The more you ship, the more you'll receive

I had been hearing good things about in the media for the past year, but never got around to checking it out, until last month. What got me to finally sign up? This article in the latest issue of Wired magazine, "Free Music Now!'s Plan to Give Songs Away Could Upend the Industry."

Lala lets you create playlists with songs that can be streamed in their entirety ... sometimes. And it has aspects of the social networking sites. So while Lala is evolving into something more than a CD swapping site, that's primarily all it is now.

My experience with swapping so far has been less than impressive. I shipped two CDs by The Smiths before I received my first CD by Handsome Boy Modeling School. I've since shipped four more CDs, including that Handsome Boy CD and others by Fiona Apple, R.E.M. and The Thrills, but have yet to receive my second CD.

I've shipped six and only received one?! This doesn't seem like a great deal to me. Lala says:
The more you ship, the more you'll receive

Lala is based on trading. The number of CDs you receive will depend on how many CDs you ship to other members.
Ok, but how many CDs do I have to ship for every one I receive? Five? Six? Ruling out the Handsome Boy CD, which is a wash, I could have sold the five CDs that shipped to Lala users for anywhere from $20-$50 on Amazon. I could have then used that cash to buy one or two of the CDs I've included in my Lala want list.

I'm not giving up on Lala just yet, but I am beginning to wonder whether or not Lala is a good deal.

"Are record labels dead?"

From CNN:
Prince freed himself from record labels years ago. Paul McCartney, Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have followed. Now the Material Girl appears to be kissing her big-name record company goodbye for a cool $120 million.

Madonna is expected to sign a recording deal with entertainment producer Live Nation.

Could U2 be next? Justin Timberlake? Coldplay? Do superstars even need traditional multiyear album contracts when CD sales are plummeting and fans are swiping tons of music for free online, or tuning in to their favorite bands via YouTube, MySpace and other Internet portals?

"There's a prevailing wisdom that many established acts don't need a record label anymore," said Bruce Flohr, an executive at Red Light Management, which represents artists such as Dave Matthews Band and Alanis Morrissette, and ATO Records, home to David Grey, Gomez and Crowded House, among others.

"This is the new frontier. This is the beginning of a new era for the music business," Flohr said.

Executives at the four major record labels would not comment on the record for this story. But several noted privately that their companies are still the best at artist development, promotion and physical distribution of their product -- something even big acts can't entirely do without.

The four majors are Warner Music Group Corp., Vivendi's Universal Music Group, EMI Group PLC, and Sony BMG Music Entertainment, a joint venture of Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann AG. They accounted for more than 88 percent of all U.S. music album sales this year.

"The game used to be really simple," Flohr said. "You get your record played on radio, you get your face on Rolling Stone (magazine), and you get on 'Saturday Night Live.'

"Now, it's you put your video on YouTube, you get your MySpace page happening, you do your deal with Facebook, you tour ... all these things add up, hopefully, to a successful record."

Some established major acts are using the same tactics as their new albums post lackluster sales but their concert tours keep selling out.

The strategy doesn't help record companies. The industry has seen a 14 percent drop in the number of CDs sold in the U.S. compared with the same time last year, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
I've said this before, but it bears repeating. The music industry has only itself to blame for the steady decline in CD sales. Greed motivated them to collude on pricing and keep CDs priced at $15+ even though 20 years had passed since the technology's introduction. Piracy was on the rise, yet still the labels didn't lower prices. But not every artist bought into that. I recall that the Flaming Lips released "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots" priced at $9.99, which I thought was a smart move. And then there is Radiohead's digital-only release of "In Rainbows."

Clearly, high CD prices have created an incentive to steal. But with the exception of college students who have broadband and endless storage at their disposal, I think most consumers are willing to pay $5-10 for a new CD. It's worth paying some amount to know that a recording is legit, high quality and includes liner notes, art, lyrics, etc.

Why the record companies haven't yet figured that they could sell and gross more by asking for less is beyond me.

Marisa Miller: Rolling Stones Fan?

I'm a fan -- of Marisa Miller, but not the Rolling Stones, at least not since 1981's "Tattoo You," or more accurately 1980's "Emotional Rescue." Ok, make that 1978's "Some Girls."

