Beer and Pavement

Dubb Nubb Interview (Director’s Cut)

Posted in Interview, Records by SM on March 8, 2012

Just like yesterday’s interview with Believers, I submitted a rather long interview for the T/F blog that needed editing. This one is with Dubb Nubb. You can read the edited version here or scroll down and read my director’s cut below. For more information on Dubb Nubb, go to their Facebook page and/or their Bandcamp space where they offer many lovely recordings for your enjoyment.

Give us your elevator spiel about Dubb Nubb.

Deelia – We’re an indie folk band and we’re a folk band. And we’re guitar, ukulele, one drum, and tamborine. And we do harmonies and we’ve been together since we were about 16/15. And Amanda joined the band in the summer. And we go on little tours and stuff all the time. We just put out like our third or fourth release.

Hannah – Some people would like to say that we’re like indie folk. And some people say we’re freak folk. I think it’s because it’s hard to categorize what our genre is. It’s kind of a mixture of lots of different stuff. Because we grew up listening to Bob Dylan, stuff like that. That kind of folk. Right now we’re listening to Fleet Foxes and that other kind of folk and combining that together.

I read somewhere that you started writing songs at 15. I suspect that you grew up in a musical household. What was that like? What kinds of experiences did you have growing up that made you give songwriting and performing a try? What kind of music was playing in your home?

Delia – Well, Hannah started playing guitar when she was ten. Our dad plays guitar and he taught her how. We always grew up listening to music. My parents blaring music on the stereo like every morning is how we woke up.

Hannah – A very artsy, musical family.

Amanda – And they took us to see a lot of shows. We would go to concerts in our pajamas, like on weekends, I don’t know, music festivals and stuff like that. Going to shows was such a part of our family.

What are your biggest influences currently? What are you listening to? What makes you think “oh, that sounds like us” or “that’s what we want to do”?

Delia – I think one of the major influences we had was this band called First Aid Kit. They put out a cover a Fleet Foxes song. They have these harmonies…they put out an EP not too long ago. They’re pretty much our age, too. So, we were really inspired by them in the beginning.

Hannah – I’ll say what is really inspirational is going to shows to see bands perform live. Like Shenandoah Davis and we saw…oh, what’s that band we saw when we were like 16? [turning to Delia] …uh, if you were still in love, why are you asleep?

Delia – Uh…

Amanda – Like ladies…

Hannah – Yeah like ladies we’ve seen live…

[The sisters fumble a bit, trying to recall bands they’ve enjoyed.]

So, just any live music or do you prefer the harmonies or a certain sound or a certain thing you’re drawn to?

Delia – I mean, we like a lot of different kinds of music. We listen to electronic music and just general indie people, like on Pitchfork or whatever. That kind of stuff too. So, we listen to a lot of different kinds of music. So, our sound is unique like oh, this is a folk song…there’s a lot of different elements…

Amanda – Do you just sit down and write a song and you want it to sound like this?

Delia – Not always, but sometimes if I have a really weird inspiration, I want to use this element in there. I know other people who are in bands who are like “I want to write a song that sounds like this band.” And I think that is so silly.

Well, let’s talk about the songwriting process a little bit. Do one of you come to the other one with an idea? Do you hear something…obviously, you don’t want to emulate it, but maybe something gives you and idea…Do you say “let’s sit down and write a song?”

Delia – Our songwriting process has changed a little bit now that we don’t live in the same house. Basically, what happens a lot of the time is that I will write a song by myself and it will be kind of an unfinished song. We’ll come together and we’ll finish it together, putting out all the parts for all the instruments.

Amanda – Don’t you write them as poems first a lot of times?

Delia – I used to, in the past, I would just write lyrics, but lately I’ve been having the melody in my head while I write.

[turning to Hannah] So, where do you fill in?

Hannah – She’ll sing it to me. Basically, she’ll sing me the song and I’ll make up chord progressions, write a bridge, and write a chorus.

[our food arrives]

There’s a lot of naïveté to your aesthetic and energy, in a good way of course. It reminds me of Beat Happening and even some of the Moldy Peaches stuff. However, you write some pretty heady, mature songs with some complex arrangements and lyrics that show you to be well beyond your years. How did you get to that point? Were there some experiences or just years of work?

Delia – One of our most intense songs, “Soldier”, is like…People get really emotional with that song. But the song is about… I wrote it when I was sixteen… It’s about my high school boyfriend going to bed too early… It’s about my high school boyfriend. We broke up and it’s about that. It’s just this really immature subject matter, but I made it into this really intense, crazy song, right? … Sometimes when you’re really upset, you write the best songs, of course.

Amanda – Do you set out to write a song with a really good metaphor or do you just write lyrics as they come out?

Delia – I think it was how I was feeling, you know? I really felt that way at the time. And looking back that was really dumb. I mean, that guy was…whatever.

