Best of 2012

For anyone that reads my blog you know that making and publishing lists is my favorite part of blogging. However this year a detailed, complete, best-of 2012 list just isn't possible. 2012 brought our third child and expanded work duties; a thorough list will have to wait. My goal is one sentence per album.

Someday I will flesh out this list, and complete the other lists I have in progress. I started publishing year-end lists on this blog in 2003, so this marks the 10th anniversary of Turn Off The Radio. I started writing detailed lists in 2006, and then I have also been working my way up through my teenage years, and have completed detailed lists for 1991-1997. 1998 has been in the works for over a year and still not published. Stick with me for a couple decades and I'll have a detailed year-end list for every year of my life!

Top 20 Albums of 2012:
1. mewithoutYou- Ten Stories* They almost lost me with their last album, but this one is terrific. Even the band agreed that this was the proper follow-up to the amazing Brother, Sister. The biggest change to their unique style is the addition of lots of female background vocals, which honestly change the whole feel of the band's music. The album starts more aggressive than the band has been in 5 years, and then settles in to the mellowest the band has ever been. The bonus tracks are essential and the best songs on the album (so make sure you listen to the 13-track version).

2. Cat Power- Sun* It's been a long time since The Greatest, and this is Chan Marshall at her creative peak.
3. Smashing Pumpkins- Oceania Never thought the Pumpkins would make a top-20 list again, much less top-3. Zeitgeist was forced, and the Teargarden by Kaleidoscope songs up until this point were average at best. This album is Corgan at his best, and as if the band had never stopped more than a decade ago. He is letting his "new" band members collaborate more and more and the results are fantastic.
4. Of Monsters and Men- My Head is an Animal I probably listened to this album more than any other this year, because my 3- and 4-year-old kids both love it. Who can't help but sing along to "Little Talks?"
5. Hammock- Departure Songs I have been a fan of Marc Byrd since his first band Common Children in the late 90's. While appreciating Hammock over the last 5 years, I never truly got that into them because of the lack of song structure in their ambient songs. This double-album brings more full instrumentation and a lot of vocals; some for texture and some as actual lead.
6. Pinback- Information Retrieved* I was actually able to see Pinback live this year, and it gave me a new appreciation for the band that I discovered in 2004. The driving, melodic bass lines have never been better. I actually thought their last album, 2007's Autumn of the Seraphs, was their least interesting; and this one picks up right where 2004's outstanding Summer in Abaddon left off.
7. Metric- Synthetica I only discovered this band a couple of years ago, but I think this is the best album they have ever released.
8. Sleigh Bells- Reign of Terror* Not as unique or interesting as their debut, but still fun and powerful. My son really digs about half this album, and whenever he and I were in the car by ourselves over the summer he would ask to listen to it, because, in his words, "Mama doesn't like Sleigh Bells".
9. Rosie Thomas- With Love* I prefer Rosie with less instrumentation and less production, but she has never sounded better.

10. The Shins- Port of Morrow* Arguably the best album the Shins have ever released. "Simple Song" could be my favorite track of the year.

11. Lana Del Rey- Born to Die Pretty amazing album vocally, highlighted by my personal favorite track "Off to the Races". The only thing preventing this album from being ranked higher is the lyrics.

12. Norah Jones- Little Broken Hearts Forget the Norah Jones you have heard before, she reached new heights with this album. Four key words: Produced by Danger Mouse.

13. Mindy Smith- Mindy Smith Probably the album on this list that I have unfortunately and inexplicably listened to the least. Mindy at her best on her first indie release.

14. Nada Surf- The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy* Nada Surf keeps churning out great albums. None including this approach 2003's Let Go, but that is unnecessary.

15. Fiona Apple- The Idler Wheel...* Most reviews seem to love this album, and I have seen it ranked #1 on a couple of year-end lists. A disappointment for me really. I love Apple, but I don't think this comes close to Extraordinary Machine. Much more simple and stripped down, and the songs just don't stick with me.

16. Roy Ira- Still Be My Love After a few low-fi EPs, this band finally released its first LP in 2012 and it impresses. The production is excellent and highlights the vocals. Stylistically all over the map, and their self-label of "indie-folk-country" could not be more accurate. Stream the full album here and buy the vinyl that releases in January.

17. Forget Cassettes- O Cursa Forget Cassettes released an amazing album in 2003 and then a mostly forgettable album in 2006. They (or "she", as Forget Cassettes is Beth Cameron) are back, and this album is spectacular. Lead single/video for the album is below and one of the greatest "angry" songs I have ever heard...

18. Sixpence None the Richer- Lost in Transition Probably here only because of their past work. It is a fine pop album, but pales in comparison to all their other albums. If it was the first time I was hearing the band I would probably appreciate the album more, but after being a fan for 20 years it is very disappointing.

19. POD- Murdered Love Never thought POD would be relevant again, and they are probably not (except in my car), but this is the first album of theirs I have enjoyed since Satellite. Title track is brutally heavy.

20. Benjamin Gibbard- Former Lives I had pretty low expectations for this and waited a long time after its release to even listen to it. Actually, if not for a $2.99 temporary price tag on Amazon I probably wouldn't have purchased it. That said, it impressed me greatly. More diverse than the recent Death Cab albums, and with thoughtful and honest songwriting.

2013 albums already available that are top-20 worthy:
Starflyer 59- IAMACEO Jason Martin's 13th studio LP, this time sans-label and funded by Kickstarter.

