Friday, December 30, 2005

Giant Drag: Interview

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By Dany Sloan

L.A. duo Giant Drag, comprised of Annie Hardy and Micah Calabrese, have been bouncing around the scene for a couple of years. Their debut release, Hearts and Unicorns dropped earlier this year, and showed frontwoman Hardy in many fierce poses, not unlike P.J. Harvey or Liz Phair. They are a band that are good for what they are -- there is no bandwagon-jumping going on here. Hardy and I chatted on the phone last month, mostly about the band, but also a little about how much the weather in Boston sucks in the winter.

Dany: How did you get into music?

Annie Hardy: My mother was a playwright and she would have rehearsals at home from time to time. In fifth grade, there was one that was for a musical, and this guy played guitar, you know stuff that was "cool" at the time like Pearl Jam. I finally learned how to play guiatr in tenth grade in boarding school.

Dany: How did you meet Micah? How is it playing as a duo?

AH: Micah worked for my mother, and he started recording some of my songs and we got along well. Since he knew the songs the best, we just started playing together. Working as a duo, it's cheaper and we save money, plus we can write songs fast. We pretty much get along most of the time and it makes touring easy, too.

Dany: Many of your lyrics seem to have harsh words directed towards your exes. Have you been involved with a lot of assholes in the past?

AH: When I first started writing, that was the easiest to write about, and I really focused on the major heartbreak. My newer songs are more introspective.

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Dany: How did you hook up with Kickball?

AH: I got a very good feeling with Kickball and they seemed to have the most to offer us. We have had no problems with creative control.

Dany: I heard you recently played a show with Echo & the Bunnymen. How was that?

AH: I didn't get to meet the band and there was a dressing room debacle. I actually thought they boring, and it was nice to have fans come up to me and say that they thought Giant Drag were better than Echo.

Audio: "Kevin Is Gay"
Video: "This Isn't It" [Quicktime]
Video: "Kevin Is Gay" [Quicktime]

Buy: Hearts and Unicorns at Insound

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Brakes: Interview

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By Christine Ernest

Proving the world cannot have enough side projects, the Brakes are four guys who just can't stop making music. Comprised of one part British Sea Power, one part the Tenderfoot and two parts the Electric Soft Parade, they formed back in the summer of 2002.

Even though the Brakes can be considered a side project, it definitely does not mean it is going to be put on a back burner for their original bands.

“For me, my band Tenderfoot is taking time off for the moment so I’m mainly concentrating on the Brakes. It’s probably hardest for Eamon, [of British Sea Power],” said Brakes’ bassist Marc Beatty.

“British Sea Power is just coming to the end of promoting their album that just came out…There’s probably a bit of a window for the Brakes to do a bit more stuff in. We want to get another album recorded, and we want to do some more touring. We want to go around Europe, but we definitely do want to come back to the United States…I’ve already asked somebody [at Rough Trade] if we can play SXSW. I said what does it take for us to play SXSW and they all you have to do is fill in the form. So hopefully we’ll be out in Texas and I heard Texas is a really great place to play live,” said Beatty.

The Brakes dropped their US debut album just a few months ago. Entitled Give Blood, the foursome blitz through 16 songs in just over an hour to produce an album that cuts straight to the point; these Brighton boys mean business.

Perhaps one of the most memorable songs from the album is “Heard About Your Band” where singer Eamon Hamilton sings about sharing cabs with Yeah Yeah Yeah’s singer Karen O. to meeting Electralane and knowing a lot of people in the industry in which his response to all the bragging is, “whatever dude!”

“The song [“Heard About Your Band”] is about when Eamon went to see them [the Yeah Yeah Yeahs] play and he met this guy there and he was bragging how he knew her [Karen O.] and stuff. It’s more about the kind of people you meet at gigs in London…the hangers-on, there’s like scenesters…they like to tell you about what they do and who they know. These people they go to these gigs and they’re not actually there to actually watch the music. They’re just there to be seen and to make sure that people know that they’re there,” said Beatty.

