t know it. It’s just the way the world is. There is good stuff too, depending on who you surround yourself with. Even if they seem good though, they could be worse than someone who comes off as a total creep. Really nice people who use a lot exclamation points to express themselves scare me.

BB: Tell me a little bit about the album cover – pure artistic expression, or a commentary on something specific?

JH: Neil Krug is an amazing photographer. We wanted to use something of his for our album cover because we dug his vibe. All of the songs on the album are voyeuristic. Each song is a brief look into a certain characters world or a different world with it’s own cast of characters. The photo that we happened to pick jumped out at us as a scene that could have been one of the songs on the album, but isn’t. The album cover is essentially the hidden track on our album that doesn’t exist.

BB: Have you been to Vermont? What for, or what have you heard about us?

JH: We’ve never been to Vermont, but we hear that your syrup is as sweet as honey.

BB: Do you ever wish you were in the audience at a DUB show, or do you get the same high from playing the music that the audience gets listening to you play it?

JH: I think it’d be cool to see our band play live for sure. There is this crazy energy that I feel when our band plays music together. My face starts to buzz, it’s kinda like that feeling you get the first time you kiss someone, the first time you make out. I can feel when the audience is feeling that way too. You can just tell. It’s like the room is full of industrial-strength magnets, but they are all pulling together and pushing away from each other simultaneously.

BB: What’s your beverage of choice before, during and after a show?

JH: Irish whiskey is my drink. Can’t really do whiskey at the shows though, because I tend to get what the band calls “Jim-faced” when I drink the dark stuff. Lately I’ve been sticking to vodka on the rocks pre-show and post-show. The clear stuff keeps me in check somehow. I also always bring two bottles of beer on stage to keep things going but not too going during the set. That’s a DUB standard.

BB: I’ve read at least 10 album or show reviews, and nobody seems to agree on how to describe your music. Can you do it in one sentence?

JH: A Kubrick film viewed through a kaleidoscope?

BB: Can you name a few bands you’ve been listening to a lot lately?

JH: Most of the music that I’ve been getting into has been the music of bands we play with. I’ve been really into Maps and Atlases music since we toured with them. They are amazing musicians, virtuosos. I got a preview of their full length and I can’t wait till I can get my hands on it. It’s gonna blow minds. I’m also really looking forward to going on tour with Free Energy because I’ve had a bunch of their tracks on repeat in the car recently. They write really great pop songs that I can’t seem to get out of my head.

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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.

Tonight: Drink Up Buttercup @ Monkey House

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Tuesday May 11, 2010

Please, Burlington, don’t let another show be killed because nobody shows up. You won’t regret this one.

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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: Givers @ Monkey House 5/9/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Monday May 10, 2010

Well it finally happened last night – for the first time since I started regularly going to rock shows six years ago, I think that an audience (or lack thereof) may have actually killed a show. Not that Givers didn’t give it their all, but there was no mistaking the lack of energy all around – it ended up feeling like I was watching them practice in their garage.

I’ve been to many other sparsely attended shows here, but that sparseness and lack of true interest was nothing compared to last night.

It was another solo show for me, and started with the bouncer essentially begging the guy in front of me to come in after he initially rejected the $8 cover charge. Not generally a good sign, but he ended up forking over $5 in a compromise and headed in.

The opening act, Burlington’s own Maga (soft ‘g’), was on when I walked in. Not all of their songs spoke to me, but the couple that did were really impressive (particularly their final song). Assuming it’ll be a fairly unique item for a while, I bought one of their t-shirts after the show (threadless shirts are everywhere these days, so I’m beginning to look for new sources). I definitely look forward to catching Maga again.

While they prepped the stage and got themselves ready to perform, Givers stood in an alcove between the bar and the windows and had what seemed to be an amazing freestyle rap session. Had I been a little bolder it would have been fun to jump in; alas, I’m not. So at least they had some fun. When they got started, I’d say there were maybe 20 people there, and half of those people never left the bar.

Givers @ Monkey House 5/9/2010

The music itself wasn’t bad – the vocal mix was a bit off for the first song, but once corrected I thought that both lead singers sounded great. You could feel them trying to drum up the energy to keep going, but you could also feel that energy being drained from them faster than they could keep up with. And I have to say, I don’t blame them. Not even Teddy Lamson’s frenetic pounding of the drums was enough to bring people up to the front to dance.

The area in front of the stage consisted of me and three seemingly wasted 30-something women who slurred “I fucking love you guys” or “you guys are soooo fucking awesome” as they sashayed (literally) across the dance floor after every song (and not in that really endearing way, but in that terribly obnoxious way). Taylor Guarisco’s eyes roll back in his head when he sings, so it’s tough to really tell, but I’m pretty sure I caught a couple of “yikes” type of eye rolls in there.

Givers @ Monkey House 5/9/2010

I really appreciate a band that can make it all the way through a show like that without saying “this is just awful,” but they didn’t really have to say that. After watching videos of their shows elsewhere and hearing fantastic things from my friend Aaron, I’m so disappointed that Burlington couldn’t turn out a crowd to really get the best out of Givers. As it is, I still got to listen to some good music, and it was well worth the $8 and drive to Winooski, but I need to see Givers again to get a better taste of the energy and excitement that they bring to the stage.

Here’s to hoping tomorrow’s Drink Up Buttercup show can get me out of the funk that last night’s show left me in.

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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.

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.

Monday Morning

Filed Under: Live Shows, Music for a Mood
Written by Brendan
Monday March 29, 2010

Without giving it much conscious thought, I often put on music that amplifies my mood. Eminem when I’m angry or need to really focus (seriously), Midlake or Elvis Perkins when I’m feeling melancholy or introspective, etc.

But sometimes music can also alter my mood, which I’m glad to say happened this dreary Monday morning in Burlington. I started off the day with Drink Up Buttercup‘s new album “Born And Thrown On A Hook“, and have moved onto Shout Out Louds‘ “Work,” and the combination of the two has me ready to get something done today. It was a long weekend, starting on Friday morning with a broken furnace and a backed up sewer line (a euphemism for a basement flooded with shit water).  But I’m halfway through “Show Me Something New” and I think that today might be ok.

p.s. Shout Out Louds and Freelance Whales are playing Friday, May 7 at Cabaret Juste Pour Rire in Montreal.

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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: New Releases
Written by Brendan
Thursday March 25, 2010

This week, I bought 2 albums: She & Him’s “Volume Two” and Drink Up Buttercup’s “Born and Thrown on a Hook.”

While I like She & Him, and I can envision the many moods that will inspire the playing of that album again, I’m really hooked on Drink Up Buttercup. I’d consider that album a must have, while I consider the She & Him album as nice to have, but not an essential piece of the catalog.

I think my favorite aspect of the She & Him album is the illegitimate nostalgia I feel hearing Zooey Deschanel sing. Makes me hearken for the days of Almost Famous, even though that never actually happened, and definitely never happened to me.


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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.