Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Six Pack of the Week - City Central

So I'm sure everyone can think of some song by their favorite band that's about (or just named after) a city. Yeah, there sure are a lot of them. I like to think they're written for some reason other than to get a loud "Whooo" (or "woot" if you prefer) when they play them for said city, but I think I'm just lying to myself. It's sad really, lying to yourself. Anyway, this week's six pack is songs about cities. Stu's going first this time, let's see how long it takes me to screw this up:

Sufjan Stevens - Chicago

This song will one day go in my series of "listen-to-this-song-if-someone-recommends-this-artist's-music-to -you-and-doesn't-tell-you-what-to-listen-to." And I may have to consider a name change for said series. People always say to me, "hey, hot stuff, you should listen to such-and-such band/singer," but they never tell me what to listen to! This is usually somewhat infuriating. This was once again the case with Sufjan. Finally, after sifting through half a billion chirpy-bird songs, I found Chicago. I think it's a good Intro to Sufjan song.

I've been trying to think of the right descriptor word to explain his music, and I think I'm going to go with complex. He adds in a lot of different elements and it seems like you need to start by listening to some of his more "basic" songs before you can appreciate the rest of 'em. And now, crap, I'm going to screw up this six-pack at the very start by making it a 7-pack! Jacksonville is too good (and also too named after a city) to be left out of this one. So this is a two-fer.

[mp3] Sufjan Stevens - Chicago
[mp3] Sufjan Stevens - Jacksonville

Buy some Sufjan (pronounced Soof-Yawn): Amazon | iTunes
Visit his sites: Official | Myspace

The Stills - Of Montreal

If your first instinct was to ask, "are these guys Canadian?" then you, sir or madam, would be good at a little game I like to call, umm, Name Their Heritage. 100 points to you, Huzzah! If that was not your first instinct, shame on you, it's right in the title and everything! Try to try a little harder next time, will you?

Seriously though, if you've never heard of The Stills then you should at least hear of them long enough to listen to their debut album, Logic Will Break Your Heart; if you don't like them after that, then perhaps rock music just isn't for you! Ha, I jest of course, but it is definitely an album I'm glad I have, and when it gets to that point you've pretty much got to recommend it to whomever crosses your path. Take Of Montreal as an example: I never would've thought that I'd be hyping a song where a dude sings about what's turning him on, but there ya go, I just did. Crazy talk!

[mp3] The Stills - Of Montreal

Buy some music by The Stills: Amazon | iTunes
Visit them online: Official | Myspace

Kraig's Picks:

Collective Soul - Over Tokyo

I'm bringin' this baby out of the states and into the Far East! This is by far the best track (and probably the only track worth mentioning) from Blender. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it's actually a reworking of a much older song that Ed did on his solo album? Yeah, probably. I've included the totally 80's version from Ed' solo album, Ed E Roland, just for kicks.

PS: Anyone have a copy of Ed E Roland? I only have this track and I'm wondering if it's worth picking up...

[mp3] Collective Soul - Over Tokyo
[mp3] Ed E Roland - Over Tokyo

Buy some Collective Soul: Amazon | iTunes
Visit them Online: Official | Myspace

Ryan Adams - New York, New York (live)

I know this makes me a square, but I had never heard of Ryan Adams until New York, New York smacked me upside the head. Ryan is one of my favorite artists so this song has a special place in my heart since it was my introduction to Mr. Adams. This version is from the Loft Sessions and it's a completely different beast than the original - much more bluesy.

[mp3] Ryan Adams - New York, New York (live)

Buy some Ryan Adams: Amazon | iTunes
Visit him online: Official | Myspace

Brock's Picks

As I was searching through my music collection, I realized we could very easily do a "Songs About New York and Los Angeles" six-pack. In all actuality, we could just as easily do a "Songs About Los Angeles by Counting Crows" six-pack. That being said, the following songs are not about Los Angeles...

The Stereo - Have I Paid My Debt to Minneapolis?

Okay, you're right, this song does mention Los Angeles. But it's not really about LA! The Stereo is a cool little pop-rock band that sort of paved the way for the pop-punk bands on the Fueled by Ramen label. So, depending on your view of that whole musical movement, sorry...? But this song is an excellent example of the clever lyrics and catchy songwriting typical of The Stereo.

[mp3] The Stereo - Have I Paid My Debt to Minneapolis?

The Site: Label(old) | Wikipedia
The Sounds: iTunes | Amazon

Beirut - Nantes

When Stu first posted about Beirut, I braced myself for some sissy-la-la Frenchy music. I was sorely mistaken, my friends. There is simply nothing sissy or la-la about it, just good times folk-pop music. Hopefully you've already checked out the music video, and if you haven't purchased The Flying Club Cup you should do yourself a favor and purchase it. (By the way, Nantes is a city in France.)

[mp3] Beirut - Nantes

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

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Coldplay - Violet Hill

Coldplay released their new single, Violet Hill as a free MP3 over on their site today. You should probably check it out.

I haven't quite decided if I like it or not after a few listens, but it's certainly different than their last few singles (Speed of Sound, Clocks etc.). I know Stu will be firing back in seconds about how Coldplay is music for bed-wetters, but this song seems to have less of a bed-wetting vibe to it. Definitely more rock.

The new album (with a terribly long name that I'm refusing to type) is out on 6/17. Oh, and yes, that picture up there is the album art. I know, I know. But the music will be good, right? I think so.

Get the new single here (only free for a week).
Buy some Coldplay online: Amazon | iTunes
Visit them on the web: Official | Myspace

Friday, April 25, 2008

A little more Howie Day...

I like how I posted earlier this week about Nine Inch Nails and now I'm giving you some Howie Day. It's good, I dig - it should keep all of y'all on your toes. That's right, I just said y'all. Or is it ya'll? for thought there. How does one spell y'all? It's not giving me the red squiggles for that spelling so I'm stickin' to it. Now, back to the post:

I've gotten my dirty little hands on a few more demos from Howie's forthcoming release - hooray for me! As you may remember, I'm a bit hesitant about any new recordings from Howie in the post-Australia era but these two songs seem to bring things a bit closer to the Howie Day I know and love. They're certainly a step up from the song I posted previously, "Everyone Loves to Love a Lie".

The first is called "Be There". I'm not sure how much of an improvement this is from some of the work Howie has done recently - it just reminds me of Collide a bit too much. I get the feeling that he's reaching for another hit with this one. He may have it, the hook is catchy and the song moves along in a poppy enough fashion. That's what the kids like these days, right? It could probably slide right into any episode of Grey's Anatomy without a problem. I wouldn't say that's a good thing but I suppose it is for Howie...