What have the Stones given us in the last 26 years? Not much, except a sample for The Verve's biggest hit, the royalties for which went to former Stones manager Allen Klein. And a song about George W Bush, "Sweet Neo Con."

I wonder what Marisa Miller thinks of the Stones later work? You'll find some hot photos of Marisa "wearing" a Stones shirt in the 2007 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

The Verve - The Thaw Sessions

After listening to 14 minutes and 9 seconds of what is essentially an excerpt of a jam session by The Verve - the band's first new music in ten years -- I'm excited and a bit leary of hearing what the band will do now that they're back together.
Rather than kicking off their reformation with a band meeting, the Wigan legends met in a studio in Richmond and jammed out some musical ideas together.

The first fruits from that session can now be heard today in the form of the 'The Thaw Session' - the title a reference to 'Deep Freeze', an experimental bonus track on the band's last album 'Urban Hymns' - a 14-minute track you can get for free.
I'm excited because The Verve were one of the great rock bands of the 90s, managing to produce four extraordinary works -- three albums and an EP -- in just five years. I'm leary because part of what makes The Verve's catalog so great is that it had a beginning and an end.

Depending on your perspective, "Urban Hymns" was either a sign of more greatness to come from The Verve or a sign that the band might give up artistic freedom for increased marketability.

The Verve's "The Thaw Sessions" are no longer on, but a big shout out goes to Ramon Drummond for posting the audio to YouTube.

Amazon Free Download

Alison KraussIn case you haven't heard, Amazon is now competing with iTunes. And just like iTunes, Amazon will be giving away free music each week.

Amazon has two notable advantages: files are MP3s, not DRM files, and entire albums are priced competitively at less than $4.99. Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" for $4.45!

You can download this track by Alison Krauss through November 12th.

Alison Krauss - "Simple Love"

New Pornographers Latest Now on eMusic

Starting today, you'll find The New Pornographers' latest, "Challengers," on eMusic.

I'm a big fan of eMusic, not only because it's cheap (about $.25 a track) and tracks are MP3s, not DRM files, but also because of the great indie artists it features. And when I say "indie," I mean independent. The big four -- Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, EMI and Warner Music Group -- are unwilling to do business with eMusic. Greedy bastards.

Click one of the links above and you can get a 50-track trial membership. It's FREE, so you've got nothing to lose.

Paste Magazine Subscription:
Name Your Own Price

Ryan Adams Paste Magazine Cover Issue 37It looks like Paste Magazine may have taken some inspiration from Radiohead.
For two weeks only, Paste invites you to pay what you want for your one-year subscription! That's 11 magazines and 11 CDs (approximately 220 songs), normally priced at $65.45 on the newsstand.
Never read Paste before? It's a lot like Rolling Stone, in that its main focus is music, but also covers movies, books, culture. Some of the bands featured in past issues include: The Decemberists, The Hold Steady, The Shins, The Flaming Lips, Beck, Death Cab for Cutie, Wilco and Pete Yorn, to name a few.

How much would you pay for 11 magazines and 11 CDs delivered to your door? (Let me know by leaving a comment.)

This is a great idea. I'm betting that Paste will bask in the same "warm glow" that Radiohead received for "In Rainbows."

Top-Earning Dead Musicians

Forbes just came out with their annual list of top-earning dead celebrities and its dominated by musicians:
  • Elvis Presley - $49 million
  • John Lennon - $44 million
  • George Harrison - $22 million
  • Tupac Shakur - $9 million
  • James Brown - $5 million
  • Bob Marley - $4 million
The only surprise here is that Kurt Cobain dropped off the list after appearing on it last year.

Here are some of my favorite dead musicians, none of whom you are likely to ever see on Forbes list:
  • Jeff Buckley
  • Nick Drake
  • Elliott Smith
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon)
  • Stuart Adamson (Big Country)
My wife and I were in Hawaii for the 2001 Honolulu Marathon and left a few days before Adamson was found dead in the Best Western Plaza Hotel, apparently by suicide. I had bumped into Adamson ten years earlier in London and didn't have the nerve then to tell him how much his music had meant to me as a disaffected teen growing up in suburbia. "Steeltown" still ranks as one of my all-time favorite albums. Adamson opened my eyes to history in ways that only musicians, artists and writers can.