The Brakes are currently set to tour in support of Belle and Sebastian in January and February followed by a set of dates in support of everyone’s favorite new buzz band the Editors. The Brakes did make an appearance in New York City back in October.

“[The Brakes’ show in NYC was] pretty good, it was pretty full I think it was at maximum capacity. We had some people down in front singing along which was nice, which I wasn’t expecting. It was really good especially since I heard New York crowds are really difficult and they never really give anything away…if they don’t like you they won’t clap and stuff, they’re kind of cold like that. From what I could tell, people were having a good time and getting down to it,” said Beatty.

“The one thing I’m not yet used to over here is that you can’t smoke in the venues…it’s quite strange for me, not being in a smoky atmosphere…usually the place is filled with smoke and people are having trouble breathing. It makes the atmosphere a whole lot more unpleasant, but not unpleasant in a bad way. Unpleasant in a good, kind of grimy way…other than that I don’t know, I’ve only done one gig here so far so I can’t really compare…I’ve heard from British Sea Power that have toured over here a lot that generally the venues are better equipped and are a better standard of PA systems and stuff like that. England there’s a lot of bad venues, a lot of dives.”

Hopefully the Brakes will come back to tour the US again soon.

“Part of the reason why we came over [in October] is to make a few contacts and to get people to see us so there’s a bit of a demand of it so we can come back sometime next year…It would be good to do a proper US tour. I don’t think we’re known about enough to do a headline tour of the US, but maybe if we could support someone…another British band or maybe someone American…I wouldn’t mind [touring in support of a British or American band.] I actually prefer American bands to British bands myself…I just prefer American music. There are a lot of bad indie English music at the moment. It’s all pretty bad. It’s just my personal preference, I prefer American bands to English bands,” said Beatty.

Audio: "Heard About Your Band"
Video: "All Night Disco Party"

[Contact Christine here]

For those keeping track, this is Exitfare's 100th post.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


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I am back after spending some time in D.C. and with the family back in PA. It was definitely a good break, one that was definitely needed after a busy 2k5.

Hard-Fi's debut album Stars of CCTV was one that I spent a lot of time listening to this year, yet I always found myself skipping the same two or three tracks, which kept it off of my year end list. The band is influenced by the usual crew, such as The Specials and The Clash, but they are able to do a little more than throw down a funky dance beat in a paint-by-numbers rocker. According to the Atlantic Records website, the album will finally be released stateside early next year, and the band has a full headlining tour booked. Dates are as follows:

01/16/06: Middle East - Cambridge, MA
01/17/06: Bowery Ballroom - New York, NY
01/18/06: Red Square - Albany, NY
01/20/06: Horseshoe Tavern - Toronto, ON
01/21/06: Magic Stick - Detroit, MI
01/22/06: Metro - Chicago, IL
01/24/06: Grand Emporium - Kansas City, MO
01/26/06: Stubb's BBQ - Austin, TX
01/28/06: TBA - Phoenix, AZ
01/29/06: Brick By Brick - San Diego, CA
02/01/06: Troubadour - West Hollywood, CA
02/02/06: Popscene - San Francisco, CA
02/04/06: Berbati's Pan - Portland, OR
02/05/06: TBA - Seattle, WA

I am guessing that they are still firming up dates for this tour, as well as lining up support. There are some venues that are TBA and two major markets are completely absent from the itinerary: Philly and D.C., but those cities were not represented during the recent Go! Team tour, either.

Audio: "Living For The Weekend"

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Films

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The Films come to us from Charleston, SC via Denver, CO and rock in a way that would make The Smiths and the Pixies proud. They slowed began to conquer the Southeast by building a reputation with a smart style and sensibility and an energetic live show fueled by pure frenetic energy. Warner Brothers just signed them and you can find their debut maxi-single on Filter U.S. Recordings.