You’re writing a lot of poetry…

Delia – I’ve always been a writer. I love creative writing. I always have. When I was in elementary school, that was my jam. I’m sort of in the creative writing program at Mizzou right now. That’s always been an interest of mine. I guess that plays into when I want to write a song. … It’s hard to be like “How did you write that?” I just sat down and … That was one of the quickest songs I ever wrote. Some songs take me forever and that one I just wrote it in a matter of hours. That’s like the best songs sometimes.

Sometimes immediacy…when you don’t play with something too much, it comes out way stronger, way more honest. Hannah, do you have anything to add to that?

Hannah – I haven’t written too many of the songs, but what I’ve noticed with Delia is she’ll have an idea. “Oh, I want to write a song inspired by this line of lyrics or inspired by this thing that happened to me. What’s most inspirational, I think, is when we go on tour and our different experiences outside of our everyday lives are really inspirational.

Even though you haven’t written as many of the songs yourself, you’re obviously involved in the structure piece of it as primarily the guitarist…I guess, that’s the piece you bring to it. Even the structures of the songs are pretty complex. It would be very easy to write some simple ditties or something, but you write some pretty complex songs. Is that from your training early on?

Hannah – I learned on classical guitar and I really enjoyed it. What I really liked about it was dynamics…What I really like is when a song is moving forward into a different idea musically. I try to make it sound interesting and that…I mean, you should listen to the lyrics, but you should listen to the music too.

Well, a great band…that works. You have to have all those components. Then, you bring in your sister to play percussion. So, when did you (Amanda) come in?

Amanda – I joined the band in May, because we were going to do a little tour after they graduated from high school.

Hannah – You kinda joined our recording in March.

Delia – That’s true.

Amanda – I did play percussion on some of their recordings, but that was like sitting at a full drum set. You know, playing some parts. And so, when we were trying to figure out what to do for this tour, I had some drums in my parents’ basement…but I didn’t want to really pack a whole drum set…So, I just found this drum my dad had, an old banjo and it broke. He had taken it apart and used it as a drum. I just started playing it and it sounded cool. … One thing that I like about adding the percussion in is that it kind of… [turning toward her sisters] You guys are amazing at what you do, the dynamics and stuff, but they were really not that good at keeping a steady tempo [laughing].

Hannah – I am like the queen of rushing. I just want to go faster. It’s really bad.

Amanda – So, I feel good about keeping them on tempo.

Delia – It’s good to have that heartbeat of the song. It really adds a lot of texture. I think before, it didn’t sound as…I think it can be more epic now.

Amanda – And it’s really simple. I don’t do anything very complicated at all.
[I then proceed to tell the girls how Pavement added Bob Nastanovich to the lineup just to help Gary Young keep the beat.]

Amanda – I was booking shows for them, coordinating their recording, and merch and all that for three years. It’s been awesome to actually play with them as well. Not just bossing them around.

You boss them around?

Amanda – Sorry, was I really bossy?

Hannah – You’re still bossy.

Delia – But it’s okay, because you’re the boss!

One thing that I noticed in a lot of the songs is that there are a lot of things about places, distance, and travel. There was the whole project you did – It Feels Like Home – seems to be running throughout your material… Is travel a part of your lives? Have you had a lot of people come in and out of your lives? Where does that come from?

Delia – I think the original thing it came from is that Amanda used to live in Jackson, Mississippi for like three years. We would always go down there with our parents and drive eight hours to visit her. We go down there and do Dubb Nubb stuff there a lot of the time. That trip in itself inspired some of our songs… Ever since we did all that Jackson stuff, people really liked us down there… We decided we should go other places, travel other places and see how people like it… It all started in Jackson, Mississippi.

Amanda – We didn’t really go on really far-reaching family vacations.

Hannah – Yeah, we never really went on family vacations. So, when we went to Jackson or to Nashville, it was like kind of a big deal for us.

Amanda – Well, also, like with places, these people…

Hannah – We experienced different cultures and kind of…

Delia – …more unique people that really impact you in a short amount of time and you never really see them again.

Amanda – And people are really connected to the places they live… So, if you write a song about that place, that’s gonna…

Delia – It’s like a memory.

Hannah – Like Tennessee Mountains. The St. Louis song… That’s one…

Amanda – But if you’re in Mississippi, and you say you wrote this song the last time I came to Mississippi and it has the word “Mississippi” in it, they’re gonna go crazy.

Delia – We played “Tennessee Mountains” in Tennessee… it was really fun.

Amanda – And that’s like way better than being at a show and be like “I know everybody has had a terrible breakup. This is a song about a terrible breakup. Yay!” It’s just happier. It’s a song about how much I love St. Louis.

So, do you consider yourselves full transplants or are you still St. Louis people?