If I had seen Adamson in Honolulu, I wonder, would I have recognized my childhood idol? Would I have said anything to him before he decided to leave this world?

Dig this!

Michael at Hopping Into Puddles has just posted a great mix that he's dubbed "Bomb Diggity Jams - Volume 1." I recommend downloading it while its still available. Its an eclectic mix, but it works:
1. “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” - Paul Simon
2. “Unless It’s Kicks” - Okkervil River
3. “Hang Me Up to Dry” - Cold War Kids
4. “Same Old Drag” - Apples In Stereo
5. “Ever Present Past” - Paul McCartney
6. “Girls & Boys” - Blur
7. “I Believe” - Simian Mobile Disco
8. “D.a.n.c.e” - Justice
9. “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” - Daft Punk
10. “Stronger” - Kanye West
11. “Ghetto Musick” - OutKast
12. “Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix) (ft. Jay-Z)” - Kanye West
13. “Josephine” - Hi-Tek
14. “Paper Planes” - M.I.A.
15. “Parade” - Heypenny
16. “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” - Spoon
17. “Back In The U.S.S.R.” - The Beatles
18. “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces” - Ben Folds Five
19. “Big John Shaft” - Belle & Sebastian
20. “Reflections Of A Sound” - Silverchair
If I can find the time, I may just return the favor and post a mix of my own.

Enjoy the music!

48.4 MB

That's the size of the zip file for Radiohead's new album, "In Rainbows," which was released today as an MP3.

The servers were a little slow, which is to be expected given the anticipation for the album, as well as favorable press coverage, including a review on NPR's All Things Considered, of all places. (I wonder what my parents thought.)

After naming the price I was willing to pay, in pounds and pences, and registering with the Radiohead store, run by, I was told that:
This transaction will appear on your credit card bill as WASTE PRODUCTS LTD. or a shortened version of this.
Is "Waste Products Ltd" meant to be self-deprecating? Ironic? I don't know, but so far I would say Radiohead's seventh studio album is anything but a waste product. Once I have a chance to completely digest it, I'll post a review.

"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on Ukulele

Wow. I just heard Jake Shimabukuro on KFOG playing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on the ukulele.

Check out this video of Shimabukuro playing the same song in Central Park and you'll appreciate how rock 'n roll has influenced his playing of the traditional Hawaiian instrument.

Power to the Peaceful Festival

Every year I look forward to September and October -- my busiest months of the year when it comes to music festivals.

First off is Michael Franti's Power to the Peaceful Festival this weekend. PTTP started out in 1998 as the 911 Festival and took on new meaning in 2001. I've been attending since the beginning. I mean, how could you miss a free Spearhead show in the Park? This year's lineup also features the Indigo Girls.

The Tubes at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

My friend Brantley and I made the trek down to Santa Cruz Friday night to catch The Tubes close out the summer-long Friday Night Bands on the Beach series.

I had never seen The Tubes before, but was curious to see how the show would compare to their epic performances of the 70s, which were known as much for the nudity and simulated sex as the music. The Beach Boardwalk billed it as "their debut performance with a family-friendly show on the Boardwalk stage!"

The show lived up to the billing as The Tubes turned hits like "Sushi Girl," "Talk to Ya Later," and "She's a Beauty" into extended jams. The band sounded great and Fee Waybill's voice got better as he warmed up. Then Fee changed into his alter ego "Quay Lewd," "a parody of The New York Dolls and all the glam rockers," to perform "White Punks on Dope."

It says something about evolving social mores that a song like "White Punks on Dope," which was so shocking 30 years ago, can now be performed in a 'family-friendly show.' Check out this performance of "White Punks" when The Tubes were in their prime, before the band collapsed under the weight of drug abuse and debt in the late 80s. Its a testament to Fee Waybill that The Tubes got back together in 1994 and are still performing 20 years after their collapse.

Summer of Love 40th Anniversary

I wasn't there in 1967 -- I wasn't even born yet -- but it's still hard to believe that the Summer of Love was 40 years ago. What a long, strange trip it's been.

