Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Singled Out - Will Currie and the Country French's Tommy Douglas

The feeling of political discomfort isn't isolated to America or the immolating North African Coast and Middle East. Our nice neighbors to the north aren't terribly in love with their political leaders either. But as opposed to painitng their prime minister up like The Joker and bringing guns to a political rally, Will Currie and The Country French wrote a song.

An ode to the greatest Canadian, Tommy Douglas is a Burt Bacharach-ian/Ben Folds-esque romp of a song, pleasant enough in melody, but strong in its wish for a great politician like him again. "What we need is Tommy Douglas, men who speak and follow through," Will Currie sings. A young Pierre Trudeau or Stephen Lewis would fix everything.

The song is off their "Awake, You Sleepers!" album out later this year on Murderecords. You can pick up the track in exchange for your email from the band's website

Play it, think of spring, and be reminded of progressive greatness.

Download Will Currie and The Country French's Tommy Douglas from the band's website (in exchange for your email

Friday, March 25, 2011

Interview with Matt Bishop of Hey Marseilles

I really like Hey Marseilles' lyrically dense, sonically rich folk pop. I was super excited to see them at Sixth and I Synagogue last year, since they don't often tour too far from their Seattle base. Lead singer Matt Bishop was kind enough to answer a few questions for the shake

The Shimmy Shake: How did you all start? And the name, just an affinity for French Mediterrean sea towns?

Matt Bishop: We started as a lot of bands do: college pals realizing we had a shared affinity for the same instruments and bands that played them. We would mess around with song ideas in Nick and Philip’s basement studio, keep finding others folks to play on those recordings, and eventually we booked a gig with everyone. The name is primarily a product of our appreciation for Euro-ness and rhyme.

SS: The SHow would you describe your sound? I've heard it described as orchestral folk to indie pop chamber rock.

MB: Those are fair descriptions. We like pop tunes, acoustic instruments, strong melodies, and compelling arrangements. We like songs to move and turn corners quickly. We like taking as many layers from our recordings as we can and playing that out live. Just orchestral folk pop works too.

SS: One of my favorite things about the album are the lyrics. They're all such descriptive stories, I feel like I'm reading letters between you and friends. Where do you get the ideas? Any backstory to certain songs? What are some of your favorite songs from the To Trunks and Travels?

MB: In writing lyrics, I like to create a visual scene for the listener, a portrait more so than a story. On the record there are references to the ocean and mountains and plains and highways and all sorts of things I experience when I travel around the Western U.S. Which is probably why the record ended up having a consistent travel theme. “Cannonballs” was written driving through the endless flatlands of Montana; “Cigarettes” I wrote on a bright afternoon at Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park; “Calabasas” manifested itself after a California road trip. Certainly there are stories in those songs, but by and large they follow pretty common formulas related to relationships and philosophical meanderings.

SS: There was a really slow burn with this album, from it's release in 2008 to it catching fire in 2009 and 2010. How'd that happen? Is it hard to promote an album for that long?

MB: I think it took a bit of time for it to garner a larger audience just because we spent a while trying to figure out how to get it to people. For most of us, Hey Marseilles has been our first real venture into navigating the music business and what it means to be a band. There are a lot of things to do outside of making a record that translate to people actually hearing it, and we took some time figuring that out.

In terms of promoting the record for that long, the biggest challenge was just having to play the same songs for so long. Inspiration and creativity were hard to come by in those circumstances. But in working on our new record for the last few months, I think we’ve found our groove again.

SS: Another band that we really enjoy (Telekinesis) is from Seattle, but a lot of bands from the upper northwest are writing this great music, with incredible melodies and lyrics. Like I don't think you could have this sound come from Brooklyn. What is it about the area that breeds such good music?

MB: Lots of clouds + needing to stay inside + drugs necessary to deal with gray (primarily coffee) = good music.

Also, once sun comes out = inspiration to make more good music.

SS: I have this image of touring being a nightmare with so many people. How does it work?

MB Having seven dudes means we always needs a trailer hitched to the van and if we stay in a hotel we’ll need a couple of rooms. That’s about it. And sometimes figuring out how to fit on stage, but that always works itself out. Like any band, you have to learn how to acclimate to each others’ strengths and weaknesses or you won’t be a band for very long.

SS: I saw you posted that the band is working on new songs. What do they sound like? When are you looking to release your next album?

MB We have high aspirations that the record will come out at the end of 2011. My general assessment so far is that the songs won’t stray too much from To Travels & Trunks musically, but they’ll reflect a growth and maturity we’ve developed as musicians in the three years since finishing that record.