Sandra McCracken- Desire Like Dynamite Her first proper solo album in a few years, and she has never sounded better. I was very impressed by her voice when seeing her in concert earlier this year, and made the comment that I didn't think her vocals had ever been recorded properly. This might be the first album where she actually sounds like her impressive self.

Albums I got for Christmas that might break into my top-20 with some spins:
Hospitality- Hospitality Two spins in I am really digging it. Sunny, energetic indie rock.

Sucre- A Minor Bird Solo album from Stacy Dupree King of Eisley. Quite a departure musically, most of the instrumentation is strings and unique percussion. Arguably much more interesting than what her band has been recording lately.

Stars- The North My opinion of Stars for the last decade has been, "they write good songs, but not good albums." That opinion changed with Five Ghosts, which blew me away. Well, they are back to their lesser, old form. Half the songs are terrific, half are boring or worse.

Albums I got for Christmas that are fun, but will not break into the top-20:
Demon Hunter- True Defiance* Got on vinyl, and I haven't been home to use my turntable. And frustratingly, it is the only vinyl record I got this year that did not come with an MP3 download. What's up with that Tooth & Nail?!

Taylor Swift- Red I enjoy Taylor Swift far more than 99% of the pop music in the world, but I look forward to her aging and recording more folk-type songs.

No Doubt- Push and Shove OK, so it's not fun, it's TERRIBLE. Not that I was ever a huge No Doubt fan, but man they should have just called it quits.

Most disappointing album of 2012:
Sarah Jaffe- The Body Wins Not disappointing because its not good, but disappointing because it is such a drastic departure from the Sarah Jaffe I loved. If you are hearing her for the first time, you might love it. I prefer the quiet, folk of her old work to the electronica/rock of her new stuff.

Best 2011 album I bought a year late:
Haley Bonar- Golder Have been aware of her for a decade, but just never dove that far into her work. Her 2012 single Bad Reputation stunned me, and I am now exploring her back catalog.

Looking forward to...
CUSH- A new EP for sure and maybe 1 or 2 LP's!? Pretty incredible after almost nothing in a decade.
Appleseed Cast- Illumination Ritual out soon. And just this week they released a new song that appears on a 7":


CUSH: The Gift of Hope and Fear

Email recieved from cush@cushkuxh.org at 3:16 EST:

It's midnight in California.  Maybe you're awake, too.  If so, you can watch the video for "The Gift Of Hope And Fear" now on YouTube.

This is song 01 on the upcoming SP3 album.  It is also the beginning of the Story.  Each of the album's 07 songs is set in the context of 07 main arguing points of/for/against Christianity, based on 07 identified 'moments' or movements in the life of Christ.  It should be clear which one this song addresses.  The lyrics of each song are written from the perspective of someone who was 'there', a witness, characters in the Story, rather than someone who has lived with the result of 2000 years of various forms of propagandic, cultural, and financial influence on the Story.  At least that is the attempt.  To see in something you've seen many times what new can be seen by looking at it as if it were for the first time.

Please enjoy whilst you Celebrate the Mass of Christ.

Email recieved from cush@cushkuxh.org on December 19:

Tidings.  Thank you for registering at cushkuxh.org.  If you haven't yet, you can hear a preview sample from the upcoming SP3 album by going to this link:


If that doesn't work, you can try this link:


Either way, thank you for your patience and understanding.  While Facebook is the current best way to interact with people near and far, nobody knows what the future of Facebook will be.  Conversely, our website has a determinable future, and enables us to more directly communicate and interact with you.  So, again, thank you for subscribing.

The release of the SP3 album will be non-traditional.  The first song will be released on December 25th, 2012, in video form only.  The rest of the songs will also be released in video form as well, one at a time, spread out over the next few months.  The release of the digital and packaged album (which will include a great deal of artwork and supplemental material) will be on May 7th, 2013.  As it all unfolds, it will make sense why this release schedule was chosen.  Previews and early releases will arrive to Subscribers first.

As a Subscriber, you will also receive access to download (if you so choose) the song "Always Disappear," which has been up on the Bandcamp site for quite some time.  It will most likely 'reappear' on the record that will be released next year, in a modified form.  So this current version will be unique.

Other scheduled items: live, in-studio performance videos, of old and new songs, the KUXH Super G album, and new material by CUSH 'proper', as we refer to it. 

Thank you for listening.


CeeLo & The Muppets Christmas song

In attempt to find the original Chipmunks Christmas song video (found it), I watched a variety of silly Christmas YouTube videos with my 3 kids this morning. This one was by far the highlight. Make sure to watch through the end of the credits, and pay special attention to the "Cfood" part.


Foo Fighters and RGIII


New Poor Old Lu song (!!!!!) and t-shirt available NOW

If you have never heard of Poor Old Lu, they formed in Seattle and were active the at the same time as the likes of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Sunny Day Real Estate. And I like them better than all of those bands. They released 3 LPs from 1993-1996, broke up for awhile, reformed in 2002 for another LP, and then have been on indefinite hiatus.

As of a couple of hours ago, you can "purchase" a new single from Poor Old Lu along with a new shirt. This is the first new song the band has released in a decade. I can't really explain how exciting this is for me. Unlike most (?) bands, Poor Old Lu has only recorded with the four original members, and this song is no different- Scott Hunter (vocals), Aaron Sprinkle (guitar), Nick Barber (bass), and Jesse Sprinkle (drums).

