UPDATE: Lightspeed Champion Will Return

Just noticed an excellent piece of news over at, err, YouTube.

There’s a video dated December 25, 2008 showing Dev Hynes and friends in the studio recording bits and pieces of what will apparently be Lightspeed Champion album #2. According to the notes for the video written by Dev:

I headed into the studio a few minutes walk from my place in Brooklyn to get started on the next Lightspeed album…knowing that I was to have an operation this Christmas that will prevent me from talking for a few months..i was eager to get the recording process going as soon as possible. Myself, along with producer Ben Allen (Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective, The Constellations) and I recruited my friends band “spacekamp” to come along and help out. They also play as the backing band for the likes of Adam Green, Nickel Eye, Regina Spektor and a whole heap of other amazing artists, in fact, their band “spacekamp” are awesome also.

i’m currently resting in london having only had the operation yesterday.. as soon as i’m back in the studio.. i presume more videos will be on their way….and yes, there is rapping on the new album. Dev.

So, err, awesome. About the album, not the rapping. But I suppose I’ll withhold judgment on the rapping for now.

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Wednesday 31 December 2008 at 5:24 pm

No More Lightspeed Champion?

Looks like I’m behind on the news again…

Apparently, Dev Hynes of the band Lightspeed Champion has a pretty serious problem with his voice. In fact, according to Dev’s blog, he developed “nodes, cysts and various other things horribly wrong with [his] voice causing some kind of permanent damage due to constant vocal abuse.. (touring..lol).”

The situation was so serious that Dev had surgery a few days ago, and apparently won’t be able to talk above a whisper again until the end of February.

I can’t say how much this sucks. I’m a huge fan of Dev’s, and the possibility of not hearing him perform again is truly disappointing (especially considering how good his new songs sounded when I saw the band this past summer).

So do me a favor and please keep Dev in your thoughts. Hopefully his recovery will go well and we’ll be hearing him talk and sing before too long.

(Thanks to Danny the Rock and Roll Kid for the heads up!)

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Wednesday 31 December 2008 at 11:34 am

Download Jay Bennett’s New Album for Free

I seem to be about a month behind on this, but I figured I’d post it anyway because, well, I’m pretty psyched about it.

Jay Bennett, formerly of Wilco, has released his latest album, Whatever Happened I Apologize, and is making it available for free download to all at Rockproper.com.

If you’re interested in why Jay decided to release the album for free, well, here’s what he had to say on his MySpace page:

As anyone keeping a watchful eye on me has noticed, October came and went without the release of “Kicking at the Perfumed Air.” The reason for this: In the final stages of completing “Kicking at the Perfumed Air” at Pieholden Suite Sound (http://www.myspace.com/pieholdenstudios), I was simultaneously working on a very personal and concise 10-song album called “Whatever Happened I Apologize.” After debating back and forth, I have decided to release “Apologize” first. I am somewhat at a loss for words as to explain why I arrived at this decision, save to say it’s just one of those lonely and private choices one sometimes has to make—in other words, it just felt more like the right album for the time.

It is stark, stripped down, and acoustic based—more so than any other record I have made. I really wanted to capture the simpler and more emotional nature of the songwriting, and I knew that the only way I could do this was to put it together quickly, with no second-guessing, and no heavy deliberating about minor details. Consequently I would have to learn to embrace the resultant imperfections—and I have. All of the vocals are done live to my own acoustic guitar accompaniment, so it has some “warts,” but, in my effort to not forsake integrity for technical perfection, the album ended up feeling more honest, immediate, naked, and cohesive to me. I am very proud of presenting myself without my typical voluminous bells and whistles. I am left wondering why I haven’t done this more often in the past.

As I’ve really wanted to help out my studio partner, Matt DeWine, and his partner Casey Meehan, with their new “download record label,” rockproper, that’s just where you can find this new album: http://www.rockproper.com. Again, it’s called “Whatever Happened I Apologize,” and did I mention it’s free? I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know what you think. I would also like to encourage you all to check out some of the other free downloads, by some of the great artists, available on the site.