SS: What are you listening to now (besides what I imagine are your recording tracks)? What are some of you favorite bands that readers should check out?

MB: Agesandages. Campfire OK. Loch Lomond just released a fantastic new record. Our friends The Head &a\ the Heart are releasing their debut nationally; if you haven’t heard of them yet, you will soon

Buy Hey Marseilles' To Travels and Trunks from Amazon's mp3 Store

Download the track Rio from Hey Marseille's website for the price of your email address

Singled Out - Title Tracks' All Tricks

DC's Title Tracks will pushing out their sophomore release In Blank 19 April, but John Davis is dribbling out songs on his website here an there, and they sound good.

All Tricks keeps the same momentum from It Was Easy, and is still full of that pop punk goodness.

If you're in DC, the band is doing a release party at Black Cat Backstage on 20 April. Tickets are $10.

Preorder Title Tracks' In Blank from Ernest Jenning Records.

Download Title Tracks' All Tricks from Austin Town Hall

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's Just Business: Pains of Being Pure At Heart Release Album Digitally One Week Early on iTunes, But You Should Just Wait to Get It

The new Pains of Being Pure At Heart album Belong (Slumberland) officially drops next week on 3/29. It sounds incredible, more of the same but better in ever way possible. Still lots of jangly guitars and a band that only sees the 80s through John Hughes colored glasses.

You can pick up the album early if you'd like from iTunes, where it's available today. It doesn't come with any bonus material, no videos or extra tracks. The digital booklet will be the same as if you got it next week.

It does however come with a higher price tag. iTunes is selling it for $9.90. The Amazon mp3 store will sell it for $8.99, almost a full buck less. For an extra 10 cents, you can buy the vinyl from Slumberland for $10 (and they put a digital download code in there too). Even buying the CD from the record company is cheaper than buying the digital download from iTunes.

All that to say, iTunes is a rip. And it's no hate on Pains or on Slumberland (who do great work and push out really great music from really great artists). But it's still me spending a dollar, and if I have to choose whether to keep that buck in my pocket, or give it to Steve Jobs, well, that's an easy choice.

Buy Pains of Being Pure at Heart's Belong from the Amazon mp3 Store for $8.99 (available 3/29/11)

Buy the CD or vinyl from Slumberland Records

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Singled Out - Hanni El Khatib's Build. Destroy. Rebuild

There's a lot to like about Hanni El Khatib. He's got rock star ready looks and an insouciance that seems like he earned it. And he tears through songs with such a ferocity on guitar it's impossible to not notice.

And there's a lot to want to like about his upcoming June release, Will The Guns Come Out. Take the track "Build. Destroy. Rebuild." On its surface, it's reminiscent of early Jack White, garage-y and bluesy. But The rhythm and melodies are more than that, more funk and 70s era soul than what the White Stripes or other Detroit garage rockers brought to the table.

If you didn't check out the highly polished and stylized video for Loved One, do that. Then grab Build. Destroy. Rebuild and thrash around a bit yourself.

Download Hanni El Khatib's Build. Destroy. Rebuild from RCRD LBL

Buy the 7 inch Build. Destroy. Rebuild b/w Loved One from Innovative Leisure.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Andy on R&B

We like the blog First World Problems, run by twitter pal Andy. It's smart, funny, and constantly hitting up new music.

Andy has written a really solid essay on R Kelly's Ignition, white guilt, and mainstream music (Remix), probably one of the more interesting things I've read on the internet in a long time. Give it a whirl, I think you'll like it.

Of course, whenever I hear Ignition, I think of Dave Chapelle.

What We're Watching - Hanni el Khatib's Loved One

What's that? You're looking for some catchy authentic sounding garage rock?

I think you'll be digging Hanni el Khatib's Loved One. It's from his album Will The Guns Come Out which drops in June.

Played over shots of people enjoying a seaside midway, and a single camera chasing some doe eyed model, this is priming the pump for summer time.

What We're Watching - Wale's The Break Up

Wale is leading a one man effort to get you to love the DMV.

And his video for his song The Break Up has lots of stuff we like in it. It's got shots of Howard's yard, sped up soul samples, and Morgan Freeman as narrator. It even kinda makes me want to like 500 Days of Summer, which in my humble opinion, is one of the worst films ever made.

Anyway, watch it, and wish you were in DC for this awesome spring weather

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What We're Listening To - Disco Vietnam's TOTALLY AWESOME DECISIONS

I'm late to the Disco Vietnam bandwagon, but I'm going to bet that you probably are too. No worries, because they haven't run out of copies. On 2010's TOTALLY AWESOME DECISIONS, Disco Vietnam is crafting what I can only describe as some of the best fucking power pop out today.

