Monday, September 22, 2014

100% of the digital proceeds of these suckers go to the Ariel Panero Memorial Fund at VH1 Save the Music, which still (!) works to restore instrumental music education in American public schools.

Orenda Fink is coming to Los Globos in Los Angeles on Sep. 27. But her new video only makes me nostalgic.

Yep! It's-a gonna be worthwhile!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

New lady-things

New Is/Is is about to be released on Tuesday, and the band is down to Sarahs Rose and Nienaber, now based in Portland. Shadow Days is the last bit of of Minneapolis they've got in them, though one would assume the entire thing had been recorded while in Joshua Tree on a west coast tour (one track was) -- this is the captured mood of Sarah Nienaber's side project, Web of Sunsets, hazy and dreamy and low key and not at all like the dark, rebellious stuff of Is/Is' previous releases. Speaking of Web of Sunsets, they're going on tour next week.

Speaking of moody and dreamy and lady-voiced, here's one by Morning Birds, actually based in Los Angeles. I'm not generally one for remixes, but they're offering an EP with five (that's right, five) of 'em. Available here.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014

From Dan Melchior: 

Letha is now receiving hospice care (which involves a nurse visiting once a week, a cfn visiting twice a week, and me, my mother and various friends doing the rest).

It's really not ideal. A hard slog for non professionals with the most intense of emotional attachments - - we will keep going, and keep trying to make Letha feel as secure and loved as possible - she deserves everything she can be given, as she is the sweetest soul I have encountered in this lifetime. Love, Dan.

I don't think I've ever felt so compelled to get personally involved with someone I've never met -- I'd first heard of Letha while looking up information on one of Dan Melchior's albums a few years back, sometime in early 2011, and discovering his wife's blog, about her experiences with cancer treatment. I read every post and remained caught up all the way through her last post; her storytelling method has been funny and conversational in spite of the topic, and all the while you could really tell that she has known all along what the outcome would be, the outcome of a major move, proximity to some of the country's best doctors, to experimental treatments and x-rays and inexplicable headaches. 

Much like the way you might feel when getting sucked into a novel, getting attached to its characters and then crying in real life when you turn the page and find out that one of the characters has died or experienced some sort of tragedy -- this is how compelled I have felt to follow along with Letha's experience. Except she's very much not a character, which is why the hospice ending to the story finds me so incredibly disappointed. All the effort she and Dan put into making her well, and in the end, stage IV cancer is still stage IV cancer. The toughest part about this story is knowing that a husband will lose his wife.

It should seem silly for me to have started this Give Forward page when a fund had already been started for her -- the previous fund linked directly to her Pay Pal account and so it seemed like an extra step to start a new account. But Give Forward allows you to see what's been given whereas a Pay Pal account does not, and when the donations provided are not viewable to the public, the public has no way of knowing that donations have slowed, and it may very well be the case that when you think the recipient is doing well and good, they might not have received any financial help in weeks or months. So Give Forward and its tracking system allows potential donors to see that momentum is either there or gone, and has hopefully served to motivate donations that otherwise might not have come in. $5,000 is great, but it's not a lot spread over a span of two or three months. That said, thank you to everyone who has helped them out.

And, since this is a site for music, here is the first released track off what will surely be the last album by Letha Rodman Melchior, Shimmering Ghost.

Edit: If you make a donation of at least $5, you can forward your email receipt to; you will be sent the download link for the recording of this live benefit show by the Little Black Egg Big Band (featuring Steve Gunn, Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan, James McNew, Letha Rodman Melchior and William Tyler).

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sliding the Same Way

David Thomas Broughton was someone I developed a liking for when I unexpectedly befriended an album of his close to ten years ago. His unconventional voice, somewhere between Antony Hegarty and Scott Walker (but not, you know, young Scott Walker), is somehow simultaneously jarring and elegant, but brings neither the gender ambiguity of Hegarty nor the "I've gone and left the real world" quality that Walker now seems to possess.

