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by Joseph Kugelmass

15 Jun 2009

Over on MySpace, a scruffy little band called the Heaps emerges from the flaming wreckage of Elvis Costello (now spending several lifetimes in the purgatory of talk show hosting) and Belle & Sebastian (or, How I Found God and Lost Most of My Audience, by Stuart Murdoch) to make two irresistible songs: “Casual Encounters” and “William Baldwin: A Lament”.

The other posted songs work well enough, but these first two gems are not only tuneful, they’re therapy for the unbearable lightness of pop culture and Craigslist. Have a listen.

The Heaps
“Casual Encounters” and “William Baldwin: A Lament” [Streaming]

by Sachyn Mital

15 Jun 2009

While a free show at 2 pm on a weekday in the tourist-teeming Rockefeller Center from a multiplatinum musician should draw a huge crowd, Moby’s small acoustic performance at the NBC Café had only been briefly mentioned on his website so people were not packed shoulder to shoulder. Those folks ‘in the know’ and those fortunate enough to be there all witnessed an intimate showcase with Moby as he played a grab bag of songs and humbly chatted in-between.

When not creating music, Moby has made occasional guest appearances at NYC’s comedy venue the Upright Citizen Brigade Theater. At the café, he got to share some of this lighter side. In between songs, Moby jokingly stated that the first goal of showmanship is to interrupt a song as often as possible, or rather during, switching from piano to guitar or when part of a song eluded him. The intimacy even allowed him to offer sandwiches and fruit from the green room to the audience.

Accompanying Moby was Kelli Scarr, his friend and former lead singer of Moonraker. She has lent her talents to his forthcoming release, Wait for Me and in return he is producing her debut release Piece. Scarr’s warm voice substituted for the old gospel very well on “Natural Blues” and “Honey”. She also sang the title track from his new album and “Southside”.

Moby also sang a couple of covers for which he requested help from the audience. People eagerly sang “doo doo” in Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” and vocalized the trumpet within Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”.  Finally, despite requests to play all day, Moby ended his brief show with a Neil Young cover. Clocking in at around 45 minutes, the show was a great way to spend a lunch break. Seeing an artist in a venue where the sound of a blender can overpower the singing makes a person feel a part of something special.

by Rich Kassirer

15 Jun 2009

In the past couple of years musicians who have decided to free themselves from the corporate structure of the music industry have come up with creative ways to finance their albums. One way they’ve done this is by offering their fans special deals in exchange for some help with funding. This has included exclusive meet-and-greets, autographed items, special concert seating, and even personalized house or backyard concerts for top donors.

Well, Erin McKeown has taken her house concert idea to someplace totally new: her house. Erin is offering up a series of concerts at her own house in Western Mass., and is inviting fans to join her over the Internet. In what she is calling Cabin Fever, Erin will play four shows from various places in her yard, all with different themes, and is asking people to pay $10 per show to stream it live on her site. A cost of $30 will get you all four shows. This is all to benefit the recording and release of her new album “Hundreds of Lions.”

She writes: “In the grand tradition of barn-raisings and house-rent parties, Erin McKeown is inviting you into her living room, onto her porch, into her river, into her yard and asking you to lend a hand… just as farmers needed their neighbors to help raise the roof and musicians have sung for their supper.”

by Thomas Britt

15 Jun 2009

It is difficult to match the showmanship of Dan Deacon, but Sam Herring and Future Islands did just that with an opening slot on Deacon’s recent Bromst tour.

Front man Herring exudes a Joe Cocker vibe that elevates the band’s sound to something altogether more soulful and unique than much of today’s run-of-the-mill synth-pop.

Joe Stakun’s video for Wave Like Home standout “Beach Foam” places the band in some sort of solarized screensaver baptism. The video is a good introduction to the band’s strange, hypnotic universe.

by John Bohannon

14 Jun 2009

Segueing into Saturday after Friday’s festivities, I came to the slow realization that my body can’t quite handle these events like it used to. After a barrage of beat-driven acts on Friday, my goal on Saturday was to seek out a relaxing array of music throughout the day in preparation for the day’s headliner, Bruce Springsteen.

One of the most pleasant surprises came in the form of a press exclusive performance by Nonesuch newbies, The Low Anthem. Combining the droning element of a pump organ and the subtle nuance of atmospheric tones, the band hit a perfect chord, especially the vocals, which were absolutely phenomenal and as pure as can be. Their debut Oh My God, Charlie Darwin will be making it into my hands as soon as the festival is finished, and I suggest it makes it into yours as well.

Now, for the record, I have always had an avid hatred for the music of Jimmy Buffett. I’ve stayed as far away as possible from hotel resorts that might pipe out his tunes as I check in, and you’d never find me in one of his Margaritaville restaurants. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a giant smile on my face during his set with Ilo Ferreira and the Coral Reef All-Stars. There is something mighty charming about the man in person. Whether you like Buffet’s music or not, he knows how to make an audience feel good—and one can do nothing but commend that.

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