Summer Concert Preview
Published on May 17, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I list some of the concerts I'm excited about this summer.

Click here to see what they are.

Adam Yauch, R.I.P.
Published on May 7, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I pay tribute to Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, who died last week from cancer.

For the record, here are my top 5 Beastie Boys songs:

1. Egg Man

2. Get It Together

3. Fight For Your Right

4. Sabotage

5. Girls

Anyway, click here to read my piece.

Continuing the Tradition of Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble
Published on May 7, 2012 by guest author: Roger Noyes

The recent passing of drummer-vocalist Levon Helm, best known for his work with The Band, affected me very deeply. Of his significance culturally, I can do little more than amplify what has already been said by countless fans who were greatly touched by Helm’s music, and by fellow musicians who had the privilege to share a stage with him.

Such tributes are themselves heartening reminders of Helm’s generous spirit, revealing the many ways that people – a culture, really – can very purely reflect a single individual’s humanity and grace. We need such reminders more often, and I will surely remember these recent weeks whenever I hear a recording of Helm’s rolling drum style and soulful voice, and whenever my fellow musician friends and I gather to sing songs in what has become a yearly tradition modeled after Helm's
storied Midnight Ramble shows.

Living in upstate New York, I was extremely fortunate to have attended three Midnight Ramble shows at Helm's barn/studio in Woodstock. Rooted in the spirit of the traveling “tent shows” that Helm witnessed in Arkansas during his youth, the intimate Woodstock Rambles of recent years – presided by Helm and his exceptional house band – had an almost participatory feel to them, offering perhaps the closest opportunity for pure audience involvement in a musical act without actually being on stage. These shows were electrifying and magical, with world-class musicians giving their all, sometimes assisted by surprise guest artists, including the likes of Kris Kristofferson, Gillian Welch and Elvis Costello. On two of the nights I attended, Donald Fagen of Steely Dan sat behind the piano and the Loving Spoonful's John Sebastian was introduced for a few numbers.


The Avett Brothers, In Concert
Published on April 23, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about Sunday's Avett Brothers show in Albany.

Basically, they were awesome.

Click here for more.

Betting On the Horse
Published on April 18, 2012 by guest author: Roger Noyes

The news came enigmatically, in classic Neil Young fashion. Late in January a mysterious video popped up on the home page of Young’s website. The scene zoomed tantalizingly in an unmanned recording studio stocked with vintage guitars (including Old Black, Young’s trusty ‘53 Les Paul) and an analog recording console, its clocklike needles swaying to an audio track awash in the über-distorted garage rock that has been missing from Young’s sound for far too long.

It became immediately clear that after nearly 15 years in the stable, the Horse would ride again … Crazy Horse, the band which helped Young ignite the first flame of grunge rock with the seminal record Everybody Knows This is Nowhere in 1969. (Listen to that album’s closing track, “Cowgirl in the Sand,” and I defy you to find a heavier sound, ever before or ever since.)

Young has toured and recorded with Crazy Horse off and on throughout the decades whenever the rawer side of his muse calls for the Horse's ragged brand of rock, issuing such classic records as Zuma (1975), Rust Never Sleeps (1979), and Ragged Glory (1990), among others. Many fans have been itching for the Horse for quite some time, and recent news of an impending Neil Young and Crazy Horse album soon lit up the blogosphere.


Of Monsters and Men, In Concert
Published on April 12, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about the terrific Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men, and their show in Albany this week. 

Here's an excerpt:

"Until this week, I had been to one concert at Jillian’s in Albany, and wasn’t exactly eager to go to another one. Jillian’s is normally a sports bar, but it has started hosting more shows, which involves clearing the tables out of the restaurant area, shutting off the televisions, dimming the lights and setting up a stage. When I caught the band The Naked and the Famous there in November, I found myself pressed up against a wall, straining to see, with a strong case of agoraphobia setting in. To make matters worse, I was too afraid of losing my spot by the wall to go buy a beer. Eventually, my friend and I decided to leave and get a drink at a less crowded bar. The music was fine, but not good enough to justify such a high level of physical discomfort.

Anyway, last week I returned to Jillian’s to see the Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men. Of Monsters and Men is often described as an indie-folk band, similar in style to The Decemberists, but I don’t think this label does them justice. What I saw on Tuesday night was a tight rock band with folky tendencies, creative instrumentation, sharp vocals and clever songwriting. Of Monsters and Men were so good that they transcended the limitations of the venue. Rather than feeling hemmed in by the capacity crowd, I was somewhat energized by the size of the audience. People were into this band, and excited to see them, and it gave the show an extra charge. Also, my friends and I managed to stake out a pretty good position near a booth, and the people in the booth allowed us to stand on the elevated flooring beneath their booth, which made it possible for me to actually see the band. And when I ventured over to the bar, I discovered that the bartenders were extremely efficient, and that it was possible to buy a beer quickly and easily."

