Tuesday, June 17, 2008

...and we're back! (Plus a new site, giveaway and more!)

Wow, it's been a terribly long time since we've posted here. Don't worry, we're still ready to blog our little hearts out, we've just had a few exciting developments that kept us from here the last week or so. Here's some tracks to celebrate our return:

[mp3] The Beatles - Get Back
[mp3] Steel Train - I Want You Back (Jackson 5 Cover)

As you may have previously noticed, we registered a .com address a few months ago to store all of our music at. Since then, we've spent some time trying to figure exactly what types of content we'd like to feature at Sell the Lie.

After a few failed attempts, some crashes and a few re-designs we're ready to launch our brand-spankin' new site. Here's the address, it should be pretty easy to remember:


All of our previous posts are already there. We expect that there may be a few glitches when we moved everything, so if anything looks out of the ordinary please give us a buzz.

I'm happy to say that we've added a few new features to the page. We now have a calender of events that includes the CD releases we're looking forward to and some shows we'll be attending. If you're in the Salt Lake City area (as we are) you'll find these shows listed with all the relevant information (times, places, prices etc.). I believe we've also made it quite a bit easier to find different types of content using the tabs. Let us know what you think of it!

Now, to the part you're all reading for - FREE STUFF! The fine folks over at Brushfire Records have sent us a few vinyl samplers to give away as a celebration of our move to our own .com. For those of you kickin' it new school the records also include a link for a free digital download of all 8 songs.

Here's the track listing:

1- Neil Halstead - Paint a Face
2- Mason Jennings - Something About Your Love
3- Jack Johnson - What You Thought You Need
4- Matt Costa - Never Looking Back
5- Money Mark - Summer Blue
6- G. Love & Special Sauce - Crumble
7- Zach Gill - Beautiful Reason
8- Rogue Wave - Christians In Black

Now, to answer the inevitable question - how do I get my hands on one of these beauties??

It's simple. Head to the new webpage and post a comment on the giveaway post (it'll be stickied right at the top). All your comment needs to do is convince us why you deserve to win. Be sure to include your email address in the appropriate field so we can contact you if you win. The contest will end on 27th of June (next Friday) and we'll have multiple winners!

See you on the other side...

[mp3] Collective Soul - What I Can Give You

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Review: Mason Jennings - In the Ever

There's something about the combination of Mason's stripped down, acoustic-driven music, soulful lyrics and vocal delivery that has attracted me to his music since my first listen. He hooked me hard enough with Sorry Signs on Cash Machines that I ended up buying up his entire back catalog in a about a weeks time back when I really had no business buying more than a CD or two a month.

Each album saw Mason grow and experiment a bit more without ever losing touch of what he truly is - a singer songwriter with a knack for telling stories anyone can relate with. Boneclouds felt like the attempt to bring Mason to the masses, but for one reason or another it fell short. To this day it's probably my favorite album in Mason's catalog but it seems it wasn't poppy, slick or accessible enough to bring him to the "next level".

Personally, I'm happy that Mason didn't quite make it. I wish Mason the best and all, but I'm not sure I could stand to have Mason worshiped like, say, Jack Johnson. I like Jack but it can get on my nerves when 15 year old cheerleaders are listening to JJ one second, then to Gwen Stefani the next. There's something quite wrong with that transition in my mind.

Now, to the review...

In the Ever is Mason's latest release and his first on Brushfire Records. With this album, his second that hasn't been self-released, we see Mason take a step back from what we heard on Boneclouds. Gone is the lush, full band sound that has slowly been building with each previous release. Instead we find Mason stripping it down to the basics for one of his rawest-sounding releases yet.

I'll admit, at first listen I was very disappointed with the album. I fell in love with Boneclouds because of the exquisite songwriting and that full band sound I'd been waiting for. I was expecting much of the same, especially after hearing Fighter Girl.

After a few listens I let go of my prior expectations and let myself listen to what the album was rather than what I wanted it to be. Once I took these steps I was quite pleased with what I heard. I found an album that is quite possibly Mason's most personal and features his strongest lyrical content to date.

