Saturday, August 31, 2013

In Their Thousands – A Band Review

     For some songs, there is an immediate appreciation. There is a slight downside when this happens, because of the concern that the appreciation will disappear almost as quickly. Maybe as few as 25 plays later, a realization hits – you have heard the song often enough, move on ‘cause there’s nothing to see here (or rather “nothing to hear here”).
     For other songs, it is the opposite. The first 25 plays may bring a lukewarm reception, while the 26th brings an appreciation for aspects of the song that were previously taken for granted. Yesterday, the “realization play” occurred for the song “0400” by In Their Thousands, a band based in Letterkenny, Ireland. We played the song a few more times and then again this morning to see if the connection remained. It did.

     So, we decided to look into other songs by In Their Thousands. Embarrassingly, we discovered that we not only knew another one of their songs, the band had already been introduced to Indie Obsessive. If there is a defense, it lies in the lack of similarity between the two songs. Even the genres are different. The song “0400” is Indie Rock, while the song in the earlier post was Indie Folk. The two songs have different lead singers and feature different instruments (electric versus acoustic). It’s not a good excuse for not recognizing that the same band is responsible for both songs, but it is all we have.
     The members of In Their Thousands are Ruairi Friel, Aidan McClafferty, Declan McClafferty, and Liam Kelly. All four members contribute to the songwriting, which at least partially explains the degree of variety among the songs of the band. It works well for these guys.
     Since the song repeatedly refers to four in the morning, the title “0400” should probably be verbalized as “Zero Four Hundred,” the military reference to that time of the morning. The song rotates between the acoustic and electric guitar, until an acoustic pluck at the 2:15 mark triggers a one-minute dedication to driving electric guitars (and some falsetto vocals).
     "0400" by In Their Thousands

     The “Woodcutter” by In Their Thousands was introduced to Indie Obsessive as part of the blog entry of May 18 (if you are interested,CLICK HERE). The song is a poetic and romantic description of a woodcutter who deals with the death of a loved one by carving her image out of wood.

     Another offering we like is "Low Tide”

Friday, August 30, 2013

Eddie Vedder as the Lead Singer for Mumford & Sons?

     Have you ever had difficulty falling asleep while wondering how it would sound if Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam were the lead singer of Mumford & Sons? Well, we haven’t either. But the good news is that thanks to the U.K. band The Sea Atlas, we won’t ever have to start the questioning.
     The Sea Atlas is based in Uig, Isle of Lewis. The members seem to have a good sense of humor. For example, the Facebook page of the band identifies the members as "Calum Buchanan, Ian Schouten, Kenny Maclennan, and who ever we can rope into it..."

     For comparison, below are the songs “Towers” by The Sea Atlas and “Society” by Eddie Vedder. We like both, but favor the song by The Sea Atlas because we are firmly embedded in a trumpet-seeking phase of our Indie obsessiveness.
      “Towers” by The Sea Atlas

     “Society” by Eddie Vedder

Other offerings from The Sea Atlas that we like include “Questions” and “In Snow.”

     “In Snow”

Thursday, August 29, 2013

VMworld – A Concert Review

     This week, the tenth annual VMworld conference was held in San Francisco. VMworld is hosted by VMware, Inc. and is the largest virtualization-specific event in the United States. There will be a corresponding VMworld event in Europe (Barcelona) in October. The IT professionals at either event have an opportunity to gain information and develop ideas while attending breakout sessions, hands-on labs, and solution exchanges. The four-day event drew more than 22,000 professionals this week.

Who cares, this is a music blog!!! 
     Well, while most of the activities occurred at the Moscone Center near the downtown area of SF, the VMworld Party took place at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. The entertainment included Imagine Dragons and Train.
The party was spectacular. There was something for everyone. Some attendees focused on the no-charge carnival games and walked away with collections of stuffed animals. Others played the large array of video games or made sure that nothing interfered with the ability to take advantage of free food and beverages (yes, free beer and that stuff that non-beer drinking enthusiasts seem to like). The Giants’ batting cage was open and the carnival-type rides were popular.