Click here to read the whole thing.

New Music I Like
Published on April 9, 2012 by Sara Foss

I heard the song "Queens" by the Seattle-based hip-hop band THEEsatisfaction last week, and I can't get it out of my head.

Check it out:

Two at EMPAC
Published on April 9, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about two concerts I caught last week at the Experimental Media Performing Arts Center in Troy.

The first: John Zorn, doing a rare solo sax performance.

The second: saxophonist Colin Stetson, who plays with Arcade Fire and Bon Iver, percussionist Tyshawn Sorey and violinist Sarah Neufeld, who also plays with Arcade Fire.

Click here to read my thoughts.

Mike Ness is 50
Published on April 3, 2012 by Sara Foss

The Awl tells me that Mike Ness, frontman of the seminal punk band Social Distortion, is 50 today.

Weirdly, I celebrated my 30th birthday at a Social Distortion show with friends from Denver.

Firing Up An Old Mix CD
Published on March 29, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about the experience of listening to a mix CD my college roommate gave me in 1999. It's got some great stuff on it, including a remix of Blondie's "Atomic" and "Born Slippy" by the UK electronic dance band Underworld.

Click here to read more.

More Cowbell
Published on March 27, 2012 by Sara Foss

A group of Vermonters are planning the "world's largest cowbell ensemble," which sounds totally awesome to me. 

Click here for details.

From A to Z: A Journey Through My CD Collection
Published on March 19, 2012 by guest author: Brian McElhiney

Music collecting is serious business for my best friend Steve and me.

It always has been, ever since we first met in 8th grade back in 1998. Just about every weekend, I would go over to Steve’s house and we’d spend our Saturdays skateboarding around the small back streets of Okinawa, Japan, hitting up local mom-and-pop CD stores and buying up whatever we could afford - back then it was lots of Metallica, Nirvana and Korn CDs.

Steve moved to the Chicago area the next year, but our friendship — and our voracious music acquisition - continued unfettered through our high school and college years. We still update each other whenever we buy new CDs or records - our recent purchases include Sonny and Cher, The Turtles, Soulfly, Wild Flag and Foster the People, to name a few off the top of my head. Neither of us ever really made the move to digital music, so we both have hundreds of CDs and vinyl albums crowding our respective homes

One night in the fall of last year, we were talking on the phone about - what else - music. I was pacing in front of my CD collection - which is arranged alphabetically - occasionally pulling an album out of the rack and glancing at the artwork. Some of them I had completely forgotten I owned - like the Promise Ring’s “Horse Latitudes” mini-album that I purchased during a college trip to Portland, Ore., and D.C. post-punk band Nation of Ulysses’ first album. Still others I have no memory of actually having listened to at any point.

I suddenly blurted out to Steve, “One of these days, I’m going to listen to ALL of my CDs, every single one, from A to Z.” Steve’s reply - “Let’s start next weekend.” OK. The following weekend, The Project began.


Five Songs
Published on March 15, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I list five new songs I'm currently enjoying.

Click here to see what they are.

New Jack White
Published on March 14, 2012 by Sara Foss

The new Jack White sounds pretty good. Here's a sample.

Eric's February Favorites
Published on March 12, 2012 by guest author: Eric J.Perkins

If February is any indication, 2012 could be a pretty epic year for music. I found myself buying 3-4 albums a week - it was like being bombarded with good tunes. The music was the perfect pick-me-up for what is usually my least favorite month. Here were a few of my favorite releases ...

Sharon Van Etten - Tramp

In a few short years, Ven Etten has gone from one of many Brooklyn singer/songwriters - though to her credit, a singer/songwriter with a beautifully melancholy voice and a knack for good hooks- to making a much bigger sounding album with some pretty big indie rock names. The move to more instruments and more production has not made her songs any less personal, however. A lot of what I like about Van Etten comes back to her voice--I think she could sing the phone book and it would give me a chill. That said, my favorite track off this new album is "We Are Fine," and the song gets a big boost by Beirut's Zach Condon on guest vocals. I can't remember the last time I heard a song so tragic and somehow uplifting at the same time.


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