Be their friend on MySpace!!

Audio: "That Kind of Day" [Quicktime]
Video: "Black Shoes" [Quicktime]

Friday, December 16, 2005

2005: the albums

This year was a great one for new music and I honestly had the worst time trying to put a list together. There was just too much good stuff and only twenty spots available. Below I have the cream of the crop along with some audio and video samples for you. Feel free to tell me that I like shitty music, but just please back it up with your lists. PLEASE.

Next week look for my honorable mentions and bands that I am pumped about for the new year. I'll be going away for the next week and a half, so I will not be updating as much. Thanks for reading this year!

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20. The Mitchell Brothers A Breath of Fresh Attire [The Beats]
Audio: "Excuse My Brother"

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19. The Joggers With A Cape & A Cane [Star Time International]
Audio: "Era Prison"

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18. Against Me! Searching For A Former Clarity [Fat Wreck Chords]
Audio: "From Her Lips to God's Ears (The Energizer)"

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17. Oranger New Comes and Goes [Eenie Meenie]
Audio: "Crones"

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16. Kano Home Sweet Home [679]
Audio: "Remember Me"

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15. Various Artists Run the Road 2 [679]

Audio: "Run the Road [f/ Katie Pearl]"

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14. Bruce Springsteen Devils & Dust [Columbia]

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13. Common Be [Interscope]
Audio: "The Food"

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12. Art Brut Bang Bang Rock & Roll [Fierce Panda]
Audio: "Emily Kane"

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11. Saint Etienne Tales From Turnpike House [Sanctuary]
Audio: "Teenage Winter"

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10. Outhud Let Us Never Speak Of It Again [Kranky]
Audio: "It's For You"

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9. Roll Deep In At The Deep End [Relentless]
Audio: "Bus Stop"

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8. Bright Eyes I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning [Saddle Creek]
Audio: "Train Under Water"

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7. The Subways Young For Eternity [Infectious]
Audio: "Rock & Roll Queen"
Video: Rock & Roll Queen" [Quicktime]

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6. Beanie Sigel The B. Coming [Roc-a-fella]
Audio: "I Can't Go On This Way [f/Freeway]"

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5. The Others The Others [Poptones]
Audio: "Lackey"

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4. Idlewild Warnings/Promises [Capitol]
Audio: "Welcome Home"

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3. Tom Vek We Have Sound [Star Time]
Audio: "I Ain't Saying My Goodbyes"
Video: here

Tom Vek is more or less indie rock's Mr. Wizard. His formative years were spent in his garage tinkering with all of the musical equipment his father had available. On We Have Sound, he takes this builder/destroyer attitude to assemble a sound that the Talking Heads would make at art school in 2015. Vek expertly melds post-punk minimalism with the future shit that only comes from the mind of someone that has all of the answers.

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2. M.I.A. Arular [XL/Interscope]
Audio: "Amazon"
Video: "Bucky Done Gun"

This is unofficially her second album after last summer's breathtaking Piracy Funds Terrorism mixtape that she put together with Diplo, but with the major label backing of Arular, M.I.A. was everywhere. Her lazy susan of genres intact, the bhangra-inflected "Pull Up the People" doesn't lose its punch or message and "Amazon" is the best dance song with a Caribbean backdone since like fucking ever. As a live performer, she moved from the timid girl who sheepishly spit some flavor at Hollertronix in late 2k4 to the woman who owned every attendee at Boston's Paradise this year. Maturity is a gift and Ms. Maya has it.