Delia – It’s hard. I mean, we (she and Hannah) just came here in August… It’s hard to be like “Oh, we’re a band from Columbia!” I usually don’t say that. I usually say that we’re from Columbia but we’re a St. Louis band. I still feel connected to the St. Louis music scene. A couple of bands came from St. Louis for our show. We played the Blue Fugue last week. It was just so much fun and we’ve known those bands for a couple of years. We used to play shows with them on Cherokee Street… It’s hard to stray away from St. Louis.

You all had a lot of success there. Good press, you got to play Lou Fest. On top of that, there was all the touring, you’ve had a couple of opening gigs…

[our waiter interrupts for coffee refills]

So, you’ve done all these really cool things, especially in the last year… True/False, the Daytrotter session – which is a pretty big deal… What’s your personal highlights from the last year because a lot’s happened?

Delia – I would say the Daytrotter was the big… Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this is happening because we have always been fans of Daytrotter since we were very young… I think Lou Fest was really fun.

Hannah – Playing in Nashville…

Delia – …all the tours we went on this year were great! They all went really, really well.

Amanda – Yeah, this past tour we went around the state of Missouri and that was just really awesome. All the shows were really different, but they were all successful. Which is cool to say “We’re from Missouri and we’re only playing shows in Missouri.” … We played in Cape Girardeau and not a lot of bands stop through and play Cape Girardeau.

Delia – “You guys will have to come back…”

Amanda – It was cool to know that you don’t have to go very far to go on tour, get fans, and have a good time.

Well, it has been a knock on bands that are really great, but then they sort of fizzle out because they never leave town. So, they never get any exposure outside. There’s no way they can keep it going… Do you all have dreams and goals of something bigger? Not that there’s anything wrong with this, but…

Hannah – I think one of my dreams is to tour with a band that’s well-known. And that would just be really fun and get lots of exposure and learn from them.

Delia – Yeah, that would be the next step, definitely. We’re trying this summer.. We’re going to try to devote the summer to touring around. We’re playing a tour around working at rock ‘n roll girls camps. We’re going to work at one in Oakland, CA. So, we’ll tour around there…

Amanda – I’m excited for that.

Maybe you could start a rock ‘n roll camp for girls here?

Amanda – Seriously. That’s not an out of the question dream, because there are these rock ‘n roll camps for girls all over the country. Even in smaller places, like Murphysburg, Tennessee has one…. but there isn’t one in Missouri.

Yet.

Amanda – Yet! Exactly! So. we;re going to hopefully go to two different ones and be counselors and spend a week… And they do shows during lunch time. They have girl bands come play shows…

Delia – Our other dream is to play SXSW. We were trying to get on that recently, but we’re sorta not sure about it.

Amanda – It kind of sucks because of the timing… We’ll see. We’re still trying to get some kind of show.

But you are playing True/False again…

Delia – …which is awesome.

So, what do you enjoy about doing True/False?

Hannah – It’s so fun because… It’s fun to have an audience and play for people, but they didn’t come to hear us play. It’s kind of fun to see people’s reactions. People come up to tell us good job and it’s really rewarding…

Amanda – Yeah, because they didn’t come to see the music even… It’s not like they came to a show and never heard of the opening band. They came to see the movie…

Delia – So, sometimes we play the little church venue and everyone was just so into it. It was just so much fun. The acoustics were so good. We could sing really loud. It was awesome and we got to see a really good film. It was just a lot of fun. I think Columbia is a lot of fun at that time. Last year was so fun. Pearl and the Beard played…

Amanda – That was really cool to meet them…

Delia – Yeah, now they’re our friends…

Amanda – …and we opened for them.

Do you have plans to do more than just do your sets or do you try to go to parties, or see other films?

Hannah – I want to go to some of the shows, definitely. Maybe all of them. The other bands sound so cool. And I’ll definitely go to movies.

Delia – We didn’t get into some of the parties last year because we weren’t 21. That was a problem, I remember.

Amanda – Yeah, you’re still not 21. [laughs]

Hannah – I got a fake ID… just kidding.

Delia – On tour, we got kicked out of a bar we played at, because they were scared that the police would find out that we weren’t 21.

Amanda – And it was good that we got kicked out, because by that point there were only creepy dudes in there that were talking to us. So, we were really happy to leave.

Delia – Yeah, that’s cool…

Amanda – That was an insane tour…at an absinthe bar…

Absinthe bar? Where was that?

Amanda – St. Joseph… What was it called? [to her sisters]

Delia & Hannah – Cafe Acoustic!

Amanda – They were very nice.

Delia – Yeah, they were great.

Amanda – They kicked us out really nicely.

Well, they’re drinking absinthe…

Amanda – Right.

What do you have in store? You talked about SXSW, the summer camp thing, True/False of course… Anything else you have plans for?

Delia – We’re going to try to do a music video.