Aaron Sprinkle is probably most widely known as a producer, but also has 3 solo albums and is the lead singer/songwriter for the bands Fair and Rose Blossom Punch. His brother Jesse is probably best known as the drummer of Demon Hunter and Dead Poetic, but is also a prolific songwriter with more solo albums (some under the moniker "The World Inside") than one can count. Nick Barber has also played bass in all of Aaron's bands, and has played with Jeremy Enigk. The band is unlikely to ever be truly active again, as Jesse lives in NY, Aaron in Nashville, and Scott and Nick still in Seattle.

Never heard the band? Not too late to start. Numerous free downloads at PoorOldLu.com
Here is one of my favorites, from 1994's Sin:

Where Where All of You (mp3)

While I have tried to draw you in with the interest in hearing/buying the Poor Old Lu song, this isn't really about the band. It is about a project Jesse has with a friend to help children in Uganda.

The short of it is that Jesse and friend Kurt Johnson are hoping to travel to Uganda and record and album with street kids there. Jesse has been to Uganda many times, only through the help of others.

"The Luser" perk through the Indiegogo campaign is $50 for the Poor Old Lu song, shirt, and the new Paradise Uganda album. While if you were just buying those things, $50 would obviously seem like a lot of money and not a good value.

But don't think about it that way. Pretend you are just giving $50 to someone in need, and that you will get nothing in return.

It is called a perk because it is just that. You are not actually buying these items, you are supporting a cause you believe in, and then you are fortunate enough to get some small items for your own enjoyment.

Unlike Kickstarter, they don't have to reach their goal to get the money. If you read the details, you are making a donation to a cause, and no matter how much they raise, they will continue with their plans. Donate now!


Kickstarter to help release Shoegaze Documentary "Beautiful Noise"

I am one of the majority of music fans who discovered this genre of music because of the newer bands inspired and influenced by the creators. I just supported the Kickstarter, you should too!


Concert review: Pinback @ Terminal West in Atlanta

I went to my second concert of the year last night, seeing Pinback at a great new venue (well, at least new to me) called Terminal West. Living an hour an 1:15 minutes away from the heart of Atlanta and being married with 3 kids means very few concert experiences. But my wife let me pick a show for my birthday, and this is the one I chose (primarily over David Bazan playing Pedro the Lion's Control on Nov. 24).

 Pinback is a collaboration between Rob Crow and Zach Smith, and is by far the best project either of them have ever worked on. Seriously, save yourself the time and don't even worry about checking out the other dozen bands they have been, solo projects, etc. All of it is average at best and pales in comparison to Pinback. Rob and Zach were meant to play music together, and their varying styles and personalities mesh perfectly to create a distinct, unique vibe. Here is a good interview with Rob published two days ago by Vinyl Mag. I took a few photos and also shot one video of the song "Penelope", one of my all-time favorites:

 The highlight of Pinback by far is Zach's bass playing. I always liked it, but never truly appreciated it until I saw him playing. Since I had never seen Pinback in my 10 years of being a fan, I never really knew who was singing when. Their vocals are very similar recorded, a little more distinct in person. Honestly Rob sounded very nasal to me and different. Rob sings more, but they both sing a lot. Vocally the most fun parts are when they are singing different things at the same time.

I would have never been able to recall the set-list as Pinback's song titles are very difficult to remember. However, this setlist from last week is almost exactly the same as what I experienced.

UPDATE (10/27/13): I had someone else who was at the show contact me, and they sent me a photo of the actual setlist!

(I could have sworn they played "Victorious D"!)

I have always debated between the LP's Blue Screen Life and Summer in Abaddon as my favorite Pinback album. Last night though I realized Pinback's best work is actually the Offcell EP. All 5 songs are terrific and probably the best intro you could get to the band.

Pinback's newest album Information Retrieved will be in my top-5 of 2012, and you can check out two songs from the album and buy the gorgeous blue vinyl here.


Appleseed Cast: House shows in the books, new album(s) on the way!?

From the Appleseed Cast Facebook page:

The house shows were wonderful! We had such a great time, we will definitely be doing more of these. Thank you to everyone that came out. All of us really enjoyed the low-key and welcoming atmosphere. St. Louis: It didn't work out this time, but we'll try again and make it happen. 

Now it's time to focus on finishing up some minor changes to finish up the new album (Out the beginning of 2013, should Nibiru not hit us). 

 Next on the Docket: Finish up the Old Canes/Shapeshifter 7" Series and record the next full length, (I have the instrumentation for about 12 songs ready to go.) 

 After that: Write, record and release the NEXT Appleseed Cast record. We're writing really fast right now, and I wouldn't be surprises if we actually released 2 records in 2013. Looking forward to a busy year!

Two Appleseed Cast albums in one year? YES.


Cush update

I was a little confused on the plan for the new Cush song, and here you get the explanation straight from the band...


If you have subscribed to the cushkuxh.org website, then that is why you are receiving this email. As you may know, we released a new song and video last week for the song "The Drug That You Can Never Take." It is from the forthcoming album 'SP3', the third installment in the 'Spirituals' series which began quite a while ago. Please enjoy and share responsibly. 

