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Put It In Your Pantry With Your Cupcakes

Mark my words, 2009 can be summed up in two ways. The Year in Music: Pet Sounds. The Year in Food: Cupcakes.

Seems like every band these days is drawing inspiration from Pet Sounds (read lots of harmonies, studio trickery). At the same time, the ubiquity of local cupcake dealers has reached the point of madness here in DC. Everywhere you go, it's cupcake this, cupcake that. The 9:30 Club is selling them now. The humble cupcake has officially jumped the shark. As a spurned Potsy wisely said and I'll paraphrase, just because it's mini, doesn't mean it won't fatten your ass.

The two trends (Pet Sounds and Cupcakes) collided last Monday night at the sold-out Grizzly Bear show when band member Ed Droste came on stage and passed out cupcakes to the front row audience at the 9:30 Club.

Grizzly Bear's latest album Veckatimest (named for an island near Massachusetts as best I can tell) is the brand of swirling melodies, ethereal sonic landscape I've come to expect out of bands this year (see Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavillion). This is not a bad thing. It's music to reflect to. It's music to get lost in thought to. But we're going to look back on it, much like the cupcake, as very 09.

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Camel Tones

New Wilco album out this summer:

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Let’s Hear It For The Boys

I drive a very beat up 1997 Toyota that could graciously be described as extremely low-tech. It does not have a built-in system for an iPod, nor a CD player. No Twitter feed of its own, or any of that nonsense. It does play tapes really well. Call it antiquated. I call it romantic.

I'm lucky that DC's own Deleted Scenes haven't given up on my relationship with tapes. At a recent show, they passed out "cassingles" from their excellent new album, Birdseed Shirt. These are taped over other old tapes – presumably tapes the band members once owned. I got a recording of their song Ithaca as remixed by local DJ AutoRocks and recorded over Guns N' Roses' Lies Appetite for Destruction. The effect is that I get to listen to a great summer driving song that sounds like it could have been recorded in 1985. When it ends, I get the build at the end of Patience when Axl starts screaming "whoawhoa I neeeeed you." This is a near perfect listening experience, especially with the windows rolled down.

If you have occasion to be in my car this summer, trust me, you'll hear this. Hot Rod already did, and his comment was "Let's Hear it for the Boy." I see his point about the synth line. But he's a misanthrope and I don't care. I can't get enough of this song these days.

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I Was Blown Out At A Ripe Old Age, When I Turned 17

With one foot stuck unapologetically in the past, a review of what I've been listening to lately:

  • What: Come Back to The Five and Dime, Bobby Dee, Bobby Dee
  • Who: Benjy Ferree, DC local and inexplicable wig wearer. Likely frets that he was born too late to audition for Sha Na Na.
  • When: Winter. On a date "of sorts." The Black Cat. CD release party. Crowd was classic DC, crippled by its own apathy. [Ed note: intentional use of ironic quote marks.]
  • Why: Because it's your new favorite T-Rex album. Because there should be more concept albums. Because Fear and Blown Out are just great songs

  • What: Merriweather Post Pavilion, an album title that could be worse. But only if you called it Nissan Pavilion.
  • Who: Animal Collective, a band whose last cover art was so bad I refused to get the album
  • When: A month ago, after I could no longer ignore CarrieNation's recommendation.
  • Why: Twee as fuck. Makes me want to sing in rounds. Shades of Pet Sounds. Here's a great ode to not masturbating, but thinking about it anyway.

  • What: 1993's Kill My Landlord (points for not pussy-footing around on a title)
  • Who: The Coup
  • When: Throw the following in a blender in the month of March: Dabysan's recommendation years ago. A renewed interest in the song "Laugh, Love, Fuck" right around the inauguration. A nice gentleman in California sending me their first two albums.
  • Why: Brilliant lyrics.

  • What: Middle Cyclone
  • Who: Neko Case
  • When/Where: DC's 9:30 Club. Friends and member of DC CockRock Club in tow. The Secretary of Education showed up and spoke from the stage, marking a weird new era in DC. Neko played with her hair lots, as she does at every show. I was not into the stagecraft. Could have done with fewer images of owls and other precious animals. It was like walking into an Anthropologie. Still, a good show for being encumbered by your own loneliness as she sings yet another song about loneliness. This Tornado is just not that into you.
  • Why: Actually, I don't think this album is as good as the others. But the cover art is scary/ badass and sexy all at once. It's worth the price of admission.
    Middle Cyclone
    Neko Case

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I’m A Man Eater (Watch Out Boy)

I got the rare pleasure of seeing some great talent in a small venue Saturday night at Comet Ping Pong in DC. Perhaps it was the two cans of Sea Hag I'd had that led me to describe the show in a text message that night as "truly grand," as well as another description about the show too obscene for the family audience of this blog. Let's just say it was dirty in a good way. I'm optimistic about the world after a drink or two, if nothing else.

Lillie Ruth Bussey opened the show for The Laughing Man and kinda stunned us into submission. She's got an interesting vocal quality, which is something I value at a time when a lot of female vocalists seem to mimic one another. I rarely remember my dreams, but that night I dreamed I had an entire conversation in vivid detail about her singing, why the singing on American Idol is uninteresting to me, and the shifting winds of public opinion about what makes good vocals. This is a long way of saying check her out.

The Laughing Man came on next. Jury is still out on them for me. But they are easy on the eyes, and worth another outing soon. They play the Black Cat this Saturday night. In the meantime, All Our Noise and a very nice gentleman there have provided this video for you. Judge away:

Other news: NPR streamed the new Neko Case record, Middle Cyclone. After a few listens, I'm partial to the song People Got A Lotta Nerve, mainly because she keeps repeating "I'm a man-man-man eater" in the chorus. Still, I'm not sure anything on the record justifies the last 30 minutes of recordings of crickets chirping. Oh, yeah, this is what it sounds like when I sing.

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Songs: Ohia

Saw Chrissie Hynde play with her Pretenders last night at the 9:30. Not a lot to say about the show, except that she still rocks and she's about the only woman her age who pretty much looks today like she did in the 1970s. Maybe it's all the veggies she eats. I dunno.

The Pretenders didn't play "Middle of the Road." And they didn't play "My City Was Gone," a song about paving old farms and putting up parking lots in Ohio. It got me thinking about songs that either feature Ohio in the title or have lyrics about Ohio. The Jayhawks have a song about making calls from "deep in Ohio." A Modest Mouse song repeats the name of the state over and over again. Liz Phair shoehorns it into a rhyme about Cinco De Mayo. I'm just scratching the surface. Don't make me raise the specter of Les Nessman, livin' on the air in Cincinnati, WKRP. What gives? Why so many songs about Ohio? Here's another to add to the list:

I am obsessed this week with Sun Kil Moon's Carry Me Ohio, and Mark Kozelek's lyrics specifically.

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