A few tracks that really hit home come early with Something About Your Love and I Love You and Buddha Too. Mason has written some beautiful love songs over the past few years and Something About Your Love goes right up there with songs like Ballad for My One True Love and Be Here Now. I Love You and Buddha Too explores religious tolerance in a light hearted way that just may be the best way to get the point across.

We also have the patented sing-alongs that Mason writes best with Fighter Girl and Soldier Boy. I saw Mason live before I ever really heard his recorded material so these are still the songs that scream "MASON!!" to me. Soldier Boy is the only spot we hear an electric guitar on the album and Fighter Girl has the "yeah, yeah yeahs" that will stick in your head all night long.

Only one track feels "weak" to me and it comes at track 5. Your New Man is a funny story but I'm not sure that it reaches the level of the rest of the album. It feels more like something Mason wrote and threw away back when he was releasing his self-titled album but decided to throw in here for one reason or another. It feels a little out of place compared to the rest of the album.

If I'm describing In the Ever with one word I suppose I'd have to pick "personal". The album is quiet, extremely acoustic-driven and way more lo-fi than anything we've heard from Mason in a good while. If you're expecting a sequel to Boneclouds then you should look elsewhere. However, if you're looking for an album that you can sit down and truly explore then look no further. I'd recommend picking this up if you're into the singer-songwriter scene or if you have any of Mason's previous work. The only caveat - be sure to give it more than one listen through, you'll find this is a grower.

[mp3] Fighter Girl
[mp3] Soldier Boy

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

Visit Mason online: Official | Myspace
Buy his music: Amazon | iTunes

Monday, June 2, 2008

Review: Old 97's - Blame It On Gravity

I may not admit this often, but I grew up on country music. Garth Brooks rang through my pa's car stereo through my early life and I sang along with "Rodeo" so much that the damn song is still emblazoned in my skull. I could probably sing it right now. In fact, I know I could sing it right now.

What does Garth Brooks have to do with anything? Well, I suppose those early years of listening to twang combined with my later years listening to grunge pretty well explains my positive disposition towards the alternative-country genre. After all, alternative country at it's best should be taking the positive aspects of country music and combining it with the drive of rock 'n roll. Basically, you need to take the drawl out of the country vocals and dirty up your distortion pedals a bit more. Oh, and no songs about dogs or trucks - those are a no-go. If you look at it this way, no band does it better than the Old 97's.

Blame it on Gravity is the sixth proper album from the Old 97's, the first since 2004's Drag It Up. We find the boys returning to their roots and turning it up to 11 for most of the album. This is quite welcome after Drag It Up, an album which I can describe no better than as a "downer".

The album kicks off in a rockin' enough style with The Fool and Dance With Me. Both of these tracks move and groove, you'll likely find yourself shakin' your hips when Dance With Me comes on if they aren't already gyrating. After that 1-2 punch we see the boys turn it down a bit with No Baby I and My Two Feet. No Baby I delivers the album's namesake in the chorus with the lovely line:

"You've got these tears/that fall like pearls/blame it on gravity/blame it on bein' a girl".

The rest of the album alternates pretty well with "rockers" and slow songs. We see the boys combining the country, rock and surf elements on Early Morning for what is quite possibly the best mix of the genres theyi've ever pulled off. The song itself is a microcosm of the album and genius segway from the first to the second half. The One finishes out the proper album. Rather than finishing on a somber, acoustic number as most bands do, the boys chose to give us one last up-tempo rocker to remember them by.

The aspect that has surprised me the most about this album is the songs sung by Murray. I have generally found myself skipping most "Murray songs" on other Old 97's records - not because they aren't "good" songs, but more because of my love for Rhett's voice. I never have found a reason to listen through most of Murray's songs when I know I can hear Rhett's voice on the next track. This is far from the case on Blame it on Gravity though. This Beautiful Thing and Color of a Lonely Heart is Blue are not only some of the best "Murray songs" on any Old 97's album, they are two of the best tracks on this album - far and away better than nearly any song by Rhett.

We've finally found what the Old 97's are all about on this album. Alive and Wired captured them at their best - live - but for one reason or another none of their albums have been able to capture that ferocity in a studio setting. You can feel the raw energy throughout but the songs still feel as polished and lush as anything from Fight Songs. The songwriting is sensational and each track is a true keeper. No fillers here, folks.