The Spirituals were always intended to be a trilogy of records. They were also intended to be entirely covers of other songs. The first two records are, being comprised of old Spirituals and a couple of favorites from unexpected Hymnists. However, when we started into the third round (finally, after quite the delay...), and looked at the songs we had originally chosen to do, we determined that they weren't quite as interesting or impactful as the previous ones were. And so the questionably brave notion of composing our own was born. 

A year and a half later (and then some), we are now ready to begin rolling them out. Most of the time was spent on the lyrics, which was immensely more difficult than we had imagined going in. Hours of writing words, only to come up with a usable line or two. There is a distinct thematic concept and structure to the album, which helped frame each song, and enabled us to shoot for something, but trying to say the things we wanted to say in a singable way proved challenging. Which is why the album will become accompanied by both the lyrics and supplemental writings, as well as a video for each song. 

In the meantime, a few more fun things will be put on SoundCloud for subscribers, like the New Covenant Choir. Here's hoping they're somewhat fun to hear. Also, we are rehearsing for a live, in-studio performance of songs from the first album. Not sure when it will happen, but it will be made known. 

Thank you for listening." ~CUSH


Stunning new Cush song (and only the 3rd total in a decade)

Cush, the brainchild of Andy Prickett, Eric Campuzano & friends doesn't get around to releasing music very often. They were prolific from 1990-2003, mostly as the Prayer Chain, and the only Cush LP (with Mike Knott on lead vocals) was released a dozen years ago. A few EPs and live album followed, but really for 8 years or so there has been very little news. Until today... From Cushkuxh.org: "This is song 04 of 07 from the CUSH SP3 album, which will be released December 25th, 2012." Wow. Video is weird, but song is stunning. The lead vocals sound very familiar, but I am having trouble placing them. Earlier this year the band put this song on Bandcamp & YouTube, which apparently was a one-take practice/demo version: Then 2 years ago band put up one song on Bandcamp- "Always Disappear"- one of the best they have ever recorded. I am curious if the 2nd and 3rd songs embedded here will also appear on the new LP in completed form. Anyway, so pumped for this new Cush album; another reason to look forward to Christmas!


Haley Bonar

I have been a casual fan of Haley Bonar since I randomly discovered her online during my time in Zambia (2002-04). I go years without listening to her unfortunately, and I really need to buy more of her stuff. Well yesterday NPR debuted a new song of hers, and honestly it might be the best song she has ever written:

I also highly recommend her LP Golder which you can listen to in full on her Bandcamp site.


Further Seems Forever: New album next week, and how I discovered them 13 years ago

I found out last night that Further Seems Forever has a new album, Penny Black, releasing next week. You'll find two new songs from it imbedded below. But first, how I discovered them...

I honestly haven't followed FSF since 2001 or so, and their last album was in 2004. The original line-up only lasted 3 years, 1998-2001, and I discovered them in the middle of that time.

 In the Fall of 1999 I took a road trip with some friends from Birmingham, AL to Pensacola, FL to see the Juliana Theory in concert. I knew very little about the band, but had discovered them in May of 1999 when Understand This is a Dream was released. I was obsessed with them and that album all summer. And while they were the reason we drove to Pensacola, I am not going to mention them any more in this post.

The bands playing that night had very little following at the time, and the show was at a hole-in-the-wall venue that was hard to find. (You could say that about 90% of the shows I went to in the 90's). We were early, and when we arrived we went straight to the merch table. The guy working the table was super SHORT and wearing an Elliott Kentucky shirt. I immediately had to talk to him because I was really into Elliott at the time.

I don't remember what we talked about, but I was shocked when he then walked on stage 30 minutes later with his band: Further Seems Forever. I remember very little of their show, but I did buy their split EP based on their performance. I would have never imagined that Chris Carrabba and his solo project Dashboard Confessional would become the poster child of MTV.

FSF released The Moon is Down in 2001 and I thought it was great. What was crazy is that Carrabba had already left the band by the time the LP came out. I saw FSF at Cornerstone 2001 with their new vocalist (I didn't know his name at the time) and I thought it was terrible. Because of that I completely lost interest in the band and was shocked when I finally heard 2003's How to Start a Fire- I was shocked because it was good and arguably much better instrumentally than the debut. I lost track of them again for awhile.

FSF slightly regained my interest because of the album artwork for 2004's Hide Nothing. Unfortunately I thought the artwork was far better than the music, and FSF's third album with a third lead singer did nothing for me.

Fast forward to 2011, when I heard Carrabba had rejoined the band for some shows and I was inexplicably very interested. I honestly hated Dashboard Confessional for the lyrical content. But for some reason I thought a subpar Carrabba solo project and a subpar last couple of years for FSF could somehow reunite with a spark.

That is where I stand right now. I am very interested in this new FSF album, but not sure if I'll buy it. What do you think of their two new songs?



New Pinback album streaming now (so good!)

Information Retrieved will be released on Oct. 16 but is streaming now in full on Sound Check. Order it from Temporary Residence (best-ever name for a record label).


NPR Music is ON FIRE right now

NPR always does a great job of previewing new albums, but the list they have going right now is ridiculous. Stream all of these new albums below right now for free (Release dates of 9/4 or 9/11):

Stars- The North

Avett Brothers- The Carpenter

Cat Power- Sun (The best of this list in my opinion)

Also, Deerhoof, Animal Collective, and more...


Forget Cassettes...

... is back, and my brother is now in the band. Pretty awesome. Instruments of Action is one of my favorite albums from 2003. You can hear it and 2006's Salt on the band's Bandcamp page.


