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

Wrapup: Fiery Furnaces & Vacant Lots @ Higher Ground 6/23/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Friday June 25, 2010

When this show was first announced, I briefly pondered going, but I’ve never particularly cared for Fiery Furnaces sound. Call me simple, but whatever they are going for has generally been a bit too complex for my head. On the urging of a friend (who ended up not showing…weak), I decided to give it a shot. I’d tried to catch The Vacant Lots last week at Metronome, but their website said doors at 9 and when I showed up at 9:30 they still weren’t open, so I took the old man route and left in favor of bed.

Needless to say I loved The Vacant Lots. Rachel had forgotten her new earplugs at home, and not being a fan of psych-rock to begin with, she had a hard time with it. But I thought they were excellent, and definitely had the talent to bring to mind some of my favorite psych-blues-rock bands like The Black Angels, Wolfmother and even The Black Keys. I look forward to seeing this local drum and guitar duo again soon. They looped a video composition during the show, which at times was cool, at times was distracting, and by the end was just old. I dig the idea, but I think it could be taken one step further by making it as long as a set, with no looping. I remember who I believe was Sound Team doing something similar at a show in the back stage of The Black Cat 5 or 6 years ago.

Fiery Furnaces @ Higher Ground Showcase Lounge 6/23/2010

Fiery Furnaces quietly took the stage and the scattered crowd did a little shimmy forward 10 or 20 feet, which still left another 20 between the stage and the closest audience member. They did very little throughout the show to encourage any further movement. They literally didn’t speak to the crowd once. The only non-lyric I heard come out of Eleanor Friedberger’s mouth was after the first song, when she told her brother Matthew and the other two band members that they had messed up and ended the song too early. That led to an awkward sibling exchange, with her not wanting to repeat herself and him aggressively prompting “what did you say? what did you say?”

With Eleanor staring out from behind her bushy bangs, almost still besides a tapping foot, it was tough to form any real connection with the band or the music. There was barely a pause between any of the songs, one kind of bleeding into the next. I did think that a few of the individual songs were entertaining, and it gave me the chance to try out my new EarLove hi-fi earplugs (more on those at some point soon), but the performance itself was so lackluster that I had to leave early because I couldn’t stop yawning.

Fiery Furnaces put on a show much like I envision creating were I in a band with my sister. Not fun for me, not fun for you, and certainly not worth paying to watch. I think I’ll pass on their next trip through the area.

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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 Bear in Heaven

Filed Under: 7 Questions, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Wednesday June 23, 2010

Bear In Heaven - Beast Rest Forth MouthBear in Heaven will be performing at the Monkey House in Winooski this Friday night, June 25. I’m pissed that I have to miss it for a prior engagement, and I highly recommend you check it out if you’re in the area. These Brooklyn rockers are said to put on one hell of a show.

Bear in Heaven frontman Jon Philpot was kind enough to answer seven questions for me, posted below for your reading enjoyment. Also, if you’re ever bored, check out some of the videos Bear in Heaven have posted on their blog. I’m not normally one to watch random web videos, but I found these to be really entertaining.

BB: Besides the bands you’ve been touring with, what have you been listening to lately?

JP: Gene Clark – White Light, Sibylle Baier – Clour Green, Vangelis – Earth

BB: There’s a lot of social networking “ghost writing” going on for bands these days, but it seems like you guys are actually using Facebook and Twitter yourselves to connect with your fans. Does that connection further your experience as a band, or are you doing it purely for our sake?

JP: It’d be weird for someone else to do our writing… they wouldn’t know what we’re doing/feeling. Only we do. Plus, it’s pretty fun to say something and have a bunch of people read it. Jokes! Good and bad.

BB: The energy created at a show is a two way street, with the band and the audience feeding off each other. Do you ever find it difficult to come up with the necessary intensity night after night?

JP: Our energy level doesn’t pose too many problems. There have been a few shows where we had intense amounts of travel before a show. But, really, if we can’t be semi-alert for 50-60 mins of a show then we have a problem… It’s totally true that we feed off the audience. But, we’re somewhere in between a party band and a space out band. I don’t fault people for not freaking out and just staring at us. Tho, I do enjoy when people lose there minds and go for it.

BB: Do you ever wish you could be in the audience at a Bear in Heaven show?

JP: No, I’d be too critical.

BB: Receiving Pitchfork’s “Best New Music” for Beast Rest Forth Mouth is a pretty big deal. Has that created any pressure on you, or was it all pretty much profit?

JP: It opened doors for us. There is additional pressure, but it’s pressure to be better. That’s not a bad thing.

BB: Is there any one show that stands out as the best from the past few months of touring?

JP: We had a great time in St Paul. Played the Turf Club when we were touring with Cymbals Eat Guitars and Freelance Whales. There wasn’t a ton of people there… but damn… the people that were there were incredible! Now the competition is on when we go back on tour this summer. Who’s gonna win? St Paul? Pitchfork Festival? Fargo?!

BB: How many of you are currently sporting the straight ‘stache? Any plans to go full ‘stache as a band?

JP: So far just two of us. No plans just yet. If we planned it, it would suck out all the stachexcitement.

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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.

