Entries tagged with: Mitch Easter
by Andrew Sacher
Kurt Vile at Bowery Ballroom in May (more by Amanda Hatfield)
Kurt Vile released his new album, Wakin On A Pretty Daze, this past April. It's a fantastic double album which takes the style he perfected on 2011's Smoke Ring For My Halo to new, ambitious heights without ever overdoing it or dragging. If you haven't listened, I couldn't recommend it enough.
Kurt just released a video for the third single from that album, "KV Crimes." The video was directed by WFMU host Tom Scharpling (who has also directed videos for Ben Gibbard, Nude Beach, and Aimee Mann) and features lots of people clapping, singing along, and waving KV flags as Kurt is paraded through his hometown of Philadelphia. Check it out below.
Philly has also given their hometown hero another honor as well. Matablog reports...
By mayoral decree, August 28 will officially be Kurt Vile Day in Philadelphia! On that date, Kurt will give a free solo performance in City Hall Courtyard at 5:30pm for the season finale of the City Hall Presents summer concert series. Prior to his performance, the City of Philadelphia will present Kurt with the Liberty Bell Award, the highest honor the City can bestow upon one of its citizens. This award is given only to native Philadelphians, and is presented in recognition of outstanding professional achievements and civic generosity.Way to go, Kurt.
As mentioned, Kurt Vile will be in NYC for the free 4Knots Music Festival on June 29 which takes place on Pier 17 at South Street Seaport. The rest of that lineup is also great, and includes names like The Men, Parquet Courts, Marnie Stern, Reigning Sound, White Lung, and more. Show starts at 1 PM.
The next day (6/30), Kurt will hang around NYC for the previously announced Big Star's Third tribute show on Central Park Summerstage. In addition to KV, that show will also include vocalists Sharon Van Etten, Marhsall Crenshaw, Pete Yorn, Reeve Carney, Jonathan Donahue (Mercury Rev), and Beck Stark backed by a band that includes Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Mitch Easter (Let's Active), Chris Stamey (The dB's), Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, Big Star), Charles Cleaver, and Django Haskins (The Old Ceremony). That show starts at 7 PM, is open to all ages, and is totally free.
Kurt also recently performed live on KEXP. You can watch a video of that performance, the new music video for "KV Crimes," and the list of updated Kurt Vile dates, below...
As one half of the songwriting core of The dB's, Chris Stamey has been the off-kilter ying to Peter Holsapple's twangier yang. Following The dB's 2012 comeback LP, Falling Off the Sky, Chris Stamey will release Lovesick Blues on February 5. (That's the cover art above.) His first new solo record in eight years, the album is lush orch-pop that features Stamey's old pal (and occasional live dB's member) Mitch Easter and creative input from XTC's Andy Partridge.
Says Stamey of the album, "This record is the closest I've ever gotten to the sound I hear in my head in the middle of the night. It's always the quiet ones that sound the loudest in the dark." You can here some of it right now as we've got the premiere of the video for Lovesick Blues' title track and you can watch it below, along with a lyric video for "Skin"
Chris has a couple live dates coming up in February including one in NYC at Joe's Pub on 2/16 with backing by a five-piece chamber pop ensemble (including cellist Jane Scarpantoni). Tickets are now on sale. Chris will also be at SXSW this year. All upcoming dates are listed below
by Bill Pearis
A number of your contemporaries, most notably, R.E.M., have been calling it quits. What made you guys want to do the opposite?The dB's just released Falling Off the Sky, first new album in 30 years to feature the original line-up, crucially Chris Stamey who wrote and sang on many of the songs on the band's first two albums. While not as nervvy as 1981's Stands for deciBels and or 1982's Repercussion, neither Stamey or Peter Hosapple have lost their melodic touch and their some really nice songs on the new album which was produced by Mitch Easter and Scott Litt who between them produced every R.E.M. record you ever really cared about. You can stream Falling Off the Sky at the bottom of this post, as well as the dB's essential first two albums.