Hannah – Those are really successful… Our last one…

Delia – We did a little, tiny video of us just playing in the woods and people really liked it. We’ve never done like a full-scale video before. The last music video we put out was when we were sophomores in high school. A friend filmed us playing around in the park…

Amanda – It’s very cute.

Delia – Anyway, we have a friend who makes films and he said he would make a film for us. And we were thinking of putting out an EP because we have a lot of new stuff, but we’re not sure we’re going to record it. Those are two things we have in mind.

Last thing… Tell me something you love about each of your sisters.

[laughs]

Hannah – I love that we can play music together and have fun together. And not just hang out and be sisters, but hang out and be friends.

[sighs, laughs]

Amanda – My sisters are the funniest people that I know. And we have a funny, weird sister language. I like that…. [laughs] And they laugh at my jokes. Well, Delia laughs at my jokes. Hannah tells me that they’re bad. And that’s funny too.

Delia – We have so much fun going on tour for a week and half. We didn’t fight the whole time. I feel like a lot of bands fight on tour, but we had fun and made up weird jokes. It was really great. We do have fun having adventures with each other. We’re not just a band. We hang out and do stuff with each other on the weekends and stuff. It just a bond that not a lot of people have with their siblings. It’s really special.

[giggles]

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Just Outside the Top 10 of 2011 (Albums)

Posted in Records by SM on December 13, 2011

Coming up with one’s ten best albums of the year is tough. I’ve done more than that, but narrowing a list to ten is a much more difficult task than simply naming all the albums you bought in a year. Also, I have the terrible habit of proclaiming albums to be the year’s best long before I should. Then, there are all the albums that simply have not been given the time they deserve.

That said, I have narrowed my list to nine. All I need is one more, but the list that follows is what I have left to consider. Sure, I might miss a few when it’s all said and done, but these are albums I’m still considering for one spot. Feel free to comment on what’s here and what isn’t. Keep in mind that I already chose nine to make the final cut. I just need one more…

The Albums I Haven’t Listened to Enough Even Though I’ve Had Them for Awhile: So, I’ve had some of these records almost since they were first released this year, but for whatever reason, I just haven’t had time to give them a proper listen. All of the albums in this group deserve serious consideration as I’ve spent some time over the past couple of weeks trying to get reacquainted.

Okkervil River – I Am Very Far
As I was considering my favorite tracks of the year, I rediscovered “Wake and Be Fine” on another list of top songs. It made me want to rediscover this album just to make sure I didn’t overlook it. I had. While the narratives and poetic flourishes Will Sheff normally demonstrates in his songwriting is somewhat subdued in order to make room for more hooks, the production and instrumental dynamics more than make up for it.

Joan of Arc – Life Like
Honestly, I could write something up that just tells you all I know and/or think about previous JoA records prior to this one and it might be somehow accurate in describing this record. However, I won’t tell you anything. Just know that it’s long overdue a sit-and-git. Maybe I’ll pour a beer also deserving my attention. Either way, I remember loving portions of it, but I never listened to it and it landed on the island of forgotten LP’s.

BOAT – Dress Like Your Idols
The poor man’s Yuck, possibly, deserves more listens. I’ve actually been playing the shit out of it lately, giving it a hard look for the final slot in my list. It’s loaded with all kinds of nods to my heroes and theirs (apparently). The aesthetic reminds me tons of the sort of nineties retro indie that The Soft Pack and Surfer Blood play. It’s good stuff but nothing earth-shattering.

Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
What a massively great album this is. Why isn’t it in my top-10 already? I really haven’t listened to it enough to make that decision. Maybe I’d hear that one bit that put it over the edge or make it unworthy of top-10 status. I don’t know. I blame the fact that Sub Pop’s digital download system didn’t work and I never bothered to follow up.

Low – C’mon
I loved this album a lot from the beginning, but I worried that I wasn’t giving it enough distance. Then, I gave it too much distance and nearly forgot. It seemed too perfect of an album to be Low’s and maybe I was missing something. That’s not saying Low doesn’t make great albums. I’m just surprised a Low album could contain so many memorable songs. Albums are their thing, not singles.

The Albums that I, for Whatever Reason, Did Not Purchase This Year: I know these bands are good. I’ve read and heard enough to know that these albums should be considered. Why I still haven’t purchased them is unknown to me. Luckily, there’s Spotify. I’ve been trying to catch up on some material I missed over the year. More than likely, I will own all of these albums by February. Still, they sit collectively just outside my top-10.

War on Drugs – Slave Ambient
I don’t know how one determines Spotify statistics, but I’m sure I’ve played this album more than all others over the past month while at my computer. For whatever reason, I didn’t buy this album, nor did I go see them when they came to town. It makes no sense and this record is pretty good.

Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo
See above, aside from the not seeing him even though he was in town, because he was not in town this year. I loved his set at Pitchfork last year and loved whichever record I do own. The crime of not owning this record will be rectified soon enough.

Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts
I own the other two Moore solo efforts plus a handful of weird records he’s done over the years. I have been loving anything Beck produces as of late – maybe my producer of the year. I am a Sonic Youth fan of like 20 years. So, why don’t I own this record? I have no idea. Now, I’m seeing it pop up on lists and I’m wondering what I’ve missed. Better give it another listen on Spotify.

I Saw These Guys and Was Impressed, So Their Albums Deserve Another Look: The following two acts were among those I saw play live. Somehow, I don’t own either album they were supporting. Upon considering the shows I’ve seen this year, that was an egregious oversight on my part. I’ll rectify it at least by giving them props where props is due.

Bill Callahan – Apocalypse
I made sure to see Callahan while in DC earlier this year, but I didn’t buy the record. Even his track “America” made my top tracks list. It’s a crime that I don’t yet own this record.

Jay-Z/Kanye West – Watch the Throne
Going to see Jay-Z and Kanye West forced me to play this album a ton on Spotify as a way to prep myself. Typically, I don’t like hip-hop records because they are single-heavy and loaded with filler. This album was different as it was complete from beginning to end. So, it deserves some consideration.

The Bands I’m Just Not Sure About at this Juncture: For various reasons, a few bands fell into this category. Some I loved right away, but I don’t know that it’s a long-lasting love, like for life kind of love. These albums still deserve some consideration, though.

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
At one point, I was ready to name this “album of the year”, but something made me reconsider. It may have been seeing so many bros in the Fleet Foxes camp or my general distaste for hippies. I don’t know. It’s still very, very good. I’m just not ready to commit to including it in the top-10, yet.

Beirut – The Rip Tide
This might be the most complete and realized album of Beirut’s string of excellent albums, but I don’t know that it qualifies this year. In year’s past when I’ve had a hard time thinking of ten albums I like, it would have held down a seven spot. However, I have found an embarrassment of riches in this year’s crop. Beirut’s record is good, but it might not be top-10 good.

Destroyer – Kaputt
This was another album I was ready to crown early in the year, but it seems its eighties aesthetic finally rubbed me the wrong way. Bejar writes a pretty awesome song and somehow harnessed bad Casios to sound cool and even contemporary, but I lost my patience for this record over time. Then, I saw it make a few lists of people I respect, causing me to pause for a moment. Should I reconsider Kaputt?

WU LYF – Go Tell Fire to the Mountain
This album popped up on my radar since its June release or sometime shortly before that thanks in large part to their underground marketing schemes online. It’s big, epic, and incoherent in ways I’ve never heard before. That usually means that it goes directly to my top-10 list, but this year’s list is loaded and I only just laid my hands on this record, maybe six months after its release. So, it may still take time to decide on this one.

Bright Eyes – The People’s Key
Bright Eyes has gone down hill, but this album grew on me for a while, especially after seeing the band on its final trip across the country. Also, it’s been receiving some recognition, making me think that I need to revisit. Of all these records, it may have the longest shot, but it’s still a worthwhile album.

Albums by Locals That Were Really Good and Maybe Could Use a Bump from the Coalition: I don’t often hear local releases that

Ptarmigan – The Forest Darling
I said it back in May and I’ll say it again, Ptarmigan put out a great record that stands out locally or beyond. Read what I thought here and I’ll let that stand on its own.

Dubb Nubb – Sunrise Sleepeyed
It’s hard to believe sometimes that Dubb Nubb are so young as their songs demonstrate a wisdom well beyond their years. On top of that, they have an infectious sound that’s hard not to notice. I’m looking forward to seeing them play again at True/False in 2012.

Jerusalem & the Starbaskets – Dost
Dost is getting some good press and deservedly so. Lo-fi and blues revivalism with a touch of country seem to be coming along at just the right time. The band is touring extensively, but I have to believe that their one big opening gig from breaking. People eat this shit up. I do.

That’s not even the final list. As mentioned before, I have nine other albums I love more than these, but I felt they all deserved some mention and the benefit of 100 page views. Which one would you pick to add to my top-10? Did any of these make your list? Comment freely. My top-10 will hit eventually. There will probably be something similar for beer as well.

Twenty Best Songs of 2011

Posted in MoL, Records by SM on December 7, 2011

I don’t always do lists for best song, but I’ve paid particular attention to a few that have drilled holes into my brain and set up permanent residence. Most are the regulars but some might surprise. Also, I’m ranking art, y’all.

1. “Senator” – Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – This, unsurprisingly is a sign of things to come, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why no one is on this bandwagon. Just listen to the song.

2. “Another State” – Dee Bird – Here’s a local song that I haven’t been able to get out of my head all year. It’s simple, lovely, and connected to this past summer’s visit from the cicadas. One-half of the twindie duo Dubb Nubb creates easily my favorite local track in years.