Check out "Summer of Love Radio" to get yourself in the mood for the 40th Anniversary this Sunday in Golden Gate Park.

Scheduled performers include: Canned Heat, Country Joe McDonald, Taj Mahal, Moby Grape and New Riders Of The Purple Sage, among others.

If you can't make it out to Golden Gate Park this Sunday, performances will be streamed on the web.

Peace, man.

Hurricane Waters

"I will carry you through the hurricane waters
And I'll remember you in the blue skies"

Citizen Cope - Hurricane Waters
(Live at Wakarusa Music Festival - Sundown Stage on June 10, 2007)

Ola Belle Reed Homecoming Festival

Tomorrow night I'm off to the Ola Belle Reed Homecoming Festival, which runs from Friday to Sunday in Lansing, North Carolina.

Although I'm not a big fan, its hard to resist bluegrass music. I always look forward to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival held each October in Golden Gate Park, and I've been consistently blown away by the musicianship of the performers. I expect I'll be impressed by Grammy Award-winner Tim O'Brien and others playing at Ola Belle this year.

Besides, my parents live near Lansing and I'm overdue for a visit.

Tim O'Brien - First Snow
Tim O'Brien - You Are My Flower

Win a Trip to the
Treasure Island Music Festival

The first annual Treasure Island Music Festival in San Francisco should be great, with a lineup that includes: Thievery Corporation, Modest Mouse, Spoon, Built to Spill, DJ Shadow, M.I.A., Kinky, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and M. Ward.

If the music isn't enough to lure you, the views from Treasure Island are pretty spectacular, too.

It's unfortunate that it will be held the same weekend as the Austin City Limits Festival, so I'll miss it. If you won't be in Austin, I suggest you enter this contest.

"If you win, MOG will fly you and a friend to San Francisco, give you two VIP passes for the festival plus $200 for expenses, and put you up in a hotel for three nights (Sept 14-16)."

Pretty sweet, huh?

Wilco at Bonnaroo

One of the highlights for me at Bonnaroo this year was getting to hear Wilco play songs off of their latest, "Sky Blue Sky." Big thanks to everyone who went to the effort of recording these videos and posting them to YouTube.

1. You Are My Face
2. Side With The Seeds
3. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
4. Handshake Drugs
5. A Shot In The Arm

6. Via Chicago

7. Impossible Germany

8. Sky Blue Sky

9. Shake It Off

10. War On War

11. Jesus, Etc.

12. Walken

13. I'm The Man Who Loves You

14. Hummingbird

15. Spiders (Kidsmoke)

Encore 1:
16. The Late Greats

17. Heavy Metal Drummer

Sonic Sunrise Radio on Pandora

What do David Sylvian, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Ros, Broken Social Scene and Slowdive have in common?

Listen to Sonic Sunrise Radio on Pandora and let me know what you think.

The Verve Return

The rumors are true!
Out of the blue, and eight years after they split acrimoniously, the band – Richard Ashcroft, Pete Salisbury, Mick McCabe and Simon Jones – shocked the music world by announcing they were working on a new album.

In announcing six dates, they put the feelers out to see what kind of a reaction they would receive from their fans.

And it has been overwhelming.

A set up by the band's management just two weeks ago has already had 30,000 visitors and demand for tickets for the new gigs went through the roof.
I knew the day would eventually come when The Verve would set aside their grudges and play a reunion tour. My only worry was that they might wait 20 years or more to play together. But a new album?! I never thought that would happen, in large part because Richard Ashcroft has had such a successful solo career.

I first saw The Verve at T in the Park in 1995, and it still ranks as one of the best live shows I've ever seen. The band split right after that show, then reformed, only to split again in 1999, not long after touring for Urban Hymns. I hope they can stay together long enough this time to make it to the Bay Area.

{Update: You'll find The Verve's MySpace page here.}

Bonnaroo countdown

My Bonnaroo journey begins in less than 10 hours, when I'll board a Delta flight from San Francisco to Chattanooga. For those who can't make it this year, but wish they could, you can virtually and vicariously get your freak on by tuning into the AT&T Blue Room.

SPIN magazine will also feature "video interviews, show reviews, and much more all throughout Bonnaroo weekend."

