30 April 2010

Spanning The Globe . . .

. . . to bring you the constant variety of music, TNOP brings you the latest news.

We've been an occasional user of the music service Lala over the years as a convenient service to stream albums new and old. Apple bought out Lala last year for $89 million. Now, Apple will shut down Lala on 31 May. Go figure. Pop & Hiss discusses.

Veteran rock crit David Fricke makes the case for reissue of The Jimi Hendrix Experience's Axis: Bold As Love. Better than Are You Experienced? and Electric Ladyland. Um, well . . .

Rick Mason of the City Pages interviews legendary keyboardist Al Kooper about his extraordinary career. And according to Kooper, The Mighty Max Weinberg won't be joining Conan O'Brien on TBS.

Greil Marcus' new book is When That Rough God Goes Riding: Listening to Van Morrison. He talks about that and much, much more in a frank, fascinating, extended talk with PopMatters.

Yeasayer brought their tour to Metro in Chicago the other night. Greg Kot was there.

The anticipation is high for the 14 May release from The National, High Violet. Nicholas Dawidoff writes an in depth profile of the band and the painstaking process of the making of the record for the New York Times Magazine.

Colin Meloy of The Decemberists tried out a couple of new tunes at PDX Pop Now! in Portland. Stereogum has the video.

It appears Neil Young is holed up in the studio with uber-producer Daniel Lanois making a new album. At least according to David Crosby. We believe him. But if this was twenty years ago . . .

The Belfast Telegraph reports Paul Hewson met with President Obama at the White House Friday to discuss development in Africa.

Josh Ritter's busy. A new album, a novel and an extensive tour of Ireland. The Irish Times fills us in.

Patron Saint vs. Poet Laureate? TNOP has no comment. But this column by Tony Norman in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is well-researched and very thoughtful about the recent comments attributed to Joni Mitchell about Bob Dylan.

Nialler9 gets Jim Carroll to sit down and write about his Top 5 Irish Acts right now. We dig Villagers too. And Celtic Ray suggests you check out The Cast of Cheers and download their album Chariot for free.

The Queen of Soul abruptly cancelled her scheduled appearance for Friday night at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. While that seems to be the way of the world (Aretha stood the festival up last year as well), the mighty, mighty Earth, Wind & Fire was nearby and stepped in to pinch hit. gives them some deserved love. And so does TNOP, as we bid you adieu from the news desk good ladies and gentlemen . . .

MGMT To Webcast Concert On

In coordination with their appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman set for Tuesday, 11 May, MGMT will webcast a full concert from New York's Ed Sullivan Theater on starting at 8.00pm EDT/5.00pm PDT. In an e-mail to its fans yesterday, the band indicates that the concert "will be a full set spanning both albums."

You can get a sneak preview of MGMT's live prowess by viewing performances of "Flash Delirium" and "Brian Eno" from an SNL appearance earlier this month. And the group's adventuresome sophomore album, Congratulations, can still be streamed for free at MGMT's website.

28 April 2010

Your Weekly Dylan Cover (#2)

Sufjan Stevens
"Ring Them Bells"
Original Dylan version found on Oh Mercy (1989)

[Ed. note: Regular readers of this blog know that Bob Dylan is affectionately referred to as the "Patron Saint" of TNOP. This weekly feature sifts through the thousands of cover versions of Dylan songs and provides you with our favorites, as well as a quick memory of our first exposure to the Dylan original.]

Sufjan Stevens is a native Michigander who has been a prolific singer-songwriter over the past ten years. A multi-instrumentalist, Stevens' unique voice on the music scene has drawn both heavy critical praise as well as a few accusations of pretentious navel gazing.

Regardless of personal opinion, there is to be no argument that Stevens makes selected songs of other artists he admires (Joni Mitchell, Daniel Johnston and Lennon/McCartney, for example) his "own," rearranging melody and sometimes adding new verses. This Dylan cover is no less different.

When one considers the whole of Stevens' career to date, his selection of Dylan's "Ring Them Bells" for inclusion in the I'm Not There soundtrack makes perfect sense. The themes of faith and justice weave themselves through Stevens' albums, but in a subtle way. As he told The Village Voice in 2005, "I don't think music media is the real forum for theological discussions. I think I've said things and sung about things that probably weren't appropriate for this kind of forum. And I just feel like it's not my work or my place to be making claims and statements, because I often think it's misunderstood."

