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For Your Ears: My Top 10 favorite tracks from Tegan and Sara’s discography

15 Mar

Although Tegan and Sara have surpassed a decade in their career as working musicians, things are starting to take off for the two.

But though they’ve toured with the likes of Neil Young, Death Cab for Cutie, The Killers, Weezer and Paramore, their upcoming tour with fun. might skyrocket them into an arena that they’ve been working towards since they first started out. Well, there’s that, and the fact that their latest single, “Closer,” was covered on last night’s episode of Glee, the same hit TV series that helped make fun.’s second album, Some Nights, a breakthrough album.

Right now, the twins are on tour support of their newest album, Heartthrob, and I was lucky enough to score tickets. So, what better way to celebrate than to compile a list of my favorite Tegan and Sara songs?

10. I’m Not Your Hero (Heartthrob)
I’ve only had this track to listen to since January, but it has already become one of my favorite songs of theirs. I love the optimism of the second verse, when Sara says, “Learning all I know now/losing all I did/I never used to feel like I’d be standing so far ahead.” Though I’ve always loved the darkness and uncertainty that can sometimes come from the twins, this is truly a breath of fresh air, and a reminder that sometimes you just have to live in the light and enjoy life.

9. Living Room (If It Was You)
“Living Room” has a voyeuristic feel to it that will always remind me of photographers who photograph other tenants from their apartment window. It’s easy to close your eyes and imagine having an all-access view into the apartment of someone you desire. Is it creepy? Maybe a little bit. But it’s human, and it’s also an old track. Either way, there’s something endearing about it.

8. Feel It In My Bones (feat. Tegan and Sara, from Tiesto’s Kaleidoscope)
This track was the first time, to my knowledge, that most people heard Tegan and Sara dapple in electro/dance/house music. It was a breath of fresh air, and a reminder that the best dance tracks often feature artists with unique and unsuspecting voices.

7. Dark Come Soon (The Con)
I’ve always said that if you can understand and relate to The Con in a personal way, you’re in a dark place. This song only reiterates that. It’s different for everyone, but in the end, we all just need a little darkness to wallow in our sorrows.

6. On Directing (Sainthood)
This song is so sexy. Sainthood was pretty sexy, but this track has always knocked me on my back. Musically, it’s equivalent to the feeling you get when you meet someone who just steals you away. But this song is coy, it’s unsuspecting, and it leaves the listener with a lot of questions. Perhaps its mystery is what keeps bringing me back. That, or it reminds me so much of myself.

5. Nineteen (Get Along)
I fell in love with an acoustic version of Nineteen that Tegan and Sara did in Paris before a show. Unfortunately, it was an mp3 that had been ripped from a video, so I could never quite hear it. That, and Tegan accidentally repeated the first verse twice. Good thing they played it acoustic in their DVD, because this one is a keeper.

4. Someday (Sainthood)
This will forever feel like an anthem for anyone who feels like they’ve been put down. It’s so easy for the world to tell you no, when your heart and soul tell you yes. Luckily, Tegan and Sara face their  fair share of hardships and know that even when things get good, someone will still need their encouragement. That’s why one of my favorite lines they’ve ever written will always be, “Mark my words, I might be something some day.”

3. I Won’t Be Left (So Jealous)
Relationships can be frightening, for one or both partners. Sometimes you just need that verbal reminder that running away from your problems won’t solve a damn thing.

2. Burn Your Life Down (The Con)
I’d heard this song so many times, but it wasn’t until I was going through some really terrible shit that I came to appreciate it. I don’t know how, or why. But something about hearing Sara’s voice saying, “Keep on fighting to remember that nothing is lost in the end,” really just kept me grounded and made me struggle through it.

1. Night Watch (Sainthood)
When I heard this song, the push and pull of the layered instruments really messed with my head. It was heartbreaking, truthful, self-deprecating and firm at the same time. Sometimes, doing what’s right isn’t easy, and doing what’s easy isn’t right. Needless to say, Sainthood was a work of art that Tegan and Sara labored over, and the picture that the music paints deserves to be hanging next to the damn Mona Lisa.

I hope you enjoy this list of songs I’ve compiled, but I’ve got a letter to write and a concert to get to.

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Live Review: Jeff Mangum at Wortham Center

22 Jan

When you hear Jeff Mangum’s name, it’s hard to think of him as anything other than the “reclusive” persona writers have pegged him as. The truth is, I’ve seen Mangum first hand, and he’s nothing of the sort.

Last night, Mangum brought his highly exclusive, extremely anticipated tour to Houston’s Wortham Center in Downtown, and the place was sold out. It might go down as one of the most surreal, genuinely touching concerts I’ve experienced as of yet.

The crowd, which ranged from pre-teen to retired, dressed in their best “going out” clothes. There were no torn jeans, the tights weren’t ripped, and majority of the 21+ crowd was drinking wine or a cocktail versus beer. While it sounds like a strange way to gauge things, the same people sitting around me are the same ones that show up for $2 Lone Star nights and end up swinging their gorilla-sized hands in the air during a free show put on by the same production company, Pegstar. It was pretty nice to see everyone well-behaved at a venue that usually hosts events from orchestras and opera singers. Hell, one of the chandeliers probably costs more than my car.