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1. Bloc Party Silent Alarm [Vice]
Audio: "Banquet"
Audio: "Plans"
Video: "Helicopter"

When the first notes of Bloc Party's "Banquet" trickled onto the shores of the U.S. in 2004, it was obvious that the floodgates that Franz Ferdinand nuzzled open had exploded. With the release of Silent Alarm, Bloc Party showed that they were not just riding the coattails of a trend. Not only were they able to accurately approxiamate shades of Gang of Four and The Jam, but their bookmarking of early '80s U2 is what set this album on fire. "Banquet" is as fresh now as it was a year previous, "Positive Tension" is a fierce rocker with instantly quotable lyrics and "Plans" is a bittersweet treatise on insecurity that is buttressed by an absolutely devistating guitar solo.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

2005: the singles

In addition to my love for independent and boundary-breaking music, I am also totally down with pop music. This is by no means a list of the "best" singles this year -- it's simply just a list of some of my favorites, both mainstream and indie.

Snoop Dogg [f/Charlie Wilson & Justin Timberlake]//Signs
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Yet another slab of amazing 70's-inspired funk/hip-hop. And not to kill the party, but JT steals the show from Snoop. I'M SERIOUS!

Daddy Yankee//Lo Que Paso, Paso
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While I have yet to get into reggaeton like I'd really like to, this Daddy Yankee album is one that really killed it for me. I owe my love for artists like Tego Calderon, Don Omar and Ivy Queen to a former co-worker of mine, but Daddy Yankee's album Barrio Fino is the first reggaeton album I purchased, and while everyone loves the jam "Gasolina," I can't get over how great "Lo Que Paso, Paso" is. If anything on this album is the party starter, than it's right here.

Arctic Monkeys//I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
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"Stop making the eyes at me, I'll stop making the eyes at you" Alex Turner demands at the beginning of "Dance Floor," a song that is funkier than the rest of the post-punk revivalists will ever be. While this is a great start for a band that is already pegged as 2006's "buzz band," they have a long way to go. Some suggestions: put out "When The Sun Goes Down" as your next single and release an amanzing debut album. Oh wait, they are doing the former. We'll have to wait for that album...

Amerie//1 Thing
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Anyone who bought Touch expecting gold was sorely disappointed. If you're really interested, go to the Itunes store and just purchase this single. It's why the 70's were so great for funk and R&B; the song soars and the chorus is instantly recognizable--there's none of that mumbling or ultra low end bullshit we've come to expect from modern urban music.

Fall Out Boy//Sugar, We're Going Down
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Everyone is saying that 2005 is the year that emo went mainstream, but from how I see, didn't emo break years ago? Jimmy Eat World, anyone? The thing with Fall Out Boy is that I don't view them as an indie band that broke big--they are a simply a pop group to me, and one that has had two great singles this year. While the video was kind of hokey, the song is everything you want a great pop song to be, plus the lyrics have some depth, too. With lines like "I'm watching you two from the closet, wishing to be the friction in his jeans," the band takes something rather adult and applies it to this pop nugget.

The Streets//Blinded By the Lights
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While The Streets entered the pantheon of greatness on their first album, their destiny was sealed with the release of A Grand Don't Come For Free last year, an album that was perfect to begin with and only gets better with age. Mike Skinner has always been a great storyteller and "Blinded By the Lights" is the best example of that. A night out at a sweaty and dirty club, his girlfriend snogging someone else and struggle to make the right decision because his judgement is clouded by drugs and beer.

Ashlee Simpson//Boyfriend
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Hopefully Franz Ferdinand and Jimmy Eat World got paid for this because if it wasn't for them, Ashlee wouldn't be able to fathom a song have as good as this.

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Interpol loves Joy Division, steals their sound and then come the Editors, who bring that sound home again. You will never tire of this song.

K.O.//George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People
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What a perfect protest song. If only people talked about this song as much as they talked about Kanye.

My top albums of 2005 are coming quite soon, promise!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Saint Etienne: Tour Dates 2k6

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It looks as though Saint Etienne are doing a very abbreviated tour of the States in February. A post from Bob Stanley on their website reads as follows:

"Early Christmas present! We'll be in America in February for Valentines day - New York on the 13th. Why not show up, see the Et, dance a little, romance a little, and get a room? We take no responsibility for the weather.