There's no more need for a mix tape if you're trying to describe what alt-country is to a newcomer. Blame it On Gravity not only defines the Old 97's, it very well describes the entire genre. It's that good.

[mp3] Early Morning
[mp3] Dance With Me

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

Visit the Old 97's online: Official | Myspace
Buy their music: Amazon | iTunes

NEW Gus Black

Gus Black recently released his latest album, Today Is Not the Day. It's quite a bit more folky than his previous releases but that shouldn't be a big surprise to anyone who's been paying attention to Gus - he's been going further down the folk path with each release.

I haven't listened through the full album yet, but a proper review will be up shortly. Here's a few songs to wet your appetite.

[mp3] Little Prince Town
[mp3] Blood & Belonging

Buy some Gus Black: Amazon | iTunes
Visit Gus: Official | Myspace

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Review: Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs

A new album from Death Cab?! Sweet! I loved Transatlanticism with my whole heart.

Narrow Stairs is a good album. It falls flat once or twice, and I must admit that I prefer the truncated radio version of the first single, "I Will Possess Your Heart." If that makes me less of a DCFC fan, then so be it! This new album features some great lyrics by one of my personal favorite songwriters.

It's a good addition to Death Cab's already stellar catalog, and you should pick it up.

[mp3] You Can Do Better Than Me

Buy some Death Cab For Cutie: Amazon | iTunes

Visit them online: Official | Myspace

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Around the Blogosphere!

I'm sure everyone out there had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend, right? Right??

It sucked it Utah. So much for that extended weekend - it rained me in. Picnic in the garage? Are you kidding me? Yup, I was there. Well, dammit - now it's sunny.

Anyways, I bring you 4 tracks that are hotter than liquid gold. Here's what the kids are talking about around the virtual water cooler:

Travis - J. Smith

Thanks to Heather for this one. I've never been much of a fan of Travis, especially since they hit it big with that Invisible Band record a few years ago. J. Smith sounds good to my ears though - a return to form. And by form, I mean rock. Travis was always better when they chose rocking over pouting.

[mp3] J. Smith

Buy some Travis: Amazon | iTunes
Visit them online: Official | Myspace

Sloan - I'm Not a Kid Anymore

This one comes via Stereogum. I know this one's a bit old but it just made it's way onto my playlist. Once this gets on your playlist I doubt it will get off anytime soon - it's a bit like the plague. Like it or not, you'll be humming this song after one listen. New album out on June 10th.

[mp3] I'm Not a Kid Anymore

Buy some Sloan: Amazon | iTunes
Visit them online: Official | Myspace

Ron Sexsmith - This Is How I Know

Another one from Heather and her fabulous blog. Love it.

Anyways, I first saw Ron when he opened for Coldplay back when they rocked. Not exactly what I was expecting from an opening act, but his folk-rock with pop sensibilities intrigued me and I've followed him to this day. He's got a new album coming out on July 8th, I'm sure it will be quite smashing.

[mp3] This is How I Know

Buy some Ron Sexsmith: Amazon | iTunes
Visit him online: Official | Myspace

The Hold Steady - Sequestered In Memphis

Thanks to iGIF for this one. I've never really gotten into The Hold Steady and I probably deserve a good slap in the face as a result. I figure that they know I haven't been listening, so this song serves it's purpose as a musical punch in the gut. Their new album is out on July 15th.

[mp3] Sequestered In Memphis

Buy some music from The Hold Steady: Amazon | iTunes
Visit them online: Official | Myspace

Six Pack of the Week - Soundtrack Songs

The soundtrack is quite possibly the most underrated part of a movie. Really though, what truly great movies have not had a similarly brilliant companion soundtrack? It's not just about picking the right music, it's about getting the right feeling to move the story along. Directors that can pair the sites with the sounds deliver a product that is truly moving. This week's six pack focuses on the often-overlooked soundtrack. Kraig goes first this week.

The Dropkick Murphys - I'm Shipping Up to Boston (The Departed)

Sure, that little intro sounds a little mushy and you certainly need a mushy song for a mushy movie. But what about if you've an ass-kicking movie? Well, then you need your self an ass-kicking song.