[mp3] Be There

The second is called Sound the Alarm. I've got to admit, I'm a little excited about this track - it's got the old school Howie vibe to it. The guitar work has quite a bit more edge to it when compared to basically everything on Stop All the World Now which I think is necessary for Howie if he wants to bring things back to his roots. A nice buildup towards the end too.

[mp3] Sound the Alarm

All in all it's a step in the right direction. No news on a release date yet but these sound pretty polished - especially "Sound the Alarm". Hopefully that means it's getting close? We'll see. He's on tour now (and using the pedals again) so check him out if he's coming close to your town, you won't regret it.

Buy some Howie Day: Amazon | iTunes
Visit him online: Official | Myspace

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Zutons - You Can Do Anything (6/2/08)

All ya'll that are excited for the Zutons new album (like moi) will be even more excited to hear that it's due on June 2. It's called You Can Do Anything, and should be downright incredible if the single, Always Right Behind You, is any indication.

Speaking of the single, I must say it's catchy as the dickens! Stong words, I know, but it's true. This one features some excellent saxomophoning, very nice drumming, and rockin' guitar work and singing; in other words, nothing less than what you'd expect from The Zutons!

I always end up telling stories about when and where we first saw a band, and this time will be no exception. The first time we saw (and heard of) The Zutons they were opening up for Gomez, and on tour for their first album, Who Killed...... The Zutons? Let's just say we were satisfied we'd gotten our money's worth before Gomez had even come on.

Update 5/16: File removed. Sorry kiddies.

[mp3] Always Right Behind You

Pre-order the CD Single: Columbia

Buy more music by The Zutons: Amazon | iTunes
Visit the sites: Official | Myspace

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Nine Inch Nails - Discipline

I thought I heard a new NIN song on the radio yesterday but I figured I'd just forgotten a single they released during the With Teeth era. Nope, I rolled out of bed today and found that not only did Trent & Co. release a new single to the radio yesterday (called "Discipline") but they also threw it up for free download on their website at around midnight. Sweet.

The track fits perfectly on With Teeth (which is probably why I thought it was a single I'd forgotten about) which can either be a good or bad thing depending on your point of view. It certainly rocks more than the Ghosts albums (yes, there's vocals this time). I dig it, definitely worth a listen. Plus, it's free so whaddya got to lose?

Click here to proceed to the download page.

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

Monday, April 21, 2008

Some NEW Longview...

I'd hope that most of you know Longview, but in case you don't you should probably check out their Myspace page and take a listen to Further. Their first album, Mercury is a necessity in any collection. The combination of shoegaze textures and alt-pop hooks should please the "indie" crowd and the more mainstream folk as well. Check it out on Amazon, it can usually be had for a pretty modest price (looks like it's just a penny right now!).

The band has been pretty quiet the last few years, especially in the US. Since they're from the UK I can't say that I'm surprised about the lack of US-centric news, but I can always hope. British bands always seem to sneak their way into my playlists more than US bands, which is rather saddening since I rarely get to see them live. Ah well, such is life.

Anyways, they have recently thrown up a few demos on their Myspace page and on their official website. I've posted a few here (my favorites of the batch) but head over to their site(s) for the rest.

[mp3] Waste Tonight
[mp3] Why?

Waste Tonight is the only one of the five cuts that still feels like Mercury - a little more of hook to it then the rest of the cuts. Why has a swirling buildup at the end that you've just GOT to hear.

In general, they seem to be moving more towards shoegaze and further away from the alt-pop that was everywhere to be heard on Mercury. I'm not sure how I feel about the change, but I can't say I didn't expect it.

Buy some music from Longview: Amazon | iTunes
Visit them online: Official | Myspace

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Jimmy Eat World @ McKay Events Center, Orem (4/14/08)

Yeah, so it turns out one of us should probably invest in a decent camera since we've gone to a couple shows in a row and came out with no pictures, sorry!

Also, this show review comes pre-packaged with a crazy story, enjoy!: Ok, so to get from my town to the area where we see most of our concerts, one must drive over some mountains (takes about 30 minutes) then drive an additional hour and 20 minutes over fairly flat terrain. Me and a friend hopped into my rickety old car and began our journey. We had just made it over the mountains when my car started making what I can only describe as a "death rattle." We pulled over and had a look, and the fly wheel (which is apparently what they call the top wheel that runs your belts) looked like it was trying to escape. Since neither of us wanted a fly wheel to the forehead, and in order not to risk getting stuck even farther away from home, we made the distress call to our parents. Lame, I know. Turns out we aren't hardcore, and also can't fix cars. Longish story short, after having our manhood's revoked, we were back on our way to the concert an hour or so later in my friend's car.

The very unfortunate part of this story (besides the untold amount of money my car is going to cost to fix) is that this 1+ hour delay caused us to miss Dear and the Headlights entire set! Sad times were had by us. Luckily (some might say, I wouldn't) we were able to see almost all of Paramore's set.

In case you didn't catch that, I'm not really a Paramore fan. I think they may be just a bit too punk for me. I will say that their lead vocalist, Hayley Williams, brought a lot of energy and had pretty good stage presence. The rest of the band just seemed to be...there, for the most part. They played their parts, did their choreographed rock-out moves, but really didn't bring much else.

Jimmy Eat World came out with energy, feeling, and passion, and played a pretty awesome set. They opened with Big Casino, closed the encore with The Middle, and played a very good mix of songs in between. I expected to get a heavy dose of their newest album, Chase This Light, but was delightfully surprised to hear many of their older gems. They played 3 from Clarity (Crush, Blister, Your New Aesthetic), a surprising 1 from Static Prevails (Thinking That's All), and about 5 each from Chase This Light (Big Casino, Always Be, Dizzy, Here It Goes, Let It Happen), Bleed American (Bleed American, Sweetness, A Praise Chorus, The Middle, Hear You Me), and Futures (Kill, Futures, Just Tonight..., Work, Pain). Highlights for me were Hear You Me, the first song played in the encore, which sounded really beautiful and heartfelt, and Crush, one of my favorite Jimmy songs. Take a listen to the cd versions:

[mp3] Jimmy Eat World - Crush
[mp3] Jimmy Eat World - Hear You Me

Don't expect this every time, but I've just decided to do a full review on this one! "What the hell does that mean?" you ask? Well, that means I shall even give my critique of the sound and lighting (crazy, I know). Unfortunately, I gotta give the soundboard dude a thumbs down. It seemed like the strategy was: the best way to balance the instruments is to turn them all up to 11. This made for a very loud Jimmy set, but I thought it hurt Paramore the most: almost all their songs sounded the same. And no, that's not a veiled shot at Paramore and/or punk, I've heard their stuff before and know that not all their songs sound the same. I know it's gotta be hard to get the sound right in an arena/stadium, but I expected better.