Love,
Jay
http://www.myspace.com/jaybennett

I’m about three songs into the album so far, and I really, really like it. In fact, I may like it more than anything he’s done since The Palace at 4am. Highly recommended.

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Tuesday 30 December 2008 at 7:24 pm

Ryan Adams on AOL Sessions

So AOL has a new live session up with none other than Ryan Adams and the Cardinals.

A year ago I would have jumped all over this, but I’m not exactly sure where I stand on my Ryan fandom these days. I’m sure I’ll check them out in the next day or two. I figured I’d at least post them in case anyone out there still considers themselves a fan.

“Magick”
“Cobwebs”
“Fix It”
“Crossed Out Name”

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Monday 29 December 2008 at 9:19 pm

More New Paul Westerberg!

I just noticed over at Bradley’s Almanac that Paul Westerberg has released his third set of brand new music this year.

This time it’s a 3-song EP called D.G.T. which you can download for the low price of $0.74 at Tunecore.

The songs include:

1. Away In A Manger (mislabeled as “Always In A Manger”)
2. Streets of Laredo
3. D.G.T.

I’m buying it now. Will provide my thoughts soon.

Edited to add: Google Checkout isn’t working for me. Has anyone had any success downloading this yet?

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Wednesday 24 December 2008 at 11:10 am

The Whigs, "Like A Vibration"

I obviously missed this video when it came out at the tail end of the presidential campaign.

As mentioned in my DC Show Update post this week, The Whigs will be playing the Black Cat in DC on Wednesday, March 4th. No info as to on-sale yet. The Black Cat show will be the first night of the band’s post-Kings of Leon run of headlining dates, which include a stop at the Bowery in NYC. I’m kinda hoping to be living there by then, but we’ll see.

Whigs Spring Tour Dates
3-4-09: Washington, DC – Black Cat (all ages)
3-5-09: Philadelphia, PA – The Note (all ages; tix on sale 12/27)
3-6-09: Boston, MA – Paradise (all ages; tix on sale 1/10)
3-7-09: New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom (18+; tix on sale 12/26)
3-9-09: Columbus, OH – The Basement (all ages; tix on sale 12/27)
3-10-09: Detroit, MI – Magic Stick (all ages; tix on sale 12/27)
3-12-09: Indianapolis, IN – Birdy’s (21+; tix on sale 12/27)
3-13-09: Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge (18+)
3-14-09: St. Louis, MO – Fubar (all ages; tix on sale 12/27)

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Tuesday 23 December 2008 at 4:47 pm

Song of the Day – "You Can Be Timeless"

So I’ve been seeing Jax mention L.A. band The Henry Clay People for a while, but for some reason never got around to checking out any of their music.

Then I noticed that the band is slated to play at the Black Cat on Thursday, March 12th with The Airborne Toxic Event and Alberta Cross, and I figured it was finally time to check them out.

Long story short, I really need to be listening to more bands that are mentioned on blogs I like.

Hear more over at the band’s MySpace page. Their album, For Cheap or For Free is out now on Autumn Tone Records (i.e., the label owned by Justin of An Aquarium Drunkard).

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Tuesday 23 December 2008 at 3:59 pm

DC Show Update

My picks in bold. Updates throughout the week, if any, in italics.


Wed., 3/4: The Whigs

No info on Whigs on-sale yet.


Sat. 1/17: BLOWOFF Featuring the DJ Sounds of Bob Mould & Richard Morel

Unless otherwise noted, 9:30 Club tickets go on sale on Wednesday, 12/24 at 10am via Tickets.com.


Thu., 1/22: Tiger and the Snow, Bellman Barker, Perfect Souvenir
Tue., 2/3: The Explorers Club
Mon., 2/9: Goblin Cock
Wed., 2/25: Drug Rug
Sun., 3/1: Plants and Animals

Unless otherwise noted, it appears that tickets for all listed DC9 shows will be sold at the door only.