The People's List: Top Albums 1996-2011

Both graphically and informationally, this is a must-see website...


Dustin Kensrue has a new EP out today

Dustin Kensrue surprised everyone today with a new EP under the band name The Modern Post. It is a release from Mars Hill Music, his new employer. I have barely listened to it, but it is a drastic departure from his solo album or anything he did with Thrice. Do yourself a favor and buy the EP through Bandcamp for $4 to save yourself a buck and direct a higher percentage of your money to the artist rather than Amazon or iTunes.



27 months after completion and a full two years after the original release date, Sixpence None the Richer's Lost in Transition is finally available to the public.

Amazon as usual is the cheapest place to buy both the physical (CD, 9.99) and digital (MP3, 6.99) versions. Inexplicably the digital version comes with a bonus track apparently not on the CD. I am very upset with Amazon that my CD did not arrive on release day; typically I get new releases the day before. Here is a hint: If you want the physical CD but also the bonus track, take note that when you buy the CD, Amazon gives you a free $1 credit for MP3s. I used this credit to download the bonus track, which unlike iTunes does not require a full album purchase.

Here's to many more Sixpence albums!


New free tracks from Sixpence and Freelance Whales

"Still Waiting" for Sixpence to respond to my letter. Honestly the only response I need is a pre-order for a vinyl version of "Lost in Transition" that includes a download of the bonus track that is currently only available on the iTunes digital version. Sixpence has updated the homepage of their website, and it includes a free download of their "new" single, "Sooner Than Later". This song is in fact 4 years old and appeared on the "My Dear Machine" EP. Enter your email below for a link to download...

 Freelance Whales is also set to release their new album, "Diluvia" in October and they have a new free single out as well...

Other random news: The new Smashing Pumpkins album "Oceania" is outstanding and I have been listening to it non-stop all month. It has me the most excited about the band I have been in a dozen years.

 Cush is set to release two new EPs "soon": Spirituals Volume 3 and The Super-G EP.


Chris Simpson then and now...

Mineral from the mid-1990's, recent YouTube upload from VHS tape:

New unreleased Zookeeper songs (found scouring the web):

Come on Chris, release another album already!


New free streaming music from Metric and Fiona Apple

Both Metric and Fiona Apple have new albums coming out this month. Fiona Apple has released a couple tracks, the most recent yesterday on Pitchfork along with a new interview.

Then Metric today put their full album up to stream:

Dutch rock: Brown Feather Sparrow is now Eins, Zwei Orchestra

As I have mentioned before, I love Dutch music. There is tons of good stuff out there, but living in the United States makes it almost impossible to keep track of. Most of these bands I discovered in Holland in 2003 during Flevo Festival: This Beautiful Mess, Brown Feather Sparrow, The Spirit That Guides Us, People Get Ready, etc. Brown Feather Sparrow was the only one of those three who actually performed that year at the fest, and I love their version of quiet folk rock in the vein of The Innocence Mission or Over the Rhine. Brown Feather Sparrow released three LPs (2003, 2005 and 2008), and I was sad to see when they "broke up" a couple of year ago.

Brown Feather Sparrow is the brainchild of Lydia van Maurik-Wever. I just discovered her "new" project Eins, Zwei Orchestra she started with her husband, Stefan Maurik. I say "new", because I discovered them yesterday, but their LP, 100 Colors, was released in 2011. They also have an acoustic EP they released this year.

Eins, Zwei Orchestra is a noiser, more-rocking version of Brown Feather Sparrow. There are similarities to shoegaze, but it is more diverse than that. Apparently her husband has also performed with The Spirit That Guides us, but this is no where near that loud.

Thankfully with Bandcamp, now all of this music is readily and cheaply available for us on the other side of the Atlantic. Both the Eins, Zwei LP and EP are "name your own price" on Bandcamp, and all of the Brown Feather Sparrow albums are very cheap. I recommend all of it. For information on all of these bands I recommend using the Netherlands version of Wikipedia, then allow Google to translate it for you.


Sixpence releases first new song in years...

...and the method couldn't be any more weird. Perez Hilton?! Anyway, I am not complaning, it is a great song!


 And if you are wondering, my "letter" to the band now has nearly 1200 views. Still waiting for an official response...


New music from Steve Taylor!? It's about time!

An exerpt from this interview:

I got so frustrated when I felt like Blue Like Jazz was failing, that out of creative frustration I ended up going into the studio with Peter Furler, and then John Painter (of Fleming and John), and then Jimmy Abegg, who’s a longtime friend, guitarist, photographer and visual artist. And we just started recording. Peter had written some music ideas, and I love his melodies. We worked up the songs as a band, then I added lyrics. We were about a month away from having something finished when the Kickstarter campaign started, and it was like, "Oh, man … we’re making a movie." And it’s just been on hold for the last 18 months, because finishing the movie has taken up all my time.
That’s one thing I’ll do once things settle down — get back together with the guys and finish that project up.


Sixpence is listening...

After 861 reads and 15 comments in  10 days, I just got this:

Stay tuned!


An Open Letter to Sixpence None the Richer

Dear Matt & Leigh,

I’m a big fan. One of the biggest. I first heard Sixpence None the Richer 20 years ago, and for most of that time you have been my favorite band. This Beautiful Mess is my favorite album of all time. Maybe I am living in the past, but that is how I feel. I love all of your music though, and I am thrilled that you seem to be on the cusp of releasing your fifth studio album (finally).