The lighting guy (not to be confused with the lightning guy) did a pretty great job. I almost want to say that the fact that I noticed the lighting at all must mean that the guy is doing something right, but it was definitely more than that. In some songs (notably Bleed American) the lights switched with the chord changes, which was very pleasing to the eye. Hear You Me featured heavenly lighting and spotlights, which worked incredibly well. It seemed like he went a little crazy with strobe lights during a couple songs, but all in all it was a pretty solid effort. Oh, and for those of you who like to play Jimmy Eat World trivia, lead singer Jim Adkins remarked during the show that the lighting guy used to live in Salt Lake City. That bit of knowledge would probably be somewhat more useful if I could remember his name...

Buy some Jimmy Eat World: Amazon | iTunes
Visit the sites: Official | Myspace

Saturday, April 19, 2008

PlayRadioPlay! - Texas

PlayRadioPlay!'s sound falls somewhere between Death Cab for Cutie and the Postal Service. That... that doesn't actually sound like much space, but when you hear it, you'll get it.

Comparisons to hellogoodbye would also be appropriate; though the songs are written about (and probably during) high school, they don't really feel immature or inaccessible. Even a song like "My Attendance is Bad, My Intentions Are Good" overcomes the high school theme. Dan Hunter, the mind behind PlayRadioPlay!, is 18 years old with a talent far beyond his years.

The lyrics are fairly simple, but totally work for the genre ("emotronic" okay with everyone? Good). Definitely check this one out!

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

Friday, April 18, 2008

Weekend Playlist

It's been a long week - now it's time for rockin'! These tunes helped me survive the week, hopefully they'll make your weekend brighter:

[mp3] Joseph Arthur - I Wanna Get You Alone
-from his latest (of many this year) EP, Crazy Rain
[mp3] Mason Jennings - Fighter Girl
-from his upcoming album, In the Ever (5/20)
[mp3] Tokyo Police Club - Juno
[mp3] Islands - Creeper
-from the upcoming album, Arm's Way (5/20)
[mp3] Waz - Mine to Remember
[mp3] My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges (via their website)
-from their upcoming album of the same name (6/10). The link will re-direct you to their site for the d/l.
[mp3] Gavin Rossdale - Love Remains the Same
-Guilty pleasure? Probably. It's not as bad as Institute though. That was ugly. Pug fugly, even. His solo debut (Wanderlust) is out 6/3
[mp3] Annuals - Sore
[mp3] Overview - Scorpian Woman
[mp3] The Dodos - Fools

Buy some tunes: Joseph Arthur | Mason Jennings | Tokyo Police Club
| Islands | WAZ | My Morning Jacket | Gavin Rossdale | Annuals |
Overview | The Dodos

Visit them online: Joseph Arthur | Mason Jennings | Tokyo Police Club | Islands | WAZ | My Morning Jacket | Gavin Rossdale | Annuals | Overview | The Dodos


Some of you may have already heard of the band I'm writing about today - Overview. They made a big splash in the indie scene last year with a number of extremely favorable reviews of their EP, Forty-Four Stone Tigers. It appears that they're back to writing some more songs, hopefully we'll have some more output from these guys again this year.

In case you missed the boat (as I did) last year, here's what you missed:

[mp3] Scorpian Woman
[mp3] Forty-Four Stone Tigers

Now, don't think that you've heard it all after hearing these two songs. While the EP is only 7 songs, it's best described as a roller coaster. The keys come in full force on Melancholy in the City and they've saved up some sweet hand-clapping action for the latter half of the album.

You'll get to hear them veer towards pop, punk, progressive rock and indie rock but somehow it all fits together - it all sounds like the same band. Do yourself a favor and pick up the EP already!

Buy it online: Amazon | iTunes
Visit Overview: Official | Myspace

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Six Pack of the Week - Rainy Day Tunes

The month of April and rain are nearly synonymous in the north-western hemisphere of the world. Since that's where I live those are the lamentations you shall hear today.

It rained (and snowed) today in the little place I call home and I'm sure it will keep on raining through the end of the month. And then stop. Forever. Because I live in a desert.

We've got some tunes to get your drenched and dreary soul through the day. First off, my (Kraig) picks:

The Beatles - Rain

Oh, The Beatles. They're either the greatest thing since sliced bread or the most over-hyped band that's ever graced the planet depending on your stance. Regardless of whether you like them or not, most people seem to agree on the overwhelming influence The Beatles have had on popular music over the past 40 years. "Rain" is a shining example of why they were such a revolutionary band.

The song features the best drum fills Ringo has made this side of Abbey Road, some of the sweetest tone to be heard at the time on the bass, a collection of the first real "psychedelic" lyrics John brought our way - not to mention the fact that we're hearing the first implementation of a backwards track when John's vocals reverse right before it starts to fade out. Really, The Beatles don't get much better than this. And it's a b-side?? Seriously - there's very few tracks I hold in this high of a regard and it's not even an a-side single. Crazy. Oh, and it's about rain (well, probably) if you didn't guess.

[mp3] The Beatles - Rain

Buy some music from The Beatles: Amazon

Pearl Jam - Wash

This song has more to do with "washing away" then rain, but there's a heavy dose of precipitation imagery involved throughout. When I hear this I can always see Eddie screaming to the skies to open themselves up as the song closes out - a lot of passion there. I was a bit surprised that they were able to retain the original grit when this was re-recorded for Lost Dogs a few years ago. I've posted the most recent version, but the original is quite epic as well.

The most important thing here is that I get to hype my two favorite bands in the same post for songs they aren't well known for. How often does that happen?

[mp3] Pearl Jam - Wash

Buy some Pearl Jam: Amazon | iTunes
Visit them online: Official | Myspace


Collective Soul - She Gathers Rain

I once asked Kraig if this song was about a fat chick. It makes sense, doesn't it? If she's gathering rain, she must be a pretty big girl. Pretty self-explanatory to me, but I think it came at Kraig completely out of left field.