Like many a Dylan fan(atic) back in 1989, the pending release of a new album from my favorite artist was a reason for cautious excitement. While Down In The Groove and Knocked Out Loaded were bitter disappointments, and the much-ballyhooed tours with Tom Petty and The Grateful Dead mostly hype, word was leaking out that a "return to form" was surely on the horizon. First, the previous fall George Harrison - who had recently worked with his long-time pal in The Travelling Wilburys - had enthused to a reporter about a cache of songs Dylan supposedly was holding close to the vest. Within a few months, the same story had surfaced, this time linking U2's Bono to the chorus of encouragement.

But Dylan supposedly was down about the method in which his more recent albums had been recorded. Enter Daniel Lanois, the then 38 year old Canadian musician and producer who was surely on a hot streak. In succession, he had been at the helm of Peter Gabriel's So, U2's The Joshua Tree, Robbie Robertson's self-titled solo effort and was about to enter the studio to record another album which would be lauded, Yellow Moon by The Neville Brothers. Given Lanois' involvement with Bono and Robertson, it was easy for Dylanophiles to connect the dots.

Dylan talks at length about the recording process and the great vibe of New Orleans, where Oh Mercy would be recorded, in his book Chronicles, Volume One. It makes for great reading.

Personally, I was excited about the album as a whole when it was released in September 1989, particularly the sequencing of the ten tracks. But "Ring Them Bells" stood out for its musical simplicity as well as lyrical complexity. Aside from the background sonic accents from (I think) Lanois' omnichord, it is just Dylan sitting at the piano alone, singing this compelling, plaintive narrative about age-old, wearying challenges that all walks of life confront and the accompanying faith that may in fact keep a "world on its side" from tipping completely over.

It is vintage Dylan with juxtaposition of "right and wrong" on one side of the scale and "the shepherd and his lost sheep" on the other. While all of his literary tricks seem to be in play here, I remain convinced that Dylan has not cavalierly named three saintly presences simply as a ruse. St. Peter (a disciple who publicly sinned three times and then would lead a movement dedicated to a nonviolent revolutionary), Martha (the wife of Lazarus and sister of Mary, who anointed Jesus' body) and St. Catherine (a highly learned woman who was brutally murdered for espousing and practicing her beliefs) are all symbols of humility and the virtue of the underdog.

But serious contemplation aside, the memory that sticks most permanently with me about "Ring Them Bells" is that this song could have been nestled quite comfortably within the tracks of New Morning (1970). While Oh Mercy seemed to mark a new, fruitful chapter in Dylan's career, I kept thinking of the photo on the back of that particular album. It seemed like in the best of all worlds, blues singer Victoria Spivey would be playing the gospel piano, harmonizing on the chorus while Dylan cut this song in one, live take.

Maybe he was thinking of her when he wrote it.

Original Listening: Bob Dylan, "Ring Them Bells"

Another Cover Version: Ron Sexsmith (with Elvis Costello & Sheryl Crow), "Ring Them Bells" (2009)

27 April 2010

Ultimate Singles Jukebox [Slot 116]

Twenty-Five Miles
b/w "Way Over There"
Edwin Starr
Written by Johnny Bristol, Henry Fuqua & Edwin Starr
Produced by Norman Whitfield (?)
Gordy/Motown Records
Released 1969

Rock critic Dave Marsh called Edwin Starr a "Motown minor leaguer." Did he mean this as a put-down or a simple statement of fact? After all, when Barry Gordy bought out the small Detroit label Ric Tic in the late 1960s, The Sound of Young America, though starting to wane, was still flush with a galaxy of stars: Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson Five, The Temptations and Diana Ross.

Born in Cleveland, Starr (real name Charles Hatcher) had made his musical bones with a couple of hits that flirted with the Top 20: "Agent Double-O Soul" (1965) and "Stop Her On Sight (S.O.S.)." After toiling away for a year at Motown with only a mediocre album and no hits to show for it, Starr cut "Twenty-Five Miles," a song that brought his powerhouse soul voice to national attention.

Ironically, Starr's vocal style was more akin to the Stax gut-bucket rhythm and blues than the sweet, clean sound that Gordy had made famous resulting in hit after hit (after hit). "Twenty-Five Miles" could have been under the influence of hot new Motown producer Norman Whitfield, who had recently given the The Temps a harder-edged pop to their records. More likely it was the writers' nod to Wilson Pickett's "32 Miles From Waycross (Mojo Mama)," recorded in 1967.

Either way, good move. Starr's strong baritone more than fits the bill, accompanied by the muscular drumming of the legendary Motown session man Benny Benjamin and a horn chart that is familiar to anyone who has heard a marching band at half-time of a football game.