Yesterday Invisible Creature posted your new album cover they designed on their blog. I love it; it is beautiful. Very different from past Sixpence albums; and it should be considering it has been a decade since Divine Discontent was released.

I am sorry that you have had so many record label problems in your career. I know it sucks, and as a big fan it has sucked for me as well because it has greatly limited the amount of Sixpence I have been able to hear. I know it has been especially frustrating as of late because Lost in Transition has been lost for two years. Strange Conversation was supposed to be released in August of 2010, I don’t know why it wasn’t, but I am sure it is nice that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Both the original and new album titles seem fitting, and I am sure you glad your transition is over.

When I discovered the new album cover there was a link that led me to your newly updated website, which I was excited to pore over. The track list for Lost in Transition was a highlight. (The biggest initial negative was the incorrect tracklisting for This Beautiful Mess and the absence of your wonderful EPs, Tickets for a Prayer Wheel and My Dear Machine). But what got me most excited was a link that said “LAUNCH THE PLAYER”. I quickly did, and couldn’t wait to hear some new Sixpence tunes. However, to my dismay, the player contains the last four songs of yours I wanted to hear.

If I want to listen to “Kiss Me,” “There She Goes”, “Breathe Your Name,” and “Don’t Dream It’s Over” all I have to do is go to Walmart or Chili’s and I’ll hear them over the intercom. “Kiss Me” and “Breathe Your Name” are fine songs. I liked them the first time I heard them and they are good in the context of the albums they were released on. But they are old. And overplayed. The other two… we’ll, you didn’t even write them. They were fine to play as covers in concert a dozen years ago, but I am under the impression that you didn’t even want to record them and a record label pressured you to add them to your CDs. One proof of that is that there are versions of Sixpence None the Richer that don’t contain “There She Goes” and versions of Divine Discontent that don’t contain “Don’t Dream It’s Over”. (These are great songs by the way, but if I want to hear them I’ll listen to the La’s or Crowded House.)

The main reason I don’t want to hear these songs anymore though is because most every song you two have ever written is BETTER! According to my collection, you have written and released over 60 original songs (not including covers). At least 50 of them are better than all four of the songs you currently have streaming on your website. Maybe you don’t believe this, but at least one of your sets of fans does.

That’s right guys, you have two sets of fans. One set comes to your concert waiting and begging for you to play “Kiss Me”. But there is another set that hopes you play anything but and are standing there thinking how cool it would be if you played “Meaningless” again and jammed for 20 minutes. One set of fans knows you for those four songs you have on your website. But those ARE THE ONLY SONGS THEY KNOW. They don’t care that your self-titled album was a masterpiece meant to be heard as a whole. They can’t believe that it used to end with the appropriate “Moving On.” (Honestly, they don’t even know you have a song called “Moving On.”)

Which set of fans is more important? The set that gets high off “There She Goes” and has 4 Sixpence mp3s on their iPod shuffle, or the set that LOVES everything you have done and owns 7 (at least) of your CDs? Who are you trying to reach with your website and new music? The fan that can’t wait to download only the new single “Radio” from iTunes or the fan that can’t wait to pre-order a deluxe Lost in Transition package which contains an autographed poster, a t-shirt, and a double vinyl LP? You may be surprised, but that second set of fans is out there. I am one of them. My most prized Sixpence possession is the vinyl LP I own of the self-titled album. Although as much as I love it, I am still mad you took “Easy to Ignore” off of it because there wasn’t room on side 1. (And speaking of “Easy to Ignore”, I still remember when that song was called “One Night.”)

Am I crazy? Yes. But I LOVE you guys. I want you to have fun and release as much new music as possible. But I also want to make you aware of the die-hard fans, the ones that have followed you for 15, if not 20 years. You can find them here. They want to give you money. 

My blog has 302 posts since 2003. My most-viewed post is titled “Sixpence None the Richer- Strange Conversation” and has 2901 views. My second-viewed post is “1997” and has 1551 views. (Guess what album I ranked as #1 in 1997?) Your true fans are out there, and they want to hear new music. Many of them want a copy of the My Dear Machine EP but have no way to get it. I am going to help them out until you can provide them a way to buy it. (You gave it away for free originally so hopefully you are OK with it being free now.) How about putting it on Bandcamp and let them stream it for free or buy it for $4? How about using Kickstarter to raise some funds for a vinyl version of Lost in Transition? Steve Taylor used Kickstarter fairly successfully. My brother is also doing it. He only has 100 fans, you have thousands. 

Fans have been wondering what is up now for years. Those of us who got all excited in 2008 have been beside ourselves for the 3 ½ years since. The My Dear Machine EP is awesome and The Dawn of Grace is excellent. My 4-year-old son begs to listen to that Christmas album weekly (and it is April). “Around” and “Prayer” prove you are still writing highly creative songs with instrumental breakdowns. I can’t wait for more. Hopefully you are done with labels and will now put out an LP per year indefinitely.

