Last Day To Support Great Music in 2010!

Just a quick reminder that today is your LAST DAY to make tax-deductible donations for 2010 to two of my favorite music organizations (I’m biased) — Fredericksburg All Ages (FAA) and CHIRP Radio.

Both organizations are doing great things, and 2011 looks to bring even bigger and better things.

If you haven’t heard me talk about them before, FAA is an all-ages music and arts organization based in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  For the past 4+ years, FAA has been holding great all-ages music performances featuring bands like Ra Ra Riot, Jukebox the Ghost, Maps and Atlases and more. FAA’s goal is to give local Virginia youth a safe, drug- and alcohol-free place to become exposed to great music, and to help them gain valuable experience in the arts and community leadership.  In 2010, FAA became a formal 501(c)(3) non-profit, and it has big things planned for 2011, including adding educational programs, finding a permanent space, and starting a youth-run record label.

In the case of CHIRP, you may have heard that Congress passed the Local Community Radio Act a couple of weeks ago. That means that, once new regulations are put in place, many low-power radio stations will suddenly be able to broadcast on the same airwaves that are currently saturated by Clear Channel and the like. AND, the hope is that CHIRP will be able to add a terrestrial signal to its current online-only broadcast. Exciting, eh? And don’t forget about CHIRP’s new partnership with Coach House Sounds to record great live music performances. And all this while providing great radio 24(ish) hours a day.

So if you have a few dollars to spare, do yourself — and the cause of great music — a favor and contribute to one or both of these organizations. (Disclosure: I’m a director and officer of FAA, and a volunteer at CHIRP – but all the above sentiments are mine alone!)

Donate to Fredericksburg All Ages
Donate to CHIRP Radio


Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Friday 31 December 2010 at 11:01 am

Pre-Order the Debut Office of Future Plans 7″!

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably heard me talk about Office of Future Plans. And you probably know that OOFP is the new band featuring J Robbins of Government Issue, Jawbox and Burning Airlines fame (among others!).

The band has been playing shows on the East Coast on and off for the past year or so, and have been recording when they’ve been able to find the time. And we’re finally about to hear the fruits of their labor.

The band has just announced their debut 7″ release, featuring the song “Harden Your Heart” and a cover of The Stranglers’ “Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead”.  The band is hoping to release the 7″ in time for their January 23rd show with The Dismemberment Plan at the 9:30 Club in D.C. (Sadly, I’ll be at the DC D-Plan shows the prior two nights, but not the OOFP show.)

However, they need a little help to meet that tight deadline. And how better to get help then to set up a Kickstarter campaign?

Check out the video below for a taste of the new song, and then, if you can, click through the Kickstarter widget at the bottom of the page and help out however you can.  You’ll get the gift of great music, and you’ll help an incredible band get its music out to the world.

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Wednesday 29 December 2010 at 10:18 pm

Waco Brothers @ Schubas [12/19/10]

I wish this first picture were a little better… or that I’d used a flash.

Posted under Babystew Home,Concert Photos by Steve on Monday 20 December 2010 at 12:50 am

Meet Street Chant

A friend who doesn’t tweet much tweeted something to me today, and when I clicked through to see his timeline, I noticed this from 57 days ago:

If Street Chant don’t become huge, there is [something] seriously wrong in the world of indie rock.

Having never heard of Street Chant before, I looked them up. They apparently from New Zealand and are on the same label (Arch Hill) as The Clean, The Bats and Surf City, and they’ve toured NZ with The 3Ds and Australia with The Dead Weather. And they’re teenagers. Not bad, eh?

Sadly, I seem to have missed a U.S. tour in October, but I definitely won’t miss them again. (Fingers crossed they’re at SXSW.)

Anyway, check out these videos for a sense as to why I want to see them so badly.

“Scream Walk”

“Yr Philosophy”

Less Chat, More Sewing by Street Chant

Posted under Babystew Home,Videos by Steve on Sunday 19 December 2010 at 8:29 pm

Catching Up On Concert Pics

Lots and lots of pictures from the last month or so. I’m usually much better about keeping up-to-date with this stuff, but Apple’s terrible new iPhoto update (and the fact that I still use iPhoto) has caused some serious delay. The program is just awful. It hangs up for 10-20 seconds every time I edit a photo, and it take 30 minutes to upload a set of 20 photos to Flickr.

I obviously need a new (free) photo program. Suggestions?

Anyhoo, here’s some pics.

Superchunk @ Metro [12/2/10]

The Frames @ The Vic [11/23/10]

Tame Impala @ Double Door [11/26/10]

Stardeath and White Dwarfs @ Double Door [11/26/10]

The Caribbean @ Comet Ping Pong [11/20/10]

Times New Viking @ Metro [12/2/10]

Posted under Babystew Home,Concert Photos by Steve on Sunday 19 December 2010 at 2:17 pm

Assorted Other 2010 Lists

Before I get to my Top 10 albums of 2010, I figured now is as good a time as any to run through a few other quick lists. As long as I’m ranking shit, why not keep going?