Mon., 1/26: Magic Christian, The Differents, The Fast Track
Mon., 2/2: Starling Electric
Sat., 2/28: Deleted Scenes, Batata Doce (ex-Rock*a*teens)
Tue., 4/21: Richard Lloyd (!!!!!!!!!)

Unless otherwise noted, it appears that tickets for all listed Velvet Lounge shows will be sold at the door only.


Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Tuesday 23 December 2008 at 12:21 pm

My 2008 List (Odds and Ends)

A few final bits and pieces to throw on the year-end list. I may add more to this as I think of it.

5 Good Albums That Didn’t Get Mentioned In My Top 20
Birdmonster, From The Mountain To The Sea
Dead Confederate, Wrecking Ball
Parts and Labor, Receivers
R.E.M., Accelerate
The Secret Life of Sofia, Seven Summits

5 Favorite Concerts of the Year (i.e., yeah, June was pretty good)
Drive-By Truckers, 9:30 Club [5/10/08]
Frightened Rabbit, Black Cat (backstage) [6/30/08]
My Bloody Valentine, Roseland Ballroom, NYC [9/22/08]
Lightspeed Champion, Black Cat (backstage) [6/3/08]
Waco Brothers, Rock and Roll Hotel [6/5/08]

5 TV Shows I Obsessed Over this Year
30 Rock
Generation Kill
Lost
Presidential primary and general election coverage
The Wire

6 Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2009
Going through the AFF program
Lost, Season 5
President Barack Obama
Terminator Salvation
Wilco, Album #7
Wussy, Happiness Bleeds

Posted under Babystew Home,Best Of Lists by Steve on Monday 22 December 2008 at 2:57 pm

My 2008 List (Books)

Edited 1/1/09: So I managed to finish one more book right before the end of the year, and I’ve added it to the list (at #10). So only three David Mitchell books after all. Yay.

This year was a little unusual for me when it came to books. There were two reasons. First, much like my experience with music this year, I haven’t really read anything since before I joined the Obama campaign in September. So my overall numbers were down a bit this year.

And second, of all of the books I read, about 2/3 of them were written by one of two authors – Haruki Murakami and David Mitchell. In fact, I went through both authors’ entire collected novels in the past year. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I’ll be damned if most of Murakami’s stuff doesn’t all blur together for me now.

So I’ll do my best to try to put these books in some sort of order. I’ll gonna leave out the Murakami books that don’t really stand out for me. I liked them all quite a bit, but I figure if I can’t remember much about them, then that means they don’t really have a place on the list. Right? Right.

So, without further ado, the books I read in 2008, in order of how much I liked them.

1. Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
2. Ghostwritten, David Mitchell
3. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
4. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami
5. Number9dream, David Mitchell
6. The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, Michael Chabon
7. The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides
8. Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
9. Wild Sheep Chase, Haruki Murakami
10. Black Swan Green, David Mitchell Gun, With Occasional Music, Jonathan Lethem

Notably, I’m also in the middle of two other books right now – Gun, With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem; and Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson. There’s a chance I finish one (but not both) of them before the end of the year, and if I do, I reserve the right to stick it into this list if so no other reason than to drop the list down to just 3 David Mitchell books.

Oh, and one quick honorable mention goes to Nick Hornby’s Slam. It wasn’t great, but it didn’t suck either, and coming after A Long Way Down, that’s saying a lot. Here’s hoping his next book continues the upward trend.

Posted under Babystew Home,Best Of Lists by Steve on Saturday 20 December 2008 at 5:31 pm

My 2008 List (Top Albums)

And so here it is… the stunning climax to my 2008 “Best Of” list.

And by climax I mean that I already posted what was supposed to be the final post in this series. And I mean that I may go back and add one or two more albums to my “disappointment” list. And I mean that I reserve the right to post a few additional lists, including favorite concerts of the year, favorite books read, etc. etc. Because, seriously, I know you really care about these things.

