VHS or Beta @ the Middle East, Cambridge MA 2008.04.07

Welcome our first contribution from Jason Shepherd, previous Baltimorean ex-planted to Boston. Here’s his take on VHS or Beta’s show at the Middle East.

All photos: Flickr user ryan97ou, shot @ the Ottobar, Baltimore MD

Monday night is usually one of the quietest nights for a show, but the crowd that gathered for the VHS or Beta show in Cambridge, MA, was full of energy from the get go.

The downstairs at the Middle East has a similar feel to the Black Cat in DC, one can be intimate with the band but still have good sound..and easy access to a full bar. I saw VHS last year when they set out touring their new album “Bring on the Comets”. They were rather flat then and still sorting out the kinks of playing the new songs live. This night, they really lived up to their lyrics, setting the night on fire!

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Deer Tick-Live at the G-Spot (Wye Oak CD Release Party)

Find the audio from Deer Tick’s set as MP3s after the jump or here as FLAC. They opened second for Wye Oak, after Musee Mechanique at the G-Spot.

Musically they killed it, nothing really original but very solid country-influenced rock. Bassist was a face-melting phenomenon, a musical force of nature. The only downside was that I found Deer Tick’s singing voice irritated me. Mostly because I sensed it was induced rather than natural, which might be completely off-base. In any case, I’m sure that perception would change after extensive listening, but I’m not sure I’m convinced that sort of acclimation is worth the effort. They did, however, perform a hilarious cover of “La Bamba.”
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Wye Oak-Live at the G-Spot (Merge CD Release Party)

Wye Oak played a phenomenal set at their CD (re)release party for Merge issuing If Children. Opener Deer Tick’s set can be found here. Thanks to Jeff the Taper for recording the ENTIRE live set, available after the jump as MP3 or here as FLAC files.

The show was fantastic, probably the best set I’ve yet seen from Wye Oak. Since this record is a re-release, the material has been in rotation for quite a while now. The new material demonstrated great progression and refinement of their songwriting and pacing; tracks like the tentatively-in-studio-named “Magic Johnson” really show Jenn and Andy recognizing their strengths as a duo and bringing them out, crafting a top-notch country-folk jam. If Children is a great record, but the material truly soars live and serves as a testament to how deeply Andy and Jenn are connected to the music.

Jenn’s voice was warm and soulful as always. Andy’s drumming was top-notch, and some of the most expressive I’ve heard in quite some time; we even got a special treat with Andy taking on main vocal duties on “A Lawn to Mow.” The show was quite polished and probably a tad too straight-laced and clean, but when my main complaint is that things were TOO tight, then there’s really not much of a problem. I personally find that minor imperfections in vocal harmonization and in other aspects only enhance the immediacy and passion of their music.

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This weekend-Spoon, White Rabbits, Colin Meloy, Ted Leo and more…

What seems to be the designated “big” show this month, is going down tonight at Sonar. Spoon (pictured left) supported by the Walkmen and the stellar, super-friendly White Rabbits (who we recently did an interview with).

I am actually on the BYT clock to cover the event, which got a strong endorsement from an envious Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak) who is out of town touring this weekend and missing a chance to see her BFFs/label-mates Spoon in something smaller than a stadium-sized venue. So I will make the most of it, as should you. See if you can score something reasonable off Craig and get there, it’ll probably even be worth the $50 price-gouge. Do yourselves a favor and get to this however you can, whatever it takes.

If you don’t happen to be into Spooning…I may have your prescription. I have it on good information that Ted Leo (pictured right) is playing a free show at Goucher College during its G.I.G. festival today, Friday April 11.

Continuing the free show concept is Double Dagger with Thank You at UMBC, also on this jam-packed Friday.

And on Saturday, a day of rest. But Sunday, one of my all-time favorites, Colin Meloy is playing his solo gig at 9:30 Club in DC.

Get hyped. Here’s some morsels to get you started:

Spoon – Cherry Bomb Country (demo)

White Rabbits – March of the Camels

Ted Leo – Biomusicology

Colin Meloy – Barbara Allen (Shirley Collins cover)

Wye Oak Interview Part 2

Firstly, we have winners for our Wye Oak CD Release Giveaway! Julia Oat-Judge (Bmore) won the big score, nabbing tix to Thursday night’s show at the G-Spot and a signed copy of If Children. Laura Steiner (Takoma Park) is the runner-up. She will be getting a signed CD care package in the mail real soon. Thanks to Jenn and Andy for the swag! And don’t forget, CD release show tonight @ the G-Spot, 8PM doors! Now, onto the interview!