Below you'll find a list of the bands I'm hoping to catch. Check out my site next week for reviews, photos and anything else I come up with.


8:30-9:30 The Black Angels
9:00-10:00 Stanton Moore Trio
10:30-11:30 The National


1:15-2:15 Cold War Kids
2:15-3:30 Tortoise
2:45-4:00 Paolo Nutini
4:00-5:30 Hot Chip
4:15-5:45 Michael Franti & Spearhead
6:00-7:30 Lily Allen
6:15-7:45 The Black Keys
9:00-11:30 Tool
12:00-3:30 The String Cheese Incident
1:00-1:45 El-P
2:00-3:30 DJ Shadow


1:15-2:15 The Wild Magnolia Mardi Gras Indians
1:15-2:15 The Slip
2:15-3:30 Regina Spektor
3:15-4:45 Ziggy Marley
4:00-5:15 Fountains of Wayne
4:00-5:30 Xavier Rudd
4:15-5:30 The Hold Steady
5:45-7:45 Ben Harper
5:45-8:00 Ween
6:00-7:30 Spoon
6:30-8:00 Franz Ferdinand
9:00-11:30 The Police
12:00-2:30 The Flaming Lips


1:00-2:00 Jon Butler Trio
2:30-3:45 Wolfmother
3:00-4:00 Elvis Perkins
4:30-6:00 The Decemberists
5:30-7:00 Wilco
6:30-8:00 Ornette Coleman
7:15-8:45 The White Stripes
8:30-11:30 Widespread Panic

Bonnaroo Festival MP3s

I'm headed to Manchester, TN next week to catch the Bonnaroo Festival and can't wait!

As is too often the case at a music festival, some of the bands I want to hear will be on stage at the same time ... Michael Franti & Spearhead or Hot Chip? The Roots, Lily Allen or The Black Keys? The Wild Magnolias or The Slip? Fountains of Wayne, The Hold Steady or Xavier Rudd?

All of these choices I can handle, but I want to know, who decided to have Ben Harper, Franz Ferdinand, Ween and Spoon all play at the same time on Saturday night?! I'll have to make some tough decisions, flip a coin or just avoid the crowds.

To get in the mood, I'll post MP3 downloads and streams of some of the Bonnaroo artists I plan on seeing. Stay tuned for updates and enjoy!

The Black Angels - the first vietnamese war
The Black Angels - Live at Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club

The Black Keys - Live at Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club

The National - Slipping Husband
The National - Murder Me Rachael
The National - Cold Girl Fever
Full album "Boxer" streaming on myspace

Cold War Kids - Indoor Fireworks
Cold War Kids - Fast As You Can
Cold War Kids - Die Die Die
Cold War Kids - I Don't Wanna Grow Up
Cold War Kids - Tonite, You Belong To Me
Cold War Kids - The Littlest Birds
Cold War Kids - The Soloist In The Living Room
Cold War Kids - Heavy Boots

Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (album stream)

Spoon's Latest Now Streaming

The new Spoon album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, won't be released until July 10 in the US, but you can listen to a new song from the record every day until all of the songs are up and playable individually.

Three songs are up so far. "Don't Make Me a Target" rocks and "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" sounds like a hit to me. Damn, I can't wait to see these guys at Bonnaroo.

Damn, I wish I still had Britt's cell phone number.

Radio Bonnaroo

I just found this link for Radio Bonnaroo and in the last half hour have heard tracks by Widespread Panic, Michael Franti & Spearhead and Lily Allen.

I plan on tuning in until I leave for Tennessee next Tuesday. Very cool!

Rhapsody Raises Rates,
Lala Offers Warner Catalog for Free

I had been a satisfied Rhapsody subcriber since May of last year. Notice I said, "had been." I didn't use the service nearly enough, but at just $9.99 a month, it was worth having access to Rhapsody's catalog of over 3 million full length, CD-quality tracks.

I logged into my bank account today to find that RealNetworks had charged me $12.99. Apparently I missed their email back in April announcing the rate change:
We are increasing the Rhapsody Unlimited monthly price from $9.99 to
$12.99. This change will go into effect during your next billing cycle
after May 3rd, 2007. It is the first time in six years that we've
increased the price of Rhapsody.

