Friday, October 23, 2009

Preview: The Fiery Furnaces
Coming to Majestic Theatre, Nov 13, 2009

The Fiery Furnaces will be returning to Madison on November 13, 2009 to play the Majestic Theatre.

The Fiery Furnaces is a musical vehicle for Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger. These siblings are originally from my own hometown - Chicago, but are now based in New York City. Joining them in this incarnation of the band is Jason Loewenstein on bass and Robert D’Amico on drums, which is the same line-up that we saw in 2007 at the Annex.

They have recently recently released their eighth album - I’m Going Away. I've been listening to this for the past month or so and really dig it. It is probably the most "accessible" (least complex) album they've released to date. But that is not saying a lot! This band has more musical ideas in one track than most bands do in an entire album. Relentless tempo and style changes are hallmarks of their compositions, which are also lyrically rich and complex. And that character is reflected in this album also.

Word has it that the current tour includes no keyboards! Instead, Matthew is playing guitar exclusively. Now, I've got mixed feelings about this because it is rare to see a band led by a pianist of the talent displayed by Matthew Freidberger. On the other hand, I'm curious to see what he does with an electric guitar! Anyway, I promise an experience that you will not soon relive.

Here's a video for a track from the new LP:

The Fiery Furnaces - Charmaine Champagne from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

I will confess that on initial listen, this song was not one of my favorites on the new album. I like it, but there are four or five others tracks that just slay me. Nonethess, Charmaine Champagne still managed to worm its way into my head and stay there! It's now in heavy rotation on my sound system.

Hope you can make it out for this one!
- Mister Bill

Past Coverage: - Photo Review from The Annex 10.11.2007

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pretty Lights!

Regular visitors to Madison Music Review know how much we enjoy Pretty Lights. He had the High Noon jumping when he was in town last June. We saw him again at 10KLF with his new and ultra-cool LED background... And we are very excited to see him again at the Majestic Theatre on Saturday October 24.

Curious about the music? Well he has continued his tradition of providing free downloads of his albums (yes, entire albums!) with his latest - Passing By Behind Your Eyes - which dropped on October 6. You can get it at

Here's a little demo you might enjoy of Pretty Lights playing with his Monome 128

Now I ask you to look at this tour schedule, and I advise you to get your tickets early!

08.09.09 – The National – Richmond, VA **SOLD OUT**
09.02.09 – Lyric Theatre – Oxford, MS **SOLD OUT**
09.03.09 – The Sky Bar – Auburn, AL **SOLD OUT**
09.04.09 – Athens Arena – Bogart, GA **SOLD OUT**
09.05.09 – Belly Up – Aspen, CO **SOLD OUT**
09.12.09 – Trinumeral Festival – Horseshoe, NC
09.18.09 – Symbiosis Gathering – Groveland, CA
09.21.09 – Bama Theatre – Tuscaloosa, AL **SOLD OUT**
09.23.09 – Rhythm &Brews – Chattanooga, TN **SOLD OUT**
09.24.09 – Amos’ Southland – Charlotte, NC **SOLD OUT**
09.26.09 – Diesel – Wilmington, NC **SOLD OUT**
10.01.09 – Fox Theatre Boulder – Boulder, CO **SOLD OUT**
10.02.09 – Aggie Theatre – Ft. Collins, CO **SOLD OUT**
10.03.09 – Ogden Theatre – Denver, CO **SOLD OUT**
10.12.09 – Belly Up Tavern – Solana Beach, CA
10.14.09 – Key Club – West Hollywood, CA**SOLD OUT**
10.15.09 – The Independent – San Francisco, CA **SOLD OUT**
10.16.09 – Nocturnum – Eureka, CA**SOLD OUT**
10.17.09 – Nectar Lounge – Seattle, WA**SOLD OUT**
10.18.09 – Crystal Ballroom – Portland, OR
10.21.09 – The Varsity Theater – Minneapolis, MN
10.22.09 – Miramar Theatre – Milwaukee, WI
10.23.09 – Park West – Chicago, IL
10.24.09 – Majestic Theatre – Madison, WI

Dark Party will get the evening started. You will like them too!

Mister B.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Review: Built To Spill - There Is No Enemy

The dominant meme in the rock press when discussing Built to Spill is: DOUG MARTSCH -- INDIE GUITAR GOD. It’s true Martsch can conjure some wonderfully melodic cliché-free solos, and nobody is more deft when it comes to creating texture through the layering of guitars. Nonetheless, it’s always been songs that set Built to Spill apart from the pack. In the 90’s when the band were creating masterpieces like Perfect from Now On and There’s Nothing Wrong with Love, songs such as “Car” and “Randy Described Eternity” poured forth from the speakers and into the listener’s brain, seducing and delighting with magnificent melodies and clever arrangements. The splendid guitars and enigmatic lyrics were the icing on the cake.

Which brings us to There Is No Enemy. Like its predecessor You in Reverse, this is Built to Spill sounding ordinary -- writing songs that anyone could have written… songs that I could have written. What passes for melody are simple little snippets of repeating verse that float over the chords. The chorus’s are a bit stronger, but still sound alarmingly predictable. In short, the songs don’t go anywhere, rather they waft about only to recede into the ether leaving nary a trace in your psyche. Some reviewers have commented on the strength of the lyrics, but for me, if the music isn’t happening, the lyrics, however brilliant, don’t register.

There are a few moment where the album manages to break out of the mode. One is the short, punkish “Pat”. With it's quirky arrangement and buzzing guitars, the band cuts loose, sounding energized and in their element. The other is the slow, heavy dirge “Life’s a Dream” which conjures Zeppelin at their darkest.