So without any further ado…

Ten Albums That Renewed My Faith In Humanity,
As Well As Music’s Ability To Heal The Human Soul,
And Made Me Wish (As I Always Do) That I Knew How
To Write A Damn Song And/Or Play A Freakin’ Instrument

Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago [buy]
Not a surprise, I assume. Seems like everyone’s into this album these days, even my much-hated NPR. (Yes, I’m that much of a cultural snob that I even look down on NPR. Congratulations to me.) But there’s no denying how raw, powerful and real this album is. And it’s one of those few albums that can function both as a make-out album (see: “Skinny Love”) and devastatingly depressing drink-yourself-comatose music (see: “The Wolves (Act I and II)”). So it’s kinda got everything.

Chris Mills, Living In The Aftermath [buy]
Someone needs to explain to me why no one knows who Chris Mills is. And someone needs to explain to me why I had to accidentally discover this album through eMusic, rather than through Pitchfork, Brooklyn Vegan, or any of the today’s other leading purveyors of rock music taste. If you’re a fan of actual rock songcraft and songwriting, and hooks, and flat out rock and roll, do yourself a favor and get this album ASAP.

Frightened Rabbit, The Midnight Organ Fight [buy]
There was a period there that I really thought this would be my #1 album of the year. Who knows, if I were actually ranking albums, maybe it would be. Few things excite me more in life than heart-on-your sleeve, shamelessly earnest, catchy rock and roll (there’s a reasons that The Frames are my favorite band). And this album has that in spades. And their live show is pretty spectacular too.

Grand Archives, The Grand Archives [buy]
Pretty much the definition of the “sad sack” album. With maybe one exception (the Broken Social Scene-esque “The Crime Window”), the songs on this album are pretty, breezy, and entirely without testicles. But there were times this year that that’s exactly what I needed, and this album fit the bill to a T. There are very few albums in my collection that are better to listen to while sitting on the couch putting out resumes via email. (Feel free to use that in your PR materials, fellas.)

Guns N’ Roses, Chinese Democracy [buy]
Let’s get this out of the way – this ain’t Appetite for Destruction; this isn’t the greatest rock album ever made; this is a grandiose, overproduced testament to Axl’s ego. But, honestly, I don’t give a crap – it’s a spectacular album. The 1-2-3 punch of “Chinese Democracy”->”Shackler’s Revenge”->”Better” that opens the album is among the best examples of true rock and roll of the decade. And songs like “Street of Dreams”, “There Was A Time” and “Prostitute” are the logical followups to “Estranged” and “November Rain” (both of which I love). And then there’s “Catcher In The Rye”, which I already mentioned is one of my favorite songs of the year. So, yeah, make your jokes, tell me how it’s not GnR without Slash and Duff, and tell me that Axl is a crazy, ego-driven jerk. I don’t care. This album rocks.

Hey Rosetta!, Into Your Lungs [buy]
So Chris over at The Battering Room has sadly been a little quiet this year in terms of blogging, but he still had a massive affect on my year in music by introducing me to Canada’s Hey Rosetta!. As Chris told me, if you like The Frames, you’re gonna like Hey Rosetta!. In other words, if you like songs that start soft and build and build and build to huge resolutions, and (here’s that term again) wear their hearts on their sleeves, well, you kinda need to introduce yourself to this band. Start with Into Your Lungs, but be sure to get their excellent first disc, Plan Your Escape, too.

The Hold Steady, Stay Positive [buy]
Almost as soon as I named The Hold Steady’s Boys and Girls in America as my favorite album of 2006, I regretted it. I liked the album a lot, but in retrospect I think I kinda felt like I owed it to the band after years of being a fan. If I had to rewrite that list now, Gang of Losers would be my easy #1. So I’ve been very careful with Stay Positive since it came out this summer, and tried to make sure that I didn’t overpraise it or be too standoff-ish with it. Looking back on the year, though, I’m now confident that Stay Positive is a fantastic rock album from start to finish. And, more importantly, it’s a true album, where you actually need to listen to the whole thing to truly enjoy it. So this is a pick that I’m not gonna regret down the road.

