Tag Archives: the owl mag

Public Humiliation Be Damned: My High School Soundtrack

That’s right. I’ve decided to bare all (okay–some) and put my high school soundtrack online. It’s part of the Owl Mag’s High School Reunion feature, and I’m this week’s victim. My intro is below, but you’ll have to check the site for my tunes.

As I was coming up with this playlist, I realized: I’ll know the lyrics to these songs for the rest of my life. That may only help me with karaoke or Trivial Pursuit: 2000s Edition, but it just goes to show that you can never really escape high school. I spent my adolescence blissfully unaware of my lack of coolness, embracing my status as a music nerd (choir, vocal jazz) and generally enjoying those four years of braces and bad haircuts. I realize now that my small high school was unusual: it wasn’t plagued by cliques, and many of the alleged cool kids were also music nerds. It probably had something to do with our bizarre but quaint hometown; Carmel, smack dab in the middle of the California coast, is home to everything from the Carmel Bach Festival to Clint Eastwood. We grew up with the Monterey Jazz Festival in our backyard, and even as I was listening to OK Go I was also delving into Ella Fitzgerald.

High school awakened my passion for music discovery. Sure, many of those discoveries kind of suck–I’ll admit that I had an embarrassing love of The Killers, and even a brief but awkward Green Day phase. I spent my time making mix CDs for friends and for my coffee shop shifts, filling them with Spoon or Feist or whatever struck me that week. I started collecting concert t-shirts, and taking guitar lessons (those failed miserably). I sang everything from Italian art songs to jazz standards to Motown. They were baby steps, yes–but as I said, you can never really escape high school. I’m glad to have left much of my pre-adult self behind, but I’m even gladder that part of it stuck with me: because, after all, I’m still a music nerd. Just hopefully a little less awkward. (Read more.)

James Vincent McMorrow at Slim’s, 9/23

I saw Irish troubadour James Vincent McMorrow at Slim’s last Friday, and wrote about it for the Owl Mag. Check out a snippet below and read the rest here.

Everyone’s been buzzing about Bon Iver‘s show at the Greek. Berkeley’s famous amphitheater looked like a lumberjack convention: the plaid-clad masses cried, cheered, or sat in awed silence as Justin Vernon performed his haunting set. Filled with cathartic and moving moments, the sold-out concert was practically spiritual for the throngs of bearded folksters.

Or so I hear. I wasn’t at that gig, but I did see Ireland’s answer to Bon Iver: James Vincent McMorrow. Besides a smoky falsetto, the troubadours also share a penchant for isolated cabins. McMorrow’s Early In the Morning, recorded in a house by the Irish Sea, is full of accessible yet earnest folk—more upbeat and pop-oriented than For Emma or Bon Iver, but worthy of comparison nonetheless. Friday’s performance at Slim’s certainly brought out those same lumberjack wannabes who grooved to William Elliott Whitmore‘s banjo-fueled blues before the Irishman took the stage. (Yes, both acts were three-named men.)

Some Thoughts On the SF MusicTech Summit

On Monday, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend San Francisco’s ninth MusicTech Summit. It was a wonderful and thought-provoking day, and this review for the Owl Mag sums up only a fraction of my thoughts. Feel free to ask any questions–I’d love to get into some stimulating discussions about this stuff. An excerpt of my review is below, along with the link to the rest.

San Francisco is the perfect location for the MusicTech Summit. Beyond its stellar views of the Pacific, it also has the right ethos for a conference about music technology: with its pioneers, artists, and entrepreneurs, the city never stops innovating. In the face of global uncertainty, San Franciscans are still looking ahead and driving the future—all while sipping their cups of Blue Bottle coffee. And whether or not they call this city home, the speakers and attendees at Monday’s event are doing the same thing. The message of the day was one of promise, and one that echoed San Francisco’s own mantra: we will move forward.

My one stipulation, though, is that the nature of ‘forward’ seems open for debate. The panels I saw at the Hotel Kabuki left me with a sense of pasta being thrown against the wall; many panelists cited the problem of meaningless innovation, and Gang of Four bassist Dave Allen spoke of the lack of a ‘big idea’. If labels provided that structure in the past, their absence on Monday was noteworthy and conspicuous. Although many panelists were looking back in history for cues, they weren’t embracing that sort of large-scale (or top-down) model. Unsurprisingly, the focus seemed to be more on empowering individuals, or connecting and building communities. (Read the rest.)

Feist Debuts New Single, the Vaccines On Jimmy Kimmel, and I’m Going to a Festival.

That pretty much sums up all the news ’round here. Outside Lands begins in mere hours, and I’ll be heading over to Golden Gate Park to check out the action. It’s the first time I’ve been since its inaugural year, so I’m pretty pumped. I’ll do my best to get some lovely photos for you all! I also get to meet some Owls tomorrow.

Speaking of the Owl Mag (because I wasn’t talking about these kinds of owls), vote for us in SF Weekly’s Web Awards poll, for “Best Local Music Website”. And you know, if you want to put me in there somewhere… (‘sexiest geek’? kidding.)

In other news, the Vaccines are going to be on Jimmy Kimmel this coming Tuesday, August 16th. They’ve also posted new international tour dates, and will be at Outside Lands tomorrow. Big things happening. If you’re going to OSL and happen to take a great picture, submit it to their Instagram contest for the “Wetsuit” music video.