The lyrics are just as much of a hook for the listener. We never find out what happens when Starr reaches his destination, but the energetic vocal definitely proves that getting there is half the fun.

"Twenty-Five Miles" made it all the way to #6 on the Hot 100 Pop Chart. Yet for some reason it seldom appears in the Motown canon of classics. Despite its stomping beat, the only notable group to cover the song regularly over the ensuing years was Charles Wright and The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. (Maybe we'll drop a line to Galactic or Kings Go Forth with the suggestion.)

Edwin Starr, of course, would follow Whitfield into the studio again a year later and be handed a song that was deemed too socially controversial for The Temptations to release as a single: "War." It went to #1.

After a few minor hits in the disco era of the 1980s, Edwin Starr moved permanently to England and became an icon of the Northern Soul movement. He died in 2003.

Jakob Dylan Concert Broadcast

The good folks at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee will be broadcasting the Jakob Dylan concert from The Pabst Theater live tomorrow night, Wednesday, 28 April, from 8.00pm CDT. The emphasis will no doubt be on the new record Women + Country, produced by T-Bone Burnett. The show could be a keeper given the added presence of Neko Case and Kelly Hogan.

The Night Owl will have to catch the rebroadcast as we have a prior commitment a few blocks away at the Daytrotter Barnstorming Tour (watch for The Live Vault review later on this week), but we welcome your comments whether you are catching Dylan The Younger at the venue or via the airwaves.

Here's Jakob's recent appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, performing "Nothing But The Whole Wide World." TNOP likes the fact that Dylan's apparently been digging into his John Prine collection lately . . .

25 April 2010

The (Young) Rascals Reunite (with UPDATE!)

In the words of one of their songs, "It's Wonderful."

One of the top purveyors of blue-eyed rock and soul, The Young Rascals rode a wave of Top 40 hits in the late 1960s all the way to induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But they hadn't appeared and played together in public for 40 (count 'em) years . . . until last night in New York. With the (persistent) assistance of fellow New Jersey native Little Steven Van Zandt and his wife Maureen, the quartet performed at a benefit for the Kristen Ann Carr Fund at Robert De Niro's Tribeca Grill.

"We first met around 1980 to discuss reuniting the band and have tried every five years or so," Stevie said. "Maureen suggested we give it one more shot and sure enough it took Kristen's amazing spirit to finally get it done."

"I speak on behalf of the band when I say all the money offers in the world could not entice the Rascals to reunite," said guitarist Gene Cornish, "but four phone calls from Stevie and without hesitation we enthusiastically and immediately agreed to both support this wonderful cause and honor Stevie and Maureen."

Here are Felix Cavaliere (organ, vocals), Eddie Brigati (vocals), Gene Cornish (guitar) and Dino Danelli (drums) from a March 1966 episode of The Ed Sullivan Show:

The set list from the show Saturday night below reads like a gold-plated jukebox. And if you want to listen to the complete show (including the guest shot by The Boss on "Good Lovin'," just click here.)

Setlist (tip of the hat to VintageVinyl):

I’ve Been Lonely Too Long
In The Midnight Hour
I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore
You Better Run
It’s A Beautiful Morning
Love Is A Beautiful Thing
A Girl Like You
How Can I Be Sure
Come On Up
What Is The Reason
People Got To Be Free
Good Lovin’ (with Bruce Springsteen)

23 April 2010

Gorillaz Rock The Colbert Nation

Various blogs are abuzz, understandably, today about last night's Gorillaz interview and live performance of "Stylo" last night on The Colbert Report. They noted Damon Albern and the featured appearance of Bobby Womack, and they lamented the absence of Mos Def and the subliminal images of Jamie Hewlett's (left to right above) Noodle, 2-D, Russel Hobbs, 2-D and Murdoc Nicalls.

But why no mention of these two blokes?

Yep, that's ex-Clash bassist Paul Simonon and guitarist Mick Jones. (The two played with Gorillaz last weekend at Coachella and are featured guests on the band's latest release, Plastic Beach.) Granted, last night both were sporting caps right off a Gilligan's Island set, but they sure do know how to help pace the rhythm.

21 April 2010

Your Weekly Dylan Cover (#1)

The Tallest Man On Earth
"I Want You"
Original Dylan version found on Blonde On Blonde (1966)

[Ed. note: Regular readers of this blog know that Bob Dylan is affectionately referred to as the "Patron Saint" of TNOP. This new weekly feature sifts through the thousands of cover versions of Dylan songs and provides you with our favorites, as well as a quick memory of our first exposure to the Dylan original.]