Of Montreal to play in Burlington – while I’m in Montreal, where they are not from

Filed Under: Live Shows, Standout Albums
Written by Brendan
Friday June 11, 2010

What a cruel twist of fate. I just learned – via Angioplasty Media – that Of Montreal will be playing the Higher Ground on Saturday, July 31. That, as you may be aware, is the first day of Osheaga. I guess there is a small comfort in knowing that I’ll be immersed in an Arcade Fire show at the same time, but seriously, Higher Ground booking folks, I’d appreciate it if you’d cater to my personal calendar a little better ;-)

For those of you unfamiliar with an Of Montreal show – I’ve been lucky enough to catch a couple in the past two years, and they are quite a treat. Kevin Barnes, the lead singer, was gradually de-robed until he ended up in essentially a golden codpiece, wherein he was hand-painted by some sort of demons until he was completely red-as-the-devil. And that was about 1/100th of the insanity.

This video, of their song “Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse” from 2007′s Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? (my favorite album of theirs) should give you a better glimpse into the parallel dimension that you might get to be a part of:

p.s. tickets here.

Late Update (6/14/2010): Because one kick in the pants isn’t enough, Osheaga just announced that Of Montreal will be playing at Metropolis on Friday, July 30, while I’ll still be in Burlington. Argh!


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 (& last) week’s new music

Filed Under: New Releases
Written by Brendan
Thursday June 10, 2010

I’ve been wishing I had some more time to write here. It’s been incredibly fun so far, and really allowed me another outlet for my musical addiction. Alas, I do not make any money doing it. In fact, I definitely lose money — between tickets, t-shirts, albums and trips to Montreal, I’ve been spending what one might consider a ridiculous amount of money. So the job takes precedent when things get busy, and I’m stuck posting two weeks worth of music purchases instead of something more interesting to me. Soon enough…

Last week, I picked up Summer House from Gold Motel (a recommendation from Aaron, who was kind enough to post here last week), Treats from Sleigh Bells, and Doug Keith’s The Lucky Ones. I continue to distrust people with two first names, but if you’re into singer/songwriters (aka man-and-his-guitar), his album is worth a listen.

The Gold Motel album is a tasty pop treat – catchy and crisp and calling for a drive to the beach. Lead singer Greta Morgan has an impressive vocal range, and goes from sweet to syrupy with ease. As for Treats, the Sleigh Bells release, I’m actually quite speechless. It’s sincerely a natural amphetamine, and deserves a good week’s worth of heavy rotation before I can fully wrap my head around it. If you’re in the mood for something to share the room with and need a pick-me-up, get it. Might want to warn your neighbors before putting it on though, as it’s best experienced LOUD.

This week, I bought Champ from Tokyo Police Club and Before Today from Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. Champ is an an interesting take on Tokyo Police Club’s unique sound. It’s definitely a bit more refined, but I do find myself missing the edge of songs like Citizens of Tomorrow from their 2006 EP A Lesson in Crime. I suppose bands have the right to grow up too, though, and I plan on spending some more time with Champ summer.

Gold Motel - Summer House Sleigh Bells - Treats Doug Keith - The Lucky Ones Tokyo Police Club - Champ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today

p.s. I’m skipping tonight’s Sharon Jones show on the waterfront in Burlington. Seems sacrilegious, but I’ve got a few excuses.

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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.

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals free show tonight

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Tuesday June 8, 2010

Just back from a brief vacation and trying to catch up on a pile of work…but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention tonight’s free show by Grace Potter & The Nocturnals at the top of Church St. at 5:30 p.m.

I made the last minute decision this past New Years’ Eve to go to the Grace Potter show, and their ode to Top Gun (not pictured because I recently upgraded my HTC Hero to Android 2.1 and as a result wiped out all my data…d’oh) definitely won me over.

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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.

Cars love indie rock (and you should too)

Filed Under: Random Thought
Written by Brendan
Tuesday May 25, 2010

One of the reasons I started this site is to hopefully introduce some folks in the Burlington area to good music that doesn’t come from a jam band, in the hopes of boosting show attendance and encouraging more bands to come through here. I have nothing against jam bands, btw, I just think that people can become blinded by the aura surrounding them, and not realize there is a ton of other good music out there.

It occurred to me last night that car companies might be trying to do the same thing, even if they don’t know it. It seems to be a rapidly increasing trend to use indie rock songs in car commercials, dating back a couple of years to Ford’s use of a Band of Horses track.

Below, I’ve compiled a few of the more notable uses of quality indie rock in car commercials. Find yourself humming these songs? Me too. Maybe you like indie rock after all?

Band of Horses – Funeral (Ford Edge 2008)

Phoenix – 1901 (Cadillac SRX 2009)

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Janglin’ (Ford Fiesta 2011)

Airborne Toxic Event – Wishing Well (Buick Lacrosse 2010)

Band of Skulls – Light of the Morning (Ford Mustang 2011)

Can you think of any others that I’m missing? Leave ‘em in the comments and I’ll add them to the post. And as a side note, I completely support artists selling their tunes to “the man” – it makes the bands money, which means they can make more music, and opens up a completely new audience, meaning more people will (hopefully) buy the music that they are making.

***

Late Update: Another example just got sent to me:

Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks (Volkswagen)


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.

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.