The album doesn’t necessarily suck -- to paraphrase Barack Obama’s description of Hilary Clinton during the primary it’s ‘likeable enough’. But a lot of bands do ‘likeable enough’. Built to Spill was always so much more.

Alex Szczech
October 15, 2009

Tom Waits - Free Tracks from "Glitter and Doom Live"

Preview of the new Tom Waits album, Glitter and Doom Live, arriving November 24th. Check out the first 8 songs for free, including a roaring version of “Get Behind the Mule” and a slinky reinvention of “Singapore,” and if you love the album as much as we think you will, you can pre-order it HERE.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Review: The Flaming Lips - Embryonic

"I wish I could back...back in time" - are the words in which Wayne Coyne passionately pleads on the track Evil and this is what The Flaming Lips accomplish with Embryonic. They manage to find their psychedic roots; what they did and still do best. This comes off like it was released somewhere between Transmissions From The Satellite Heart and Clouds Taste Metallic. Don't get me wrong , I loved Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots but it had a great deal of clean, controlled studio tricks and had been touched up by David Friedmen's brush. Friedman is behind the controls again here with Scott Booker and The Lips but the sound is so different. This is raw; at times sounding like a live 70's era electric Miles Davis and other times sounding like something from Pink Floyd's Meddle. Once a while an album will instantly stop you in your tracks and keep you there. And for me, Embryonic is this album. If I had to give my pick for album of the year know.

At first listen, I was so moved by the rawness and how dark and spacious the songs played out [track #9 "Powerless"]. This "loose feeling" plays out through both discs and pulls the listener though space and time with standout tracks like "Watching the Planets", "Silver Trembling Hands", "Evil, "Convinced Of The Hex" and “Worm Mountain”.

Don't waste your time with the standard realease of this lp - spend the money and get the Embryonic [LIMITED EDITION]. It includes: 2CD set with over 70+ minutes of music! Bonus audio DVD of the full album (The 96k 24 bit audio has 256 times more resolution than a standard CD which provides greater detail reproducing the music in it's full dynamic range. You can now experience exactly what the artist and producer hear in the studio.); Custom 'hard-cover book' with 24 pages of full color art, lyrics and band photos. This is a limited edition run that was custom designed by the Flaming Lips.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Dinosaur Jr. @ The Majestic - 10/13 8PM

In 1991 a discovered Dinosaur Jr.'s, fourth album, Green Mind (on Blanco y Negro/Sire). I was initially captured by the cover; a stunning photograph, called "Priscilla", from 1969, by Joseph Szabo and taken from his book of photographs Almost Grown. At first listen I was blown away at the amazing guitar work and song craft of J. Masics. This happened to be the band's first release after bassist Lou Barlow's (from Sebadoh and The Folk Implosion) departure, as well as the first released by a major label. Barlow is now back in the band (since 2005), alongside the original drummer, Murph. And they have put out some great recordings since then. Their latest and critically acclaimed, Farm (Jagjaguwar) is reminiscent of Where You Been (1993) and even Green Mind (1991). Pick it up at one of your preferred indie record stores or at the show.

Since Green Mind, I have seen them live a few times; once even opening for Son Volt in Milwaukee. I can honestly say that you will not be disappointed and even blown away by this band. By the way, they like their amps pushed to the limit. Fans of Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine will dig this show.

Monday, October 05, 2009

OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW Coming to the Barrymore 11/8

Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.
Tickets: $26.00 Advance/$28.00 Day Of Show

Old Crow Medicine Show (OCMS) have come full circle playing their own brand of American roots music with a rock and roll attitude. The quintet met in New York in 1998 and hit the road, traveling city to city in a van and busking in the streets. They eventually settled for a year in North Carolina, where they ran into a bit of good fortune while playing in front of a local pharmacy to an impressed Doc Watson; the folk icon promptly scheduled the band to play at his MerleFest.

Soon after, OCMS relocated to Nashville and found themselves gracing the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, opening for Dolly Parton, touring with Merle Haggard and regularly appearing on NPR's A Prairie Home Companion. They caught the attention of Nettwerk Records in 2003 and signed on to release their debut album O.C.M.S, which they recorded at RCA's legendary Studio B and Woodland Sound Studio with producer/guitarist David Rawlings (Gillian Welch, Robyn Hitchcock) at the helm. O.C.M.S was released in 2004 to critical acclaim; the New Yorker said of the album, "Heartbreaking, plunky ballads and unfastened fiddle tunes charged with youthful vigor,* while the Village Voice predicted, *Fame will soon lift her skirt for the band."

Their sophomore album, Big Iron World, was released in August 2006 and combined traditional American standards (including Woody Guthrie's "Union Maid") with OCMS originals that blended American roots, folk, blues, gospel, bluegrass and a little bit of gritty rock. Again produced by Rawlings, the album caught the attention of critics from Billboard to Vanity Fair and the first single, a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Down Home Girl," quickly became the #2 most added song at Triple A radio. Combined, the two albums have gone on to sell over 300,000 units.

Today, OCMS prepare to release their third Netterk album called TENNESSEE PUSHER in September 08, this time teaming up with legendary producer Don Was (Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, The Rolling Stones). The album was recorded earlier this year at the famed A&M Studios (now called Henson Sound Studios) and is made up of 13 infectious tracks, 12 of which are Old Crow originals and one American standard called "Always Lift Him Up* by Blind Alfred Reed.

OCMS can attribute much of their success to their relentless touring schedule. Between headlining shows and countless festivals (Bonnaroo, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, New Orleans Jazz Festival, etc), the band is constantly on the road and thrives off of their fans and live shows. They have made a name for themselves as energetic performers with an unbridled spirit.