The show started promptly at 8 p.m. when Tall Firs politely took the stage. The duo sat near one another in the middle of the stage, sharing a Fender Super Reverb and knocking out eight songs from their self-titled debut, 2008’s Too Old To Die Young and 2012’s Out of It and Into It.

In between tracks such as “Hairdo” and “So Messed Up,” band-mates David Mies and Aaron Mullan trade out guitars to get the right sound on each song while partaking in humorous banter. But among stories of stoned kids in OKC and prostitutes in St. Louis, Mies got the last laugh when he and Mullan snubbed Pitchfork’s Aaron Leitko for ripping apart Mies’ version of “I Couldn’t Say it to Your Face” by Arthur Russell.

Tall Firs have the airy, atmospheric chops of Explosions In The Sky, with more of a knack to sound like Sonic Youth or Pavement. Vocally, the two sound like they mastered the whiskey and cigarette routine while extensively studying every album in their personal collection. When stripped down, their songs left the crowd silent and transfixed in the dark of the room.

Following a brief intermission, Mangum took the stage wearing a flannel shirt, jeans and a hat while the house lights stayed on halfway – most likely at his request. But though he looked a bit more gray and grizzly when compared to the photos taken of him playing to Occupy Wall Street protestors a year ago, Mangum still looks relatively youthful.

As he sat in his chair aside four acoustic guitars, he dived straight into “Oh Comely,” sounding just as crisp and sincere as the recorded version we’ve all heard hundreds of times. After a long applause, Mangum prodded the audience to sing along with him to “The King Of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1” and “The King Of Carrot Flowers Pts. 2 & 3,” which were played continuously.

Jeff Mangum at Wortham Center last night. Photo by Ed Abello (@sensitive_b)

Though backing instruments such as horns and accordions weren’t part of the set, Mangum’s voice left nothing to be desired. Instead, the crowd acted as an a cappella version of the track, singing back trumpet sections as the hall echoed with the intensity of the experience. And while Houston crowds are notorious for misbehaving, there were only a few that were unable to keep their composure or follow the rules. Some were seen running around the room back and fourth with friends they’d spotted, others forgot to take the flash off of their camera and could be seen by everyone going against his “no photography” rule.

Even so, Mangum took song requests with stride – either accepting them or politely explaining that he was without the proper pedal – and he even laughed at a man who shouted out “Keep Austin Weird!” after divulging that his family was from Texas. He could even be seen talking to people at the front of the house, and often asked the crowd the keep singing along with him or move forward if they felt the desire.

Throughout the hour-long set, Mangum pulled songs off both albums – On Avery Island and In An Aeroplane Over The Sea – and also found time to cover Roky Erikson’s “I Love The Living You.” Often times he stopped to use throat spray and guzzle down a bottle of water that required two hands. But aside from what looked like a minor cold, Mangum was in high spirits, often responding to a rogue “thank you!” or “I love you!”

“No, thank you,” Mangum mused as he placed his hand over his chest before diving into “Song About Sex.” “Thank you from the depths of my soul. I never expected this, I didn’t even think anyone would ever pay attention to me.”

At the end of his set, Mangum smiled and waved with sincerity as the crowd erupted in applause and gave him a standing ovation. And whether planned or not, Mangum came out one last time to finish the night with “Two Headed Boy Pt. 2.” That, of course, got another standing ovation.

And just like that, Jeff Mangum disappeared behind the curtains and the dream came to and end.

Set List
Oh Comely
King Of Carrot Flowers, Parts 1-3
Holland, 1945
Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone
Engine
Two Headed Boy, Part 1
I Love The Living You (Roky Erickson cover)
Song Against Sex
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
Naomi
Ghost
Two Headed Boy, Part 2

Paying attention: Not just for the classroom

16 Oct

Today I got on Twitter, as I do every day from my phone, to check up on news, daily quips and to update the world on my own livelihood. But unlike every other day, I saw a tweet from TheBestManager that spoke to some issues I’ve personally been focusing on in the past year or two.

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The tweet, shared by Sargent House – a record label for bands such as Fang Island and Tera Melos – touches on quite a few sore subjects in the music industry.

Where do I start? There’s the obvious one – talking and taking pictures during a concert, ensuring that everyone around you is distracted from the performance. Then there are the less obvious ones – never listening to albums in full, skipping through well-written articles to get to links and videos of performances, and my favorite, the decline of magazine sales.

The truth is that the addiction to electronics and quick results has created such a big disconnect that there’s no rug large enough to sweep it under. In an age where you can do almost anything from your phone, people have forgotten how to be interesting without one.

Are we really having trouble retaining all of the information thrown at us, or have we just stopped paying attention? Do we really need to take pictures to remember a concert or prove that we were there, or have we stopped placing importance on how great the band was in exchange for likes on Instagram?

The truth is that I’m not immune to wanting to share my experiences with the world, but I’ve learned to set limits for myself. I’m writing this blog in hopes that a few of you will realize it, too. And really, it’s not hard to make the change.