The Tallest Man On Earth is the stage name of 27 year old Swedish national Kristian Matsson, an up and coming folk singer definitely hatched from the (now) generations old Dylan tree. Manning only a banjo, his cover of "I Want You," culled from a fine Daytrotter session last year, puts a personal stamp on the tune.


There are three pop songs I first remember hearing as a child. Two regularly blasted from the jukebox affixed to the wall of the bar at my grandmother's restaurant: "Java" by New Orleans trumpet legend Al Hirt; and "Oh, Pretty Woman," the rock 'n roll classic from Roy Orbison. The third was a track I picked out of a promotional album shipped by Columbia Records to radio stations titled Our Best To You '66, a compilation of the label's pop roster of the time, including The Cyrkle, Simon and Garfunkel and Paul Revere & The Raiders. My father managed the local FM station at the time, but it was predominated (as most frequencies on that band at the time) by classical music. He'd bring home promo albums on occasion and invite me to listen to them on my portable record player down in the basement.

Maybe it was the wailing - but still somewhat understated - harmonica matched with the shuffling drum that caught this then eight year old lad right off the bat. Or the rambling organ complimenting the jaunty rhythm. But it was probably the voice that purposely emphasized the rhyme of the like-no-other pop verses (The silver saxophones! The Queen of Spades! The dancing child with the Chinese suit!) leading to an universal, plaintive chorus that made it so unique, so memorable.

All these years later, it's still thrilling to listen to "I Want You."

Original Listening: Bob Dylan, "I Want You" (album version)

20 April 2010

The Rolling Stones - "Plundered My Soul"

To coincide with Britain's Record Store Day this past Saturday, the Rolling Stones' famed hype machine has started to go into overdrive. With the deluxe version of the band's venerated Exile On Main St. set to be released on 18 May (complete with ten never released tracks and a DVD of the infamous Cocksucker Blues), we've been sneaked "Plundered My Soul," featuring a fiery Mick Jagger vocal and some tasty blues guitar from Mick Taylor. Apparently recorded during the 1972 Exile sessions, "Plundered" was passed over for inclusion on the double-LP, as well as a B-side or candidate on other albums. [We will pass on discussing how much overdubbing or rerecording may have been involved with the final result; both Jagger and producer Don Was have hinted there may have been some of both.]

19 April 2010

Music On TV This Week


TONIGHT, 19 April
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (NBC) - Phoenix
Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC) - Cypress Hill with Tom Morello
Last Call with Carson Daly (NBC) - Weezer

TUESDAY, 20 April
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno - Smashing Pumpkins
Jimmy Kimmel Live - Devo

The Late Show with David Letterman (CBS) - Jakob Dylan
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno - Natalie Merchant
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (CBS) - Corrine Bailey Rae
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (NBC) - Silversun Pickups
Last Call with Carson Daly - Lisa Hannigan
Tavis Smiley (PBS) - Shelby Lynne

THURSDAY, 22 April
The Late Show with David Letterman - Broken Social Scene
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno - Maxwell
Last Call with Carson Daly - David Gray
The Colbert Report (Comedy Central) - Gorillaz
Lopez Tonight (TBS) - Ozomatli

FRIDAY, 23 April
The Late Show with David Letterman - Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
Last Call with Carson Daly - Lily Allen

Join TNOP On Facebook

Our crack, cutting edge marketing staff has figured out a new-fangled social networking thingy. Have mercy on our (beyond) latent attempts to shamelessly plug the TNOP Blog by becoming one of our fans on Facebook. Just type in "The Night Owl Presents" and our page should appear. We think.

Consider it your good deed of the day. That is all.

Sly Stone At Coachella

The sad, drawn-out story of Sly Stone continues, once again in the public eye. You can read all about the latest "concert" disaster at the Coachella Festival if you want via AudioFile or Pop & Hiss. Or you can simply realize how prescient author Greil Marcus was all the way back in 1975, when he wrote about the the artist in the aftermath of the groundbreaking There's A Riot Goin' On in "Sly Stone: The Myth of Staggerlee" (an essay that was part of his fine collection titled Mystery Train):

Sly clearly could not push Riot much farther, not without releasing a whole album of silence; and not, perhaps, without losing the audience he had worked to win. Fresh, the album that did follow, in 1973, showed Sly clicking his heels for Richard Avedon's camera, and the songs did their best to keep up with the title and the cover. "There's a mickie in the tastin' of disaster," was the first line of Fresh --- Sly's instinctive phrase of Nietzche's belief that he who gazes into the abyss will find the abyss looking back; that he who looks too long at monsters may well become one.