The Jet Age, What Did You Do During The War, Daddy? [buy]
I mentioned the other day that Julie Ocean’s album is one of the two or three best albums that you hadn’t heard. Without question, What Did You Do During The War, Daddy? is another. If there’s one word that sums up this album, it’s power: powerful guitars; powerful bass; unbelievably powerful drums; and a powerful message – the story of one man’s search for meaning in an increasingly-crazy and violent world. I honestly don’t think there was an album released this year that will kick your ass as hard as this album. And I’m not just saying this because I know these guys. This is a legitimately great disc.

Lightspeed Champion, Falling Off The Lavender Bridge [buy]
Who knew that one of the guys who used to be in Test Icicles would turn out to be an amazingly talented songwriter with a taste for orchestral Americana-inspired indie rock? Definitely a front runner for my #1 album of the year if I were actually doing real rankings.

Mystery Jets, Twenty One [buy]
It took me a while to get into this album. Its 80’s-inspired feel is a drastic departure from the band’s proggy debut, Making Dens. But once I took a step back and accepted the album for what it was, I started to love it. Considering how many dour, depressing albums made my list this year, Twenty One’s youthful exuberance was the perfect antidote. Not a bad song on the album.


SeeqPod – Playable Search

Posted under Babystew Home,Best Of Lists by Steve on Saturday 20 December 2008 at 3:00 pm

My 2008 List (The Songs)

Editor’s note: So I lied. I had intended that this post would be the last in my series of “2008 List” posts. But when I was starting to put together my remaining posts and lists, my song list was the one that I was most interested in drafting. As a result, it’s the one that’s done and ready to go. And, because I’m as impatient a person as I’ve ever known, I’m just gonna go ahead and post it. So there.

As I said when I started this “Best Of” process, this has been a weird year for me musically.  For a lot of reasons, I didn’t have an opportunity to form relationships with as many albums as I normally do.

Thankfully, though, I did, have a chance to find a number of songs through the course of the year that came to define 2008 for me.  And, as music is wont to do, for better or for worse, many of them are forever connected to certain people that I interacted with throughout the year.

Anyway, I’m only posting links to 12 of my top 13 songs here, though, because the 13th song (#7, to be specific) is a GnR tune, and I don’t really want to get sued, arrested, or in any way delay Axl from releasing more new music down the road.

Oh, and although I hadn’t intended to, I went ahead and ranked these songs in some semblance of the order of how much I liked them, listened to them, or came to identify 2008 with them. I reserve the right to change this order at any time, or to deny ever having ordered them in the first place.

1. Grand Archives, “Torn Blue Foam Couch”
2. The National, “Santa Clara”
3. Hey Rosetta!, “Handshake the Gangster”
4. Frightened Rabbit, “Head Rolls Off”
5. Bon Iver, “re: Stacks”
6. The Rural Alberta Advantage, “Don’t Haunt This Place”

7. Guns N’ Roses, “Catcher in the Rye” [no song linked]
8. Hey Rosetta!, “There’s An Arc”
9. The Hold Steady, “Slapped Actress”
10. Birdmonster, “Born To Be Your Man”
11. Okkervil River, “Lost Coastlines”
12. The Secret Life of Sofia, “Fifty Fourteeners”
13. Human Highway, “The Sound”

Posted under Babystew Home,Best Of Lists by Steve on Friday 19 December 2008 at 5:56 pm

My Song of the Year? Umm, no.

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Friday 19 December 2008 at 3:21 pm

And On A Totally Different Note

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Friday 19 December 2008 at 11:26 am

My 2008 List (Honorable Mention)

OK, so I’ve covered my list of 2008 disappointments. Now it’s time to focus on the positives from the year.

Here are the albums that I would normally call ## 11 to 20, but am calling my Honorable Mention list because (a) I’ve had a hard time ranking them in any sort of order, and (b) I’m lazy.