Feb 13th New York - Irving Plaza
Feb 15th Chicago - Metro
Feb 17th San Francisco - Filmore
Feb 18th LA - Avalon

Supports aren't confirmed yet but you'll be the first to know.

love Bob xx"

What? No Boston?? I am so disappointed, but honestly, me on a plane to see them in LA on the 18th is completely feasible. If the NY show wasn't in the beginning of the week it wouldn't be such a problem.

Anyway, Tales From Turnpike House is out on Jan. 24th through Savoy, and the entire album can be streamed here.

The Capes: Interview

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By Christine Ernest

An ocean separating them from their original stomping grounds, The Capes are a band comprised of four lads giving it all during their first United States tour.

The quartet hails from South London that has produced artists such as Bloc Party, Art Brut and Clor. The Capes’ sound is reminiscent of the modern day underground darlings Maximo Park and Super Furry Animals to everyone’s pop favorites The Beach Boys.

Since bands have been crossing the big sea to do US tours, there has been the cyclic nature of American musical artists listing their influences as being European and vice versa with many Brits claiming the Americans as their sources of inspiration for at least four decades.

“There’s always been that type of cross-pollination…The Beatles and The Stones were influenced by an American kind of R&B and Chuck Berry and stuff like that. They produced their stuff, which in turn influenced a load of bands over here [in England] like The Byrds. In turn, The Beatles kind of ripped off some of The Byrds sound. It kind of goes back and forth all the time. I think it’s always been like that,” said vocalist/guitarist Kris Barratt.

Each year, many European bands make their way into the United States to try their hand at pleasing the crowds and winning new fans over.

The Capes have left their home of South London and are currently in the middle of touring the United States in support of their debut album. Entitled “Hello,” their first official US release is a mix of art-rock, giant guitar lines in a form of pop most wouldn’t realize they were missing from their lives.

“It’s [The Capes US tour] been amazing, and surprisingly even in small towns. You might think people might not be so receptive to an English band, but the reactions been great. Everyone’s been really hospitable and we’re looking forward to the next tour,” said Barratt.

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Even though the Capes have been receiving positive fan reception in their tour stops thus far, some venues in the United States have certain preconceptions about them. For example, New York is sometimes labeled as a “tough” crowd because the audience is more than likely composed of the elite – record label executives, promoters and fans that are just hard to please.

“London is as well [a tough crowd as is New York City.] New York is quite similar to London in that way. It’s really similar actually. People kind of tend to stand there with their arms crossed and kind of nod and just kind of clap quite quietly in the end. It gets kind of discerning for us. We’ve [The Capes] only played New York City once,” said Barratt.

Differences between the audiences in the United States as opposed to audiences in the United Kingdom are as important as getting the band out there and touring in the first place. When touring, the way audiences react to a band’s performance night after night can make or break their career.

Not all crowds turn out to be hard to please in the United States.

“I found it [playing shows] to be a lot better over here. Before you were asking quite specifically about New York, and I found that to be kind of quite similar to London. But everywhere else that we’ve played has been amazing. Completely different actually.”

Just like with other forms of entertainment, when a person pays money to attend a concert in the United States they are usually going to see that show because they want to support the artist.

“I guess people [in the United States] are just a bit more appreciative in a way. Well they let it be known that they like your stuff. In the UK, people just kind of nod their head and clap politely in the end. But here [in the United States] they actually whoop and howl and dance and show you that they’re getting into it, which is great. You can play off of that and get into it.”

Audio: "Supergirls"

[Christine Ernest is the music director at WYBF at Cabrini College in Radnor, PA. She will be a regular contributor to Exitfare, so e-mail her to let her know she rulez!]

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Maccabees

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The Maccabees hail from the United Kingdom, Brighton to be exact and remind me of The Wedding Present and Gang of Four. The bio on their website is pretty funny, here are some of my favorite lines:

"Bouncing, brash, befuddled, The Maccabees invoke all those primal urges you’ve had in the past couple of years about the renaissance of the British scene."

