Thursday, November 29, 2007

Kevin Drew Does Fair Game

Broken Social Scene's Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning played a stripped-down live in-studio set for Faith Salie's Fair Game this week, in support of Kevin's new solo album, Spirit If... Hold off on publishing your best-of-2007 list if you haven't heard it yet.

Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning - Live on Fair Game (11-28-2007) (mp3s):

Have A Life
Age Of Consent
Safety Bricks

Own Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew Spirit If...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Night At Club Baobab

Close your eyes, turn your heat way up, put on your headphones, play this loud, and there you are, at a lively club in Dakar, Senegal, your worries forced out of your mind by the rhythms of Orchestra Baobab, entranced by the dancers squeezing every bit of joy out of life that they can. All is perfect. A cold brew is appropriate at this time. Don't come back until the music stops.

Orchestra Baobab - Kelen ati leen (mp3)
Orchestra Baobab - Jin ma jin ma (mp3)
Orchestra Baobab - Wango (mp3)

You just might need A Night at Club Baobab

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Marnie Stern, Live on KVRX, 3-15-2007

Marnie Stern was a darling of both critics and mp3 blogs for an instant earlier this year, and then...and then there was other stuff, I suppose. Amazing how much is forgotten from March to November in the blogosphere, or from March to April, for that matter. A moment come and gone, like a world class shredder's semiquaver hammer-on.

Allow me to redirect your infinitesimal attention span to Stern, whose performance at the KVRX studio went, I think, largely unnoticed. According to, "Marnie Stern came with an iPod with tracks for everything but guitar and vocal. Zach Hill plays the drums and JR Thompson plays the bass in the tracks." Frenetic, chaotic, dazzling, and unrestrained.

Marnie Stern - Live at KVRX, 3-15-2007 (mp3s):

Vibrational Match

Own In Advance of the Broken Arm

Monday, November 26, 2007

Outskirts of Deep City

At some point, Numero is going to find its classic soul vault empty. The deep, deep well that they pull track after track of compelling, charming, and consistently competent soul music will one day run dry. Thankfully, that hasn't happened with the release of their newest collection, Eccentric Soul: Outskirts of Deep City. The Rollers erase any worries with the opening track, Knocking On The Wrong Door (mp3), with a Jacksonesque vocal melody backed with bass, keys, guitar, and drums working together smoothly to create a mood that convinces you that the singer is in an adolescent playground kind of love. How does this gem got lost somewhere in the dustbin? Then there's Helene Smith's What's In The Lovin' (mp3), which opens with horn triads, leading into a pulsing guitar line, like something that Beck might have sampled from heavily for Midnight Vultures. And Betty Wright's Mr. Lucky, which starts with a gunshot, and after hearing her passionately belt out a few lines, you know she would pull that trigger.

How much more of this stuff can there be to draw from? Let's hope the rediscovery process has just begun, and that every time we grow tiresome of the same old stuff that makes up the Hype Machine's "Most Blogged" list, we're treated to an Eccentric Soul comp, or a Grand Bahama Goombay, or a Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal, right around the corner.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thurston Moore - Live Acoustic on KEXP 10-24-2007

More live Thurston Moore, this time from October, in the KEXP studio, before his show at Neumos in Seattle. I know, a lot of Thurston lately, but this one is so unplugged, it's damn near third-world.

Thurston Moore - Live on KEXP (10-24-2007) (mp3s):

The Shape Is In A Trance
Frozen GTR

Trees Outside the Academy makes a great stocking stuffer for little rockers everywhere.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Pipettes, Live on NPR 11-13-2007

Here's an NPR Video Session of The Pipettes playing Pull Shapes live in-studio on Nov 13th.

And here are the songs, which Gwenno, Riotbecki, and Rosay prove to be great throwback girl songs even without their signature dance moves and backing band, and they turn the lyrics "is there a drumbeat/and is the bass sweet" into a silly moment rather than an awkward one.