Great Albums That Deserve A High Level of Distinction, But
Weren’t Quite My Favorite Albums of the Year, But They Were
Close, So No One Should Feel Bad About It At All I Assure You

Earlimart, Hymn and Her [buy]
2007’s Mentor Tormentor remains one of my favorite albums of the decade, and I was amazed to hear that the band was following up that album with a new disc so quickly. Hymn and Her didn’t quite reach the same heights as that album, but was still a solid disc with a number of standout tracks (“Face Down In The Right Town”, the haunting “Time For Yourself”). I just wish they’d come to DC for once instead of Baltimore.

Julie Ocean, Long Gone and Nearly There [buy]
One of the two or three best albums this year that you never heard. Ten songs of pure, unadulterated power pop goodness. I dare you to listen to this album and not have a huge smile on your face. The band sadly called it a day when singer/guitarist Jim Spellman moved off to Denver, but I have a feeling that we ought not write off the other 3 band members quite so quickly. Hopefully they’ll be bakin’ up something new before long.

Liam Finn, I’ll Be Lightning [buy]
Definitely the biggest surprise for me of the year. Based on a friend’s recommendation, I saw Liam perform at SXSW in one of the huge halls in the Austin Convention Center, and after about 3 minutes I moved to the back of the room to read a magazine and wait for my friends. I was unimpressed. But then I ended up with a copy of the album, dug it, and managed to see Liam a couple more times in much smaller rooms (DC9, Rock and Roll Hotel), and it all started to come together for me. Not a perfect album, but a damn fine debut that rewards more and more with additional listenings.

Magnetic Fields, Distortion [buy]
Can’t say I was ever a huge MF fan before this, but I’m a sucker for just about anything remotely shoegaze-y/Jesus and Mary Chain-y, and this disc had that in spades. Though I suppose it’s not a huge surprise that I actually prefer the songs that Shirley Simms sings on to Stephen’s songs.

Raveonettes, Lust Lust Lust [buy]
Continuing in the shoegaze-y/Jesus and Mary Chain-y vein. Indeed, a lot of reviewers suggested that this disc should be thought of as a JAMC cover album. Honestly, I have no problem with that.

The Rural Alberta Advantage, Hometowns [buy]
I feel really guilty about this pick, because I’m fairly sure that if I’d had more time to spend with this album, it would be in my top 10 list. Hell, it might even have inspired me to do actual rankings so that I could put it in my top 5. But I’m just not there yet. If you’ve been waiting patiently for (or impatiently) for Jeff Magnum to issue that followup to In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, you may be well advised to just pick up this disc and call it a day. A stunning album.

Sad Day for Puppets, Unknown Colors [buy]
You know how I said that I’m a sucker for shoegaze? Well, the same pretty much goes for it’s step-sister dream pop. If you liked Lush, you’ll love Sad Day for Puppets. Pretty, ethereal vocals, loud guitars… what more do you want?

Shearwater, Rook [buy]
I’ll be honest… I almost put this on my disappointment list. Not because it’s bad – it’s absolutely not. It just didn’t have the same resonance with me as the band’s prior album, Palo Santo. But as I’ve been putting this list together I’ve been listening to the album again and realizing how good it actually is. No, it’s not Palo Santo, but it’s definitely one of the 20 best albums I’ve heard this year.

Silver Jews, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea [buy]
As with the Magnetic Fields, I wasn’t a huge Silver Jews fan before this album came out. And I know that the long-time Jews fans weren’t really enamored with this disc. For me, though, it the album that finally brought me to the band, for whatever reason. After getting into LMLS, I went back and picked up the band’s earlier works, and can finally call myself a fan. But I still stand by the fact that this is an excellent album.

The Whigs, Mission Control [buy]
While this wasn’t quite as good of an album as I had hoped it would be, it was still one of the best straight-ahead rock and roll albums of the year. How “Like a Vibration” and “Hot Bed” didn’t break through on internet radio or elsewhere I will never understand. Nor do I understand why the band refused to headline in DC at all this year. My eardrums are bored, fellas – get your asses back here.


SeeqPod – Playable Search

Posted under Babystew Home,Best Of Lists by Steve on Friday 19 December 2008 at 9:53 am

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