I was never very fond of this song until I had the privilege to hear it live. A couple years ago CSoul came to Boise, Idaho, and played at the Idaho State Fair (of all places!), and we (Kraig, Brock, myself, and some friends) decided this was too good an opportunity to pass up. We all squeezed in a tiny car and drove the 4-5 hour trip up to Boise. The song wasn't any different at the show, but for some reason the hook just sounded soooo good live. Now She Gathers Rain is one of the songs I think of when I think Collective Soul. Oh, and it also has the rain theme we're featuring this week. Ya, nice.

[mp3] Collective Soul - She Gathers Rain

Buy some Collective Soul: Amazon | iTunes
Visit them online: Official | Myspace

Adam Elk - It's Raining In Here

I don't really feel qualified to talk about Adam Elk (as I know incredibly little about him, besides that he's an ex-member of the Mommyheads), but I knew I had to include this track in our rainy day list. Elk brings the funk and, wow, is it good. That's some good funk right there. A couple years ago I wasn't a fan of the funk, but I credit many of the tracks on Labello to bringing me over to the funk side.

[mp3] Adam Elk - It's Raining In Here

Buy some Adam Elk: Amazon | iTunes

Brock's Songs

The Apples in Stereo - The Rainbow

This is a song that's ostensibly about rain, but in a happy way! The Apples in Stereo can't really help but make you happy, with such a excellent mix of quasi-psychadelic, 60's-style sugary sweet pop. Check it out!

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

The Jayhawks - Save It For a Rainy Day

If you don't own the album Rainy Day Music by the Jayhawks, you're missing out on a modern masterpiece. It's fantastic that evokes early Beatles and has some of the greatest vocal harmonies around. The Jayhawks are currently on hiatus, which fills me with some rain-soaked sadness.

The sites: Fansite
The sounds: iTunes

Monday, April 14, 2008


Sometimes I get a little bothered by the total isolation that life in Utah can bring. The music scene is pretty dull in the town I live in, campus life revolves more around Sunday mornings than Saturday nights and the complete and utter domination of conservative values is a little too much to handle at times.

It's times like these that I'm quite happy that I can at least drive down to Salt Lake every once and again and see a kick ass show and forget about Simpleton, USA for a few hours. While I know that Salt Lake may not be the "real world", it's at least a step up for me.

Back to the point at hand - Stu and I were able to see the Hotel Cafe Tour in Salt Lake a few weeks ago and ever since then I've been a bit depressed about the music scene in my neck 'o the woods. There's not a whole lot of talent to be had here, despite being in a "college town" and most people here seem more interested in knocking everyone else around rather than just playing good music. It's a pity, really - and one that exposed itself in my mind while watching the artists on the Hotel Cafe Tour. All of the artists that played were immensely talented and could have drawn a crowd on their own, but they chose to tour together instead. Ticket prices could have been higher but they seemed to be more concerned about helping each other out and bringing everyone's name to the masses, rather then just their own.

After the show I spent some time looking into other artists who've found a starting point at the Hotel Cafe. Waz is one of the singer-songwriters that I've found myself listening to most as a result of this little search.

Waz original hit the spotlight quite a while ago as the original guitarist for Pete Yorn's band back in the early 2000's. After a few days of listening to Waz's music I can certainly feel Pete's influence on him. The songwriting is great, though I can't say that the vocal presence is on Pete's level. It's a bit more poppy than most of the songs Pete puts out, and there's more keys (which I dig) but it has the same kind of feel. Waz can write a hell of a bridge too, the two songs at the end of the post both take dramatic (and well done) turns at the end of the song. Bottom line - if you like Pete Yorn, you'll probably like Waz.

It seems that after Waz has started seeing some success of his own. His full length solo album was released in January, he's had a song featured on "The Hills" and he was able to meet up and associate with the Hotel Cafe Tour gang. Not bad for the new kid, all out on his own now.

[mp3] Mine To Remember
[mp3] She's Gone

Buys some WAZ: Amazon | iTunes
Visit WAZ online: Official | Myspace

Friday, April 11, 2008

Absentstar - Sea Trials

Absentstar's debut album, Sea Trials, will hit the stores next Tuesday. It's one of the albums I've been most excited about this year - a Dan Wilson produced alt-pop album? Sounds like a recipe for success to me.

The closest comparison that comes to my mind is Dishwalla, though they seem to rely a bit less on the keys. I'm still getting a feel for the album, a review should be up shortly. Check out these tracks until then:

[mp3] Half Life
[mp3] For God Sakes

Pre-order the album: Amazon
Visit Absentstar online: Official | Myspace

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Six Pack of the Week - Bonus Tracks!

Sometimes 12 songs just isn't enough. Sometimes, you're just listening along to a new cd, and that last song ends, but it doesn't end. Or sometimes it'll just be an extra track thrown your way, as a very special thank you for buying the cd. You'd better buckle up, because you've entered the realm of bonus tracks, baby. I (Brock) will go first this time around.

The Damnwells - Air Stereo

Air Stereo is hands down one of my favorite albums. "Accidental Man," "I've Got You," and "I Am a Leaver," just to name a few incredible tracks. Why they chose the title track as a bonus track is beyond me, but I'm more than willing to accept an odd decision with such a good album.

Buy some Damnwells: iTunes | Amazon
Visit the site: Official | Myspace

Jack's Mannequin - Into the Airwaves

Everything in Transit is the (so far) only album from the former frontman for Something Corporate, and it's a great record. It "ends" with a song called "M.F.E.O./You Can Breathe" that is a giant run-on sentence of beautiful pop-punk-piano songwriting. Then there's a little spoken thing about the end of the record, and how there won't be another record for a while because of laziness. Then "Into the Airwaves" starts up, right out of nowhere.

[mp3] Jack's Mannequin - Into the Airwaves

Buy some Jack's Mannequin: iTunes | Amazon
Visit the websites: Official | Myspace

Kraig's Picks

Counting Crows - Sunday Morning L.A.

Brock and I recently reviewed Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, Counting Crows' latest release. While we were slightly disappointed with the album itself, we didn't directly address the bonus tracks that came with an iTunes purchase of the album.

Strangely enough, Counting Crows followed in the footsteps they themselves set in This Desert Life by keeping some of the best work off of the proper album, instead saving it for a bonus track. Similar to "Kid Things" from This Desert Life, "Sunday Morning L.A." is a very strong track - which further boggles my mind as to why it couldn't make the cut over some of the other duds that did.

[mp3] Sunday Morning L.A.