The Pipettes - Live NPR Video Session, 11-13-2007 (mp3s):

Why Did You Stay?
Pull Shapes

Own the U.S. release, with 2 bonus tracks, of We Are the Pipettes

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Pipettes, Live at Criminal Records, Atlanta

It Hurts To See You Dance So Well:

We Are The Pipettes:

Sharon Jones - Amazing Grace (Live), Plus The Dap Kings

Happy Thanksgiving, and thank all of you for visiting The Smudge, for supporting the artists we feature, and for totally rocking.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tiny Vipers (Live on Fair Game 11-7-2007)

Jesy Fortino brought her guitar to Faith Salie's Fair Game studio and sang four songs for nerdy public radio listeners like me. This is about as arresting as public radio gets, though. I love it when Faith Salie brings the singer-songwriters into her show, interrupting the lightning-quick Mensa banter and commentary with a meditative folk haze.

Tiny Vipers (Live on Fair Game 11-7-2007)(mp3s):

On This Side

Hold Hands Across the Void

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Georgie James' Laura Burhenn Plays Radiohead's Karma Police

This happened 3 years ago, at Hotel Cafe.

Arctic Monkeys, Live on KCRW, 11-16-2007

This is a live in-studio performance, taped about a month ago for KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic, and broadcast last Friday. Arctic Monkeys are on their game here, their sound as sharp and jagged as their humor and wit.

Arctic Monkeys, Live on MBE 11-16-2007 (mp3s):

This House Is A Circus
Teddy Picker
Do Me A Favor
Fluorescent Adolescent
Old Yellow Bricks
If You Were There, Beware
View From The Afternoon
Leave Before The Lights Come On

Own Favourite Worst Nightmare

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Georgie James - Live on The Current, 11-12-2007

The Smudge has dedicated I don't know how many posts to D.C.'s pop duo extroardinaire, Georgie James, since April of 2006. My love for them has not waned - I remain a loyal GJ stalker. Here are some songs from a fun, invigorating in-studio performance for Minnesota Public Radio's The Current, broadcast this Monday.

Georgie James - Live On The Current (11-12-2007) (mp3s):

Need Your Needs
Long Week
Look Me Up

Own one of the year's best pop albums, Places.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Arcade Fire, Live on Austin City Limits, PBS Broadcast

If you have a DVR and recorded Arcade Fire's Austin City Limits performance on PBS in HD, you've probably watched it several times already. I know I have. Talk about the passion - seeing and hearing this performance is a near-religious experience, and the birds' eye cam over Win as he sang Rebellion (Lies) in the crowd was just the right shot.

Arcade Fire - Live on Austin City Limits (PBS TV Performance) (mp3s):

Black Mirror
Keep The Car Running
Neighborhood #2 (Laika)
(Antichrist Television Blues)
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)/Rebellion (Lies)
Wake Up

Own Neon Bible

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ryan Adams, Live on KCRW 11-9-2007

Ryan Adams is beyond prolific; he is omnipresent. If I invited him to play in my back yard, I suspect that he might actually come. I'd especially love to hear something like this intimate 12-song set (is that a record?) that he played for KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic last week.

Ryan Adams - Live on KCRW (11-9-2007) (mp3s):

The Sun Also Sets
Once Whatever
Everybody Knows
I Taught Myself How To Grow Old
Sweet Carolina
Stars Go Blue
Come Pick Me Up
Down In A Hole (Alice In Chains)
Morning Becomes Eclectic Ditty
Pearls On A String
How Do You Keep Love Alive

Reward yourself with both of these:
Follow The Lights
Easy Tiger

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thurston Moore on KCRW

I always like to imagine Thurston Moore as a child, taking in sounds the way that a photographer takes in sights. A young prodigy with a "hearing ear," maybe, an innate understanding that every scrape of a knife on a plate, every squealing vacuum belt has its own special potential for aural chaos. On his latest effort, though, he trades the chaos and wild experimentation with contained energy and focus. On Halloween, he played several songs from the album for KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic.