Part hyperbole, part flattery, it's all truth. Disco Vietnam's Barry and Kenny Schwartz are making music that's aggressive, fun, catchy, and surprisingly meticulous in its production. Harmonies and three chord guitars run rampant. At times it reminds you of the best of Weezer (you remember, when they were good), songs about being young, but it goes further than that. They're imbued with the wisdom that age brings but not forgetting the sting. On the EP closer they proclaim "Even if the world starts over, I will still be here by your side. This song's not about you anymore." Little Infinity, Homecoming Queen, Luck Into Skill, and the rest are simply well crafted song.

An even better song not on the album (but available via Amazon) is the 2008 single The NP (Natalie Portman) a quasi ode to the actress. All eight tracks together make a terrific little package.

Buy Disco Vietnam's TOTALLY AWESOME DECISIONS directly from the band for $5

Buy Disco Vietnam's The NP (Natalie Portman) from the Amazon mp3 Store

What We're Watching - Bruce Springsteen's Tougher Than The Rest

I really liked the Title Tracks cover of Springsteen's Tougher Than The Rest. It's a sweet, older love song, kinda showing what love really is: tough, abused, scratched and beaten up on the edges. Title Tracks makes it a little more tender, but Springsteen's original with that gruff voice makes it the best.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Concert Review - The Rural Alberta Advantage at Rock N Roll Hotel, Washington DC 3/13/11

"It's so nice to see a sold out sign when you roll into town," Nils Edenloff bantered in between songs to a packed house of 400 people. And though a little bit behind schedule (opening band Pepper Rabbit brought its Keane-esque rock out about 30 minutes late), they put on an incredible show.

Pushing through most of the songs from their latest release Departing (an album we very much like), everything sounded more full. Edenloff's voice didn't sound as thin as it sometimes can on the record. Paul Barwatt's drumming was even more ferocious and Amy Cole's multi instrumenting even more pronounced.

Getting the famously not dancey DC set to dance is always a problem, but as the show heated up and encouraged by Edenloff's proddings ("I think this is a dancey song" he said of Frank A/B, a song about a deadly rock slide, so WTF), head nodding eventually turned to bouncing and pogoing. A woman in front of me was writhing like a pole dancer, so whatever gets you going I guess.

The highlight though was for the final encore song, when the band came into the audience and closed out with an acoustic performance of Good Night. Powerful to say the least, I heard lots of people muttering "shit" or "Holy fuck" as the walked out. Couldn't agree more.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Title Tracks to Release New Album April 19!

Andy Johnson of First World Problems hipped me to Title Tracks, a DC band with great pedigree (frontman John Davis was a drummer for legends Q and Not U and more recently Georgie James). 2010's Take It Easy is a solid indie pop/rock record, one that should definitely be in your collection.

A few weeks ago Davis said he was tracking for his new record due this year, and yesterday announced that Title Tracks would release its next album In Blank on April 19 (Ernest Jenning Records). The band is having a release party at the Black Cat on April 20. Tickets are $10.

Listen to Title Tracks' Steady Love from Take it Easy

Buy the It Was Easy CD or LP from Dischord Records

Buy It Was Easy from the Amazon mp3 Store

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tickets to See Wild Flag at Black Cat!


Through a strange confluence, I have two extra tickets to see Wild Flag at the Black Cat in DC tomorrow.

If you'd be interested in taking them off my hands, all you have to do is follow The Shimmy Shake on Twitter, and reply to us saying why you want to go. We'll pick a winner by 4 pm tomorrow.

Good luck!

Singled Out - Okkervil River's Wake and Be Fine

Okkervil River is one of those bands that make consistently good music.

There's no reason to believe that its new album I Am Very Far (out May 10 on Jagjaguwar) will be any different. But if you needed proof, you should get the track Wake and Be Fine. A romp of a song, it's thoroughly enjoyable and meant to be played loud.

You can pick it up at their website for the price of your email address.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Win a Signed Howe Gelb 7inch from Fort Lowell Records!

We've made no bones about how much we like Fort Lowell Records. James Tritten (of the magnificent, though now expired, Audio Explorations) started this incredible label last year, only publishing 7 inch records for local Tuscon bands.

And what a well to draw from, because the releases have all been stellar.

On Record Store Day, Fort Lowell Records will release FLR 006 and you have a chance to win a signed copy from Howe Gelb, courtesy of Fort Lowell and Zia Records! Visit Fort Lowell's site and follow the instructions and you'll be all set. While there, check out some of the previous releases (may we suggest the most recent Death Kit?).