Best of the best (or worst of the worst, where applicable) are in red.


The Clean @ Matador21, Las Vegas NV [10/3/10] [pix]
The Frames @ The Vic, Chicago [11/23/10] [pix]
Guided By Voices @ Matador21, Las Vegas NV [10/3/10] [pix]
Guided By Voices @ Riviera, Chicago [10/13/10] [pix]
Hey Rosetta! @ Paradise, Austin TX [3/19/10] [SXSW pix]
Medications & Deleted Scenes @ Ronny’s, Chicago [7/28/10] [pix and pix]
Patrick Watson @ Schubas, Chicago [5/17/10] [pix]
Quiet Company @ Elbo Room, Chicago [9/20/10] [pix]
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists & Title Tracks @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago [3/13/10] [pix and pix]
Teenage Fanclub @ Lincoln Hall, Chicago [10/6/10] [pix]


Frightened Rabbit, The Winter of Mixed Drinks
The Hold Steady, Heaven Is Whenever
Lightspeed Champion, Life Is Sweet! Nice to Meet You
Midlake, The Courage of Others
The National, High Violet
Ryan Adams, III/IV
Shout Out Louds, Work

Not necessarily bad albums, just not as good as I wanted to them to be. I can’t listen to that Hold Steady album, though.


The Heligoats, Goodness Gracious
Kathryn Calder, Are You My Mother?
The Light Footwork, National Historic Landmarks
Retribution Gospel Choir, 2
The Soft Pack, The Soft Pack
Titus Andronicus, The Monitor

Stuff I really liked this year but didn’t quite make my list.


Carlos, I’m Pregnant, EP
Juniper Tar, The Howl Street EP
Quiet Company, Songs For Staying In
The Roadside Graves, You Won’t Be Happy With Me


And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Tao of the Dead
The Caribbean, Discontinued Perfume
The Dears, Degeneration Street
Juniper Tar, TBD
Kid, You’ll Move Mountains, TBD
Low, C’mon
Miracle Fortress, TBD
The Night Marchers, TBD
Office of Future Plans, TBD
The Rural Alberta Advantage, Departing
Tereu Tereu, TBD
Title Tracks, TBD
The Twilight Singers, Dynamite Steps
The Wrens, TBD

Posted under Babystew Home,Best Of Lists by Steve on Sunday 19 December 2010 at 11:45 am

My Favorite Albums of 2010 [##20-11]

Well, here it is… my Favorite Albums of 2010 list. We’ll start with albums ##20-11 (in alphabetical order, because any ranking of these albums would be kinda meaningless), and then follow up in the next few days with ##10-1, which will be ranked.

A quick disclaimer — this is, of course, a completely subjective list. There will be many, many albums that aren’t on this list, and perhaps many albums that are more “artistically deserving.”  However, this is a list of the ten albums that I personally enjoyed the most this year, pure and simple. That’s why there’s no Arcade Fire, no Kanye, no Beach House (I nearly fell asleep just writing their name), no National (though it kinda breaks my heart that I didn’t much care for High Violet), etc. etc.

I should also point out that this list might very well have been different had a certain little radio station not ceased to exist back in March. I started discovering new music on 97X/WOXY back in high school in Cincinnati, and I never really stopped relying on it to help keep me up to date. I found that the last few years were particularly fruitful, given the combination of the station’s focus on discovering new music and the relatively wide spectrum of music favored by each of the station’s DJs. Since the station’s demise, I honestly feel like I’ve been out of the loop musically. I still read blogs, listen to band submissions, and try to dig around for new stuff as much as I can — but none of it has brought me anywhere the amount of great new music as WOXY did. They are sorely missed.

And that brings me to one last point — can we stop with all the “gaze” and “core” sub-genres? None of them are any good. That’s another reason this was a down year for me musically — I hated most of what was being released.  What the hell happened to rock and fucking roll?

Bottomless Pit, Blood Under The Bridge

Another fantastic album by a group that, in one form or another, has been putting out excellent music for more than two decades.  One of my favorite things about living in Chicago is having the chance to actually see these guys play more than once every year or two.  If you do nothing else today, you need to listen to the song “38 Souls” from this album — if I were doing a “Favorite Songs of 2010” list, it would almost certainly be in top 3 or 4.

Broken Records, Let Me Come Home

This was a very late entrant into my Top 20 list — I’ve had it for a couple of months, but finally started listening to it closely just in the last few weeks.  It’s fantastic.  If you’re a fan of sweepingly brooding Scottish rock (think Twilight Sad, earlier Frightened Rabbit, My Latest Novel, etc.), it’s a very good bet you’ll like this record.  It actually doesn’t come out in the U.S. until early next month, but I recommend you pick it up when it does.

Male Bonding, Nothing Hurts

One of my favorite new discoveries of 2010.  There’s very little “new” about this album, but it manages to combine catchy, fuzzy, and noisy in a way that few other bands do these days.  And, most importantly, it’s exciting — the album moves along at breakneck speed (and their live shows are even breakneck-ier, if that’s a word), and there’s always a sense that the whole thing could come crumbling down any second.  rock and fucking roll, indeed.

