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

Good new music

Filed Under: New Releases, Standout Albums
Written by Brendan
Monday October 4, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about new albums. So long, in fact, that to list everything I’ve purchased since the previous post (July 22) would make this less a blog post and more a short story. So maybe just some highlights then…

First and foremost, if you haven’t yet picked up The Suburbs from Arcade Fire (side note – weren’t they once The Arcade Fire?), then stop reading now, click this link, buy the album, and enjoy. It’s only $5 on Amazon right now.

I recently picked up a few albums released earlier in the year upon recommendations from friends, and I highly recommend all of them. This list includes Teen Dream by Beach House, Broken Bells’ self-titled album, and Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More. All three albums are fairly mellow and pretty widely accessible.

Pick A Dream from Tumi & The Volume is definitely my favorite new release that I’d never heard of. A friend recommended it a few weeks back, and it’s been on pretty heavy rotation ever since. It’s like k-os with a little less rap, or some sort of Black Eyed Peas collaboration with an R&B artist. If you like hip-hop, check this album out.

Speaking of hip-hop, if you haven’t heard of Das Racist, it’s time to check them out. Dan Bolles first brought these guys to my attention, and while I admit that my first reaction was to laugh them off, I’ve come to understand their shtick and I have to say that am really impressed with their newest mixtape, Sit Down Man. The clever wordplay, dripping irony and ridiculous concepts they’ve crafted are definitely worth listening to – just be sure to give the whole thing a listen before passing judgment. Did I mention that it’s free?

Also available for free is the debut album from Burlington’s own Villanelles. While farm’s recent release Sat., Cloudy, Calm, 36º F, 10:44 p.m. is my favorite from VT this year, the Villanelles have earned themselves a close second. Give them a listen.

Of Montreal and Ra Ra Riot round out the recommendations with solid performances on False Priest and The Orchard, respectively. If you like the previous work by either, I recommend the new albums. If you’re new to Of Montreal, start with an earlier album before getting into this one. And if you haven’t heard Ra Ra Riot, I highly recommend both of their albums for the standout strings (cello and violin), frequent falsetto and general pop-rock goodness.

Broken Bells - Broken Bells Tumi And The Volume - Pick A Dream Ra Ra Riot - The Orchard Of Montreal-  False Priest Mumford & Sons  -Sigh No More farm

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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.

Osheaga Preview: Ra Ra Riot

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Monday July 26, 2010
Ra Ra Riot

Photo: Doron Gild

Ra Ra Riot is due out with a new album, The Orchard, on August 24. If their 3-song EP Boy is any indication, then I am certain that Ra Ra Riot has most definitely NOT fallen into the sophomore slump. I caught Ra Ra Riot at the Higher Ground in December of 2008, and was incredibly impressed with their live sound. Though I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how terrible one of their opening acts that night sounded (So Many Dynamos). I have friends who still remember the Ra Ra Riot show as being one of the worst they’ve ever been to, until I remind them that Ra Ra Riot was actually amazing…

It’s quite hard to grasp how powerful the cello and violin are in Ra Ra Riot’s music until you’ve seen the lovely ladies of the band play the strings live. Not to mention I’m pretty sure you’ve never seen instruments as cool looking as some of theirs (electric violin in particular). And vocalist Wesley Miles’ voice, which I feared might be too meek to stand out at a live show, was powerful, robust and crisp.

Anyhow, Ra Ra Riot is one of my most anticipated shows at Osheaga, and as a preview I wanted you to hear “Boy” – the first single from their upcoming album. You can download it at their site here. Though I love this song, I love “Keep It Quiet” even more. It’s not much of a festival song though, so I’m not sure I’ll get to hear it this weekend.

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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.

More artists added to Osheaga lineup

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Wednesday May 26, 2010

Well, two months after picking up tickets to this summer’s Osheaga Music & Arts Festival in a dizzied state of excitement, the good news just keeps on coming. Osheaga just announced another dozen or so artists, including Ra Ra Riot and Still Life Still.

I think actually we’re now getting into the situation where there might be too many bands that I want to see, such that I’ll end up having to miss some sets. I guess in the grand scheme of things, that’s a pretty good problem to have.

So far, my ideal schedule would include the following artists:

Arcade Fire
Stars
Metric
Ra Ra Riot
Still Life Still
The National
The Black Keys
Beach House
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Blitzen Trapper
The Morning Benders
Horse Feathers


and if it works out, I’d also be interested in checking out:
Devo
Pavement
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Seu Jorge (of Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou fame)
Sonic Youth
Cage the Elephant
Japandroids
Galactic

p.s. Osheaga folks, if you’re reading this, I’ve applied for a media pass (hint, hint…)

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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.