Chris Stamey: Peter and I were talking about making another record together back in 2005, but the songs we played for each other sounded more like dB's songs. We got together with Gene and Will at Water Music Recorders in Hoboken, one of our old haunts, and enjoyed the sounds we got on songs such as "Send Me Something Real," "World To Cry" and "That Time Is Gone." I think we would have stayed on that path at that time except for Katrina, who walked through Peter's life and left rubble.
Peter Holsapple: Chris is right. The more we played the songs we planned to do a duo, the more it sounded like it should be a group effort. I think we were also aware of our age. We thought, "We're all in our early-to-mid-50s now. Our time to make a record together isn't limitless. This is the time." [17 Dots]
by Bill Pearis
The dB's will release Falling Off the Sky, their first new album in 25 years, on June 12. It's the first in 30 years featuring the band's original line-up, including Chris Stamey who left the group after 1982's Repercussion. The album was produced by the band with help from North Carolina cohorts Mitch Easter (who was an auxiliary member of the band at SXSW this year) and Scott Litt. You can stream two songs from the album at the bottom of this post. You can stream the dB's four '80s-era albums at Spotify (Stands for deciBels and Repercussion are powerpop classics).
You can see The dB's play this Sunday afternoon (5/6, 4:45PM), headlining the annual Hoboken Arts & Music Festival. The fest is free, and happens on Washington St. between Observer Highway to 7th St. and also features Freedy Johnston, The Front Bottoms and more..
The dB's will also be playing a record release show at Le Poisson Rouge on Friday, June 15 and tickets go on sale today at noon. The band have a few more shows scattered throughout the summer and all dB's dates are below...
photos by Lori Baily & Ted Barron
DOWNLOAD: Tift Merritt & Norman Blake - Thirteen (Big Star) (MP3)
Tift Merritt w/ Matthew Sweet & friends @ the Big Star Tribute in March (by Lori)
Tift Merritt's is now on tour with Stephen Kellogg, and though tickets are unfotunately sold-out for their show at City Winery (May 6th), she has added another NYC show and this time it's FREE. Tift Merritt will play Madison Square Park on June 22nd at 6PM after her tour with Kellogg, but before she heads out on a string of UK dates with Greg Allman. All tour dates are below.
Add the June 22nd free show to the growing list of free shows happening Madison Square Park this summer. Another is the music portion of the Big Apple BBQ.
Tift Merritt joined an all-star cast that stood up in praise of the late great Alex Chilton (of Big Star) at Baruch College on March 26th, a shade more than one year after he suffered a fatal heart attack. Big Star's Third was the focus of the show, and it featured a revolving cast of musicians on vocals....
"Stipe's performance of "Kanga Roo" was at once fragile and unbowed, while his R.E.M. cohort, singer-bassist Mike Mills, found the holiday in the Christmas song "Jesus Christ." Alternative-country singer Tift Merritt was a vital female addition, showing that the vengeful kick of "You Can't Have Me" could go both ways. Other voices included Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo ("O, Dana," "Take Care"), Norman Blake of the Scottish band Teenage Fanclub ("Nightime"), Matthew Sweet ("Big Black Car") and Django Haskins of the group The Old Ceremony, who carried the bleak weight of "Holocaust" with a wise plain poise." [Rolling Stone]During the encore Tift performed "Thirteen" with Norman Blake. A recording of that cover from the show is avaialble for download above. A set of pictures from the show are in this post. More of them, with all of Tift's tour dates, are below...
by Bill Pearis
A lot of cool shows this week/weekend, some of which might be a bit under the radar. Let's get into it. Alt rock legend Mitch Easter, in addition to being part of that upcoming Big Star Third show, is on a rare Northeast tour right now that pulls into town Thursday (2/17) at The Rock Shop.
While he's maybe best known as a producer (the first two R.E.M.'s albums [with Don Dixon], Pavement's Brighten the Corners, Moose's ...XYZ among other things), Easter has had a long career as a musician, as a part ofThe Sneakers in the late '70s and frontman/songwriter for Let's Active, easily one of the most underrated bands of the '80s. He's also an incredible guitarist, and Let's Active albums are resplendent with awesome axe-work.