Buy some Counting Crows: Amazon | iTunes
Visit them online: Official | Myspace

Howie Day - So, Goodbye

As I discussed in a previous post, Howie Day's post Australia career has left me wanting a bit more. Stop All The Wold Now was a fair album (on a good day) with a few strong tracks and a lot of songs that were trying too hard to hit top 40 radio. It seemed almost like Howie was trying to distance himself from the sound he created on Australia.

That, in itself, was probably the reason I fell hard for the bonus tracks that popped up in the Special Edition releases and on the Japanese release. These tracks had more passion and depth then the rest of the album - it was Howie, not some cheap TRL clone! Not surprisingly, my favorite cuts from the album ended up being "bonus tracks". Most were included after-the-fact on import or special editions, including this one, "So, Goodbye".

[mp3] So, Goodbye

Buy some Howie Day: Amazon | iTunes
Visit Howie online: Official | Myspace

Stu's Two

First, I just want to say that Brock stole one of my bonus tracks, that dirty sneak! But I will echo his sentiments on The Damnwells - Air Stereo; most days I feel like this is the best song on the album. Usually on those days Kraig calls me an idiot, but I shall continue to stick to my crazy notions and opinions!

Pete Yorn - Go With It

Back when Pete released Nightcrawler either his label, his management or the man himself decided that, in order to better promote the record, they should throw out a bunch 'o bonus tracks that were "exclusive" to different stores. This meant that you got different bonus tracks if you bought Nightcrawler from Circuit City rather than from Best Buy or iTunes, and vice versa. (Pete talks about it in an old interview with BrooklynVegan)

On one hand, it was nice that all these new Pete Yorn tracks were being released. On the other, it made the couple days after the album was released quite hectic while we were trying to round up all the bonus tracks. (Check out these old posts from Heather and Bryce for most of 'em). Go With It is the most rockin' of the bonus tracks, and probably should've been put in the meaty part of the CD instead of being an iTunes-only song.

[mp3] Pete Yorn - Go With It

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

Sense Field - The Horse Is Alive

So I think the story goes that one day Kraig was browsing around in our local independent music store (which, sadly, no longer exists), and randomly found Sense Field's Living Outside and picked it up on a whim. I managed to get a hold of it ('cause that's what happens when you live with a dude), and it didn't leave my grasp for quite a while.

It makes me sad that these guys broke up, Living Outside was downright awesome. Powerful vocals, great keys, nice drummin' and strummin'; it's very good stuff! And The Horse Is Alive is one of the best types of bonus tracks: the hidden ones. I hate when they call a song a "bonus track" when it's got its own track break. That's too easy! Your bonus should come after much hard work and due diligence (like fast forwarding for like a minute 'til you're at the exact right moment where the bonus track starts). Yeah, that's what it should be. Anyway, I figure most of you don't want to fast forward through a bunch of silence, so I cut the bonus track out of the nearly 11 minute final track. Hopefully you enjoy it as much as I.

[mp3] Sense Field - The Horse Is Alive

Buy some Sense Field: Amazon | iTunes
Visit them online: Myspace (tribute page)

Bonus Tracks: Now what would a six-pack about bonus tracks be without some bonus tracks? Unless you pre-ordered the deluxe version of Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, you probably didn't get these songs. I don't think that's terribly fair, so here are two bonus bonus tracks (along with my apologies for the delayed post [Brock's fault]):

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Interview: Dan Wilson

Prior to Saturday's Hotel Cafe Tour at the Avalon Theater, Stu and I had a chance to sit down and chat for a few minutes with Dan Wilson. For those of you unfamiliar with Dan's work, he's the lead singer of the 90's alternative band, Semisonic (and Trip Shakespeare). He has also produced a number of albums in the recent past, including Mike Doughty's Golden Delicious and Absentstar's Sea Trials. He also co-wrote a grammy winning song with the Dixie Chicks!

The only real downfall to the experience was that my damn camera decided to die, so no photos.

Obviously, we were quite thrilled with the opportunity to speak with Dan. Hope you enjoy it!


Kraig: Well, I guess let’s get this thing started! I got a hold of a couple of albums you’ve been producing recently: Mike Doughty’s Golden Delicious and Absentstar’s Sea Trials. I know you’ve done some work in bands with Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic and now your solo work but I don’t really know how you got into the production side of things - how did that all work out?

It was kind of ass-backwards, actually. I had this idea that, not like an original idea but a notion, that I wanted to be writing songs for other people’s records. I had this idea in about 1998. I suddenly started telling people “I wanna write with other people, I wanna put my songs on other people’s records”, because I always had all these extra songs.

You know, if you’re in a band you get to put out 12 songs every two years - maybe. Maybe a couple of b-sides. If you’re prolific (which I was really trying to be prolific at the time) it’s frustrating to have this limited number of slots. It’s like one song every two months is how it works out. So I was noisily telling people that I wanted to write for other people’s albums.

As I was doing that I started to write with other people I found that the music business people would be very literal about the demos I’d give them. They’d say “yeah, we were kind of hoping for something with drums” And in my mind I’d think “Yeah, you could probably put drums with this and it would be really great. That’s how it always works, you sing the song and then the drummer plays.” I learned after talking to people and laughing about it with my friends, was that you had to make a demo that would sound like the record - then they could copy it exactly and then it would get released. So, I realized that to be this “songwriter to the world” I’d have to learn how to produce albums.

So then I went to Sweden and Norway and I worked with some amazing producers there. Since they were “digital world” producers they were very open with their tricks. Analog engineers and producers are very secretive it’s kind of a “I have a little box under the table, you can’t see it” type of a thing. Computer culture is all about “information is free” and I’ll just tell you how to do it - so everyone just taught me how to do it. I went around for about a year - I went to England and I want to CA for a while. I made demos and wrote songs with people and learned how to do it. So the next time I started writing songs with people, like Mike Doughty, I would say, “Okay, let’s make a version so you know what it’s going to be like”. With Mike, when he and I wrote together we wrote “American Car” and “Your Misfortune” and those demos are basically what’s on the album. We added a few things, but once we did those couple of tracks, Mike was saying “Why don’t I just have you produce the record? This could be pretty simple”. So, it’s kind of ass-backwards but that was how it happened.

That’s kind of funny because I remember following Semisonic for a while and all of sudden Semisonic wasn’t doing a lot, then out of the blue I’d see a Dan Wilson produced album!

It was funny, all 3 of us in the band, we took our last recording with MCA - we didn’t know it would be the last recording, but it turned out to be the last recording -“All About Chemistry”. We really just turned that into a playground and learned how to make a record. We were really hands on because they were too sterile or not lively enough. We learned a lot about how to make sure it still feels lively.

