One of the most hyped festivals of the year – the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival – just announced it’s 3 day lineup. 

 

That’s right: Jay Z.  Well, last year Paul McCartney headlined Friday night.  Coachella keeps you guessing, y’all.

One interesting change from last year? As of right now, they’re doing away with single day tickets, and demanding you fork over $269 (not including fees, of course) for a three day pass.  Nice.

Who are you looking forward to at Coachella?  Leave a comment.

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I don’t know much about tragedy.  In my mundane, everyday life, “tragedy” is TicketMaster malfunctioning, thus hindering my chances of going to a show.

I have a good life. I know it.

Then, disaster hits what is already one of the poorest areas of the world.   I can’t comprehend what it’s like to have the ceiling crumble during an earthquake.  Heck, I live in the earthquake capital of the world, right?  California has been bracing itself for the Big One for years.  But our infrastructures can handle a 7.0.   Haiti’s cannot.

Yes, SATC is a music blog.  But sometimes I veer to the idealisticAt times In rare moments, there is more to life.  Like… life.

The one, albeit small, silver lining about this tragedy?

Haiti is getting attention.

Hopefully (though not guaranteed), the aid will not stop.  Not only will rebuilding efforts be needed for years to come, but the country and its people need relief from the poverty they were already in.  The majority of Haitians live on less than $2 a day. The country has had to endure plenty of natural (and political) disasters which have made life in the Carribean nation far from paradise.

A Haitian musician, Richard A. Morse of the mizik rasin group RAM, has been one of many who have taken to  Twitter to put a voice to the tragedy.  He has given a blunt play-by-play of the aftermath, while  offering his own commentary as well.  And that is one small part of why I love music.  It allows one to give a voice to so many things – good, bad, awful, silly.  It combines so many mediums – written and spoken word, instruments – and allows one to pour out their heart, and another to embrace it.

Since the quake, I took a crash course in Haitian music.   Mizik rasin and vodou drum beats are popular styles in Haiti, making RAM a staple since their beginning in the early 1990’s.

Incredible organizations are mobilizing efforts to get manpower and materials to Haiti. Add your voice by donating your money.
Here are three organizations you can donate to:

World Vision
Heartline Ministries
Doctors without Borders

And one more: text HAITI to 90999 and $10 will be charged to your phone bill, and automatically donated to the Red Cross.

(Back to regularly scheduled sarcastic music blogging.)

A new year, and finally some new music worth listening to.   Be excited.

Vampire Weekend - Contra

Vampire WeekendContra (XL Recordings)

I saw Vampire Weekend last year at the Glasshouse.  The place was nowhere near packed and the average audience member could not legally buy a Lotto ticket.  Fastforward to 2010: their upcoming album has been generating buzz since the summer, and last week’s show had been sold out for awhile.
I’m still not sure what I think of the album.  It’s been streamed on various websites, and leaked from several sources, making this album even more hyped.  Their self titled effort was so unique and well produced that Contra sounded a bit boring.  But with every play, I seem to like a new track.  My favorites for now are Taxi Cab, and Horchata (which I’m now craving.  Yum.)
Local shows: 4/14 @ Fox Theatre (Pomona)
Buy Album: Contra
download mp3:
Taxi Cab

Laura VeirsJuly Flame (Raven Marching Band Records)

So you’re in your third trimester of pregnancy and have gestational diabetes… what do you do?  If you’re Laura Veirs, you go on a European tour!  My new hero’s (who’s blog post about leaving for tour would probably hit any estrogen-filled human) seventh album released today, with some resemblances to Ingrid Michelson, and Jessica Hoop.  Veirs has the ability to allow the album to sound incredibly feminine with beautiful, wimsical string arrangements, yet not get too cute or predictable.  The title track has a bit of a haunting edge to it, while others are light and airy.  July Flame features guests spots from My Morning Jacket‘s Jim James, and the added harmonies are merely a bonus.
Local shows: 3/8 @ Casbah (San Diego); 3/9 @ Spaceland (Silverlake)
Buy album: July Flame
Download mp3: July Flame

Listened to either album?  Stoked for different music that released this week?  Leave a comment.