Happy Mardi Gras!

Joyeux Mardi Gras mes amis! Laissez les bon temps rouler!

What better way to celebrate this last day before the start of Lent than with some good food, good beer, and rocking Cajun/Acadian music?

NPR's All Songs Considered just loaded up a Tiny Desk Concert of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. You should defintiely check it out.

Party hard everyone. Have a safe and happy Mardi Gras and a good Lenten Season.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Singled Out - The Wilderness of Manitoba's Orono Park

Stumbled along this song Orono Park by The Wilderness of Manitoba, a Toronto band making dreamy folk music. We probably are at a glut of folk musicians right now, but really, what's one more when they're good?

The song is from their upcoming three-song Summer Fires EP (out March 22 on tinyOGRE), which puts you a third of the way there. The other two songs are pretty impressive as well.

It was the song of the day at Spinner on March, so feel free to pick it up there, no email address required.

Get The Wilderness of Manitoba's Orono Park at Spinner.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pleased to Announce the Launch of Hard of Hearing!

It's finally here!

If you haven't had a chance yet, mosey on over to the Hard of Hearing page and download the inaugural episode, HOH001. We play some great songs, have some good banter. The first episode is a touch rough, but we'll get it down for the second one.

Let us know what you think at Hard of Hearing page. And if there's a song or artists you like that you think we'll like too, let us know!

Friday, March 4, 2011

What We're Watching - Black Lips Vide for "Go Out and Get It"

Cos it's fun and warming up, here are The Black Lips drinking, singing and having fun on a boat.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What We're Watching - The Rural Alberta Advantage's Stamp video

We really like the RAA's song Stamp. It's driving, tons of energy, and those great lyrics from Nils Eldenloff.

So it's nice to see the band have a little fun with the video. It's the story of a two fans overly in love with the band - a super fan guy, and a groupie girl. Will they fall for each other?

The Rural Alberta Advantage - Stamp from Saddle Creek on Vimeo.

What We're Listening To - The Rural Alberta Advantage's Departing

What I found so captitvating about The Rural Alberta Advantage's deubt album Hometowns was that a band could capture so much emptiness and lonliess with lyrics and sound, but still manage to be outsized pouring out my speakers. Every song seemed deliberately sparse, with what seemed like driving drums and little else. It was stunning, a crystal clear picture of the bleakness of Alberta, and what it must be like to fall in love, breakup and wish you had that someone back again.

With Departing they've filled out some of the space a little bit, with more pianos here and there, backing vocals and harmonies rounding it all out. But still remaining are strident songs about love, lonliness, and loss. "Our love will hold you tight or tear us apart tonight" sings Nils Eldenloff on Under The Knife. It's convincing, and you believe it.

All the songs are gems, but there are some real standouts. The song writing on North Star puts you in the car on the pitch black road, looking for that star to guide you home and back to his heart. Stamp is just a rail train of percussion that won't stop.

Departing's sparseness, like Hometowns, is its most winning feature. Truth: less is more with The Rural Alberta Advantage.

Check out the songs North Star and Stamp at the The RAA's website

Buy The RAA's Departing from Saddle Creek Records

Buy Departing from the Amazon mp3 Store

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

On The Horizon - Obits

I'm kind of addicted to fuzz and distortion right now.

Obits' Shift Operator is hitting that sweet spot.

You can pick up their second full release on March 29 from Subpop. It's called Moody, Standard and Poor, which quite frankly, is a fucking brilliant name for an album.

For free (no email address required) you can pick up the track Shift Operator here.

And you can preorder it here.

Bands We Love - Hey Marseilles

A year or two ago, when Shelby was was still running Shifted Sound, he played a few tracks from Seattle band Hey Marseilles album To Trunks and Travels and they quickly became one of our favorites. A large ensemble full of violins, cellos, horns, accordions, guitars and propelled by Matt Bishop's vocals, they write songs of love and friendship that are truly beautiful and sincere.

I got excited when they came out east for a small tour last summer, and caught them at Sixth and I synagogue's basement show. Even with a whirlwind schedule (they had to be in Amherst the next day), they brought tons of energy and even willingly played two encore songs, essentially filling out their debut album live.

We're working on setting up a quick interview with them about their new album and plans for the upcoming year, but for now you can surf over to their website and grab the track Rio for the price of your email address. You can also check out this video below of that song plus another.

The Doe Bay Sessions - Hey Marseilles from Sound on the Sound on Vimeo.