3. “Rubber” – Yuck  – Shoegazing, drugged, grungy, feedback-riddled, slacker rock just makes me feel 18 again. Yuck are great nineties revivalists that have captured the decade of my youth and for that, I am eternally grateful. BTW, the video is NSFW. Also considered “The Wall”

4. “Gangsta” – Tune-Yards – Tune-Yards has masterfully figured out how to make dance-able indie rock, utilizing big beats, emo vocals, and the essential loud-quiet-loud dynamic. Although I came into possession of this album late, the songs have been running in my head all year. “Gangsta” is a standout. Also considered: “Bizness”

5. “Michael Jackson” – Das Racist – I like humor and weirdness in my hip-hop. I also like a hook. “Michael Jackson” has it all. After 3 hours of Jay-Z and Kanye West, all I could hear in my head was this track.

6. “Future Crimes” – Wild Flag – This song is just so full of angst and urgency. It makes me uncomfortable in my skin. It makes me want to dance. For me, this is the highlight of one of the year’s best albums. Also considered: “Romance”

7. “Mother” – Wye Oak (cover) – This one was from the A.V. Club’s Undercover series where bands passing through would record a song from a list of suggestions. Wye Oak eventually released this one as well as their first Undercover appearance playing a Kinks song. Also considered: “Holy Holy”

8. “Go Outside” – Cults – For my money, this was the song of the summer. Isn’t going outside all we want to do when it’s so nice out and we have to sit inside working all day?

9. “Ni**as in Paris” – Jay-Z/Kanye West – This is a pretty wicked song that the duo played like three times to close out their show in Kansas City.  There’s also the perfectly timed and placed sample from Blades of Glory. (NSFW) Also considered “Otis”

10. “Helplessness Blues” – Fleet Foxes – Epic and sprawling, the title track from this year’s Fleet Foxes release all of that and a bag of granola. The sentiment is a bit sappy, but as with most FF tracks, it’s all in the vocal performances. This album faded for me down the stretch, but this track stood strong.

11. “Shell Games” – Bright Eyes – It’s been a long while since I would have ranked a Bright Eyes song so high on a year-end list. The album is really uneven, but when Conor Oberst gets a song right, he really gets it right. The song’s so upbeat for a Bright Eyes track that it’s almost a pop crossover hit.

12. “Ice Cream” – Battles – I can stand Battles in small doses, but those doses are pretty incredible. This song is so bizarre that it appeals to that teenage, indie geek inside me. (NSFW)

13. “Video Games” – Lana Del Ray – OK. Let’s ignore all the hype and debate over her authenticity. This song took the world – indie and otherwise – by storm this year. It’s haunting and beautiful with a highly contemporary narrative. Yes, I’ve fallen for it as well. I probably won’t buy the album, but I’ll listen to this song whenever possible.

14. “America!” – Bill Callahan – I got to see Bill Callahan this summer in Washington, D.C. and this song stuck out. For some reason, I haven’t picked up this record. That may have to be rectified in the coming weeks.

15. “Perth” Bon Iver – Justin Vernon outgrew his cabin in the woods with this one. I mean, there are actual electric guitars in there. Some of his latest effort strayed from the cabin fever he spread across the land his first time out, but even with some electric guitars this track shows Vernon at his atmospheric best.

16. “My Mistakes” – Eleanor Friedberger – This song should describe the conversation I had with Eleanor Friedberger . Nonetheless, this song translates well live, but it doesn’t have to as it’s just a great rock song.

17. “Wake and Be Fine” – Okkervil River – Somehow, I’ve forgotten about this album over the course of the year. Luckily, I remember being pretty excited for its release when this video was released. The big sound played well with the video’s cinematography.

18. “Try to Sleep” – Low – Low really hit it out of the park with this year’s release. “Try to Sleep” was probably the closest they’ll ever come to a hit. It’s sleepy and melodic, much more upbeat than their usual shtick. Also considered “Witches”

19. “For the One” – Waters – Port O’Brien broke up and another narrative was born when Waters was thought up. “For the One” is what Port O’Brien sounded like had they wanted to rock. The Waters album as a whole does not always deliver, but the first single does.

20. “Santa Fe” – Beirut – For several albums, I’ve been curious what Beirut would sound like when not emulating the music and culture of wherever his muse was residing at the time. “Santa Fe” is that song.

As always, what did I forget? What are you favorite songs of 2011?

The Weekend that Was

Posted in Life by SM on May 23, 2011

Since starting this blog, I’ve tried to limit the number of posts that just tell you what I did. Well, I’ve been a single parent for most of the last week and will continue for all of this week. So, I have time for nothing more than share a few images from my weekend.