TNOP prefers to dwell on the massive influence that Sylvester Stewart has had on rock, soul and jazz. Here he is with The Family Stone on The Dick Cavett Show at the height of his musical powers back in 1971. So, take your places . . .

15 April 2010

Joey Ramone, 19 May 1951 - 15 April 2001

[From 1984 interview]

The Local: It's great to see that you haven't lost hope of having that one big radio hit.

Joey Ramone: Well, I think we're the greatest rock 'n roll band in the world. I mean, it's very frustrating at times. We're the only band that kept the guts, and kept the excitement, and kept the belief, you know. We never side-tracked.

12 April 2010

News Roundup

Time for TNOP to check the teletype and let you know what's new in the world of music . . .

Controversial music impresario Malcolm McLaren passed away this past week at age 64, a victim of cancer. McLaren unleashed The Sex Pistols on the world and also managed The New York Dolls at one time. His son Joe Corre and film director Julien Temple look back for

The entire Lollapalooza lineup has been announced and Jim DeRogatis ranks the main acts for your consideration and discussion. Lolla 2010 takes place in Chicago's Grant Park on August 6, 7 & 8.

Congrats to the Drifting Cowboy. Hank Williams has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize. You read that right.

Coco returns! Conan O'Brien ends his time in the wilderness when he starts a new talk show on cable network TBS in November. It will originate from Los Angeles and get a half-hour jump start on Letterman and the other guy. We look forward to the musical guests as well.

MGMT's Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden talk with The Times of London on the eve of the release of their new CD.

Thom Yorke's new band, Atoms For Peace, is on the road for a limited tour. Here are a couple of reviews from the New York and Chicago shows.

Jakob Dylan's new long-player, Women and Country, is garnering plenty of positive buzz. Produced by T-Bone Burnett, the album features Neko Case and Kelly Hogan. Edna Gunderson of USA Today reports.

It's always a treat to hear Josh Ritter live. He delivers a fine Daytrotter session posted for the first time today.

Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings are back with a great new LP. In anticipation of their appearance at the Apollo Theater at the end of the month, The Village Voice gives us an update on the group's timeless sound.

This Saturday, 17 April, is World Record Store Day, so support your local shop. Some of the special 7" singles to be released in 1,000 independent stores in 18 countries include the first release in seven years from Blur, asItalic well as music from Bat For Lashes, Hot Chip, Lilly Allen and The Beatles.

Yeah, boooooooy-eeeeeeee! On the 20th anniversary of its release, David Stubbs of The Quietus remembers Public Enemy's seminal Fear of A Black Planet.

Good news for John Prine fans (count us strongly among them): a new live album arrives in May. Plus, an all-star cast is being compiled for a tribute album. Crawdaddy! reports that My Morning Jacket, Conor Oberst, Justin Vernon, The Avett Brothers and Josh Ritter will be among the contributors.

A couple of weeks ago, we reported on the latest Beck "Record Club" project: INXS' Kick. make sure you check out the next two songs in the collection recorded by Mr. Hansen, St. Vincent and Os Mutantes: "Devil Inside" and the turned on its head "New Sensation" (with Annie Clark and Liars' Chris Stevens sharing lead vocals). [Both links via Twenty-Four Bit]

Don't forget to take the time to check out Wilco's "Country Disappeared" from Montreal, taped especially for La Blogotheque.

Well, we here at The Night Owl Presents have to admit that the more we listen to Titus Andronicus' second album, The Monitor, the more we're digging it. Never thought that a hybrid of Springsteen and punk would be a sentence we'd write. Take a sample listen from the band's 25 minute session recently at Minneapolis' The Current.

More good news. Sunderland U.K.'s finest band, The Futureheads, release their fourth effort, The Chaos, on 1 June. Brooklyn Vegan has all the info: tour dates, a new song download and album track listing.

Whew. That's it from TNOP World HQ. But we still have time for a dance . . .

11 April 2010

This Date In Rock History: 11 April

On this date in 1961, the Patron Saint of TNOP made his New York City debut at Gerde's Folk City in Greenwich Village. In six months, Bob Dylan would come to the attention of the general public when Robert Shelton would review a show of Dylan's at the same venue for the New York Times. The former Robert Zimmerman would perform tunes written by Woody Guthrie, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Leadbelly, then later start to work in some of his own efforts, including "Song For Woody" and "Talkin' New York."