However, if you switch to yearly billing now you can keep your existing
membership rate of $9.99 per month. Under a yearly subscription, you
will be billed $119.88 once a year - a savings of $36 over the new
monthly rate.
Thanks, but no thanks. A 30 percent price jump is a little too steep for my taste, and like I said, I barely use the service enough as it is.

For someone like myself who owns an iPod, still buys CDs, downloads music from eMusic and iTunes and uses Pandora, a more expensive Rhapsody just seems like a frivolous expense, so I cancelled it today. The customer service rep I spoke to was nice and friendly and did make an effort at keeping me, but eventually gave in.

I'll still be able to listen to 25 songs a month for free, so at least I've got that going for me.

In related news, Ethan Smith reports in the Wall Street Journal ("Listen to Music Free, but Pay to Carry") that, starting today, is giving music away to attract new customers.
Starting today, visitors to Palo Alto-based Lala Media Inc.'s Web site will be able to listen for free on their computers to the digital catalog of Warner Music Group Corp. and hundreds of smaller independent music companies. Lala executives say they are working to secure licenses with the other three major music companies.

It's like a subscription music service, but without the monthly subscription fee. Lala is betting that in return for getting all that free access to music at home, listeners will pay to buy the songs they want to take with them on iPods and other music players. The prices will range from $6.50 to $13.50 for an album. (For now, Lala plans to sell music only by the album rather than song by song.)

Lala, whose owners include Bain Capital LLC and several veteran Silicon Valley investors, is underwriting the free offering by paying major labels $6 to $8 a user each month, about the same wholesale rate paid by online music-subscription services like RealNetworks Inc.'s Rhapsody. But where Rhapsody and its competitors charge users $12 a month for "all you can eat streaming," will charge nothing. And where Rhapsody and its competitors require users to load special -- and occasionally glitchy -- programs to access their offerings, Lala will work through a normal Web browser. Users of Lala's Web-based service can create and save playlists, send them to friends and browse the virtual collections of other users -- all for free.

More important still, the new service will work with Apple Inc.'s iPods -- something no iTunes competitor featuring major-label content has been able to do.

Lala's pricing model, too, runs counter to the way the music industry has done things. Prices will be "dynamic," or based on demand for a particular title and other factors, including the existing content of a user's personal music library. Typically, labels use low prices to drive music discovery, often subsidizing big discounts for brand-new albums on the theory that generating word-of-mouth interest will provide momentum in the future. They also sometimes cut prices on blocks of older titles during special promotions. But for most older albums, they often charge a premium, figuring that people buying older music are less likely to be doing so on a whim after, for example, hearing the song on the radio.


This is awesome!

iConcertCal is a free iTunes plug-in that monitors your music library and generates a personalized calendar of upcoming concerts in your city. It is available for both Windows and Mac OS X and supports worldwide searches.
I just downloaded iConcertCal and it works surprisingly well. I discovered a few upcoming shows I didn't know about.

My concert scheduling just got a whole lot easier ...

Willie Nelson: "A Peaceful Solution" (MP3)

"A Peaceful Solution" is a lo-fi recording made by Willie Nelson on April 29th, 2007 at 3:03 am in his bus on the way to Coachella.
There is a peaceful solution.
It’s called a peace revolution.
Now let’s take back America.
There’s a war and we’re in it,
but I know we can win it.
So let’s take back America.

2007 Coachella Weekend

daft punk @ coachella
Originally uploaded by xaotica.
Can't make Coachella this weekend? No? Me neither. I'll be checking out the LA Times coverage and watching live performances online as much as possible. Maybe next year.

Here is the AT&T Blueroom lineup. My picks are in bold. Enjoy!