     Well, you never know what to expect when concert-goers actually pay for something other than the concert and when the bands arrive knowing that they will be performing for an audience that isn’t primarily comprised of their fans. Will the attendees just talk through most of a band’s session? Will the band consider performing at a special-interest event less important than events for which they are responsible for drawing the crowd? At VMworld, the answers were both “No.”

     This was our fourth chance to see Imagine Dragons. The first time was in May 2012 before most people realized the band’s talents. At that first opportunity, the crowd was far less than 200 strong and we stood only a few feet from the stage. Nevertheless, the performance at VMworld was the best experience of the four. The band is now much more polished and the songs are more tightly performed. Interestingly, the song “Never Changing Who I Am” was more downtempo than the radio version and didn’t include frontman Dan Reynolds’ standard technique of holding the microphone stand high above his head near the end of the song. But it was a hit with the crowd. Imagine Dragons finished with “Radioacive,” which involved three of the members rhythmically and forcefully attacking drums. It was effective and the crowd responded appreciatively.  Embedded below is a Youtube video that was posted by another attendee. The audio is not production quality, of course, but our captures are typically no better.

Imagine Dragons gave every appearance that they wanted to be at VMworld. Reynolds talked about the band’s early days in Las Vegas and spoke fondly of the special-interest events that were the original performance outlets for the band. Reynolds also said that he enjoyed playing on the same stage as Train, since he has been a fan for a number of years. He did not mention the accuracy or inaccuracy of the story that Imagine Dragons’ first break came when they were asked to substitute for Train at a Las Vegas festival, after Train’s frontman (Pat Monahan) fell ill.

     After a quick stage change, Carl Eschenbach, the President and COO at VMware, introduced Train with his usual high level of energy. Unfortunately, he didn’t tell the story about the disappearance of his wife at a previous Train concert - disappearance until she and another spouse of a VMware executive were spotted on the stage, dancing with the band.
      As engaged and engaging as Imagine Dragons were, Train were able to reach another level. Pat Monahan allowed the crowd to vote “yes” or “no” as to whether the band should perform “Marry Me,” since “There are only eleven women in the audience.” The crowd went with “yes,” but Monahan playfully reprimanded one of the guys for singing along too emotionally. During another song, he repeatedly borrowed easily accessible cell phones from people close to the stage (who were already taking pictures) and then angled the lens to take a picture that captured both the phone’s owner and himself. Among their own material, Train played a medley that included Led Zeppelin, Lou Reed and Beatle songs. Every song the band touched, whether their own or a cover, was well received.
Below is a Youtube video posted by some kind person:

     The night could not have gone much better - two bands with charismatic leaders and solid setlists, non-musical activities for those who wanted them, respectful concert attendees, and a strong sound system.

Thank you VMworld and your host – VMware, Inc.  

A Personal Post – Happy Birthday

     As you travel through life, the song lyrics you connect with change. A party song that was once your anthem may bring back good memories after circumstances have changed and your children and spouse have become the most important part of your life; but the song is certainly not your anthem any longer.
     The same is true for a relationship. Different songs speak to stages such as:
(a) the start of a romance in which being separated creates a longing, 
(b) the start of a marriage in which there are so many reasons to be hopeful, and 
(c) the start of a family in which there is an additional reason to share your lives.

     Today is the birthday of the person I love. Our relationship has passed through a number of stages and I have reached a point of certainty regarding where it will eventually reach. I am not sure she has ever heard the song “Naked as We Came.” It was released in 2006. Each year since its release, I have increasingly viewed the lyrics as voicing optimism in and dedication to a relationship.  This song speaks to me and speaks of my optimism and my dedication.
    Happy Birthday "K." 
    Your two favorite bloggers love you!