"Although I'm an unshaven boozer I do all my drinking in town" is an odd chorus with which to harmonize, but I think it sums up Broughton somewhat well. He is confrontational and, at least through his music, comes off as a loner as genuinely as one can, but you feel like he can hold his own; you never feel the need to sympathize with him. Were moving to South Korea not something that geeky American white men do when they're finding themselves, and were it not for the fact that music tends to be an outlet for what doesn't come out in real life, I'd also say that there's a hint of something dangerous or ill or otherwise off in Broughton, and this is the thing that separates him from all the other folk (or "folk") songwriters out there, that it scares me a bit to think about all the people he might be under the fa├žade of songwriter. And in a strange way, I don't want this documentary about him to come to fruition, because it will realistically burst the myth and show a very normal man who happens to be a good storyteller.

Sliding the Same Way is a collaboration with London-based, female a cappella ensemble Juice, who come the closest Broughton can get to a backing band without overshadowing his subtleties. The trio adds a fairy tale-like quality to Broughton's songs -- maybe this is what Joanna Newsom was good for, maybe Vashti Bunyan as well. And maybe this speaks to the fact that there is no replacement for feminine energy, which is all over this record. The presence of Juice creates imagery, of wooded forest, elves and fairies, all the things that ought to be embarrassing to conjure up but somehow aren't in this context. But then there's "Been a While," where Juice purr their way beneath "I asked the winter/the winter he said/'I may chill you but I don't wish you dead'/then why do I lay here in the ground?"

And further still, Broughton's tone, the one that says he has nothing to lose -- the very thing that makes you curious and then keeps you feeling uncomfortable all the way through -- this remains the driving force behind the record, despite the graceful women behind him: "I will glass everyone/all you pricks in this bar/it may not be the promise I had intended."

Matthew over at Song, by Toad, who's releasing this album, also happens to be a blogger and marvelous writer, and this is what he as music blogger, publicist, and label owner happens to say about Broughton's new release:

This album has everything on it which made me want to work with David in the first place, most obviously that incredible ability to make ostensibly small shifts in mood which can take you from weird to confrontational to playful to heart-breaking and right back again in the blink of a an eye. Just as you steel yourself for something abrasively strange to happen, you get something layered, melodic and beautiful. And just before it all gets too heavy, brief, almost throwaway little ditties like Woodwork crop up.

Pre-order Sliding the Same Way, which gets released on September 22.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Last call to donate through Give Forward

It's Friday night in Los Angeles, which means that this blog post will ultimately get buried. Most of my neighbors are off and celebrating Shitty Beer Night, as they should be. But I want to 1) tell anyone who's donated to Letha Rodman Melchior's medical fund that you're a true mensch, and 2) put out what will likely be a final request for donations to the fund, as there is now just over one month left in the fundraiser period. Dan Melchior has indicated that Letha will be entering hospice at home, which is wonderful in the context of comfort, but, you know, an unfortunate turn. Their fundraiser page at Give Forward has just about hit the $5,000 mark, which is fantastic. But their living expenses and health care will require a bit more of a push for the time being, so anything you can offer would help enormously -- even $5-10 donations will add up to something significant. Truly.

Donate to Letha Rodman Melchior's medical fund by clicking here.

Additionally, there will be a couple of benefit shows in the coming month to help support Dan and Letha's living expenses and Letha's medical bills. Please go if you live nearby!

Aug. 30, 8pm
The Union Bar & Grill
18 W Union St, Athens, Ohio 45701
Blam Blams / Ghost Stories / TBA

Sept. 17, 8pm - $10 suggested donation
Emporium Arcade Bar
1366 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60622
Mr. Ma'am / Melkbelly / Beat Drun Juel / Soddy Daisy

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I'll Be Your

This track by The Tallest Tree is essentially the auditory equivalent of gentrification -- it's twee, tame, whimsical. It's white people paying $6 for toast with homemade jam. It's 34-year old women wearing bangs and vintage cardigans, playing kazoos, riding bikes, pretending to be six. It's incredibly mild. But it's sweet, and it sums up the husband-wife team comprising the band:

We met a couple years ago when Armando's band, The Oats, was playing in Canada. 
And that's when Armando fell in love with Dawn.
Every time Dawn came to visit Mexico City, we would write a new song.
Now Dawn and Armando are married.

New Twilight Sad is here!

And it's a hark back to Forget the Night Ahead.