The Shins’ James Mercer can Act.. Among Other News.

•May 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Not only musicially talented, James Mercer, the frontman of The Shins, has “tuned” into his acting abilities as well. Mercer recently co-starred in “Some Days Are Better than Others,” a feature-length film directed by Portland’s experimental filmmaker Matt McCormick. When asked about his experience with acting in an interview with Pitchfork, Mercer commented “it was really fun and I guess kind of scary, but really, really fun. I took acting lessons and everything. I’ve never acted before…It was a challenge. I had that feeling of accomplishment when you take on something you’re a little bit scared to do. It seemed to work out pretty well. I’ve seen a little bit of it and it’s not embarrassing for me to watch. Which is saying something.”

The film is currently in post-production. In addition to Mercer’s acting endeavors, he and The Shins have encountered some recent changes as well. There is a new Shins’ album in the works, but with a little less and a little more. The Shins’ keyboardist, Marty Crandall, and drummer, Jesse Sandoval, are no longer in the band. Instead, Ron Lewis (from Grand Archives and Fruit Bats) is now on bass and Joe Plummer (of Modest Mouse) is on the drums. Although the original members had been playing together since the mid-90’s, Mercer decided it was time for a change.

“I started to have production ideas that I wanted to do that basically required some other people,” he said. “It’s mainly about that. It’s an aesthetic decision. It’s kind of hard to talk about stuff like that, isn’t it? Because I don’t want to bum anybody out. I’m on good terms with those guys, I hope to maintain that.”

The new album, which is still in the early stages, will be released on Mercer’s own record label, Aural Apothecary. Mercer tells his fans that the new album won’t be as moopy and has a lot more up-tempo stuff. None of the songs are going to be “real slow” because he has been really happy lately, which may have something to do with the more cheery album. He is “lucky in love” and has a wonderful kid now and “things are going well.” He stated that the songs are going to be sort of aggressive in a new way sort of way, which he is really excited about.

Mercer and the “re-made” band have debuted two of their new songs, “Double Bubble” and “The Rifle’s Spiral” on their current spring tour and have 30 more songs in the working. They will begin recording after they wrap up their tour.

Remaining tour dates include:

05-07  Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
05-09  Oakland, CA – Fox Theater
05-10  Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Palladium
05-11   San Diego, CA – SOMA
05-13  Richmond, VA – The National
05-14  Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
05-15  Baltimore, MD – Ram’s Head Live
05-16  Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory
05-17  Montclair, NJ – Wellmont Theater
05-18  New York, NY – Terminal Five

Pete Yorn- New Album Coming Soon, Pre-order Available on iTunes!

•May 6, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Pete Yorn is scheduled to release a new album entitled “Back and Fourth”  on June 23rd, which is only a month away! “Back and Fourth” includes 12 tracks and if pre-ordered through iTunes, one will receive all songs on June 16th (a FULL week early) along with a song called “Don’t Wanna Cry” immediately.

“Back and Fourth” comes as Yorn’s 4th full-length album, following a trilogy of “musicforthemorningafter,” “Day I Forgot,” and “Nightcrawler.” After completing the “Nightcrawler” album, Yorn explained in an interview with Silent Uproar that “It feels so good to have it out; it is like a giant weight off my chest. It feels good to let something go and it feels so great to finally have it out there and let people have it for themselves. I have had it to myself for a long time.”

He also went on to say, after being asked what was coming next, that “it allows me freedom to do whatever I want on the next record. I mean I have always been free to do whatever I want anyway, but I feel like I have recorded the same way from the technical standpoint as well and I feel that when the time comes for me to make the next record I can address anything I want in any way I want. ”

Well, Yorn… we look forward to what is now just around the bend!

 

By the way, Pete Yorn will be opening for Coldplay in May and June, which will include a stop at West Palm Beach, Florida at the Cruzan Amphitheatre on May 16th and another stent at the Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 4th. For more specific dates, check out Yorn’s website at www.peteyorn.com.

For a taste of what is to come, watch a video clip of Yorn performing on the Jimmy Kimmel show (courtesy of YouTube):

Paper Route- New Album!

•May 6, 2009 • Leave a Comment

“I wanna give up again my love and live like a runaway.
Making bands in an alley way, so I can dream of a better day.
Is there anyone left who will understand I am made of flesh and bone.
I tried to tell you on the telephone, all I needed was a stepping stone.”

The lyrics above are taken from one of the songs, “Last Time,” on Paper Route’s newest album, which was released on April 28th. The members of Paper Route were pretty excited about the debut of their first full-length album as they told their MySpace fans on April 27th:

“Well today is a day we’ve dreamt about for a very long time…since before we each had email addresses, much less a Myspace account.  We’ve put out a handful of of EP’s which we are proud of over the past few years, but today we are releasing our debut, full-length album.  The album is titled “Absence” and is being released on Universal Motown Records (yes, we are labelmates with Lil’ Wayne).  The album should be far easier to get your hands on than the EP’s were!  We should be in most major stores, not to mention the fact that it is only $7.99 on iTunes!

We also wanted to let you know that our first-ever music video for our song “Carousel” is going to premiere on AOL in the next couple of days!  It was directed by our friend Olivier Groulx who has worked with some amazing artists like Arcade Fire and Sigur Ros.  We will keep you posted and let you know when it is online.  Let us know what you think.

Thank YOU so much for an amazing few years.  It has been a really long journey, and a new chapter is beginning.  We could not have made it this far without the reaffirmation and encouragement we receive from you on a daily basis.  We hope you connect with the record in unique and personal way.  We can’t wait to hear what you think of it.”

 

 

The band will be touring this summer with their next stop being on May 6th in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Enjoy the following slideshow from YouTube of “Last Time.”