The Departed was a brilliant film, absolutely fantastic. The film deserved all the critical acclaim it received and more. Truth is, I probably wouldn't find myself re-watching it again and again if it wasn't for this monstrous tune by The Dropkick Murphys. It sets the tone early on for the entire movie. I can't stress how important that "tone" was, especially given the length of the movie. Is this song solely responsible for the success of the film? Hell no. Did it a play a part? Surely did.

[mp3] I'm Shipping Up to Boston

Get the soundtrack: Amazon | iTunes
Buy some Dropkick Murphys: Amazon | iTunes
Visit them online: Official | Myspace

Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova - Falling Slowly (Once)

Now we'll get back to that touchy-feely crap. Once was an ambitious film that was more of a soundtrack turning into a film rather than a set of songs setting up a film. When a film focuses so much on music it's absolutely critical that the music is able to stand up on it's own. The soundtrack for Once is certainly able to do so.

Falling Slowly is the standout track in my mind. The duet version is very sweet and subtle. I've also posted the full band version from Glen's band, The Frames. I prefer the full band version just because it has a little more depth - there's more drama, more of a build...but both are fantastic.

[mp3] Falling Slowly (Glen & Marketa)
[mp3] Falling Slowly (The Frames)

Get the soundtrack: Amazon | iTunes
Buy some Glen Hansard: Amazon | iTunes
Visit him online: Official | Myspace

Stereophonics - Maybe Tomorrow (Crash, Wicker Park)

Flexibility is the middle name I have just now given to Stereophonics' wonderful track, "Maybe Tomorrow." Not only does it serve as a great opening credits song (a la Wicker Park) but it also functions as an excellent closeout number (in Crash). How many songs could ever hope to accomplish that? That's right, not many, thus my new nickname: Maybe 'Flexibility' Tomorrow. Think of it like the middle name 'Danger,' it actually makes sense that way. Anyway, it's an all around great track, and if you've never heard it you're probably missing out on 3 great things (2 movies, 1 song). Start with the listening and finish up with the viewing, that's my advice.

[mp3] Maybe Tomorrow

Get the soundtrack: [Crash] Amazon | iTunes [Wicker Park] Amazon | iTunes
Buy some Stereophonics: Amazon | iTunes
Visit them online: Official | Myspace

Maroon 5 - Woman (Spiderman 2)

Not appearing in the film (at least not to my knowledge) but appearing on the soundtrack is this funky number from Maroon 5 entitled "Woman." And it is funky, don't let the appearance of the name "Maroon 5" sway your downloading judgment. Interesting sidenote: I wouldn't listen to Maroon 5 for a long time because I didn't think they were my "thing." I finally jumped on the bandwagon after hearing this number, and was pleasantly surprised with most of their stuff from Songs About Jane. I have since jumped off the bandwagon (as is the tendency with all bandwagons), but this remains my favorite Maroon 5 song.

[mp3] Woman

Get the soundtrack: Amazon | iTunes
Buy some Maroon 5: Amazon | iTunes
Visit them online: Official | Myspace

Pete Yorn - Undercover

Another song used on a Spider-man movie, this little ditty appeared on the soundtrack for the first one. The lyric in the chorus is "walk me to a car-park," a weird phrase Pete got from a woman he dated. She was from New Zealand, and refered to parking lots as car-parks. Okay story, great song.

[mp3] Undercover

Buy some Pete Yorn: Amazon | iTunes
Visit him online: Official | Myspace

Dog's Eye View - Umbrella

No, not that "Umbrella."
I have been a fan of Peter Stuart and Dog's Eye View for a long time, in no small part due to this song, and its presence in the silly teen comedy Can't Hardly Wait.

[mp3] Umbrella

The sites: Official | Myspace
The sounds: iTunes | Amazon

Friday, May 23, 2008

Beck - Chemtrails

Earlier this week Beck tossed us the first listen we'll have of his collaboration with Danger Mouse. It's streaming on his website and it's called Chemtrails.

I haven't paid a whole lot of attention to Beck since Sea Change. That album still strikes a chord with me, mainly because when I purchased it the cashier accused me of being Beck and purchasing my own album. Yup, I'm sure those rock stars often purchase their own albums - particularly the ones with their faces on it. It makes sense, right?