The Album Leaf

Unless you are a diehard fan of Michael Jackson or the Beatles, last Tuesday’s album releases won’t do much for you.  That is a very, very good thing, because 2010 promises for some excellent music.  Get your wallet ready.

The Album LeafChorus of Storytellers (Subpop)
(February 2)

Brilliant instrumentalist Jimmy LaValle is back next month with a new album, this time with a full band.  I’m not sure if it will feature lyrics or go back to the original roots of purely instrumental (hoping for the latter) but either way, this is a must-buy for fans.

local shows: 2/13 @ The El Rey
download: Falling From The Sun

Holly Miranda – The Magician’s Private Library
(February 23)
This is Holly Miranda’s first release since being signed to XL Recordings.  Hopefully being part of a bigger label (and touring with the likes of Vampire Weekend and Tegan & Sara) will get her the attention she’s deserved for a while.
download: Forest Green

The Bundles
(March 9)
Juno is not only my favorite movie, but boasts some great music — mostly due to Kimya Dawson.  She and her former band, Moldy Peaches, are responsible for most of the songs on the album.

Dawson is releasing her next album with the help of her new band, The Bundles.  I don’t know what exactly to expect (besides the usual anti-folk vibe), and I’m glad about that.

She & Him – Volume 2
(March 22)

I’m an idiot.  I missed out on tickets to She & Him’s LA shows this year.  I am willing to part with a non-vital organ if you have an extra ticket.
She & Him is, of course, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward.  Their folky, 50’s throwback vibe is simple, yet shows off their incredible talent.  I caught M. Ward’s other side project, Monsters of Folk a few months ago.  The guy is a musical genius.  Deschanel’s voice is hypnotic.
local shows: 3/25 @ the El Rey (sold out)

Dr. Dog – Shame, Shame
(Springtime)
Look for the group to take a slightly different turn on this album, focusing a bit more on punk influences.
download:
The Old Days

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings (I Learned the Hard Way)
(May 4)
Regardless of your taste, I highly recommend that you get this album when it comes out.  I’m admittedly not much of a funk/soul fan, but make an exception for any Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings song I can get my hands on.  The only genre they should be labeled as is “fun.”

The Strokes(RCA)
(TBA)
For right now, this album is more speculation than anything else, but as reports claim that a new album is finally going to be released in 2010.  As much as I love their solo projects, I am happy to hear that the group is getting back together, and hopefully will tour as well.

Fleet Foxes (Sub Pop)
(TBA)
Front man Robin Pecknold has said that the new album will be a bit more melancholy than past efforts.  Not sure what to make of that, besides more of a folk sound.


This Thursday, check out a free outdoor show featuring Tyrone Wells and Meiko.
I’ve featured Meiko a few times before, and been a fan of Tyrone for years.  Tomorrow, they’re teaming up for “The Sound of Summer,” a weekly concert in downtown LA’s Pershing Square and sponsored by 100.3FM.

Meiko goes on at 8pm, and Tyrone’s set starts at 9.

Dowload MP3: Tyrone Wells – More

More info: The Sound of Summer

My uncle gave me A Fine Frenzy’s CD “One Cell In The Sea” the day before Christmas Eve 2007.  It also happened to be the day before my grandmother would pass away, but we did not know that at the time.

A few hours after she died, I drove to my apartment to be alone for awhile.   My uncle had said that despite the name, A Fine Frenzy was actually a singer/songwriter named Alison Sudol.  I just knew I needed something to drown out the loud nothingness that was taking over my brain.

The drive from my parent’s house to my apartment was the longest 45 minutes ever – I remember every stretch of nothing as I cut through LA County into Orange.  Sudol’s voice was both strangely muted and present as she sung of love and loss.  The vocals were soothing and and strangely beautiful, and the music – with piano performed by Sudol – was well suited for her voice.