I like everything they ever did but 1986's Big Plans for Everybody is especially great, one of my favorite albums of that decade. Mitch put the kybosh on Let's Active in 1990 and didn't release any original material until 2008's Dynamico, an album which showed he still has chops and songs to spare.
Mitch's set at The Rock Shop is going to be heavy on the Let's Active tunes and if there's a song you really want to hear, like "Talking to Myself" from Big Plans, you can make a request. Opening the show are Brooklyn's own Boy Genius whose album from last year, Staggering, was produced by Mitch and is worth checking out. Also playing: Overlord.
I'm pretty excited about this next one. Minneapolis' awesome and enigmatic BNLX play their first-ever NYC shows this week, stopping at Fontana's tomorrow night (2/17) and The Rock Shop on Friday (2/18).
BNLX seemingly stormed out of nowhere early 2010, releasing a new EP each quarter, featuring hand-printed, Neu!-esque sleeves and press releases like this:
-BNLX has been meeting and / or exceeding expectations since its inception in Q1 2010Keeping things mysterious, you could mainly only focus on the music which is pretty awesome: blistering post-punk inspired rock, with male/female, call-and-response vocals, feedback, harmonies, old-school drum machines and ridiculously catchy choruses. The first three EPs were all originals, and the fourth EP was all covers, including great versions of Rhianna's "Shut Up and Drive" and hometown legend Prince's "When Doves Cry." BNLX actually played the latter at First Avenue last month at an Onion party, which takes balls.
-BNLX provides mission-critical services to the entertainment sector in the following categories:
--found art -beatz / rhymez
--obfuscation / parallax
-these services are rendered in the live, recorded, and conceptual spheres
-BNLX is comprised of both organic and inorganic members
-this allows BNLX to achieve standards of performance surpassing nominal criteria
-Stage One of the BNLX First One Year Plan commenced in March, 2010; it has been successful
-Stage Two - the release of BNLX EP #2 - will be executed June 25th, 2010
-BNLX EP #2 will be available as a numbered limited edition CD art package
-it will also be available through iTunes, other digital retailers, and piracy
That obfuscation didn't last two long as people figured out that BNLX was the work of Minneapolis indie rock mainstay Ed Ackerson, who has led such excelent bands as The 27 Various and Polara over the last 25 years as well as running Susstones Records. His wife Ashley -- they're both also in Moodswings -- is the other half of the band. BNLX have culled the best of the four 2010 EPs as a free sampler which you can download for free. You can also check out a few of the songs, including that Prince cover, at the top of this post.
The Rock Shop show is part of the monthly Hard Light party which is a must for lovers of shoegaze, post-punk, '60s psych, Krautrock, metal, Sweden, feedback, '90s indie rock, and guitars in general. In addition to BNLX, Hard Light promises "drink specials- weirdo cult movies - and loudness."
Speaking of shoegazy stuff, Tamaryn is back in NYC for her first proper shows since CMJ 2010. She plays Don Hill's on Thusday (2/17), and then an afternoon show at PS 1 on Saturday (2/19). I loved her debut album, The Waves, which came in at #12 on my Favorite LPs of 2011 list, and it's still in pretty heavy rotation here at TWII Headquarters (aka my kitchen). It reminds me a lot of the first Verve album, tsunami waves of guitar matched with a nimble, groovy rhythm section and Tamaryn's lovely vocals.
There are a lot of chilly ice princesses out there right now, but I think Tamaryn deserves the crown. (Though I haven't heard the Austra album yet.) I thought she and her band were great at Coco66, those three songs before the cops shut it all down. If you can't make these shows, she'll be back in April touring with The Raveonettes, including two nights at Music Hall of Williamsburg (4/20 and 4/21). All Tamaryn tour dates are at the bottom of this post.