Yeah, it’s definitely an art

Well, it’s not for everybody either.

I know you won the grammy last year - congratulations on that. I was wondering, when you’re writing for someone else do you write a song with someone to sing it in mind or do you just write a song and think “maybe these guys” afterwards?

Well I’ve actually done it both ways and it turns out that currently my favorite thing is to get together with someone and write with them. I’ve found that when I’m writing for someone else I really want it to sound like them. i want it to sound like their concerns and their phrasing and their attitude about the world. I think if I just wrote a song on my own and sent it, it would work, but to me it’s more fun to be the guy who’s gently helping the person to achieve their own idea of a what a song should be. I especially think for me that it’s okay to do now because I can make my own records and stand on stage and have an audience, so I have my own outlet. When I go in to collaborate with someone else I can be in a really, really helpful, low ego mode. Which is fun, you know - less stress.

Here’s a random question for you! Outside the venue here we noticed that there’s a handful of Canucks out there. They traveled 14 hours to get here. I guess this is the closest you’ve come to Calgary on the tour. Do you get a whole lot of people following you around from that kind of distance or do you get a whole lot of people following you from show-to-show on this particular tour?

Wow - I think if I were kinder I would just play more shows that were closer to them. Definitely, on this tour, because everyone has an audience and there’s people who will snap up tickets, it’s been tricky for people to get tickets in time for any particular show. It’s just harder to get the seats. Like in Minneapolis I know lots of people went to Chicago or Madison because they sold out slower so there was an element of people traveling around. I think that may be an extreme amount of distance and time though. I hope I sing really well.

Definitely give a shout out to those guys - that’s a hell of a trip.

Yeah, yeah, definitely. That’s amazing. I think also it’s been quite a long time since I played in a lot of places. I’ve done a lot of gigs in Minneapolis in the past several years. I’ve played in New York a lot or if not a lot, several times. I’ve played in LA regularly but I haven’t done a whole lot else in between.

Honestly, I’m not sure you’re missing a whole lot.

No, no it’s actually good. It’s interesting, I took a walk today and walked to the Valley Fair Mall. There was a scrap-booking nook, Willey’s bail-bonds, Amigo Insurance Company. It was a very strip-mall, industrial thing - not the most picturesque scene on the ground. But ringing around the view there’s a 360 degree view of unbelievable mountains and I was completely transported by it. I was walking through what in Minneapolis would be flat version of that, nothing transcendent about it.

It’s also good to get to other places. Minnesota culture is real different from everyone else and it’s good to be reminded that I’m not like everyone else and it’s not the same everywhere. You have to be able to relate to people. So it’s good to get out of the house.

So you like being on the road?

I do, it soothes me. I have a wife and an 11 year old daughter, so it’s harder to leave, there’s a little pain every time. But then you get on the bus and get into the mode...

Stu got his hands on a copy of a live show you did in Dallas of last year. You told a story about Closing Time that I totally wasn’t expecting - is that song really about your daughter?

It’s really a giant pun about being bounced from a bar and being bounced from the womb. I thought it was going to be pretty obvious to people when I wrote it but it turns out no one got it. I guess I was too clever.

I didn’t get it, that’s for sure.

Well, you’re not alone! I still have this philosophy that you shouldn’t explain songs too much because I’ve almost never been happy with an explanation of a song by an artist. By not happy I mean that it’s never been as good as what I thought it was about. If a friend asked me “what’s such-and-such song about” in private, I’d probably tell them, but I feel like it’s almost in imposition on the listener if I tell them what the song is about. Now, I kind a figured that enough time has passed and Closing Time is a little landmark on culture somewhere and it’s not going anywhere, so I feel like I have a right to talk about it. It’s almost like it’s not my song anymore - I can put my gloss on it, I can put my own wiki on my own song but it’s going to get erased by everyone else’s.

Speaking of Closing Time, after it became a hit did you feel a lot of pressure from your label to match that and write another “Closing Time”?

Yeah, yeah - here’s the deal with that. That was kind of difficult. I had a friend in the music business, a really smart guy who really loved “The Great Divide” - Semisonic’s first album. That album didn’t sell well and I had really thought it was very commercial. I was really trying to write singles on that album. I thought FNT, Delicious and If I Run were all singles. I guess they were but they just didn’t click. Maybe the time wasn’t right. This friend of mine, Jim Barber told me when I was venting to him that the way to succeed in music is to make the same album twice.


Yeah. I thought that was really interesting too. He said “Just write a bunch of great songs and if there’s things on the last album that you did and you really liked them, just do them again”. I thought that was a real interesting approach. The only thing I really changed was I decided I was going to make it a big “art project” and I wasn’t going to worry about singles or commercial success. I was going to put that out of my mind. I just treated The Great Divide as a template for an art project and improved it.

So, Feeling Strangely Fine was fixing what was wrong with the other record, but kind of doing it again but totally as an art project. Then it was a huge success! I knew after that the the thing to do would be to do it again, but I couldn’t do it “again, again”. I didn’t have it in me. I’d already done it again and I did it with sort of an an art project attitude, not thinking about success.

I think Semisonic almost had a backlash with
All About Chemistry. We kind of let our more nerdy sides show in a big way and let it all be more keyboardy. It was a whole different vibe. I think that was because I may have been rebelling against the idea of writing another song about a bar or something.

It was interesting because then I had an interesting experience with Rick Rubin while doing my solo album because I sensed that he was almost avoiding listening to or talking about Semisonic. It was like he wanted it to be a completely fresh start, we weren’t going to be referencing or comparing. It wouldn’t be a sequel of any kind.

Just a different thing completely?

Yeah, just “what you’d do alone”. That was a really beautiful thing. I think next I should just do Free Life again! It just seems to me like I’ve figured out a lot of stuff. I’ll fix what was broken on Free Life - I haven’t figured out what it is yet, but eventually I’ll have some criticisms about it and I’ll just write it again. It’ll be a nice little repetitive cycle of life.

It seems that lot of times when a songwriter is working with a band for a while they end up with some songs that “don’t fit” with the band. Were the songs you recorded for Free Life older songs that didn’t quite work with Semisonic, or was this all new stuff?