Megaphonic Thrift, Decay Decoy

The final band introduced to me by WOXY (thanks, Joe!), and what a way to go out.  Sure, they owe a lot to Sonic Youth, but, honestly, in a world of Real Estates and Beach Houses and the like, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  This album kicks about as much ass as anything I’ve heard this year, and live they’re even better.  My ears still hurt from their show at Habana Calle 6 during SXSW this year.

The Parting GiftsStrychnine Dandelion

Greg Cartwright doesn’t fuck around, does he?  The guy’s been putting out great, 60’s-inspired garage/blues/rock for years as part of Reigning Sound, The Oblivians, and The Compulsive Gamblers, to name a few, and now he’s got another great band, The Parting Gifts, alongside Coco Hames of The Ettes.  The album is everything you’d expect from a Cartwright album, and I even like Coco’s songs (I’m not much of an Ettes fan).

Robert Scott, Ends Run Together
I guess this is technically a 2011 release here in the U.S. (click the album cover for a pre-sale link), but I’ve had it for 3 or 4 months now, and I’ve listened to it enough in that time that I’m gonna include it on this year’s list.  Much like the new Teenage Fanclub record (see below), Ends Run Together shows an old master still at the top of his songwriting game.  Song 5, “Messages”, may just be the prettiest song I’ve heard this year.
Sharon Van Etten, Epic

This album just barely missed out on making my Top 10 list.  The album’s short length (7 songs, 33 minutes) and the fact that I didn’t start listening to it until the end of the year are the only things keeping it from being higher. As I’m typing this, I kinda want to find a way to get it in the top 10.  But I’m too lazy to bother. Seriously, though, this album is absolutely stunning. Sharon could probably sing the menu from Chilis and it would be haunting.

Teenage Fanclub, Shadows

One of my favorite bands of all time returns with an album which, while not their best (that would be Bandwagonesque… or maybe Songs From Northern Britain… or perhaps Grand Prix), shows that they still have a lot of life left.  By and large the band’s songs have become more deliberate, and less immediate, over the years, but when they want to they can still craft absolutely perfect 3-4 minute pop songs.  See:  “Baby Lee” and “When I Still Have Thee”

The Whigs, In The Dark

These guys have had the strangest career. They came out of the gate in 2006 with a fantastic, rip-roaring debut, put out a solid, well-received followup a year or so later, and then started touring regularly with Kings of Leon.  You’d think they’d be pretty big by now, right?  Their label certainly thought so, and this year’s In The Dark has all the hallmarks of the “big” breakthrough album, except for the whole “breakthrough” part.  Yet despite some over-production issues, it’s still a damn fine album, with some of the band’s best songs to date, including the dark, slightly menacing “I Am For Real”.

Woods, At Echo Lake

I liked a few songs off of Woods’ last album, Songs of Shame, but I wasn’t prepared for how much I’d like At Echo Lake.  The album kicks off with one of the catchiest little songs of this or any year, “Blood Dries Darker,” and never really lets up.  It’s not the loudest, most exciting album of the year, but it’s one of those understated albums that sinks its hooks in you (literally and figuratively) and makes you want to listen to it again and again.

Posted under Babystew Home,Best Of Lists by Steve on Friday 17 December 2010 at 5:37 pm

REMINDER: Rock Show This Saturday!

If you’re in Chicago this weekend, I better see you here.

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Thursday 16 December 2010 at 2:01 pm

VIDEO: Paul Weller, “That’s Entertainment” (live)

The same person who uploaded the Frames video I posted earlier also posted this excellent video from Paul Weller’s stop in Dublin last month. Good stuff.

Posted under Babystew Home,Videos by Steve on Wednesday 15 December 2010 at 1:19 pm

VIDEO: The Frames, “Fitzcarraldo” (live in Dublin)

Check out this awesome YouTube video of The Frames performing “Fitzcarraldo” in Dublin this week. Damn song gives me chills every time I hear it, particularly live.

Thanks to the band’s Twitter feed for the heads up!

Posted under Babystew Home,Videos by Steve on Wednesday 15 December 2010 at 1:14 pm

Jeff Tweedy @ Second City [12/14/10]

Wow, it’s been forever since I’ve posted anything on this blog, let alone concert photos. I’ve got a ton of photos from the last month or so… hopefully I’ll eventually edit them and post them here.

For the time being, here’s a few pics from tonight’s Jeff Tweedy set at the Letters For Santa benefit at Second City. You can expect some more Tweedy pictures in the next few months, as it looks like I’ll be attending one of the auctioned-off 30 person living room sets. Wheee!

Posted under Babystew Home,Concert Photos by Steve on Wednesday 15 December 2010 at 1:56 am

More Beats + Blogs Info!

And by info, I mean pretty new poster.

Posted under Babystew Home by Steve on Monday 6 December 2010 at 11:45 pm

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