On a truly lovely Saturday morning, I trekked over to the Evergreen off Cold Spring Lane for some coffee, a stellar bagel-wich and continued to the second part of our interview (postponed due to the chaos preceding their SXSW trip) with Andy and Jenn of Wye Oak.

We chatted about their virgin SXSW experiences (and Jenn’s other career considerations), the importance of family and Baltimore.

Read it all after the jump. You can also catch up on part 1 and listen to their Creative Alliance live set here.
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Tilly and the Wall get their O faces ready

As close as your indie cred allows you to get to mainstream, multi-million dollar pop, Tilly & the Wall are set to drop their third release, the album O, this June. To help you get pumped and fill your ears with candy-coated catchy choruses, I present to you track 3 off O, the happily galloping romp that is “Cacophony.”

Tilly and the Wall – Cacophony

And earlier this year, Tilly et al released this video for new single and limited 7″ release, “Beat Control,” on Stereogum.


PitchforkTV, I give my you my productivity…

Damn you Pitchfork. You have me converted. I am officially never going to get anything done. This series of personal faves the Thermals playing on a rooftop in NYC just put me over the edge. I’m officially hooked. There’s also a killer Radiohead performance.

Score: P4K=1, AS=0.

For those of you unaware, Pitchfork Media launched a new web-based 24-hour music channel called Pitchfork.tv for exclusive video content of all sorts relating to music, from music videos to live performances to documentaries. This must be how amazing MTV felt back when they actually used the channel for music.


2 for Tuesday: Locals edition

Two tracks just dropped into my inbox from regional artists.

Baltimore’s Thrushes will be releasing their Heartbeats Remixed CD on Birdnote, May 6th followed by a Sat May 10th CD release show at Metro Gallery. The CD is all remixes of the track “Heartbeats.” Check out the lead track on the album and the original track.

Thrushes – Heartbeats (DtheNextLevel Mix)

Thrushes – Heartbeats (original)

Philly natives Public Record hold a DC release party Apr 15th at the Velvet Lounge in DC to celebrate the release of their album Apr 08.

Public Record – Comfortability

Neutral Milk Hotel tribute

One of the most universally revered artists to emerge from the nebulous genre of “indie” is Neutral Milk Hotel. Lead by the ever-elusive and mysterious Jeff Magnum, their music introduced some highly progressive elements into the indie world and characterized by their lush-yet-rickety, multi-instrumental sound, populated frequently by slightly off-key notes and Magnum’s distinct fragile and raw vocals.

Simultaneously presaging and pioneering indie-folk, artists such as the Decemberists owe a certain debt to NMH (though they are not nearly as related as some detractors of Colin Meloy et al would have you believe).

Their criminally short career was capped by their second album, In the aeroplane over the sea, an opus that takes some artists decades, and some forever, to produce.

There are some truly gorgeous videos, my personal favorite probably being the minimalist “Two-headed boy II” and “Communist Daughter.” If you can’t find something in this melange to move you, you are truly a stone-cold heart.

Neutral Milk Hotel – Two-Headed Boy

Neutral Milk Hotel – Holland, 1945

Wye Oak Giveaway / Photo Contest! (Updated 4-6)

It’s simple and free. Just send an email to auralstates at gmail dot com with your name and location to enter for the following swag:

  1. 2 tickets to the G-Spot show this Thursday
  2. A copy of the Merge-released If Children, signed by Andy and Jenn with little hearts around their names.

A random winner will be drawn on Wednesday and contacted via email (We’ll even tell you where the G-Spot is, if you need to find out!). A runner-up will also be drawn to receive a signed CD. Only locals will be eligible to win the tickets though.

Feeling a little more ambitious? Then try this on for size:

  1. Pick your favorite (or any) Wye Oak song.
  2. Send your name, email, the name of the song from 1), and a picture that you think represents the song to auralstates at gmail dot com.

One winner will be chosen for originality and possibly hilarity or maybe even artistic merit. For this mammoth effort, the winner will receive the tickets/CD prize package and … *drum roll*

a date with Andy! Yeah, that’s right. We’re putting him out to stud.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our interview with Andy and Jenn. In the meantime, check out part 1 and their live set from the Creative Alliance, courtesy of Jeff the B-more Taper.

My favorite tracks:

Wye Oak – Family Glue (live)

Wye Oak – Mary is Mary (live)

Wye Oak – “Magic Johnson” (live)


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