     "Naked as We Came" by Iron and Wine

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

“Home” by Odd Us – A Song Review

     On March 11, the Indie Obsessive blog entry included more than ten songs with the single-word title “Home.”  Since then, more songs have been released with the same title, but haven’t been added to the list – until today. In a past life, Aras Baskauskas was on the television show “Survivor.” Now he is a singer/songwriter. He uses the moniker Odd Us because of the difficulty in pronouncing his Lithuanian last name.
     We ran into the song “Home” by Odd Us and enjoyed it immediately. The beginning is upbeat and well arranged. We like the use of a muffled voice (megaphoned?) in the first 20 seconds and how it is then joined by a second voice that is unmuffled. We particularly like the array of instruments, including a parade whistle.
     Seeing the video put us over the edge. The video starts with the opening of a dumpster and ends with the closing of a car’s trunk. In between, there are scenes that provide an understanding for the reference to “I’m Coming Home."

     "Home" by Odd Us

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

War in the Song Title

     Each of the songs in this post satisfies two requirements – the song must include the term “war” in its title and must be a song that we believe deserves much more attention that it is receiving. Some of the tracks have been part of earlier posts and some are being introduced to Indie Obsessive for the first time. The “war” requirement is an excuse for promoting the following songs or bands.

     Dan Mangan and his group are based in Vancouver, Canada. The other members are Gord Grdina, Kenton Loewen, and John Walsh. There are a number or reasons to enjoy "Post War Blues," but our favorite is the frantic guitar that is first used at the 1:14 mark, but then trails off starting at 1:30. The song is arranged and produced well.
     "Post War Blues" by Dan Mangan - A free download

     “The War” by Josh Record is about making a relationship work.  As this London-based singer/songwriter states:
Don't give up on me yet, I will give you what you deserve.
Though our arguments are many, and your eyes are always sore,
I promise you we'll get there, this war is almost won.
           “The War” by Josh Record

     Public Service Broadcasting is a musical duo, also based in London. J. Willgoose, Esq. plays the guitar, banjo, and other stringed instruments, while Wrigglesworth plays the drums and piano.  Both members take samples from electronic instruments, old public information films, archive footage and propaganda material in order to provide an interesting blend of something current for the ears and something historic for the eyes.
     "If War Should Come" by Public Service Broadcasting

Brown Shoe is a band from Folsom, California, a town well known in the music world because of Johnny Cash. It has become increasingly common for a band to include two brothers. But Brown Shoe has four:
Ryan Baggaley - vocals, guitar, keys
Bryson Baggaley - bass, drums
Aaron Baggaley - guitar, keys,
Landon Baggaley- drums
     If you like "Bloody War," you should look for more music by Brown Shoe. We recommend "Colt Rider."
     "Bloody War," another free download

We have mentioned Amason before:
     At least thus far, the best 2013 super group is Amason, Swedish-based musicians who have formed a Los Angeles-based band. The members are Gustav Ejstes (from Dungen), Amanda Hollingby Matsson (from Idiot Wind), Pontus Winnberg (from Miike Snow), and Nils Törnqvist and Petter Winnberg (from Little Majorette). Amason recently released “Went to War” and we were immediately obsessed.

     Finally, there is Frightened Rabbit’s “Home from War.” This is a band with a much larger fan base in Europe than in the U.S. However, the U.S. fan base of the band is as loyal as that of any other band. They  are headed to the U.S again, and we highly recommend that you grab the opportunity if one is available.
      “Home from War" by Frightened Rabbit