Instead of snapping pictures throughout the concert, take a few during the first song. After that, stop trying too hard to get the perfect picture and focus on what you paid money for. Instead of talking to your friends in the back of the venue, actually listen to the opening acts. You’ll probably like them, and it’s a great way to find new music. When you get on the internet, don’t just start link-jumping. Read it, comment and share it with people if you like it.

To me, it’s all about making an effort to respect those around you. The music industry is a community, and you have a hell of a lot more power as a fan than you think.

Most importantly, try to minimize your dependence on technology – even if it’s only for a few hours during a concert. Or a movie. Or dinner with friends and family.

Brand New writing new, “happier” album

26 Apr

According to PupFresh, emo-kings Brand New are working on writing a new album.

The Long Island-based band gained popularity after their successful sophomore album, Deja Entendu, was released in 2003.

Now, following the highly successful The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me and latest effort, Daisy, the band have confirmed they will be writing something new.

Although many fans were speculating that the band had run its course, lead singer/guitarist Jesse Lacey confirmed they would continue making music at tonight’s Baltimore show, according to AbsolutePunk.

“We’re writing, it’s just hard to figure out what to write about.” said Lacey. “We don’t wanna keep bumming you guys out. We’re trying to write something happy.”

The band have not released any more details yet, but have scheduled shows the next four days.

April 27 – Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
April 28 – Allentown, PA @ Crocodile Rock Cafe
April 29 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Zoo
April 30 – Grantham, PA @ Brubaker Auditorium, Messiah College

Stay tuned for more updates. Additional information can be found on Brand New’s Official Website.

Check ‘Em Out: Claudia VS the Queen of Hearts

20 Apr


Scott Smallin

Myrtle Beach-based trio Claudia VS the Queen of Hearts have been working hard planning a string of shows over the coming months, and things have begun to pay off.

The band, which was started by lead singer Claudia Gregory (guitar/piano/synth), also includes Tara Taylor (percussion/viola) and Julia Royal (guitar/flute) who both contribute vocals.

The unsigned trio recently released a demo and are planning a small tour up the East Coast. What is even ore surprising and admirable is that Gregory is doing all of the work herself with help from band-mates Taylor and Royal.

“A DIY demo was so much work,” said Gregory, “but we will eventually release an album. I want to see if I can get a little more under my belt, first. Maybe some sponsors.”

The demo was recorded in Royal’s empty apartment between two air mattresses with a microphone and a “wall of blankets”.

“I borrowed some drums from a friend of mine, despite the fact that I’ve never played drums in my life and I ended up playing them on Blind Man,” said Gregory

The trio exude a wisdom older than their years, with layers of instrumentals that seem like a soundtrack for solitude. It’s easy to connect with Gregory’s voice, which is soft but full of emotion that packs a punch necessary to the more natural sound of the music. At times the music finds itself blurring genres; with psychedelic undertones, the music is a delightful mixture of soul and blues. However, the slower tempo and feminine, airy backing vocals blend everything together into a package that is rather enjoyable to listen to.

4/30 – Myrtle Beach, SC @ F.A.M.E Festival
5/9 – Savannah, GA @ The Wormhole
5/10 – Tampa, FL @ Sacred Grounds Coffee House
5/13 – Myrtle Beach, SC @ For What It’s Worth
5/23 – Wilmington, NC @ The Soapbox
5/31 – Atlanta, GA @ Smith’s Olde Bar
6/8 – Myrtle Beach, SC @ Fresh Brewed
(w/ Really Old Airplanes)
7/8 – Wilmington, NC @ Sea Turtle Arts Rescue Festival (S.T.A.R.)

For more information and to hear their music, visit their website, Myspace, or ‘Like’ them on Facebook.

RIP: RX Bandits (1995-2011)

12 Apr

In a statement released earlier today by the band, RX Bandits have announced that they will call it quits following a tour this year.


Source: David Zentz

Dear friends,
We would like to express our love and appreciation for all that you’ve done for us and how much a part of our growth you have been. We have all mutually decided that this summer will be our last tour. We love each other and love you all and hope to see you at the shows.

Much love & respect,

Rx Bandits

Not much has been heard from the band since last September, when they played a three-night showcase at The Troubadour in LA. The weekend-long event gave fans a chance to buy three-day passes or single-night admission to hear the last three albums in chronological order, played in their entirety.

Although the band has yet to announce the official dates for their last tour, they do have a few confirmed dates for music festivals and other appearances within the coming weeks.

4/20 – Riverside, CA @ The Barn
4/29 – Rutherford, NJ @ Bamboozle Music Festival
4/30 – Rutherford, NJ @ Bamboozle Music Festival
5/14 – San Diego, CA @ OMBAC Coming Out Party

“Of course I wont say that anything we do will replace RXB, but we are artists at heart, artists are constantly changing and are free to change when ever they feel like exploring new worlds. And we would love for all of you to explore these worlds with us.”
-Chris Tsagakis, rxbandits.com

For more information, visit their official website, follow them on Twitter or ‘Like’ them on Facebook.

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