Back to the subject at hand - Chemtrails rocked my socks off. The drum track is so scorching hot that it melted my face into a puddle. Now I can't see. Damn. Hopefully the spelling and grammar errors aren't too abundant as a result.

The album will probably be out sometime soon, we'll let you know when there's an actual release date and title. My instincts tell me June 17th. Someone owes me a Klondike bar if I nailed it.

[mp3] Chemtrails

Buy some Beck: Amazon | iTunes
Visit Beck online: Official | Myspace

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Review: Can't Love, Can't Hurt

At some point along the way, someone must have decided that Augustana needed more piano. This probably was due, at least in part, to their successful single, "Boston," from All the Stars and Boulevards. Though "Boston" brought them some popular success, it was not the draw for me. I became a fan of their pop-rock sound from songs like "Bullets" and "Lonely People." Unfortunately, Can't Love, Can't Hurt, Augustana's latest release, is missing this sound. As I alluded to, the piano is a key (pun!) and prominent element on this record, much to the dismay (I imagine) of most Augustana fans.

"Hey Now" was an ominous start for me; it doesn't even halfway measure up to their demo of "Heart Shaped Gun (Hey Now)." I'm not huge into alt-country, but even I can tell "Heart Shaped Gun" is a vastly superior song (Kraig posted this demo some time ago, check it out). I can't emphasize enough that you should check out the "Heart Shaped Gun" demo, it may be better than anything you hear on the album. Song #2, "I Still Ain't Over You," is not the strongest lyrically (seriously Dan, "back and forth, and side to side/right ain't wrong if wrong ain't right," what were you thinking?), and sounds like a watered down track from All the Stars and Boulevards.

In the hole is the first single, "Sweet and Low," which, for lack of a better word, is tame. I liked it for the first few listens, but after a while the riff started to sound very monotonous and boring. "Twenty Years" sounds like a re-made "Boston" (or at least like a future-single that's going to be pushed as a 2nd "Boston"). It actually may be too slow in spots to be a pop single though (the listening public has a short attention span, this always must be taken into account). A couple filler tracks are stuffed right in the middle of the CD ("Meet You There" and "Fire"), with the latter being short, solo, and all piano. Perhaps I should be impressed with Dan Layus holding a note for a goodly amount of time, but it just didn't do it for me. I am a fan of the next song, "Either Way, I'll Break Your Heart Someday," for no reason in particular; it's some good alt-pop, I like it.

"Dust" has some of the most interesting elements and probably the most feeling to be heard on the album. It starts out sounding alt-country, but fades to rock as the song progresses. It's very good, I definitely recommend a listen. "Rest, Shame, Love" is downright mellow and almost doesn't fit with the rest of the album. The closeout number, "Where Love Went Wrong," is excellent. More piano (noticing a trend yet?), but this song is very well done; it may be my favorite song on the album.

[mp3] Either Way, I'll Break Your Heart Someday
[mp3] Dust
[mp3] Where Love Went Wrong

Overall, I just didn't hear the passion (or the rock) that I heard throughout All the Stars and Boulevards on this outing. It makes appearances in spots, but it just isn't sustained. I really wanted to like this album too. And the album does grow on you, but unfortunately not to the point that I think many are hoping for.

In Conclusion
-check out "Heart Shaped Gun"
-damn, why couldn't the album be 10 "Heart Shaped Guns"?
-loads of piano
-too much pop, not enough rock (or alt-country)

Visit them: Official | Myspace
Buy some: Amazon | iTunes

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mason Jennings - In The Ever out TOMORROW!

Well, I'm not sure how, but I totally spaced my post on Friday. I'll Blame it on Gravity. What this means is ya'll get a double post today. Hooray! Seconds for everyone!

This is more of a friendly reminder than a post, but I wanted to make sure to get this across:


It's fantastic.

Thank you.

[mp3] Fighter Girl

Here's the lead-off single from the new album...

[mp3] The Times, They are a Changin' (Bob Dylan Cover)

...and just for kicks. Who doesn't love a little Dylan?

Oh...and also, forgot to mention this. We'll be doing a splendid give-away featuring some Mason Jennings content in the very near future (i.e. this week). Stay tuned for more info.

Buy some Mason Jennings: Amazon | iTunes
Visit him online: Official | Myspace