"The Maccabees have grown that glint in their eye and the spring in their step that comes from the knowledge all that hard work is paying off. The mischievous grin always looking for adventure ever present, The Maccabees bring that deviance which everyone needs from their rock and roll."

A note for you nerds out there [which is everyone reading this], The Maccabees have worked with producer Gil Norton, who produced the Pixies' Doolittle. There are no plans for an album as of yet, but they have a single out for "X-ray."

Here are their upcoming shows:
December 9th

@ Escobar, Wakefield
Doors at 8pm.

December 10th
Bad Sneakers @ The Faversham, Leeds
w/ the hair and dirty robbers
7.30- 11pm
£5/ £4 in advance from Jumbo Records

January 14th
Club Fandango @ Lennons, Southampton
For more info go to

January 27th
Drowned in Sounds Six tips for 2006 @ Barfly, London
w/ Jamie T, Forward Russia + more..

Audio: "Lego"

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Tarantula A.D. @ T.T. the Bear's [Thursday Dec. 8th]

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If you like your rock to be epic, theatric and just slightly nerdy, then you should schlep up to T.T. the Bear's tonight to see Kemado Records all stars Tarantula A.D..

The band's newest album, Book of Sand, took me off guard when I first heard, but now I can totally get down with it. If they were around during the 1970s, they would probably have sweet gatefold covers.

"Who Took Berlin (Part I)"

Monday, December 05, 2005

Bling Kong: Band of the Day on

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Go to Spin to vote for Bling Kong. They are the band of the day today, and if they get enough votes, they will be band of the month.

Help a promoter help another promoter!

"Bling Kong Girls"

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Against Me! @ Wonderland Ballroom [Sunday Dec. 4th]

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I am hungover and sort of miserable after last night's awesome Subways' show, so this show preview is going to be short. Against Me! are perhaps the best punk band in America right now; they are more or less our generation's version of The Clash. Their new album, Seaching For A Former Clarity, is full of gravely-voiced, sing-along punk anthems that attack scene politics and the administration running this country. Tonight's show starts at 6:30 p.m.

Audio: "From Her Lips to God's Ears (The Energizer)"

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Subways @ Great Scott [Saturday Dec. 3rd]

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Hey Boston kids: The Subways are going to be here tomorrow and you really have no reason NOT to go! Seriously, their live show is off the hook and they are playing with the comparable Twenty Twos, a band that I don't know much about, but the song clips on their site blow my mind.

The festivities start around 9 p.m. at Great Scott in Allston. Word.

Audio: "Oh Yeah"

The Lashes

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Get It, the new album from The Lashes will be hitting shelves on February 7th on Red Ink/Columbia. They have nice hair, look sharp and know exactly how to take the party into overdrive, which is something that current tourmates The Divorce will have to watch out for. If you're on the West Coast, be sure to follow all of the drama:

12/5 - Hollywood, CA - Star Shoes
12/6 - Hollywood, CA - The Key Club
12/7 - San Diego, CA - The Zombie Lounge
12/8 - Las Vegas, NV - Beauty Bar
12/9 - Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland
12/11 - Phoenix, AZ - Modified Arts

"Sometimes The Sun"
"Sometimes The Sun" [Windows Media]
Media: The Lashes movie

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Belle & Sebastian

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Belle & Sebastian are one of the most consistently good bands since The Smiths and thier new album comes out on Feb. 6th on Rough Trade in the U.K./Europe and Feb. 7th on Matador in the States. I only saw them for the first time in 2002, when they were touring on Dear Catastrophe Waitress, and it was everything I was expecting--a packed house and a crowd that knew every word. The Life Pursuit picks up where the last album left off, tempering the band's shy feyism with AM radio gold.

"Sukie In The Graveyard"
"Song For Sunshine"