Frightened Rabbit - Fall 2013 Tour
7-Sep            Thrival Innovation + Music Festival           Pittsburgh, PA
8-Sep            Ryman Auditorium   Nashville, TN
9-Sep            Cobb Energy Centre            Atlanta, GA
11-Sep           The Fillmore Charlotte        Charlotte, NC
12-Sep           Thomas Wolfe Auditorium Asheville, NC
13-Sep           Iroquois Amphitheater        Louisville, KY
14-Sep           St Jerome's Lanway Festival         Detroit, MI
15-Sep           Orpheum Theatre    Madison, WI
17-Sep           RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATER   Morrison, CO
19-Sep           Paramount Theatre Seattle, WA
20-Sep           Paramount Theatre Seattle, WA
21-Sep           Edgefield Winery     Troutdale, OR
22-Sep           PNE Amphitheatre  Vancouver, Canada
24-Sep           Union Hall     Edmonton, Canada
25-Sep           MACEWAN BALLROOM    Calgary, Canada
26-Sep           Knitting Factory Concert House    Spokane, WA
27-Sep           Knitting Factory Concert House    Boise, ID
28-Sep           Ace of Spades          Sacramento, CA
30-Sep           The Warfield San Francisco, CA
1-Oct              Avalon            Hollywood, CA
3-Oct               The Glass House     Pomona, CA
4-Oct               Marquee Theatre     Tempe, AZ
5-Oct               Santa Fe Railyard Plaza    Santa Fe, NM
6-Oct               Guthrie Green          Tulsa, OK
7-Oct               The Prophet Bar       Dallas, TX
9-Oct               40 Watt Club Athens, GA
10-Oct            Freebird Live Jacksonville, FL
11-Oct            Culture Room           Fort Lauderdale, FL
12-Oct            The Beacham           Orlando, FL
14-Oct            Jefferson Theatre    Charlottesville, VA
15-Oct            Newport Music Hall Columbus, OH
17-Oct            Kool Haus     Toronto, Canada
18-Oct            London Music Hall  London, Canada
19-Oct            Water Street Music Hall      Rochester, NY
21-Oct            Paradise Rock Club            Boston, MA
22-Oct            Paradise Rock Club            Boston, MA
24-Oct            Webster Hall New York, NY
25-Oct            Webster Hall New York, NY
26-Oct            The Stone Pony       Asbury Park, NJ
27-Oct            The Electric Factory Philadelphia, PA
29-Oct            9:30 Club       Washington, DC
29-Oct            9:30 Club       Washington, DC
5-Nov             Newcastle University          Newcastle, United Kingdom
6-Nov             Ritz     Manchester, United Kingdom
7-Nov             Anson Rooms          Bristol, United Kingdom
8-Nov             O2 Academy Brixton           London, United Kingdom
10-Nov           Southampton University     Southampton, United Kingdom
11-Nov           Institute          Birmingham, United Kingdom
12-Nov           Leadmill         Sheffield, United Kingdom
14-Nov           Olympia         Dublin, Ireland
15-Nov           Mandela Hall            Belfast, United Kingdom
16-Nov           O2 Academy Glasgow, United Kingdom
17-Nov           O2 Academy Glasgow        Glasgow, United Kingdom
20-Nov           Point Ephemere       Paris, France
21-Nov           Tivoli de Helling       Utrecht, Netherlands
25-Nov           Lille Vega      Vesterbro, Denmark
28-Nov           Radar Århus, Denmark

Sunday, August 25, 2013

“On the Shore” by Slow Skies – A Song Review

     Finding songs that personally “speak to you” is a function of luck and timing. With the technology of today, it is possible to access an overwhelming amount of music. Nearly every day, between the two of us, we hear at least twenty new songs. No complaints, it’s our passion and only wish we could justify putting more time into listening to songs that are fresh. There is an excitement and an energy that come from hearing a song for the first time and recognizing the potential that the song could be one one that improves your outlook slightly for those three or four minutes each time the song is played. And there is a sense of satisfaction and excitement that comes from hearing a song for maybe the 25th time, but this time being able to identify which particular aspect is your favorite one within the song – which aspect makes it a song you enjoy hearing more often than others.
     So, luck is a factor because no one person is able to run across every song that is potentially meaningful to her or him. And timing is a factor because an appreciation of certain songs requires that you hear the song when you are ready to accept it for what it is, rather than listening for music that fits neatly into your preferences.