Keeping with the theme, let's talk a bit about Sweet Bulbs, "Brooklyn's blurriest pop band," whose album came out this week on Blackburn Recordings. It's choc-a-bloc with seriously catchy songs that are buried under layers of swirly guitars and effects pedals and other sludge. As someone who loved bands like The Swirlies, Drop Nineteens, Lilys and Henry's Dress, this is right up my alley. For those mystified by that litany of obscure '90s indie bands, just know Sweet Bulbs make beautiful noise. You can download "Kissing Clouds" from the album at the top of this post.
That's the main stuff this week. A few more picks, day by day are below:
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16
The Church play three albums from their catalog in their entirety tonight at Highline Ballroom: Untitled #23, Priest=Aura, and Starfish. That's over three hours of music, which seems like a lot to me even for a devoted Church fan. Maybe if it was Heyday instead of Untitled #23 I'd be more inclined to go. They'll do it again tomorrow (2/17) at BB King's.
Tonight is also the third week of ARMS' February residency at Pianos, this week with The Silent League, Your Youth, Inlets and Thunder & Lightning (which is the new band from Brent Katz who was Todd Goldstein's bandmate in Harlem Shakes). ARMS were teriffic last week, this is highly recommended.
"Big Star's third album, Third/Sister Lovers, has long been revered by artists and critics as one of the most influential albums ever produced. Written and recorded when the legendary 70s band was primarily a studio project consisting of Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens, the third album was never been performed in public with the original string and wind orchestrations. That changed in December 2010, when an all-star band unearthed the original scores, assembled an orchestra and performed Big Star's Third at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, NC. Performers that night included Jody Stephens (Big Star), Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Mitch Easter (Let's Active), Chris Stamey (the dB's) - the creative genesis they experienced prompted plans for a historic concert in New York City.BIG STAR THIRD is happening at Baruch Performing Arts Center (at Baruch College) in Mason Hall (17 Lexington) on Saturday, March 26, 2011. Tickets are on presale now (password: Alex), and going on general sale Thursday at noon. More details with the lineup listed out, below...
On March 26th, a mind-boggling array of indie rock all-stars will gather to perform Big Star's Third at Mason Hall. Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub), Mitch Easter (Let's Active), Ira Kaplan (Yo La Tengo), Tift Merritt, Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Will Rigby (the dB's), Matthew Sweet, Chris Stamey (the dB's), Jody Stephens (Big Star) and M. Ward (She & Him) will be joined by The Lost in the Trees Orchestra with Jane Scarpantoni, Django Haskins (The Old Ceremony), Brett Harris, Sidney Dixon and Matt McMichaels to recreate the original scores and breathe life into a bittersweet album that has impacted generations of musicians. Some very special guests will be announced in the days to come. As the evening unfolds, Chilton and Stephen's musical ideas that were far ahead of their time 35 years ago will resonate in the hands of a collective of sympathetic, top-notch musicians. "We have been trying to create a concert piece that can have a life in years to come, trying to keep the spirit of the music and make it come across with the right emotions live," Stamey told Indy Week. "There's something about this record that connects with my generation, and apparently many generations."
The assemblage will perform Third/Sister Lovers in its entirety - fans can expect additional Big Star and Chris Bell songs as well. "It's easier as time passes to revisit that album because it came out of such a dark period," Big Star drummer Jody Stephens told the Raleigh News and Observer. "There were brilliant moments in the studio, especially Carl Marsh's string arrangements, which really take it to a whole other world. But it could be emotionally difficult to watch certain things happen. I was so close to it at the time that I could not see what it was.""
by Bill Pearis
DOWNLOAD: Blind Man Color - Heavy Cloud Hustle (JVG Remix) (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Beach Fossils - Vacation (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Mitch Easter - Time Warping (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Mitch Easter - Sudden Crown Drop (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: The Asteroid #4 - Flowers of Ours (MP3)
Hope everyone stayed cool this weekend. Before I get into picks for the first part of this week, I'd just like to point out that we've got a remix (a BV exclusive, I'm told) of Blind Man's Colour's "Heavy Cloud Hustle" in the popular MP3 format to download at the very top of this post. The band were in town this weekend and I caught their Saturday night set at Union Hall where I was surprised to see a traditional guitar-bass-drums-keyboard setup for a band whose album, Season Dreaming (out tomorrow 8/18) leans heavily into Animal Collective sound collage territory. They pulled it off pretty well for only have played live for a month, though the band could use a few more peppy songs.