Her new song, “Blow Away” is the first single off her album Bomb In A Birdcage which will be released in September.  Fans of Feist and Regina Spektor will be pleased.  If the song is any indication, Birdcage will be much more pop-influenced than the piano-driven One Cell In The Sea.
What do you think?

Buy “Blow Away”

And this is where I lose any male readers I once had.  Please come back tomorrow.

I have two male roommates who dominate the living room television with Cartoon Network and any show that features explosions, blowing stuff up, or explosions (apparently, there’s a difference between the two).  Sometimes, a girl just needs a glass of wine or two or five, thirty gorgeous men, and a few girlfriends to yell at the tube with.

Last night was that kind of night.  During last night’s finale of “The Bachelorette”, poor Jillian Harris was stuck in Hawaii and down to two guys: Ed Swiderski, who admitted he was “married to [his] job” and briefly left the show when his wife cracked the whip; and Kiptyn Locke, who — well, I really don’t know much about him.  The guy is simply gorgeous.  And he smiles all the time.  And he is so.so.hot.  He also seemed like the more well-rounded of the two — the “works hard, plays hard” guy, while the Edster was  raioj;fdalsfjdal;s… oh sorry, I fell asleep at the keyboard again.  Bad habit.

All signs pointed to Jillian picking Kiptyn.  Meaning, of course, that she would pick Ed, who apparently has no desire to leave the 1980’s and purchase any shorts that fall below the knee.  Throw in a few “most dramatic rose ceremony EVER” twists and…

During a beautiful Hawaiian sunset, Jillian rejects this:

for this:

Aloha.

Download MP3: Meiko – Hawaii

Photo Credit :: Aaron Young :: thesmallestbox.com

Photo Credit :: Aaron Young :: thesmallestbox.com

I had high hopes for the past two weeks:

  • Top Ten Albums of 2009 so far (get excited)
  • July Playlist – Independence Day Spectacular (get more excited)
  • Artist Profiles (homeless African paraplegics who live in a zoo – continue to be excited)
  • TOT Info (you may be confused now, but you’ll be excited later)

Um yeah.  You got none of that.

Last weekend I went to Mexico for the bazillionth time.  And before assumptions are made, I voluntarily signed a covenant which stated that I would not drink alcohol for the entire time I was there.  Or flirt with boys.

Confused much?

Cross the Otay Mesa border in San Diego, hang a left at the tire shop, go offroading for a bit, narrowly escape death by crazy tanker trucks and machine-gun-wielding policemen several times, and you will soon enter a migrant community known as Rojo Gomez.

I’ve been going down there for four years to build houses for families there who previously lived in boxes made of garage doors, tarp, and some scrap wood.  Dirt floors on hills that frequently get hit with mud slides.  No bueno.

These familes have become family to me.  It’s interesting how much we have in common with each other.  The first kid I ever met was named Adrian, who had the most sarcastic sense of humor ever (not that I could relate to that.  Nope…).  I should probably admit my lack of knowledge of Spanish, despite the fact that it is my father’s first language and I have a hispanic last name.  But I have discovered this handy equation:

Broken Spanish + Broken or Nonexistent English + Smiles + Crazy Hand Gestures X Lots of Piggy Back Rides + Soccer Balls (Cubed) = Love

Photo Credit :: Aaron Young :: thesmallestbox.com

Photo Credit :: Aaron Young :: thesmallestbox.com

This is not a guilt trip.

Rather, this is a reminder to the intended geographical audience of this blog that three hours away is third world-ville.  And I have no answers as to what your part to play is or if you even have one.  But in relation to this blog, there is an amazing culture practically down the street, with some sweet ass music, some amazing food (um holy crap on crack, some amazing food.  I swear that sometimes I think I only go there for the street tacos.  But that isn’t true.)  And the importance of family (and in Mexican culture, anyone within a 100 mile radius is familia.  Which is all kinds of awesome.)