The weekend started with this…

Stone’s Cali-Belgique IPA started off the weekend (and would be enjoyed on Sunday as well). The Hopry’s review got me to thinking that I needed to give this beer another try. The first and last time I tried it was the big Stone night here in town and I was not that impressed. Of course, I was following up several beers that are all a load on their own. So, making this my first of the weekend allowed me to enjoy this beer unscathed. Upon further review, the Cali-Belgique is what its name suggests: a California-style hopbomb with the delicate presence of a Belgian yeast strain. What a great summer beer this is going to be with it’s tartness only balanced by the fruity bitterness of west coast hop bills.

Later on Friday, I obtained the services of a sitter and caught what I hoped to be the lineup of the summer. Believers put on their typical jive-inducing set. Richard the Lionhearted (sorry, no pics turned out),played a tight set of new and old songs. Jerusalem and the Starbaskets brought home their dirty, drunken version of rock music before I had to sneak out to relieve and pay said sitter. It was a nice night to catch up with some friends and release a bit from my week as a single parent.

My kid’s first rock show happened. It was Sunday evening at an ice cream parlor. We sat down with our ice cream and watched Dubb Nubb and Cory Taylor Cox play folk music as it stormed outside. As you can see from the picture, my kid and her friend from her Montessori school rocked out, mostly pogoing the night away.

My busy weekend finally ended the way most weekends should end: with a beer. Boulevard’s Tank 7 is easily one of my five favorite/go-to beers.

Hopefully, there will be more full-fledged posts this week as next week will be a bit thin with a long-awaited vacation on the horizon. Bare with me. I have ideas for some good posts in the coming months.

CoMusic (killer) Filler Wednesdays

Posted in Live, Records by SM on April 20, 2011

Maybe my fillers on Mondays Wednesdays will be my new tradition or something. Either way, the content below is worth your attention. It also won’t hurt for you to check out The CoMO Collective when you’re done.

I wrote the first piece on Dubb Nubb. The second is mostly not my work, but it’s a cool narrative anyway. The third bit is mainly some video, but it too is worth your while. Finally, the last is a review from a show last weekend. I’ve mentioned Believers before, but last Saturday’s show was pretty wicked.

Once dubbed as the only “twindie-pop band in America,” created a buzz with their turns as buskers for this year’s True/False Films Fest, Dubb Nubb has conjured quite the following in our fair city. Recalling the undead ghosts of Joanna Newsom and Julie Doiron, the twins harmonize with a youthful zeal not often caught on tape. There’s hurt beyond their years, hopefulness despite our times, and a bit of anger to keep it honest.

All this comes through loud and clear on the duo’s latest release New Bones. Sparse, echo-y production feature the grrrls at their finest, fully capturing the craft in their vocals, chords, and lyrics. Listening to New Bones, it’s hard to believe that Dubb Nubb is young enough to enter a battle of high school bands while simultaneously finding it hard to get into some of the clubs in which they play. I suspect they don’t need fake ID’s, just hand over a copy of New Bones to the doorman and they’ll be granted instant access with a Manhattan on the rocks to follow.

I recognize that this blog typically follows Columbia acts or those bands playing CoMO venues. Technically, Dubb Nubb has played this town and are well-connected here. Plus, New Bones is worthy of a listen, download, and one-of-a-kind cloth packaging (while supplies last). So, this all adds up to the band being honorary CoMOians. Welcome them with open arms and hearts, Columbia, and be on the lookout for a Dubb Nubb gig in the near future…after graduation, anyway.


A couple weeks back, I was contacted by Amanda Rainey in regards to my purchase of the Dubb Nubb’s New Bones. She mentioned her involvement in the 48 Band Competition at Hairhole. Either I asked or Amanda offered to write about her experience, but the important part is that she was willing to share the post below.

Amanda describes herself as “a soon to be business school dropout and a percussionist, quilt artist, sunday school teacher and lady behind little local label Special Passenger Records.”  She is currently working on a compilation project called “Feels Like Coming Home” which is an exploration of hometowns and music communities all over the country.  That album comes out in July and will feature a Comfort Zone (her 48 Band Competition champion foursome) song about the Hairhole called “Practice Space.” Find out more at  Special Passenger Records and Feels Like Coming Home.

Also, Amanda and her collaborators are starting a craft studio/community office space at Hairhole that will be home to “lots of tools and machines and scrap fabric and materials.”  There will be open studio times and craft nights starting next month.  Email Amanda if you are interested in becoming a member, donating materials, or learning more about Hairhole. Her email: akrainey@gmail.com – Ed.

Sometimes perfect things happen.

Last November after hearing quiet rumors about a 48 band competition at the Hairhole, I asked Sabrina at Maude how to sign up and she said – you gotta find Leo.  I didn’t know who Leo was, but I walked down the street to meet friends at Saigon – opening night  – and they were standing at a table talking to Leo.  So I signed up.  They only had one spot left.

