Thursday, November 12, 2009

Andrew Bird

Pop virtuoso Andrew Bird has no lack of projects in the works. His schedule is overflowing with interesting musical ventures. There are many strings to Andrew's bow, so to speak (please try to ignore mind my horrendous pun, which refers to Mr. Bird's instrument of choice).

Andrew is currently on tour in Europe and he will be spending mid-December giving cozy performances in a few American churches, but he has much more in the works. He is writing the score for Norman, a feature film starring Adam Goldberg and Richard Jenkins. It is unknown whether or not Andrew's distinctive whistling will permeate the big screen.

Andrew will also be contributing to a version of Kermit's self-reflective song, "It's Not Easy Being Green," in the upcoming Muppets Revisited album, which will feature more heavy hitters covering Muppets classic tunes. I would say that of all popular male musicians today, Andrew does bear the closest resemblance to the famed amphibian. They do have similar slim builds.

In even more Andrew Bird-related news, the spellbinding -- and sometimes spinning -- horns/speakers/purposeful sculptures that travel with Andrew on tour will be the subject of an art installation. A Chicago artist makes the horns for him. Many of these horns will be congregated together in a traveling showpiece, and they will be playing loops. In an interview with the BBC, Andrew described this spectacle as "an arboretum of sonic sculptures."

Whatever you say, Andrew. It all sounds good and complicated. Amphibians and arboretums: it's what the people want.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Charlotte Gainsbourg

French singer/actress Charlotte Gainsbourg's 2006 record 5:55 was crafted with the help of some capable and clever fellows. Her airy, seductive vocals mingled with the production of Nigel Godrich and the handiwork of Air, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker and Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon. And, of course, comparisons were (not so cleverly) made to the sounds of her legendary father, Serge.

Now Charlotte is making music with another musical male, and his name is Beck.

Gainsbourg, who recently starred in Lars von Trier's gruesome thriller "Antichrist" and who was the St├ęphanie to Gael Garcia Bernal's St├ęphane in Michel Gondry's fantastical "The Science of Sleep," is set to release this new record, IRM, this January. Two of the album's songs have thus far been introduced to the world: the title track -- which is posted on her MySpace page -- and most recently "Heaven Can Wait."

These songs indicate that IRM, the French equivalent to MRI, retains the spacious atmosphere of 5:55 but adds a welcome dose of Beck's jaunty whimsy. It sounds like a splendid album is in store for the new year.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jens Lekman

The charming Swedish songbird and storyteller Jens Lekman will be spending his New Year's in Chicago.

His New Year's Eve show at Chicago's Empty Bottle is already sold out, but he has also planned two more shows -- on the first and second days of January 2010. He has no other shows planned thereafter, in Chicago or elsewhere.

Although Jens has not released an album since his 2007 release Night Falls Over Kortedala, Mr. Lekman just recently contributed his song "Your Arms Around Me" to the soundtrack of the movie Whip It, directed by first-time director Drew Barrymore and starring Ellen Page. "Your Arms Around Me" deserves a keen listen this year. Keep an ear out for how Jens pronounces the "th-" sound like an "f." It is especially beguiling.

Jens is loved for his grandiose and kaleidoscopic approach to playful pop. And his stage presence is most definitely his own. He tells many cute stories. For those planning on an outrageously sexy New Year's, this may not be the best setting for such action, but Jens will surely throw a lovely party with lots of bells and whistles and other jangly instruments to ring in 2010.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Yeasayer

Yeasayer's debut record, All Hour Cymbals, made a significant splash in 2007, which was ages ago (you know, back when the economy was not the go-to subject of uncomfortable conversations). Now this "Visual/Gospel/Showtunes" band (according to their MySpace page) has announced that their sophomore record, Odd Blood, will be released February 9, 2010. This is exciting news for those who enjoyed their psychedelic, exotic and dynamic brand of pop the first time around.

Yeasayer will be previewing the new record the day before Halloween at New York's Guggenheim Museum.

Odd Blood also marks Yeasayer's first release on Secretly Canadian, the record label home to artists Antony and the Johnsons, Foreign Born and Jens Lekman among others.

The boys will surely do some major touring after the record drops/hits/comes out. They have been doing plenty of touring in the time between records, including a string of summer shows with Ponytail and an appearance at this year's Pitchfork Music Festival.

They definitely have that "cool" factor down, as is obvious from this Guggenheim/Secretly Canadian/Ponytail/Pitchfork combo.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rain Machine

Kyp Malone, the wonderfully coiffed, bearded and spectacled member of TV on the Radio, has a new solo project called Rain Machine. His album is out now, and it is lovely: very TV on the Radio, believe it or not (said with casual sarcasm), but it does evolve into more of a naturalistic, folktastic affair -- with sleigh bells abound -- than the epic TV on the Radio sound collages.

In support of the debut album, Rain Machine will be opening for the Pixies, who will be performing their Doolittle album in its entirety on this U.S. tour after making a run of it overseas. It should be quite fantastic. Apparently too fantastic for Ohio; no dates are scheduled to be taking place in this glorious state. New York or bust, I guess.

(P.S. Although I did find this news to be interesting and worth discussing, my real motive for posting this news was the desire to illustrate Kyp in all his ultra stylish glory. He's one cool kid.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Jay Reatard

Jay Reatard needs a band. Right (expletive) now!

His bassist and drummer quit so if you are a punk rocker and would like to join him on his tour of the U.S. and Europe, let him know right quick. He's posted his e-mail address on his Twitter. Drop him a line.

But don't disappoint him. Or he'll write some unflattering words about you and it won't feel good.

You should probably come prepared with uncontrollable hair, a flexible neck ready for whipping around said hair, the desire to rock hard and the capacity to do so. I'm sure Jay wouldn't put it in such cowardly terms, but who (expletive) cares.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ben & Zooey

Indie cuties Ben Gibbard and Zooey Deschanel just got hitched.

The Death Cab for Cutie frontman and the actress/she half of She & Him were married near Seattle, according to all sources interested in unions between music and film festival headliners.

I’m hoping that they celebrated in style — with Ben preferably dressed in a snappy suit and Zooey wearing a bedazzled headband of some sort. And can you imagine the sweet serenades that may have been heard? The indie royalty that may have attended? It seems like the whole affair was kept pretty private, but I like to imagine it as a melodious, colorful party for the Northwest’s indie pop crowd.