Lastly, what is up with your setlists? I have seen you guys in concert 15+ times, but unfortunately not once since 2002. In 1998 I saw you guys play three times in one week in Franklin, TN. I agree that you should play mostly new songs from the new album. From the recent setlists I have seen it seems you are forgetting you released 3 albums in the 1990's. How about throwing in some of your best work every once in awhile? How about “Musings” or “Love, Salvation, Fear of Death” or “Puedo Escribir” or “Dizzy”? How about using “Healer” as your encore again? How would you feel if you went to a U2 show and they didn’t play anything from Joshua Tree? (It’s up for debate which of your albums is the equivalent to Joshua Tree, but your die-hard fans debate between This Beautiful Mess and the self-titled album.)

I care and I am willing to help. Now give us that new album! (Put up a deluxe pre-order option like this, we'll buy it.)

Alan Parish

P.S. If you are a fan and reading this, please comment.

4/25/10 8:48 a.m. UPDATE:
After 5 days, this post has 670+ pageviews, which makes it the 8th most-viewed post on my blog EVER. I took a screenshot of the top-10 stats, and every other post in the top 10 is at least 10 months old (if not a couple of years old). In the next couple hours it will become the 6th most-viewed. My blog has been around 10 years and never gotten this much traffic. Also of note, 5 of the 10 posts in this top-10 are Sixpence-related.

I am blown away and thrilled that the letter is resonating so much with Sixpence's fans. However, I can only hope that Matt and Leigh read it, because if they don't, it serves no purpose.


New Starflyer 59 song

Jason Martin posted a new Starflyer 59 song on Bandcamp yesterday, and it is terrific. Honestly I think I like it better than every single song on Starflyer's last album. Lead guitar by Andy Prickett doesn't hurt, considering he is my favorite guitarist of all time. I still remember seeing him play with Starflyer at Cornerstone in 2001. Can you believe this will be Starflyer's 13th album? Crazy; and man am I old.

New Roy Ira EP out today; Kickstarter campaign to fund LP

Nashville indie/country band  Roy Ira released their 2nd EP digitally last night to jump-start their Kickstarter campaign, to fund their LP they hope to self-release this summer.

You can stream  the EP on Bandcamp. If you like what you hear at least buy it for $5, or give more to pre-order the LP. It starts off with a blazing/intense original song, the title track "One Day." I filmed this song a couple of years ago at a live show; so nice to hear a studio version. It then quickly changes gears to a beautiful short instrumental piece. The EP concludes with two outstanding covers of influential bands mewithoutYou and Pedro the Lion.


Sucre (Stacy Dupree King) full album stream

The new Sucre album is out, and you can stream the whole thing below! Not really sure the best way to purchase it right now; I want the vinyl of course, but the LP is only available through a $50 variety package. The package contains lots of stuff I don't want, not to mention I can't afford it. Thrilled to be able to listen to all of it though. This is light years ahead of that new Eisley EP.


NEW mewithoutYou song!


Anticipated: Fiona Apple & mewithoutYou

Nothing to listen to yet, but covers and tracklistings have been released for the next two albums I am highly anticipating: 

Fiona Apple- The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do
June 26, 2012

Every Single Night
Left Alone
Anything We Want
Hot Knife

mewithoutYou- Ten Stories
May 15, 2012

February 1878
Grist for the Malady Mill
East Enders Wives
Cardiff Giant
Elephant in the Dock
Fox’s Dream of the Log Flume
Nine Stories
Fiji Mermaid
Bear’s Vision of St. Agnes


Fiona Apple is back!

New album in June, and this is the title:

The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do.


Another new Shins song (& video)

And it's a good one. Cool to see Richard Swift in the band, and it is not everyday you see a female lead guitar player.


Paste's literal band logos

Always love it when the design and music worlds collide...

For the answers go here.


The Hunger Games Soundtrack

I finished the first book of the Hunger Games trilogy last night. I have mixed feelings, but will not share details for those of you who have not read them. One piece of advice: if you are not a teen, prepare yourself before you read that they books were written for teens. And I think the book will make a good movie (out in March).

I decided to read the books because I saw the trailer for the movie and the concept seemed intriguing. Jennifer Lawrence was enough to get me excited (So good in Winter's Bone and X-Men) and now the soundtrack appears to be awesome:

1. Taylor Swift (Feat. Thе Civil Wars) – “Safe & Signal”
2. Taylor Swift – “Eyes Wide Open”
3. Arcade Fire – “Abraham’s Daughter”
4. Kid Cudi – “Thе Ruler and Thе Killer”
5. Miranda Lambert (Feat. Handgun Annies) – “Rυn Daddy Rυn”
6. Thе Civil Wars – “Kingdom Come”
7. Thе Decemberists – “One Engine”
8. Glen Hansard – “Take thе Heartland”
9. Thе Low Anthem – “Lover іѕ Childlike”
10. Punch Brothers – “Dаrk Days”
11. Secret Sisters – “Tomorrow WіƖƖ Bе Kinder”
12. Birdy – “Jυѕt a Game”
13. Ella Mae Bowen – “Oh Come & Sing”
14. Jayme Dee – “Rules”
15. Carolina Chocolate Drops – “Reaping Day”
16. Neko Case – “Give Mе A touch I’ll Dredge up”

Slate has an interesting theory about the new Arcade Fire song, and you can already listen to the new Decemberists tune. Besides those, also excited to hear the new Glen Hansard and Neko Case songs.