Thurston Moore - Live on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic, 10-31-2007 (mp3s):

Frozen Guitar
The Shape Is In A Trance
Silver Blue
Honest James
Trees Outside The Academy

Own the acclaimed Trees Outside the Academy.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Oxford Sounds Great.

The current issue of Oxford American is the 2007 Music Issue, which I haven't read yet, but it comes with a CD that I've listened to many times - a rich, diverse CD full of southern music, including Daniel Johnston, Thelonious Monk, Eldridge Holmes, David Banner, and other southern artists from all over the musical map.

Here are a few of my favorites from the 26-song treasury:

Sandy Posey - I Take It Back (mp3)
Reverend Charlie Jackson - Morning Train (mp3)
Thelonious Monk - Trinkle, Trinkle (mp3)
Betty Harris - Cry To Me (mp3)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

PJ Harvey - Down By The Water (Live)

Ryan Adams Leads Us Home

Edward Hopper - Nightshadows (etching)

Ryan Adams' Follow The Lights (mp3), the title track of his new EP with the Cardinals, sounds like it could be one of Neil Young's recent hushed, reflective acoustic songs, not only because Adams' voice mimics Youngs' here, but also in its understated fingerpicking and its subject matter of returning to a real or figurative home:

Follow the lights that line the streets connecting telephones
Follow the lights from house to house and they will lead you home


There was never anywhere to go
There was never anywhere to go
But home

Own Follow The Lights

Monday, November 05, 2007


A few months ago, fans of Dismemberment Plan were treated to Travis Morrison's All Y'all, which we mentioned in August.

Now, those same fans have another reason to celebrate: former members Joe Easley and Eric Axelson's new band, Statehood, release their debut, Lies and Rhetoric, next week. They sound very D.C., very Dischord - smart lyrics, layers of choppy, edgy guitar, beats driving the songs like a hummer over the rubble of a ruined city. They ironically start the album with a song called "A Story's End," but appropriately tell us to "Bleed in/Bleed out/It's time to pay attention/Here's where the stories end."

And so, pay attention to these:

Giants (mp3), introduced with Leigh Thompson's intense, cutting guitar, leading to singer Clark Sabine's devastating declaration "I push to be pulled/In hopes of hearing/Your softly spoken words I thought would have more meaning." The interplay between staccato guitar bursts and sustained notes during the chorus is heavenly.

Every Single Question (mp3) is set in a spacelike atmosphere created by percussion and distant echoing guitar eighths, tension built through repetition, until the repeating line "lose control" floats above waves of guttural guitar distortion.

There's also evidence that these guys also put on an intense live show:

Lies And Rhetoric will be available Nov 19th.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

PJ Harvey, Live on KCRW, 11-2-2007

Few artists lead the listener to discomfort like PJ Harvey does, with as much success, and over such a long career. There is comfort in knowing that whenever she releases new material, it will yank the solid ground from under you and remind you that something is wrong, and that all is not well. In the Morning Becomes Eclectic show that aired last Friday, she sat at her piano and unsettled the KCRW studio with a set overseen by dark forces.

PJ Harvey - Live on KCRW (aired 11-2-2007) (mp3s):

Dear Darkness
The Devil
Grow Grow Grow
The Piano
White Chalk
The Mountain
To Bring You My Love

Get White Chalk

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Federico Aubele, Live on KCRW, 10-29-2007

Federico Aubele & Natalia Clavier, at Gibson's Beverly Hills Showroom

Tom and I used to chill to Federico Aubele's latin grooves on the way to get a cheap lunch at a basement Thai joint in Bethesda, MD, or an excursion order lunch special #3 at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Silver Spring. It was a multicultural escape from a multicultural academic workplace. Hearing the Argentinian's Postales on Monday's Morning Becomes Eclectic brought it all back, and lucky for me, he played 6 other songs as well. Hope you're listening, Tom.

Federico Aubele - Live on KCRW, 10-29-2007 (mp3s):

Esta Noche
Maria Jose
La Esquna
En Cada Lugar
En El Desierto

Get sensual with Panamericana.

Federico has friends that you wish were yours.

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - 100 Days, 100 Nights Video