Category Archives: the morning benders

Coachella Recs

One of these days, I’ll make it to Coachella. The main problem (other than the fact that this year’s tickets sold out like that) is that Cal Day is the same weekend, every year. Cal Day is the main event for incoming freshmen at Berkeley–so all of us club participants try to entice them with our info sessions and obvious coolness.

The only good thing about Cal Day is that they’ve been bringing bands up for the occasion. And not lame bands, either. Last year was Cold War Kids, and this year it’s the Dodos. Not to mention, the Bay Area gets a flood of concerts known fondly as Fauxchella–so I’m not left completely high and dry (we also have The Lonely Island coming to Amoeba Berkeley for Record Store Day).

Nonetheless, if I did have the coveted Coachella tickets, these bands would be on my agenda:

Crystal Castles
Who doesn’t want to see Alice Glass go batshit on stage?

Cut Copy
The Australian synthpop band is actually coming to the Bay Area on Saturday and Sunday, but tickets sold out faster than you can say “shrimp on the barbie”. Their most recent album, Zonoscope, is fantastic from start to finish, and has dominated my iPod since its February release.

The Black Keys
The Grammy-winning blues rockers need neither an introduction nor justification: I’m sure they’re making most people’s Coachella list.

The Drums
The Drums’ lighthearted songs have lodged themselves in my brain for aaaaages now. And even though I’ve been perfectly okay with that, I feel like the only solution would be to see them live. Their brand of catchy pop would be perfect for the Indio heat.

The Morning Benders
I’ve got to support a band from Berkeley–and thankfully, they make it really easy by creating wonderful music. I fell in love with the Yours Truly session above, as well as their cover of Talking Heads’ “Pull Up the Roots”. But obviously all of debut album Big Echo is fantastic.

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
I reviewed the music video for their most recent single, “Heart In Your Heartbreak”, for The Owl Mag. It’s totally adorable. I’m also going to try to catch their free in-store at Amoeba SF on Tuesday the 19th.

The Rural Alberta Advantage
Maybe I’ve spent too much time working in a quirky yet upscale retail establishment (Anthropologie), but I know the Rural Alberta Advantage was in my consciousness before I realized who they were. I’m about 99.9% positive that “Don’t Haunt This Place”, from 2009’s Hometowns, made it onto the Anthro radio station, and I would bet a good deal that you’ve heard it somewhere too. But the rest of that album, as well as their March-released sophomore album (Departing), is just as excellent as their most well-known song.

Also: Cold Cave, Cold War Kids, Sleigh Bells, Tame Impala


Animal Collective

Arcade Fire
Double duhhhhhhh. Can you say ‘Grammy Winner’? Also, saw these guys a billion years ago promoting Funeral, and a marching band showed up while a fight broke out on stage. It was awesome.

Freelance Whales
Full disclosure: I’ve never given Freelance Whales the listening time they deserve. The genre-bending New Yorkers get rave reviews from, well, everyone. I’d love to check them out live.

Here We Go Magic
The catchy electro tunes of Here We Go Magic may veer from Luke Temple’s folk beginnings, but it’s great stuff. For us stranded Bay Areanites (Bay Areans just sounds terrible), we have to wait a bit longer–the band is going to be at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco on May 2nd.

Mumford & Sons
This blog could probably be renamed “An Ode to Mumford & Sons”. So obviously they’d be pretty high up on my list of Coachella must-see bands.

The Swell Season
No joke, I would probably buy Coachella tickets JUST for the Swell Season. I fell in love with all things Glen Hansard several years ago, and the Oscar-winning Once is without question my favorite movie. I remember, my first year of college, they were playing somewhere in the Bay for around twenty bucks–but, being an ickle freshman, I didn’t have anyone to go with and didn’t want to trek into the city alone. I still kick myself for missing such a steal. This pair has almost superhuman passion, and I would love to see them live.

The Tallest Man On Earth
The Tallest Man On Earth is the beautiful folk project of Kristian Matsson. I’m in love with his gravelly voice and lovely songs–this Daytrotter version of “I Won’t Be Found” gives me the heebie jeebies, it’s so gorgeous.

Trampled By Turtles
The fast-paced bluegrass/alt-country band Trampled By Turtles would be a blast to see live. Just listen to the instrumentals on “Wait So Long”–these guys have crazy energy.

Also: Bright Eyes, Broken Social Scene, Delta Spirit, Foals, Francis and the Lights, Jenny and Johnny, Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, The New Pornographers, The Radio Dept., Two Door Cinema Club, Yelle


Best Coast
I feel like Coachella is MADE for bands like Best Coast. Hipsters will be drawn to this stage like…well, hipsters to fountains of free PBR.

