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

Earlove!

Filed Under: Live Shows, Random Thought
Written by Brendan
Monday June 28, 2010

earloveI’ve been a pretty off-and-on earplug user for concerts over the years. Generally if I’ve expected a show to be loud (a few recent ones that come to mind are The Hold Steady, Metric and Drink Up Buttercup), I bring earplugs. Though admittedly, even the shows that I don’t consider to be “loud” often leave my ears ringing for a good 24 hours. But the sound quality of the earplugs I’ve been using for years (Mack’s, the kind you can get at any drug store) is horrendous. There is a huge loss at either end of the spectrum, and generally I felt like the earplugs were really taking away from my enjoyment of the music, even if they were prolonging my ability to hear the music at all.

So lately, I’d been on the lookout for a higher quality brand of earplugs. I wasn’t sure where they were sold, or how they’d be different, but I was sure there was something out there that would allow me to protect my hearing without compromising the sound quality at concerts.

Imagine my excitement when I got an Facebook invitation to a group called Earlove from August Forte, a Chicago-based music label rep. who introduced me to JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound. Earlove sells “Hi-Fi Earplugs” with about 20 decibels of sound reduction (though the government only allows them to claim 12dB). Unfortunately I couldn’t find them for sale anywhere around here, so I ordered a few pairs online. The actual manufacturer is Etymotic Research, and they are less expensive if purchased directly through them, but with the shipping costs included, I got a better deal by buying a 3-pack from Earlove.

I finally got to test them out last week at the Fiery Furnaces/Vacant Lots show, and I have only wonderful things to report. First and foremost, no ringing ears the next day! The Vacant Lots definitely put the noise reduction capabilities to the test, and Earlove passed with flying colors. What was even more exciting was that there truly was no muffling, no dampening, no bass overload and no muted vocals.

I highly, highly recommend Earlove Hi-Fi Earplugs to anyone looking to protect their hearing without compromising sound quality. My only complaint is that although I ordered 3 pairs with 2 cords, only 1 cord was sent. It turns out that I don’t really need the cord anyhow, as they fit perfectly snugly in my ear and come with their own carrying case, but it’s always frustrating to pay for something (even if it’s only $1) that you don’t receive.


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 May 5, 2010

I’ve been really looking forward to this week for quite a while. 5 years, to be exact. It was way back in 2005 that Broken Social Scene last graced my ears with a new album (that self-titled album, coincidentally, still stands as my favorite of this decade). Anyhow, yesterday I picked up the new Broken Social Scene album “Forgiveness Rock Record” as well as “Together” from The New Pornographers, “Heaven Is Whenever” from The Hold Steady and “A Balloon Called Moaning” from The Joy Formidable.

Forgiveness Rock Record is easily the best album of the year. I’ll write a more formal review of it at some point in the near future. But until then, just go buy it. Seriously. Right now.

I’ve never been much of a fan of The New Pornographers, but I really got into A.C. Newman’s solo album “Get Guilty” from 2009, so I figured I’d give them a try, and I have to say that I love this album. Maybe Neko Case, who recently moved to VT, can convince the band to come to Burlington for a show?

The Hold Steady album is a significant improvement from their last effort (which was almost enough to make me give up on them altogether), and definitely a departure from their signature sound without completely redefining who they are. The Joy Formidable album is also definitely worth picking up.

p.s. JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound tonight at Monkey House in Winooski – don’t miss it!

Broken Social Scene Forgiveness Rock Record The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever The Joy Formidable - A Balloon Called Moaning The New Pornographer - Together


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.

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.

JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Monday April 5, 2010

Admittedly, I had not heard of these guys until today, but I’ve just spent the last 30 minutes checking them out on YouTube after getting an email about them, and I’m psyched they are coming to Burlington! JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound will be playing at the Monkey House on Wednesday, May 5. I’m hoping to get an interview with them to post here, and will definitely be at the show. More to come, but for now, here they are performing a cover of Wilco’s “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.”

p.s. While it is true that I don’t like Wilco — in fact, I harbor a strange animosity towards them after a miserable concert experience — I apparently like their music when it is performed by quality soul artists.

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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.