     We found “On the Shore” by Slow Skies. Luck was with us! Equally importantly, the timing was right. The song spoke to our mood during the first listen. Now, it returns us to that first listen whenever we play the song.
     “On the Shore” starts with a childlike voice and minimalist instrumentation. The voice is childlike. Not childlike in the sense that it sounds like the voice of someone under the age of 16. Instead, it’s apparent that there is a talent in the voice, but the quality is not where it will be after the vocalist has time to hone her skills. The voice sometimes shows hints of maturity and other times gets out of the way of a purer voice. Then, at the 2:49 mark of the song, the first voice gains that maturity, the music swells, and the song separates itself from other songs, even ones we enjoy.
     "On the Shore" by Slow Skies

     Slow Skies is based in Dublin, Ireland. A number of other blogs identify Slow Skies as a duo compised of Karen Sheridan and Conal Herron, but their Facebook page adds Patrick O'Laoghaire. 
Other songs we like from Slow Skies:
     "Across the Sea" by Slow Skies

     "Ice Cream" by Slow Skies

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The First Indie Obsessive Just-for-Fun Quiz

    This is an attempt to (a) allow ourselves a little fun, (b) allow readers to have a little fun, and (c) write about bands and songs that we enjoy. Each of the bands/songs identified in one of the four questions is deserving of more attention that it is currently receiving.
     There are four questions. To our best guess, they are in the order of difficulty, with the "least difficult" one first. The answers are at the bottom of this entry, and there is no such thing is cheating on an Indie Obsessive quiz.

The first winner of the highly coveted Indie Obsessive “Black Licorice Vine Award” goes to the band British India, because their song “I Can Make You Love Me,“ is:
A. Dark
B. Twisted
C. Both A and B – How else do you describe a song about someone who kills himself to win the love of another.

The Los Angeles band Grizfolk changed its name from Griz Adams because of trademark issues with the owners of:
A. Griz’ at ‘em (short for “Grizzle at him,” something we just made up today)
B. Grizzly Adams (the television series)
C. Grizzly Hills 90210 (the television series)
D. Griz Whiz Beer
E. The band We Sue Everybody

Which London-based band(s) that have been featured in an Indie Obsessive blog entry is/are named after an uprising that occurred outside the UK?
A. Boxer Rebellion
B. Bastille
C. Bombay Bicycle Club
D. Both A and B
E. All of A, B, and C

Answering this question requires that you listen to the song below the four choices. 
Earlier this year, TAPE JUNk released “The Good & the Mean.” In what geographical area is the band based?
A. Nashville - That’s obvious, because Nashville has become the Indie capital of the U.S.
B. Southern United States, other than Nashville – That’s obvious, just listen to the accent.
C. Western United States – That’s obvious from the Western “feel” of the song.
D. Lisbon, Portugal – That’s obvious, why else would Lisbon be one of the choices?

The correct answer is C.
To see the dark and twisted video for the song, visit the blog entry of April 5, 2013 - CLICK HERE.

The correct answer is B, or at least we think that is why the band's name changed from Griz Adams to Grizfolk. For more about the band CLICK HERE.

The correct answer is D, 
Bombay Bicycle Club was actually named after a chain of Indian restaurants in the U.K.

The correct answer is D. 
"The Good & the Mean" has some great lyrics. For example, "I’m anchored on sobriety, but my boat’s gonna float away."
For more about TAPE JUNk:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Multiple Songs Rolled into One – San Fermin and Typhoon

     First, a “thank you” to SoundCloud. We are not sure how its business model works, but we certainly wish it success.
     One of the many beneficial features of SoundCloud is the ability to view a song's waveform The waveform provides an overview of the song, with any significant intensity increases and decreases. And the listener can merely mouse click in order to quickly change the playing position within the song. This click-change feature is one we use with almost every new song. For songs we like, we jump ahead in order to see if the artist “ruins” the fast start (if the song is particularly good, the jump may be performed with a silent prayer that the artist doesn’t screw it up). For songs that start less favorably, the leap is to determine if things improve.
     Too often, even for songs having a promising start, a double take is required after a forward jump. That is, the jump is triggered by the mouse click, but the song seems to continue without a hiccup, so a glance is required to confirm that it is a different portion of the song. When this happens, we immediately know that the best case scenario is one in which we will like the song for a while, but will grow tired of it soon.
     On the other hand, there are songs that change significantly when a jump is made. If the “before portion” and the “after portion” are both interesting, it bodes well for the song withstanding the test of time.
     On the third hand (What?! How about the third paw?), there are songs that require a double take because of the need to verify that you are still listening to the same song. The two songs we consider below fit within this third hand/paw category of "Is this the same song?"