 

 

Paper Route also has a website and you can even keep updated on their most current endeavors via Twitter!

 

 

 

Riceboy Sleeps – Debut Album Coming Soon

•April 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment

If you have found pleasure in the many emotional and intriguing songs of Sigur Ros, you need to check out Riceboy Sleeps, an artistic collaboration between Jón Þór Birgisson (the lead singer of the Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Ros) and his boyfriend, Alex Somers (a graphic designer who is a band member of Parachutes).

Riceboy Sleeps first started in 2003, as a side project of Sigur Ros. So far they have released two singles, “All the Big Trees” and “Daniell in the Sea.” Check out their music videos for these songs:

From watching those videos, it is evident that Riceboy Sleeps tends more toward ambient music than does Sigur Ros. They are more experimental with their sound scapes also. In addition to these two singles, they also contributed a song called “Happiness” to an album called “Dark Was the Night,” which you can purchase on iTunes.

These boys are not only artistic in their musical ventures but have also published a book as well. Their self-titled picture book was released in November 2006. The book was published by Moss Stories, an independent publishing company and record label based out of Reykjavik, Iceland. The first edition of the book included 1,000 hand-numbered copies, which were only available in Iceland. However, they released a second edition (not hand-numbered) in 2007. In honor the second edition, they held an exhibit showcasing their work in Arkansas during the same year. This was the first time it was shown away from Iceland.

The two have been creating music and art together for about six years now. According to an article on Arkansas Online, they find inspiration and fulfillment in the small things. Their goal, as they say, “is to create works that are honest and will inspire and bring hope to people.”

Their nine-track debut album, recorded in Iceland on only acoustic instruments, is scheduled to be released in Europe on July 20, 2009. No word on the release date for the U.S. yet.

John Mayer vs. Tom Petty

•April 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

“She’s a good girl, loves Jesus and America too. She’s a good girl, crazy ’bout Elvis, loves horses and her boyfriend too.”

Do the above lyrics sound familiar? To many, the first artist that would pop into mind upon hearing these lyrics would be Tom Petty. Which would be correct… but the song, “Free Fallin'” has been on the radio a lot more often lately. But wait? Who’s singing? It doesn’t sound like Tom Petty.

That’s because it’s not. It is actually John Mayer, who has recently remade the song himself. Mayer’s remake has actually been out for purchase for some time now, as the album, “Where the Light Is,” was released in on June 30, 2008. It seems as if just recently, however, that the song has become more popular with listeners lately.

Mayer put his own original spin on the classic song. It would be interesting to know Petty’s take on the song as he was, himself, a fan of the original. In a 2006 interview with Esquire magazine, he stated, “Free Fallin’ is a very good song. Maybe it would be one of my favorites if it hadn’t become this huge anthem. But I’m grateful that people like it.”

Mayer’s new version has been enjoyed by many listeners but other listeners find themselves at the other end of the spectrum as well, which is the case with one such blogger, BuzzSugar. BuzzSugar stated, “At first I thought I would probably enjoy it… but then I happened to hear the original version on the radio the other day and was reminded of how great it was, and I started to have sour feelings toward John Mayer for laying his paws on such a classic.” BuzzSugar did, however, add in closing that listeners should consider the fact that it may just be different, not a worser version of Petty’s classic. A different take on a memorable piece of music.

With all of the mixed reviews, one should take a moment to decide for themselves what they think of the remake. Do you prefer the classic version or the “new and improved (?)” remake? Take a watch/listen to them both now.

Do you like John Mayer’s version?

Or Tom Petty’s version?

Explosions in the Sky

•March 24, 2009 • 1 Comment

Ironically, as I am writing this post I am hearing “explosions in the sky” or as some like to call it… thunder. Perhaps that is what brought me to blog about this wonderful band. Although the turn of the new year may not have been anything special for any of us, it was for Explosions in the Sky. March 2009 is a mile marker for this group of soft-spoken Texas men who specialize in the creation of emotional soundscapes. It marks their 10th anniversary as a band (they first played together in March 1999). Wow!

Over the past ten years, they’ve created 4 albums.

This isn’t tough to fathom, as Explosions in the Sky put a great deal of thought into all of their music. If you, like me, have ever imagined having a soundtrack of your life, you might hear some songs from these guys playing in your head. Explosions in the Sky have often been compared to Sigur Ros and Mogwai. If you like those, you’ll definitely appreciate what Explosions in the Sky has to offer! Let’s take a moment to reminisce and listen to one of MY favorite songs of theirs:   

According to the band, they are going to play some shows to celebrate. So far they are scheduled to play in Washington, Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, and parts of the UK. So if you’re planning a trip to the windy city, check them out on July 2nd, 2009 at the Congress Theater! You can also buy tickets to any of their shows from the band’s website.

The Decemberists

•March 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

If you haven’t heard The Decemberists newest album, you may want to check it out soon! Released March 17th, The Decemberists’ fifth full-length album,”The Hazards of Love,” is a story of love meant for the listener to unfold from track 1 to track 17. The album is full of emotional weight throughout.

Since its release on iTunes, the album has received an average customer rating of 4 1/2 stars out of 5 (based on 767 voters). One voter stated, “I’ve had this album for about a week now and have not been able to refrain from listening to it since.” The same voter said that this album was a true concept album that is meant to be taken in one sitting, from its “mysterious beginning to its tragically triumphant finish.”

Another voter wrote, “They have transcended. Their rhythms and techniques are flawless now. They are now using their unbelievable talent and over-the-top creativity to create something much bigger than the now simple folk music they used to deal in.”

You can catch some of the album’s songs on their MySpace page. And hey, for all of those who use Twitter, Colin Meloy (the band’s frontman) tweets! Follow him: www.twitter.com/colinmeloy.