City and Colour
City and Colour, the solo project of Alexisonfire’s Dallas Green, has generated quite a bit of buzz for his sweetly-sung tunes. I’d love to make a clever Canadian joke, but I can’t think of one at the moment–but let’s just say Coachella may be a better indicator of success than one of those ‘JUNO’ things (which he won in 2006 for Best Alternative Album. And I’m totally kidding, by the way).

Duran Duran
Uh, they’re Duran Duran. ‘Nuff said.

Kanye West
Uh, it’s Kanye. ‘Nuff said.

The above video should actually be all the explanation needed. Especially for everyone at Coachella who might be…under the influence. Of anything.

The National
The National is another one of those bands that I haven’t really given its due. I missed them at 2010’s Treasure Island Music Festival, but I’ll catch them one of these days.

The Presets
Check out this remix. It’s addicting.

Also: Angus and Julia Stone, Ellie Goulding, Jack Beats, Phosphorescent, the Strokes.

A Box, A Cab, and a Laundromat Walk into a Bar….

Not really. That would be pretty bizarre. But my earlier post on venues got me thinking about the variety of weird-ass performances spaces that have cropped up as videotaped sessions, and I thought I’d compile a playlist of some of my favorites. Just for kicks.

NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts (check out Fanfarlo’s)
Probably one of the most well-known recording sessions ‘in miniature’, the Tiny Desk concerts take place at the desk of Bob Boilen, the host of NPR’s All Songs Considered. Surrounded by the familiar chaos of a packed office, musicians from Adele to the Antlers have graced the space.

Bandstand Busking (Peggy Sue, above)
Bandstand Busking brings an assortment of fantastic musicians to abandoned bandstands around London. I happen to think it’s the bee’s knees, and I know from experience that it’s a great way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Black Cab Sessions
Black Cab Sessions has featured everyone from Laura Marling to Little Boots. Artists squeeze themselves and their instruments into the back of a cab, play a great song, and call it a day. One shot. My personal favorite is the fabulous session with King Charles, but the acoustic version of “Was It Worth It” by Summer Camp is also wonderful (and sassy!).

Balcony TV
Balcony TV films bands on balconies (duh) all over the world. They’ve spread from the UK to everywhere from Mexico City and Auckland. Balcony TV is very likely to have filmed the band you’ll be listening to obsessively eight months from now. Their Mumford & Sons video, for example (and by far their most viewed), was filmed not too long after the band was formed….and look at them now. I’m rather fond of the Spindle & Wit session above.

Lavomatik Sessions
This French recording session takes place in a laundromat. I never would have thought of that as a possible recording space, but admittedly the acoustics would have to be pretty good. Jeremy Warmsley’s session starts with “Take Care” and ends with a sweet little piece of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

Folk In a Box
Folk In a Box doesn’t record anything, and you should consider yourself pretty lucky if you happen to hear one of their concerts. The premise is simple: one person walks into a small wooden box. Someone in the box is playing folk music. The audience member listens.

Songs from the Shed
It’s like Folk In a Box, on a larger scale–with ‘larger’ being extremely relative. For one, these concerts are actually taped. The Shed has been doing quite well for itself; it was featured in a BBC documentary, and has gotten a lot of press coverage. You can see in the Admiral Fallow session above that it’s a pretty tight fit, but bands seem to do just fine.

Bird Song – Alessi’s Ark (TWHP Session) from The Wild Honey Pie on Vimeo.

The Wild Honey Pie Buzzsessions
These things take place everywhere. King Charles played in a horse-drawn carriage; other bands play in New York’s Union Square, LA vintage stores, random apartments, various parks, creepy New York alleys. The Wild Honey Pie also has a lot of concert footage and filmed interviews. The above session with Alessi’s Ark is beautiful.

Yours Truly
Yours Truly ( hails from San Francisco and has produced some wonderful, high quality music sessions. The one above by the Morning Benders was the very first thing I ever heard by the Berkeley band, and it got me hooked. They produce lovely videos, and get great artist interviews/behind-the-scenes looks. It also features the clever gimmick of artist letters–signed Yours Truly, of course–written to whomever they damn well please. The Morning Benders, for instance, wrote to Phil Spector.

These sessions are the tip of the iceberg. I didn’t include the obvious ones, like Daytrotter (yeah, it’s audio…but it’s fabulous) or La Blogotheque. If you have any favorites or sessions in particularly zany locations that I’ve missed, leave me a comment!