Well, that’s close. All during the period of time I was writing Free Life I was thinking “If I write a song that sounds like Semisonic, I’ll ask those guys to cut it with me”, but it just didn’t happen. I kept writing Golden Girl or All Kinds or Free Life. I kept writing songs that didn’t sound like the band. They weren’t cast-offs before, it was just quite clear that something was happening that wasn’t related to that band, so I just had to do this other thing.

A DJ put me on the spot recently and said “So the title
Free Life, does that mean you’re free of your band mates, John and Jake?”. I was horrified! I hope they don’t think that’s what I meant by it at all. “Oh, I’m so tired of them” or whatever. We’re still friends, we get along great and we do stuff together.

They were on the album too, right?

Yeah, they played on the album. It’s a funny thing. I hadn't really thought about it. It’s probably my sub-conscience rebelling against them.

Do you think you’re going to play with or record another album with them again?

I would like to. I’ve been thinking about it. I was out of the song-writing flow for about a year. I decided to change some things on Free Life right before it got released so it was kind of a really stressful 6 month period and the label was mad because I was changing things. I was adding songs and they thought it was all wrapped up. They had every reason to be irritated. But I wasn’t in a song-writing flow. I was producing Absentstar and Mike Doughty and finishing my record. I was not in the “outer-space” feeling I need to be in as a writer.

There’s this weird thing I relate it to. I’ve never been pearl diving before but I’ve been snorkeling at twilight. With song-writing it feels to me like the world is almost unrelated to your life and you need to have time in the day to dive down into that. There can’t be anyone asking for stuff or coming around. You can come up maybe an hour later or maybe right away with something great or something unexpected. To me, that’s what it really feels like. For me, I have to set my life up to do that. So right now I’ve just cleared the decks, I just finished Jeremy Mastersmith who I was producing and I just finished the new Standards album. All of my promises are kept now I have nothing now.

So now it’s Dan time?

Yeah, so now I’m going to do a lot of “diving”. I’ll go down into that dark part of my mind and find things and bring them back up. My heart wants to make a new solo record right away but I’ll just have to figure that out when the songs come. I might write a whole bunch of songs that are for other people to sing, I don’t know. But I hope I can do another solo record really quick.

Since you were just talking about the songs just “coming to you”. Is that how it is? Do you just kind of wait for it? I’ve never really written music or anything so I wonder if when you write a song is it something that’s coming at that time or do you have to “nudge it” out?

It’s a combination. Those are both true. For me, there's labor in it and I have to be in ‘the mode”. It’s that distracted, slightly melancholy state of mind. I have to be trying to write songs. Most of them suck. Usually by a surprising or a backdoorish way a real idea will come and because I’m in that “song capturing” mode, it’s easy. If a great idea comes that’s really inspiring it’s like it comes into your mind from the side and it presents itself and I think “whoa”. Since I’m in that labor-intensive mode of writing it’s not effort anymore. I just go, “boom”, and then it’s done. It’s kind of weird because I’d like my best songs to be the ones I work the hardest on but that’s not true.


Yeah, it’s the ones that I’m walking down the street or waiting for a cab and I take out my memo thing and sing, then I put it back. A week later I’ll think “Oh, what was that thing I put in my memo?” and I listen and think “Fuck, that was great!”. So I can’t really savor the process. There’s no, “Oooo, I’m writing a great song” about it.

It’s over before you know it, huh?

Dan: Yeah, it’s over before you know it. It’s not even like you’re a participant. It’s more like you’re an observer - it’s almost like you’re not even there. You get all music-y and then it’s over. Mostly for me, I end up saying “How did I do that? I can never do that again! That was the last song!” It’s neurotic, I know. But it’s funny, it’s both - it’s conscious effort and then just inspired accidents. My wife can tell. I’ll be talking to her and then she’ll say something interesting and I’ll get this distant look in my eye. I’m trying to pay attention to what she’s saying and she’ll ask “Are you writing something?”

You’ve been doing the “solo thing” right now. You’ve done the “band thing” with Semisonic and Trip Shakespeare. You’ve been the record producer and the co-writer. Which aspect are you enjoying most right now?

Well, this tour has been really fun. It’s been a particularly special setup with a lot of talent in one bus. It’s a pretty low ego-level scene on the bus, it’s pretty cool. Everyone is really clever and really talented. It’s really fun to be in this setting. I’m really, really savoring it and loving it a lot. It’s my last day on the tour and I’ve just been trying to drink it up. At the moment I’m really loving touring and playing for people.

It might also just be an element of getting tired of one thing and you get to go to your distraction or switch to something else. Like, “Oh, I’m sick of this I’m going to go produce an album” or something. Do you guys have dogs?

I’ve had one, but not for a while.

I’ve had one too.

Could you picture this in your mind? A dog lying down in one of those doggy beds the ones with the big round pillows. The dog gets on the pillow then goes around and around and around. Just circling and circling. It starts to lie down, then gets up and goes around and around. It takes forever and you just want to hit it on the butt to get it to sit down. To me, songwriters are that way. They’ll think “Oh, the lighting is too bright I’ll adjust the lighting. Ah, perfect! Oh, maybe my electric would be good here” and they’ll run upstairs rand get the guitar. “Oh, maybe I should get a Starbucks”. It’s this circling, circling, circling thing. Lots of times you end up writing a song on the way to Starbucks.

I try to keep myself in this distracted state - I don’t do it consciously but for me, as an artist, I like that distracted state. I like having the option of working on different kinds of things. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity, when and if it arises, of writing more songs with the Dixie Chicks. I have to make sure that I don’t over-serve myself with co-writing because I want to be excited about that. I don’t want to get greedy about any one thing because I want to maintain that feeling of excitement about whatever it is I’m working on right now.

Well, I don’t think we’ll take anymore of your time. Thanks so much for sitting down with us - we really appreciate it!

No problem, I hope this makes for a good piece!

Thanks again - we’ve both been big fans for a long time. Good luck tonight!

Buy some music from Dan Wilson: Amazon | iTunes
Visit Dan online: Official | Myspace

Previous posts about Dan: Six Pack (Flyin' Solo) | Hotel Cafe Tour (Show Review)

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Hotel Cafe Tour @ Avalon Theatre, Salt Lake City (4/5/08 )

This past Saturday, Kraig and I had a chance to take in the Hotel Cafe Tour. Apologies in advance for the lack of pictures - it seems that Kraig’s old digital camera finally decided to bite the dust just in time for the show, so no photos. Sorry!