To put it mildly, my life has been dramatically changed (beyond words that can do justice) since discovering Rojo Gomez, and the neighboring town of El Nino.  And as I helped build two houses last weekend for two rad families, it has taken some time to adjust back here, and I really have not felt like writing or checking out any new music.  I’m getting back into the swing of things, so check back tonight or tomorrow.  But processing and reflecting on all that occurred on that rad weekend was more important and worthwhile.

For now, enjoy some of the music from a few hours south.

Download MP3: Rodrigo Y Gabriela – Vikingman
Download MP3: Pistolera – Nuevos Ojos
Download MP3:Grupo Fantasma – El Sabio Soy Yo

More info:
Habitat For Humanity

Baja Christian Ministries

Yesterday, I gushed about the subtle 60’s psychedlic vibe that Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros seemed to have mastered.  Today, take a listen to Sondre Lerche and his take on 80’s pop.

If you don’t know Lerche by name, you may have heard him on the big screen, as he composed all of the music for 2007’s Dan In Real Life. “Heartbeat Radio” is the title track off his album that will be released September 8.  The song is classic Sondre, so if you like this, then definitely check out some of the Norweigan’s earlier alums.

Download MP3: Sondre Lerche – Heartbeat Radio

Sondre Lerche – website

Only two albums worth your while this week, but these two are must haves.  I’ve been looking forward to both of these must have albums for about four months. Say it with me now: Must. Haves. Okay.  On with the show.

Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros – Up From Below (Community Music/Fairfax Recordings/Rough Trade)
Download MP3 Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Carries On
I featured Ed Sharpe’s song “40 Day Dream” on my June Playlist, and I wish I could have featured every song from his first full length album.  The LA band’s sound differs from song to song, though there’s a little 60’s throwback in each.
The group features Alex Ebert, who also fronts the dance rock band Ima Robot.  However, Ebert takes on the persona of Edward Sharpe for his new gig, and received tons of positive press during their set at Austin’s South By South West this year.  Reviews of “Here Comes” (their EP featuring songs also on the full-length “Up From Below”) have been solid.  Check out a show if you can, because I may have failed to mention that the band consists of Edward Sharpe and his 12 piece band.

The Dead Weather – Horehound (WEA/Reprise)

Download MP3: The Dead Weather – “Are Friends Electric?”
Jack White just doesn’t stop, and for that I am grateful.  The more I listen to one of his musical endeavors, the more I am convinced the guy is a musical genius.  Whether it’s making sweet melodies with his ex wife, or collaborating with the boys, White proves that he can consistently create unique music.  His third venture is no different.

Though White and lead singer Allison Mosshart (who also sings for The Kills) are arguably the most famous members of the newly formed The Dead Weather, the group also consists of guitarist Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) and bassist Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs and the Greenhorns).  Given Mosshart’s unique vocal styling, the Dead Weather definitely gives off a Kills vibe, but it will likely please many fans of harder alternative.

Honorable Mentions

The Fiery Furnaces – I’m Going Away (Thrill Jockey)
The Fiery Furnaces remind me of a more melodic, quieter version of the Dead Weather. I constantly repeat their single “The End Is Near” which is a slow number featuring lead singer Eleanor Friedberger.  The album’s digital release date is today and CD’s are releasing next Tuesday.


(500) Days Of Summer – Original Soundtrack (Sire/WEA)
A movie about (good) music?  Yes please.  This soundtrack features tracks from some solid artists in indie music: Feist, Regina Spektor, She & Him, and more.  It also highlights some greats such as Simon & Garfunkle and The Smiths.  If you’ve been finding yourself in a music rut, check out the soundtrack (and buy me a ticket to the movie, please)

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Any MP3 posted here is available to stream and/or download for two weeks or less, so get it while it's hot. Hopefully I can help steer you towards music you've never heard before. If you like what you hear, please purchase the album, and support the artist at shows. The music posted here is for sampling use ONLY. If you are a band or representative of an artist who is featured on this site and would like your music removed, please contact me directlyand I'll be happy to immediately remove the song(s).