     Indie Obsessive has mentioned the Brooklyn-based band San Fermin in a previous post. The song “Sonsick” was among our 17 trumpet-containing songs in the blog entry of July 21 (if interested, just CLICK HERE). But it is “Daedalus (What We Have)” that is inducing our obsessiveness now. While listening to the song and considering what to say about “Daedalus (What We Have),” we found ourselves at the 3:30 mark and the word “soaring” seemed appropriate. But the differences among the different portions of the song defy selection of a single-word description, unless the word is along the lines of “fluctuating.” But why not describe the song in terms of elevations. While the song soars at times, it is grounded at others.
     “Daedalus (What We Have)” begins with two rise-and-fall waves by the horns, but then the voice and lyrics enter with an approach that is firmly planted to the ground. In fact, the voice is “deep,” and to some degree, so are the lyrics. The ascension begins with the first waveform peak at the 1:50 mark. We love the trumpets and almost child-like choir that soon joins the trumpets. The “deep” part returns temporarily, but is followed by the soaring, which starts at the 3:15 mark. The elevation fluctuations continue as the song goes on, and the fluctuations are very effectively.
     “Daedalus (What We Have)” by San Fermin

       San Fermin is going on tour as of September 7, 2013. The full schedule is available at One stop will be at the Café du Nord in San Francisco on October 16. 

    The second song is Typhoon’s “Young Fathers.” We praised an earlier release by Typhoon in a May 23 blog entry (CLICK HERE). “Young Fathers” is another winner. We have the opportunity to see Typhoon within the Sunday schedule at the Austin City Limits Festival.
      Just looking at the SoundCloud waveform of “Young Fathers,” the variations in texture are clear. The voice of the lead vocalist is easy to distinguish, so there is a feature of the song that ties the portions together. But even with the voice, the quiet portion that runs from 3:12 to 3:33 doesn’t have the same feel as the in-your-face portion that begins at 3:33.
    Thanks Typhoon, see you on October.  "Young Fathers"


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dedicated to Anyone Having a Loved One Experiencing a “Game Changer”

     In Facebook posts of friends and during conversations, we are hearing about loved ones heading off to college. It’s that time of the year. And weddings have been an important part of our lives this year (particularly one wedding). Whenever we associate a song with these types of events, the song that is most appropriate is “Can’t Go Back Now.” It’s a song that was released in 2008 by The Weepies, which is a married couple in Cambridge Massachusetts. Their names are Deb Talan and Steve Tannen.

      The lyrics of “Can’t Go Back Now” are included below. There are two sentences that stand out. The first seems necessary for a proper understanding of the song, Yes, The speaker repeatedly states that you can’t go back, but the listener is also told, “If you ever turn around, you'll see me.”  The second sentence is a message that the speaker understands the importance of the listener’s situation – “But in the end, the only steps that matter are the ones you take all by yourself.”

Yesterday when you were young
Everything you needed done was done for you
Now you do it on your own
But you find you're all alone, what can you do?

You and me walk on, walk on, walk on
'Cause you can't go back now

You know there will be days
When you're so tired
That you can't take another step
The night will have no stars
And you'll think you've gone as far
As you will ever get

You and me walk on, walk on, walk on
'Cause you can't go back now

And yeah, yeah, you go where you want to go
Yeah, yeah, be what you want to be
If you ever turn around, you'll see me

I can't really say
Why everybody wishes they were somewhere else
But in the end, the only steps that matter
Are the ones you take all by yourself

You and me walk on, walk on, walk on
Yeah, you and me walk on, walk on, walk on
'Cause you can't go back now
Walk on, walk on, walk on
You can't go back now