48 hours later I walked into the Hairhole and stood among mostly strangers as they decided the bands – and I was placed in Leo’s band, also with Max and Emily – really wonderful strangers who became friends within a few hours of excited drinking, planning and playing music. 48 hours later we performed as Comfort Zone, playing 8 songs and musical interludes that we wrote and meticulously practiced throughout the weekend.  We won.  I can’t really tell you right now exactly how much that night meant to me or how much it changed everything.  Ask me in a few years.  But I can tell you that it brought out the best in Columbia’s music community.  Through ten new bands performing 100 new minutes of music we caught a glimpse at near perfection.  Well, until the cops showed up.

Since 48 hours, Comfort Zone has played three more shows and written six more songs.  Max is moving to Chicago soon, so we will probably only play one more show in mid May.  However, we were determined to make an album before we split, so we got together a couple of weeks ago and recorded all 11 songs at the Hairhole in one night.

Leo and I arrived at 3pm to clean and set up and we started recording a couple hours later.  Throughout the night, friends showed up to hang out, drink beers and help us with our scream and clap tracks.  Emily arrived right as we finished our instruments and vocals and did violin layers that will give you goosebumps.  At the end of the night we sat back and listened to the album straight through three times – it clocks in at a whopping 15 minutes and 16 seconds.  It’s pretty perfect.

I am excited to say that the album will be released in May as a split 12″ with our sister/friendlord band Task Force on the other side. It’s called 12″ Pizza Split and the recordings are getting mastered and plated as I type this.  This record is a community art project and we can’t wait to share it with everyone. I’m sure there will be a release show in May and the records will be for sale at Maude.  For now, here are some pictures of our recording session – Wednesday March 29th, 2011 at Hairhole, USA. – Amanda Rainey


Yes, we are like five months behind on this thing, but we also didn’t exist in November. That said, a significant event in the CoMusic scene in recent history was November’s 48 Hours Battle of the Bands competition at the Hairhole, an arts space in the North Village Arts District. Over the course of a weekend, forty local musicians got together, drew names out of a hat, formed four piece bands, wrote and practiced songs, and performed at the Hairhole in a battle du jour. Don’t take my word for it. Check the following videos below and come back tomorrow for a firsthand account from one of the event’s participants, Amanda Rainey (who also provided me with the links to the videos you see below.


Artist depiction of Believers

The Hairhole doesn’t exist. It’s not in a basement somewhere in the North Village Arts District. They didn’t hold their last show in November. You can’t check-in with FourSquare even if you could find it. There’s no cover at the door. And there wasn’t a show there Saturday night.

I won’t write how nostalgic I felt upon entering the Hairhole, or “Harold” as some might call it. It didn’t remind me of the Neil House, a residence near Ohio State’s campus rented out to a bunch of hard core kids who would hold shows in their living room. I won’t mention a club called Bernie’s with it’s basement locale and claustrophobic-inducing darkness and lack of exit signs. I certainly won’t tell you about the time I made myself bleed watching a band in a basement because I had to pound the beat out on the wall. Nope, all those things happened and the Hairhole did not.

So, everything you’re about to read didn’t actually happen as the Hairhole doesn’t actually exist…

Columbia up-and-comers Quailskin showed great improvement from the last time I saw them a month ago. That first night at East Side was not a good first impression. However, the band pulled together a nice set of actual songs. Gone were the electrotrash pretensions that dominated their set at East Side. Here was the songcraft that will keep folks coming back. Very groove-able, certainly worth another listen. There are some strong pieces in Quailskin. Once they iron out a few wrinkles, I expect them to be a solid part of the scene.

Road-conditioned Senryu found a crowd as happy to see them as they were to see the Hairhole after its forced hiatus. Senryu don’t play ska, but it’s as danceable and rugged as the punk-approved precursor to reggae as anything else I’ve heard. Folks danced and sang along, proving that Senryu’s previous visits to the ‘hole were not in vain. Seriously, their set was a lot of fun, more fun than I’ve seen at a show in this town. Apparently, all the personality in this music community is located in that basement.

Headliner Believers’s pre-show setup gave a pretty big clue of what was to come. Two drum kits were at the front corner of the stage with everything else at the edges, spilling off the stage and into the dancing audience that surrounded them. Percussion is at the center of the Believers sound. Sure, the band features silky vocals, vintage guitars, bass lines that drive, and some well-placed ambient noise, but the beats are what made believers of the audience, whipping the crowd into a frenzy, cracking the ‘hole’s foundation.

Fucking A! This was a great set. The atmosphere was loose. The band was having a good time and the Hairhole crowd was having an even better time. The Believers set Saturday night was what you want in a rock show. So much fun. I really can’t tell you anything else except that you really have to see this band live and in-person.

As if the night couldn’t get any better, Believers switched things around a ripped into a raucous rendition of The Breeders’ “Cannonball.” The Ohioan in me smiled with pride, but the Missourian in me looked forward to more shows at Hairhole and more from Believers.