Friday, July 21, 2006

In California

I'm in California, currently enjoying the air conditioning of a friend's house as Sacramento is a blistering 100+ degrees outside. This weekend we shall visit Berkeley and San Francisco and then on Monday I head to Los Angeles.

So I shall share some songs about the "state I'm in":

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Vienna Teng - Dreaming Through The Noise

Vienna Teng will be welcoming the release of her third album, entitled "Dreaming Through the Noise", next Tuesday, July 25th.

Vienna was originally taking the "traditional" route and had gotten her bachelors degree from Stanford University in computer science and started working as a software engineer. She had been playing piano since she was 5 though, and soon realized that her career was not making her happy. She gave it all up and moved to the trendy end of San Fransisco and started playing in small clubs...the rest is history you might say.
Her first record , Waking Hour, is really beautiful and the lyrics are simply gorgeous. I happened upon her music when I bought an album from and they sent an mp3 sampler along with it. Her song "The Tower" was on there and I sort of forgot about the rest of the CD after that track, I was so impressed. Her second album, Warm Strangers, had a few stellar tracks on it, but lacked the end to end impressiveness of Waking Hour. I don't have my hopes too high for the new album as the sparsity of Waking Hour was part of its beauty and I think Warm Strangers was starting to show the direction she was heading. She has songs from the new album up on MySpace for you to try on for size.

Otherwise here are some tracks from previous albums that she has available for download on her site and linked here:
  • Vienna Teng - "The Tower" (from Waking Hour)
  • Vienna Teng - "Gravity" (from Waking Hour)
  • Vienna Teng - "Harbor" (from Warm Strangers)

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Accordion Pop

Many artists that regularly use accordion that I can think of are considered pretty geeky (They Might Be Giants, Barenaked Ladies, Moxy Fruvous, Weird Al etc.) but I love these geeky bands. What made accordion so geeky? I suppose the relationship of accordion with old world music and polka has something to do it. Regardless there's some wonderful music out there with accordion in it, and I thought I'd mention a few favorites of mine.

As previously mentioned, They Might Be Giants is not a band many people take seriously because of the somewhat juvenile nature of their lyrics. They don't write love songs, or personal touching songs...they write songs about things like presidents, shoehorns and hermaphrodites. Despite this uncool fact, they were still voted into Paste Magazine's Top 100 Living Songwriter's list recently. Because really, in a way isn't it much harder to write intelligent songs about mammals than to write an ode to your girlfriend? John Linnell, the co-founder is a keyboardist and accordion so a number of their songs are accordion-heavy.

Beirut is a band that's pretty recent. They're really popular out there in the blogosphere right now though, and I can see why, they really have a very unique sound and are very talented. They are using that "old world" flavor in their music, and it really is mesmerizing. The accordion sound they feature is very reminscent of the movie Amelie, if you're familiar with it (it's one of my favorites).

Pee Shy (unfortunately there is no official or even unofficial website for this defunct band, at least none worth linking to) has been a favorite of mine since high school. A rock band founded by 2 spoken-word poets from Tampa, FL that could play accordion and clarinet. Rock music with accordion and clarinet? Yes please! Their first album "Who Let All The Monkeys Out?" was an indie gem in my opinion. Unfortunately the only time I ever see or hear of them now is when I see them in the used CD bins, for shame. They broke up around 1998-9 when Jenny Juristo, a co-founder, decided to leave the band shortly after their scond album, "Don't Get Too Comfortable" was released. The remaining members have started another band, under various names. The most current, and most successful of which is The Caulfield Sisters. They never did much for me, as Jenny Juristo's songs and voice were the ones I liked the best.

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Kicking Yourself Later.

Recently I was cursing myself for my tendency on getting into certain great musicians a bit too late. Now, it is one thing if you go to a concert and enjoy the opener and say "hmm, I will have to check them out later" or something. It is completely another when your sorry ass has seen someone in concert and didn't really think twice about them because you just wanted to see the main act so bad and then later get into them and say "damn, I saw them in concert and wasn't even paying attention!", in fact, you were probably even saying "hurry up so I can see who I came to see!". Sad, sad.

So here is my tribute to some of the amazing people I saw who were OPENING for other people and who I didn't pay any attention to at the time...

Rhett Miller - "Come Around"
(Opening for Tori Amos)

Mike Doughty - "Looking At The World From The Bottom of a Well"
(Opening for They Might Be Giants)

Denison Witmer - "24 Turned 25"
(Opening for The Innocence Mission)

John Vanderslice - "Trance Manual"
(Opening for Pedro the Lion)

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