So without further ado, here is Feist’s new single, “How Come You Never Go There”. Her new album, Metals, will be released on October 4th.

Feist’s fall tour dates are:

10/15 Amsterdam, Holland @ Carre Theatre
10/17 London, UK @ Palladium
10/19 Brussels, Belgium @ Cirque Royale
10/22 Berlin, Germany @ Tempodrom
10/29 Philadelphia, USA @ World Café Live 20th Anniversary
11/02 Brooklyn, USA @ Howard Gilman Opera House
11/04 Chicago, USA @ Riviera Theatre
11/06 Atlanta, USA @ Tabernacle
11/08 Dallas, USA @ Majestic Theatre
11/12 Los Angeles, USA @ Wiltern Theatre
11/14 San Francisco, USA @ Warfield Theatre
11/16 Portland, USA @ Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
11/17 Seattle, USA @ Moore Theatre
11/18 Vancouver, Canada @ Performing Arts Centre
11/20 Edmonton, Canada @ Northern Alberta Jubilee
11/21 Calgary, Canada @ Jack Singer Concert Hall
12/01 Toronto, Canada @ Massey Hall
12/03 Montreal, Canada @ Metropolis
12/05 Ottawa, Canada @ National Arts Centre
12/06 Quebec City, Canada @ Grand Theatre Du Quebec

Pepper Rabbit, Red Velvet Snow Ball

I reviewed Pepper Rabbit’s sophomore album, Red Velvet Snow Ball, for The Owl Mag. Here’s a snippet and read the rest at the link below:

Last year I saw British band Peggy Sue at Bottom of the Hill. As happens from time to time, I found myself utterly charmed by the opening act: their eclectic chamber pop, animated performance, and the frontman’s cat-adorned grandpa sweater. That band was Pepper Rabbit. (Read more here.)

Belated Reviews: The Head and the Heart, Johnny Flynn, Okkervil River, Bob Dylan, the Felice Brothers

Hey everyone. Since I’ve last posted, I’ve graduated from college! Twice! (No, really. Being a double major, I had two commencement ceremonies.) Although I’ve sadly neglected my own blog, I’ve gotten a few things out for The Owl Mag, MXDWN, and For Folk’s Sake. Also, check my Flickr (right sidebar) for some pics. I’ve posted excerpts of my reviews below, but click the links for the full articles. I’ve also been writing a ton of music video reviews for the Owl Mag, so take a look at their main site.

Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit at the Independent, 5/17/2011 (Owl Mag)
“For me, it all started with Johnny Flynn. The first few notes of 2008′s A Larum led to an all-consuming obsession with English folk music (the dubiously labeled “new folk” scene, to be specific) that refuses to let up. I can’t help but be charmed by the Shakespearean lyricism and lively instrumentals; he and his Sussex Wit find just the right spot between eclectic and familiar, old-world and contemporary. With an even blend of songs from A Larum and 2010′s Been Listening, Tuesday’s gig at the Independent showcased everything there is to love about the talented troubadour.” Read more

The Head and the Heart at Bottom of the Hill, 4/27/2011 (Owl Mag)
“It’s the evening of April 27th and San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill is bursting at the seams. I was pressed against the stage by a kid and his parents on one side and a gaggle of hipsters on the other, all eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Head and the Heart. “Called Seattle’s next big band” by NPR, the folk-pop sextet has quickly wound its way into the world’s hearts and headphones. They’re defying the odds in an era where bands have to fight harder than ever to be heard above the din.” Read more

Okkervil River, I Am Very Far (MXDWN)
“Okkervil River’s I Am Very Far opens like a slap across the face. The first crisp hits of the snare drum in “The Valley” are a jolt of energy, an invigorating introduction to the band’s sixth studio album. The Austin quintet never abandons the bombast of these initial beats, but instead revels in this theatricality for the album’s duration. Even the slightly haphazard waltz of “Hanging from a Hit” or the dwindling oohs of “The Rise” are imbued with an almost overwhelming dynamism. From powerful start to fading finish, I Am Very Far masters the art of coming undone.” Read more

Bob Dylan, The Complete Mono Recordings (MXDWN)
“One could be skeptical about Columbia’s Complete Mono Recordings. Could this reworking of Bob Dylan’s first eight albums really improve them? Would a shift from stereo sound to mono make that much of a difference? How much more brilliant could they be, anyway?” Read more

The Felice Brothers, Celebration, Florida (For Folk’s Sake)
“When I think of Americana, I think of banjos, harmonica, gritty vocals with a bit of a twang. Frankly, I think of songs like the Felice Brothers’ ‘Frankie’s Gun!!’, with its old-time storyline and humming accordion. The New York band’s latest work, Celebration, Florida, hardly fits this well-established mold: Ian Felice’s Dylan-esque tone is swathed in synthesizers more often than acoustic guitar. Nonetheless, the Catskills quintet has produced a modern portrait of the United States, chock full of contemporary themes and sounds.” Read more

My first review for The Owl Mag–Hunx and His Punx

Hey guys! I’m now writing for a super awesome music blog called The Owl Mag. My first task as an Owlette was a review of the new album (Too Young To Be In Love) by Oakland, CA band Hunx and His Punx. They’re pretty fabulous in all senses of the word, so you should show the East Bay some love and check ’em out.

And read my review here!