And I am not sure if this is going to gain or lose readers for this, but the new Taylor Swift song is excellent:


Sandra McCracken and Derek Webb at Eddie's Attic

I took my wife to see Sandra McCracken and Derek Webb play last Sunday night at Eddie's Attic in Atlanta. Just like when we went to see Fiona Apple in 2006, it was a surprise for her. I had never seen either of them play before with the exception of seeing Derek play with Caedmon's Call in 1997 in Birmingham. My wife saw Sandra play just last year at Berry College.

The format of the show was unique. Derek and Sandra have separate careers and each have extensive discographies. They do however have two EPs in which they combine their talents, and they began the concert with the "single" from their recent Tennessee EP, From You to Me. After that they mostly alternated songs and took tons of requests. Sandra's first song was a Bob Dylan cover, and I shot a video of it:

(Ironically I had just watched Watchmen the night before, and this song plays during the opening titles.)

I had never been a huge fan of either Sandra McCracken or Derek Webb until recently, despite being aware of their music for years and years. Sandra's most recent album (that Derek contributed significantly to) In Feast or Fallow really grew my appreciation for both of them (and was my #17 album of 2010). While not paying close attention to all of their releases, I have followed of both of them from a distance for a long time and am familiar with most of their catalog(s).

While in college in 1996, Caedmon's Call blew up. Like I said, I wasn't a huge fan, but I had numerous friends who were, and because of that listened to them a lot and was very familiar with most all of their songs. I learned early on by reading liner notes in Caedmon's Call albums that Derek Webb was the only member of the band that actually wrote songs. I found this fascinating, and instantly had far more respect for him than any other member of Caedmon's. That said, I still really wasn't a fan, primarily for stylistic reasons.

In 2002 or so, when Derek Webb left Caedmon's Call, instantly became more interested (for no reason at all). I didn't know it at the time, but he left the band to get married to Sandra. He has since released five solo albums, the first three of which are folk, the fourth rocks a little more, and then the fifth is electronica. One of the highlights of Derek's portion of the show was him playing songs from the electronic Stockholm Syndrome on acoustic guitar. While I love the fact that his lyrics are challenging and thought-provoking, the style of the most recent album is unlistenable for me. That is ironic, because I would typically say I prefer experimental electronic music to acoustic singer-songwriter stuff. All that said, I primarily follow and listen to Derek Webb because I am a fan of him as a person, and not necessarily his music. I read his tweets and blogs far more than I listen to his songs.

I am a far bigger fan of his wife, but it took me awhile. I became aware of Sandra McCracken in 2005 when  she released her first "new old hymns" album. The church we attend sings her songs frequently. She is a terrific songwriter and even her husband would admit she writes songs better (and far more frequently) than him. What I never realized until this show is how powerful (and awesome) her voice is. On most of her recordings her vocals are unfortunately lost within the instrumentation.

Sandra primarily played songs from In Feast or Fallow, but also made an effort to include a few songs from Gravity/Love, which is currently free on Noisetrade. (Noisetrade was founded by Derek Webb, and is by far the best place on the web to get free music legally.) This is her most recent "pop" album.

The highlights of the show for me were Sandra's Bob Dylan cover and when she played 10,000 Angels. For years I have wondered where this song came from, but never did the research to figure it out. Turns out it is a Caedmon's Call song (written by Sandra) that at one point was featured on Grey's Anatomy. During my research on that song I also discovered Sandra has been writing songs Caedmon's Call for over a dozen years, and composed 5 of the 12 songs on their most recent album, Raising Up the Dead.

Recent in-depth interview with Derek Webb about his music, life, family, etc. can be found at The Great Discontent.
And Paste Magazine also published a recent brief interview with both of them.

Other videos I shot:
Sandra McCracken & Derek Webb- In Feast or Fallow
Sandra McCracken & Derek Webb- Justice Will Roll Down
Derek Webb- Introducing Table for Two
Derek Webb- Table for Two

New Poor Old Lu song!

Hopefully the title didn't get you too excited, you can't quite hear it yet. A new Poor Old Lu song is being worked on currently, it would be their first output in a decade. Here are the details, straight from lead singer Scott Hunter:

"Working on finishing up a new Poor Old Lu track that we started last July. Nick is rockin' the bass line, here :)  

Nothing crazy or clandestine going on here. Aaron and Jesse layed down drums and guitars for a new track this past July. Nick and I never got around to recording our parts, so we were in the studio yesterday to (hopefully) get things wrapped up, which didn't entirely happen. Definitely got bass finalized, but only some scratch vocals. We're hoping to have this wrapped in.....well....maybe a few weeks? Couple of months? We're going to release it for purchase as a benefit to the Ugandan Water Project that Jesse is so active with. 

No collaboration with Jeremy :) He was in the area, we were at the studio, and the timing just so happened to work out well. He hung out with us for a couple of hours, which was great."

All info taken from the Poor Old Lu Facebook page.


New Cush (KUXH) song!

Andy Prickett posted this today on the Cush website...

A little over a year ago, we began gathering with regularity to write new music by recording some live ‘jamming’ (for lack of a better word).  The intent was, and is always to find a gem amidst the human wreckage–a moment that came together spontaneously that never would have if we had tried.  These precious accidents are the most desirable of things in the formation of CUSH music.
Sometimes, the majority or entirety of a jam goes well enough that it can stand on its own as a complete piece of music.  This particular one presented here is just such a one.  We set up, plugged in, got levels, and this is the first thing we played.
Since this kind of thing happened more than once, we decided to give it its own name.  KUXH.


New Dustin Kensrue song

From a concert last night, so good...