That night's show -- that also included San Diego's Lights On and Philly's Drink Up Buttercup -- was stolen by locals Beach Fossils who've figured out a distinctive sound: two guitarists but neither of them play chords, just single notes that play off each and the bouncy basslines. The band bounces around a lot too; nobody stands still in this band. It's a sound somewhere between the Clean and early R.E.M. and it's hard to dislike. I wish they'd drop the vibrato effects on the vocals which I think are an unnecessary affectation, but otherwise I'm a fan. They haven't put out anything yet, but they've got records out sometime soon on Woodsist and Captured Tracks (not surprisingly they played the festival put on by the same two labels), and you can download an MP3 of their track "Vacation" at the top of this post. They've also got ties to the Underwater Peoples Records who are putting on a show at Market Hotel this Saturday (8/22) that Beach Fossils are playing -- along with every band associated with the label. That includes Ducktails, sister band Real Estate, Air Waves, Fluffy Lumbers and bunch more. The show's only $5 and doors are at 4pm. Full schedule for the show is at the bottom of this post.
Rewinding a bit, Ambulance LTD play their first shows this week since finally being released from their contract from former, bankrupt label, TVT. I really like their 2004 debut and hopefully we'll get to hear its John Cale-produced follow-up sooner than later, but you can get a taste live this week. The band's show tomorrow night (8/18) at Mercury Lounge is sold out, but you can still get tickets for tonight's show (8/17) at Union Hall. Both shows are with the great Savoir Adore so get there early and be sure to pick up a copy of their debut, In the Wooded Forrest, which is only available at their shows (or digitally) right now.
In town for two shows this week is North Carolina indie rock legend Mitch Easter, who plays Southpaw on Tuesday (8/18) and Maxwell's on Thursday (8/20). While he's maybe best known as a producer (the first two R.E.M.'s albums [with Don Dixon], Pavement's Brighten the Corners, Moose's ...XYZ among other things), but Easter has had a long career as a musician, as a part of The Sneakers in the late '70s and frontman/songwriter for Let's Active, easily one of the most underrated bands of the '80s. He's also an incredible guitarist, and Let's Active albums are resplendent with awesome axe-work.
I like everything they ever did but 1986's Big Plans for Everybody is especially great, one of my favorite albums of that decade. Mitch put the kybosh on Let's Active in 1990 and didn't release any original material until last year's Dynamico, an album which showed he still has chops and songs to spare. He opened for the dB's at Bowery Ballroom two years ago where he played most of Let's Active's big songs ("Every Word Means No," "Waters Part," "Fell," "In Little Ways") and has since been touring with his "Let's Active cover band" Gravel Truck that splits the set between classics and new songs. Easter helped shape the sound of the underground in the '80s and '90s, and is absolutely still worth checking out.
Both shows are with Amy Speace whose new album 'The Killer In Me' was engineered by Mitch.
The Asteroid #4
And lastly, Philadelphia's The Asteroid #4 is playing Tuesday night (8/18) at Glasslands in Brooklyn. The band recently toured with The Brian Jonestown Massacre which gives you a good idea of what you can expect, and they're not unlike Philly neighbors (The Sounds of) Kaleidescope... but they're better. Last year's These Flowers of Ours, is pretty ace, a nice blend of The Byrds, Ride and Spiritualized. You can stream the whole thing here and download the album's title track at the top of this post. The Glasslands show is with a couple likeminded bands: Austin's Runaway Sun and Brooklyn's Revival Times.
That's it for now. Tour dates, flyers and videos after the jump...