April 27th Lineup
03:00 PM Brother Ali
03:55 PM Noisettes
04:35 PM Tokyo Police Club
05:35 PM Tilly and the Wall
06:25 PM Of Montreal
07:15 PM Rufus Wainwright
08:10 PM Arctic Monkeys
09:05 PM Stephen Marley
09:55 PM Sonic Youth
10:45 PM Bjork

April 28th Lineup
03:00 PM Gogol Bordello
04:00 PM Fields
04:40 PM The Cribs
05:25 PM the Frames
06:15 PM Jack's Mannequin
07:10 PM Andrew Bird
08:05 PM the Fratellis
09:00 PM Regina Spektor
09:50 PM Arcade Fire
11:00 PM Ozomatli

April 29th Lineup
03:00 PM Anathallo
03:45 PM The Feeling
04:40 PM Junior Boys
05:30 PM Fair to Midland
06:05 PM Kaiser Chiefs
07:05 PM CSS
08:05 PM Klaxons
08:55 PM Crowded House
09:50 PM Damien Rice
10:40 PM TBD

The Shins @ The Warfield (w/4 free MP3s)

I passed on catching Willie Nelson play his fourth night at The Fillmore and instead decided to see The Shins finish their three-month tour and three-night stand last night at The Warfield. In retrospect, I wish I had seen Willie instead.

Don't get me wrong. I like The Shins a lot. I've been listening to their latest, "Wincing The Night Away," on a daily basis since it came out. And I was impressed with their previous work, especially the tracks that ended up on the "Garden State" soundtrack.

But when I caught them at the Austin City Limits Festival last year, I wasn't impressed. I dismissed it, though, as a venue-specific problem. Not many bands sound great when playing outdoors.

Ok, so it wasn't the venue. Their tour-ending set at the Warfield was good, but not great. Their new material sounded pretty good, and James Mercer's voice didn't seem stressed from overuse, the mix tended to be muddled, and some of the older songs came across a bit flat and tinny.

I did enjoy the band's energy, however. And the audience -- a nice mix of people my father's age, adults in their 20s and 30s, as well as teenagers -- was enthusiastic and sang along to the songs they knew.

The band came back with a more energetic encore, opening with Pink Floyd's "Breathe" and a scaled back version of "Caring is Creepy" with harmonica.

The versatile two-piece Viva Voce performed a solid opening set and sat in on several Shins' songs. I'll definitely check them out next time they pass through.

Shay Quillen reviewed the first night, which pretty much jibes with my experience. Jim Welte gives The Shins second night a similar treatment at So the third night was no anomaly.

Here is the setlist, with linked MP3s for downloading.

Sleeping Lessons
Girl Inform Me
Mine’s Not a High Horse
Girl Sailor
Phantom Limb
A Comet Appears
Kissing the Lipless
Turn a Square
Saint Simon
New Slang
Gone for Good
Turn on Me
Know Your Onion!

Breathe (Pink Floyd cover)
Caring Is Creepy
Someone I Care About (Modern Lovers cover)
So Says I

Scarboro Aquarium Club (MP3)

I was listening to KALX 90.7 FM this morning, which I don't tune in to nearly often enough, and heard something cool ...

"Blind Like The Sun" by Scarboro Aquarium Club from the album Black Swan Days.

This is one of those tracks I like on first listen, but it's hard to tell whether I'll want to play it over and over and over.

Go to Becalmed Records website to download two complete tracks.


Unfortunately I won't be attending this year's SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas. I haven't been in 10 years, and a lot has changed about the festival, from what I hear.

Locals may be nostalgic for the days when SXSW featured more local artists and wasn't so corporate, but there is one thing to be happy about: FREE music. Lots of it, too.

Start by checking out the lineups for tomorrow.

A cassette icon next to an artist means there is a FREE MP3 to download or stream. And there must be well over a hundred over the course of the four-day festival.

That's all for now. I've got some downloading to do.

TV on the Radio

I admit I've hesitated jumping on the TV on the Radio bandwagon, but can't honestly say why. I've had "Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes" and "Young Liars" on my iPod for at least a year now, but haven't given either an engaged listen. I just bought "Return to Cookie Mountain" today after seeing it on the umpteenth Best Albums of 2006 list.

One recent TVOTR song is missing from "Cookie Mountain," and you can dowload it here: "Dry Drunk Emperor."

You can probably guess who the "drunk emperor" is.

Robert Arellano on MySpace

Happy New Year!

I'd like to introduce everyone to my good friend, Robert Arellano. Robert lives in Austin, Texas and has been playing in bands and writing music for more than a decade. Check out some of Robert's recent music on his myspace site.