For those of you outside the know, here’s a bit of info on the Hotel Cafe and the ensuing tour:

Once just a small coffee shop, The Hotel Café has quickly blossomed into not only one of the premier singer/songwriter venues in the United States, but also been labeled “the place that breaks artists.” The artists surrounding The Hotel Café regard it as home, where lyrics, voice and a DIY approach rule. On any given night, you can find well known artists (such as: Weezer, John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Death Cab For Cutie, KT Tunstall and many more) on the same bill with up-and-comers, playing both as solo artists and as a communal project, sometimes well rehearsed and sometimes in the heat of the moment, and more often than not, jamming into the wee hours of the morning.

For the past 4 years, The Hotel Café has been presenting a tour that has hit every major market in the United States and the UK. The concept of the tour was to share the same community vibe with music fans all over the globe. Artists performed solo and would then share the stage with fellow tour mates. No cookie-cutter corporate American Idols, just real music, written by real artists, surrounded by real friends, who actually have a story to tell. Starting in March 2008, The Hotel Café Tour will embark on another journey that will cover 35+ major markets in the North America, before heading over to the United Kingdom!

The tour will feature a rotating lineup of at five artists at every show, all sharing musicians and supporting one another, making for a unique night of music. The tour is held together by performer and co-organizer Cary Brothers, who will be present for the entire tour.


The show had an...interesting format. The 5 artists that graced Salt Lake City (Meiko, Jim Bianco, Cary Brothers, Dan Wilson, and Ingrid Michaelson) each took a turn playing 3 songs. Then they all came back and did the same thing again (not the same songs, mind you, but the whole playing-3-songs-and-leaving thing). Also, there was no waiting time in between sets for the setting up/dismantling of rock equipment; they just went from one act to the next, which was pretty nice.

I was particularly impressed with the ability of the supporting band that was touring with these five singer/songwriters. Each act played with the same guitarist/bassist/drummer and “multi instrumentalist” (i.e. trumpet, keys, guitar, accordion etc.). These guys nailed each and every song despite genres ranging from sparse, nearly acoustic setups (Meico) to Jazz (Jim Bianco) to Alt-Rock (Cary Brothers) and everything in between.

Personally, I wasn't a fan of the 3 song format. I would've rather seen each artist do their 6 songs in a row. Maybe it's just me, but I can't figure out how I feel about an artist after only 3 songs. By the time they come back on stage again, I had usually forgotten what the songs they played previously were like and if I enjoyed them.

Anyway, if you haven't guessed already, we went primarily to see Dan Wilson (of Semisonic fame). He was very good, though it made me sad that about 3/4 of the people there didn't know who the hell he was until he played Closing Time. However, we did meet some die-hard fans who drove all the way from Calgary to see Dan play, which was definitely nice to see.

Dan was able to play a total of eight songs in his three times on stage, one more than any of the other performers (since they played a song of Dan’s for the final encore!). His first set consisted of Easy Silence, Breathless and Free Life, the title track from his brilliant solo record. The first set definitely left me wanting more Dan, especially since a lot of the crowd seemed to be there just to see Ingrid Michaelson again. Kraig was able to record all of Dan’s songs except Easy Silence, check ‘em out:

First Set

[mp3] Breathless
[mp3] Free Life

Dan came second to last (instead of last) the second time around. His second set consisted of Sugar, Baby Doll, Second Modern (an Elvis Costello cover) and Closing Time. Of course, Closing Time was the crowd favorite - the teeny boppers could be heard between courses frantically text messaging each other to “figure out” who sang the song originally. Silly kids. He shared a great story about the writing of the song which Kraig was able to capture on for your listening pleasure:

Second Set

[mp3] Sugar
[mp3] Baby Doll
[mp3] Secondary Modern
[mp3] Closing Time (with explanation)

Baby Doll and Sugar were both absolutely breathtaking from the second set. Ingrid came out to sing back up vocals on Sugar, which despite being a little rusty, still added a new dimension to the song. Secondary Modern was a great track that none of the pre-teens had ever heard. Here’s to hoping they’ll take Dan’s advice and go out and listen to some Elvis Costello.

The final encore brought all the performers back on stage for one last hoo-rah. The chosen song was All Kinds, another off of Dan’s recently released solo debut, Free Life. I’m not sure if Dan was getting encore love on each stop of the tour, or if they just played his song on our date since it was his last outing on the tour - but it was a very fitting ending to a great show.


[mp3] All Kinds

As for the rest of the performers, they probably could have renamed the tour “You Heard us on Grey’s Anatomy - Live!” All the artists except Jim made comments about getting their “break” on a TV spot, and it seemed Grey’s Anatomy was mentioned most often. I don’t have a problem with that, it just seemed a little strange for all the artists to have that same experience. I guess the guys picking the music for Grey’s Anatomy must be checking out the tour? Probably.

Meiko had a strong voice, but didn't bring a lot of energy or excitement to the stage. Her song-writing just doesn’t seem to be there yet. There was heavy reliance on “do-da-do’s” and “la-la-la’s”, which to me seems like the easy way out of a chorus.

Jim Bianco was a hell of an entertainer and put on a fantastic performance. His music wasn’t something I’ll go out and buy, but if he comes to my neck ‘o the woods I’ll make it my business to see him play again. Probably more of a comedian than musician in most cases, but still - worth seeing if he’s coming to your town.

Cary Brothers was the first person to really bring the rock to the show. He started out strong and used his powerful vocals to keep things interesting throughout both of his sets. He had the most sonically complex songs out of the group, relying on effects pedals and angsty vocals throughout, which I rather enjoyed.

Ingrid Michaelson (whom a majority of the audience was there to see) was sort of hit-and-miss. A couple of her songs were pretty good, a couple were not so much. The crowd seemed to go crazy when she played that song that’s on the Old Navy commercial, which was nice but not quite up the level that I felt Dan provided. She had a really interesting song that relied on vocal rounds at the end of her set which was the highlight for me.

All in all the show was had a very enjoyable vibe to it - something you don’t usually see with artists of this caliber. The camaraderie wasn’t faked at all, lots of collaboration took place and they all seemed to genuinely like each other. Since the Hotel Cafe Tour is hitting basically every major market in the US and UK, it’s probably coming near you. We both highly recommend checking it out - ticket prices are low and the entertainment value is high (even though Dan isn’t on the ticket anymore). Just be sure to pick up your tickets fast, they seem to be selling out quickly just about everywhere!

Here's all of the recordings from Dan's performance in a convenient .zip package (for a limited time only!)

Click here for more info on the Hotel Cafe Tour.

Buy some music from Dan Wilson: Amazon | iTunes
Visit Dan online: Official | Myspace