09 April 2010

Rock 'n Film: Two Premieres

Who Do You Love
Directed by Jerry Zaks
Starring Alessandro Nivola, Jon Abrahams, Chi McBride, Keb' Mo, Robert Randolph
International Film Circuit, 2008

Opening nationwide in the U.S. on 9 April, this fictionalized account of Chicago record executive Leonard Chess and his brother Phil was delayed in release because of its similarity to 2008's Cadillac Records. Chess Records, of course, first brought the world now famous rhythm and blues artists Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Bo Diddley.

When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors
Directed by Tom DiCillo
Narrated by Johnny Depp
Abramorama, 2009

Indie film director Tom DiCillo takes on Jim Morrison and his mates in a documentary which made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival last year. The movie opens in New York City and Los Angeles this weekend, and you can click here to find other venues at which to view the doc.

08 April 2010

The Live Vault: Passion Pit

3 April 2010
Riverside Theater, Milwaukee
[On occasion, our far flung correspondents attend and review shows. Here's another installment.]

In 2007, LCD Soundsystem started the latest electronica wave in rock with Sound of Silver. The following year, MGMT's CD Oracular Spectacular was released to critical acclaim.

Then it was Passion Pit's turn to push the genre. The Boston outfit made numerous "best of" 2009 lists with Manners.

Enough of a buzz about the band has been created that their appearance in Milwaukee on Saturday night was moved to a larger venue, the Riverside Theater, and was broadcast live on local FM radio. And aside from a few hiccups, Passion Pit delivered a strong and emotional performance for the packed crowd, which stood from the set's opener "I've Got Your Number" until the obligatory closer, the underground hit "Sleepyhead."

The quintet consistently delivered danceable melodies and anthemic choruses, almost all drawn from Manners. Michael Angelakos is certainly an unlikely front man; but his childlike falsetto vocals and dance (?) moves reminiscent of Michael Stipe and fellow Bostonian Peter Wolf came across as genuinely sincere to this reviewer. The other four band members, surrounded by booming rhythm and synths, could fit into the cast of The Big Bang Theory. The sound filled the hall and created a sea of standing dancers from row one to the back of the highest balcony, literally making the building shake and sway with happiness.

Sure, some things didn't work, like the rote cover of The Cranberries' "Dreams." While it fit the scheme of singalong chorus, it was nothing special. And the mix was muddy at times, with the drums and bass getting lost among the sea of synthesizers.

It seems clear to this observer that Passion Pit is a logical descendant of New Order, Heaven 17 and The Human League. And while that time span may make it hard to fit in with the demographic the Bostonians cater to, it took no imagination to observe the pure joy that the band brought to the crowd during its exciting version of "Little Secrets."

So go ahead and dance. Yeah, it's 24 Hour Party People, alright. But for the 21st century.

I've Got Your Number
Make Light
Better Things
The Reeling
Moth's Wings
Swimming In The Flood
To Kingdom Come
Let Your Love Grow Tall
Folds In Your Hands
Smile Upon Me
Little Secrets
Eyes As Candles

01 April 2010

Ascending: Free Energy

[Ed. note: Here's the latest entry from our UK correspondent, Mr. Miles Gallagher.]

Every now and then, it happens: a band reaches out and grabs you. In my recent case it is an American band - a Philadelphia quintet via Minneapolis - called Free Energy, of all things. Bass, drums, guitar, no synth. And a producer of their upcoming debut album not known for his love of guitar, James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem).

I've been lazering the bits of their tracks the last few days. Following is a primer:

Start with the cut "Dream City" from (surprise) NME's site (scroll down past MGMT).

Next, catch Free Energy in a studio session courtesy of Minneapolis' The Current.

And a final listen on Fader: try "Something In Common." Simple, straightforward, and optimistically in tune with the season.

Bonus encores:

And here's raw home video of the boys rocking it out at the CMJ Festival back in October 2009:

Free Energy at CMJ from NOW Magazine on Vimeo.

2 April Update: Free Energy plays upcoming concert dates in Buffalo, Detroit, Madison (WI), Cambridge (MA) and Brooklyn.

Marvin Gaye, 2 April 1939 - 1 April 1984

"I hope to refine music, study it, try to find some area that I can unlock. I don't quite know how to explain it but it's there. These can't be the only notes in the world, there's got to be other notes some place, in some dimension, between the cracks on the piano keys."

Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr