Thursday, February 28, 2008

Johnathan Rice ticket giveway!

Thanks to our fine friends at Filter, we're happy to announce our first ticket giveaway!

Two tickets to see Matt Costa and Johnathan Rice at Cat's Cradle Thursday, March 6, will go to the first person who correctly answers this trivia question.

Johnathan Rice played at Cat's Cradle last May on a three-artist bill. Who were the other two performers that night?

E-mail your answer to Deadline is Monday at noon.

UPDATE: Looks like we've found our winner, but thanks to everyone who emailed us. We hope to do more of these in the future, so stay tuned!

To help refresh your memory, here's Rice's music video for "We're All Stuck Out in the Desert," a song he played that night.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

iTunes Single of the Week: Danger, "11h30"

This week's iTunes single of the week is a change of pace. It's an electronic/dance song by French artist Danger.

"11h30" is quirky song featuring 80's era cheesiness with a cartoonish, high pitched voice. That's not a bad thing. The synth run in the intro sounds a bit like booting up a old video game.

"11h30" is a fun, catchy song that would be great for a night at the club or just goofing off with friends. Check it out unless you really have distaste for electronic/dance music.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Out tomorrow: Punch Brothers - Punch

Anyone familiar with Chris Thile's music knows that he likes to think outside the box. In the past, his tendency for experimentation and complex musical passages have produced great music. On Punch, Thile's instincts finally fail him.

The record begins with a jaunty tune called "Punch Bowl." The songs continues where Thile's last record left off. It's a very traditional sounding bluegrass tune (well, as traditional as Thile usually gets). From there the record falls off.

Tracks two through five are four movements of a piece called "The Blind Leaving the Blind." While it seems like a good idea in theory, the movements end up being a series of drawn out, overly busy instrumental passages that resemble tracks from Thile's Not All Who Wander Are Lost. The problem is "The Blind Leaving the Blind" lacks the precise musicality of Not All Who Wander, leaving the songs sounding too sloppy and jammy.

There are moments in "The Blind Leaving the Blind" that are musically satisfying but you have to sit through a lot of mush to reach the good stuff.

Once you cross the hump that is "The Blind," things improve a little. "Sometimes" is an instrumental tune that while at times seems too busy, has clear melodies that don't just seem like the band is running scales.

The standout track on the album is "Nothing, Then." It's a droney three minute pop song that slowly builds, crescendos, then trails off in the end with an quiet instrumental passage. Lyrically, the song deals more directly with Thile's divorce than any other on the album, though it is the overriding them on the entire album.

The last song, "It'll Happen" is also a good song. It's a somber tune which Thile delivers well.

This is Thile's weakest record to date, well, at least since he reached puberty. He's still a brilliant songwriter and musician, but on this record his ambition got the best of him.

Punch Brothers will play at the Clayton Center on March 29. Tickets are available via

New Tift Merritt video - "Broken"

Former Triangle resident and current New Yorker Tift Merritt has released the first video from her new album, Another Country (out tomorrow, February 26). It's for the song "Broken" and the video was shot in classic black and white by Martyn Atkins (who has made videos for Tom Petty, Johnny Cash and Depeche Mode). It's a beautiful video.

Tift will play the Carolina Theatre in Durham on March 22. Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek will open the show.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscar winners Hansard and Irglova to play Meymandi

Congratulations to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova who literally just won an Academy Award for their song "Falling Slowly" in the film.

Nothing against the movie "Enchanted," but it's always nice to see actual songwriters and performers win this award. We're still a little bitter that Elliot Smith was beat out in 1998 for that damn Titanic song.

Hansard and Irglova will play Meymandi Concert Hall on May 15 billed as The Swell Season, which is the name of the album they released in 2006 with their award winning song.

Tickets for the show go on sale this Friday, Feb. 29, via Ticketmaster and through the Progress Energy Center box office. A limited number of tickets will also be available (without service charges!!) at Schoolkids in Chapel Hill and at the Cat's Cradle box office.

Here's the Oscar performance.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

iTunes Single of the Week: I Nine, "Seven Days of Lonely"

If you like catchy, girly pop music with the slightest an attitude, go ahead and check out this week’s iTunes Single of the Week, “Seven Days of Lonely” by I Nine.

Don’t, however, expect anything new from the South Carolina-based group. The song itself isn’t bad, it just sounds like a carbon copy Avril Lavigne or any countless number of faceless pop acts floating around there with record deals.

That said, “Seven Days of Lonely” is a catchy tune with a good hook and I’m sure it will perform well on Top 40 radio.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bad sound plagues Jay Clifford symphony show

I was prepared for an amazing evening of music on Valentine's Day when I went to see Jay Clifford perform with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. As I sat through the first half of the set, to say I was disappointed would be an understatement.

Jay and the band's playing was great. The symphony's playing was great. The arrangements were great. But all that greatness was squashed by a poor mix during the first half of the set.

Jonathan Gray's upright bass was practically inaudible. Josh Kaler's electric guitar was inaudible most of the night. His pedal steel managed to cut through the mix on occasion. Michael Flynn's Wurlizter was also lost in the mix. The only thing that seemed to be coming through the sound system was Jay's vocals and guitar as well as a little bit of the symphony.

All of this left the show sounding very weak.

I was in attendance three years ago when Jump, Little Children played with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and it was phenomenal. The stars aligned that night, in part, thanks to a lot of pre-production work and the ears of Jump's sound engineer, Ian.

After a short intermission, the band took the stage again and the sound improved marginally. The bass was brought up a little in the mix but Kaler's guitar was still nowhere to be heard.

The song that suffered the most from the bad sound was "Vertigo." The band was visibly rocking out on the song but it was no where to be heard. Watching Jonathan Gray dance around with the upright bass felt like watching television on mute. There was movement but no sound.

To make matters worse, the big "surprise" that was built up for the show, ended up being a marriage proposal by one of the symphony players. Don't get me wrong, it was sweet and all I guess (and a bit awkward), but to be billed as a surprise and have no real payoff for the audience left me a bit annoyed. The proposal was followed by the Jump wedding tune, "By the Way They Dance."

Nonetheless, throughout the night Jay and the band delivered strong performances of his new songs from Driving Blind as well as some reworked arrangements of some classic Jump tunes (the full setlist is at the bottom of the post). The mix running through the band's monitors must have been great because the energy level was high and they seemed incredibly happy.

I've been a fan of Jay Clifford and Jump, Little Children for almost 10 years, geez, since I was 16. Jay is one of my favorite songwriters. Sadly, this was the first time I was disappointed by one of his shows. I'm glad that I had a fun time in Charleston, otherwise I would have felt the trip was a bust.

Don't let this review deter you from checking out Jay Clifford's music. His songwriting is of the highest caliber and his shows are phenomenal.


Charleston Music Hall set list

Don't Be Fooled
Dim and the Dark
Rains In Asia
Waltzing Past the Grave
Yesterday's Move
Driving Blind
(set break)
No God, No Country
Mother's Eyes
Caught In the Rain
By the Way They Dance
Say Goodnight
Know When To Walk Away

Where She Lies

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Charlotte Radiohead tickets now on sale

Radiohead tickets are on sale NOW. They just went up moments ago on W.A.S.T.E., the band's official ticket page.

Happy clicking!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Free download, album details from The Explorers Club

All you Explorers Club fans out there will be happy to know the band has announced a release date for their first album. Freedom Wind will hit stores in CD and LP format on May 20.

A 7-inch featuring songs "Do You Love Me?" and "Carry Me" will also be available April 8.

The Explorers Club will play a couple of shows in Charleston and Atlanta in early March before hitting SXSW. We'll keep you posted on any local shows.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

iTunes Single Of The Week - Adele "Hometown Glory"

This week's iTunes Single of the Week is truly stellar. That's a rare thing.

The song "Hometown Glory" comes from 19-year-old London singer, Adele. Her voice is tonally similar to Amy Winehouse and she has a similar inflection in her voice.

The song's arrangement is simple, just piano, voice and strings. That's all it needs. There's something very powerful yet heartbreaking in her voice that makes it impossible to ignore. It's hard to believe she's only 19 years old.

Just listen and enjoy.

Radiohead tour details announced

Radiohead has finally filled in the blanks on their North American tour schedule.

Last month the band released a list of American cities that they would hit on an upcoming tour with no dates or venues. Some of those details are now in, including the Charlotte date. It will be at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on May 9. Tickets will go on sale this Saturday, February 16 at 10 a.m.

Here's the schedule for the tour as it stands now.

May 5 - West Palm Beach, FL - Cruzan Amphitheatre
May 6 - Tampa, FL - Ford Amphitheatre
May 8 - Atlanta, GA - Lakewood Amphitheatre
May 9 - Charlotte, NC - Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
May 11 - Bristow, VA - Nissan Pavilion at Stone Ridge
May 14 - St. Louis, MO - Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
May 17 - Houston, TX - Cynthia Woods Mithcell Pavilion
May 18 - Dallas, TX - Center

That's 8 of the 22 cities announced a month ago. The rest should be announced soon.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Jay Clifford and friends play Cat's Cradle

Jay Clifford was given a bit of a hero’s welcome Friday night at Cat’s Cradle, shaking hands and high-fiving fans as he took the stage.

The crowd of a couple hundred was a far cry from Jump, Little Children’s sold out shows at the venue a couple years ago, but the evening was a celebration nonetheless.

Jay and his band, including Michael Flynn, Jonathan Gray and Josh Kaler of Slow Runner as well as drummer Benji Lee, played an even mix of his solo material from Driving Blind and Jump songs. The tour itself served as a warm-up of sorts for his show this Thursday’s with the Charleston Symphony, and served only to get me even more excited for our trek to the Holy City.

But, seeing as we’ll have plenty to discuss about Jay at the end of the week, let’s do something that’s probably a little too rare: talk about the openers.

Steven Fiore opened the show with a short set of acoustic songs, joined by Ash Hopkins. The duo previewed a couple of tunes off Fiore’s new album, which will be available later this month. Fiore usually plays in a band with Hopkins and others as Steven Fiore and the Good People, and the album is a full band effort.

While the set itself was great, I almost got the feeling we’d all been missing out when for the last song, Fiore and Hopkins switched over to electric guitars and were joined by Benji Lee on drums. The entire demeanor of the set changed in an instant, and it was a bit of a downer when they had to leave the stage.

The feeling didn’t last, though, because it wasn’t long before Slow Runner took the stage.

The band, comprised of Michael Flynn, Josh Kaler, Jonathan Gray and Scott Baumil, played songs off their latest album, Shiv!, as well as as handful from 2006’s No Disassemble.

Not content with the set list, a couple of people at the front of the crowd kept yelling for the band to play “Streamlined,” off the older album.

“We will not deviate from the list!,” Gray yelled.

“It takes a lot of work to pretend we’re good musicians, and we’re not gonna do that for all the songs!,” Flynn added.

Finally, though, the guys were worn down.

“This is your train wreck, enjoy it,” Flynn said before explaining the chord progressing to Gray. “It’s that ONE slow song I wrote, you know??”

While there may have been a few sour notes in the song, it definitely wasn’t bad for a “train wreck.”

Flynn was all jokes Friday night, telling the crowd his song "Last One" is "a song about a romantic weekend I spent with R. Kelly" and that "Deep End" is "about an erotic weekend Jay and I had together."

He's got the chops to back up his on stage candor — Flynn writes fantastic songs that are really allowed to shine with such a talented band playing them.

I can hardly wait to see what Jay Clifford has cooked up for the group this Thursday.

Triangle Music calendar disappears

If you've tried to view the Triangle Music calendar in the past week, you may have noticed that it's disappeared. We're not sure what happened to our host's website, but it seems to be gone. We were hoping it would reappear and that it was just a temporary problem, but it looks like it's gone for good. We hope to find a new host and start the calendar all over again soon. We'll keep you posted.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Liveblogging the Grammys

I think I'm going to regret this in about 20 minutes, but stay tuned because I'll be liveblogging tonight's 50th annual Grammy Awards. Whee!

8:01 Maybe it's that I can't stand Alicia Keys, but what the hell is this all about?

8:03 Yeah, this whole "duet with the deceased" was neat when Natalie Cole did it in like 1991 but I am not impressed. Dammit, now they're gonna let her talk.
8:04 Um, how can you speak on the behalf of someone who's been dead for over a decade?

8:06 Ohhh and it starts with the American Idol BS. (Kevin's comment, "Look, she's doing stomp. ... I'd rather be watching The Simpsons.")

8:09 Why is Carrie Underwood still singing? Anyone? Bueller??

8:10 Prince has officially become a caricature of himself. He's announcing best female R&B. If the Grammy tradition stays true to form, Alicia Keys will win since she just performed.

8:11 Ohhhh and here we go. "This is always the awkward part," Alicia says. Yeah, for us too.

8:15 Just checked the list of winners so far and Amy Winehouse has already collected two statues, one for Best Pop Vocal Album (you think they'd televise that sort of thing) and another for Best Pop Female Vocal for "Rehab." Amy, of course, is stuck overseas due to visa issues and is not at tonight's ceremony, but is scheduled to perform via satellite.

8:18 Oh my goodness, The Time. Kevin's dancing a little on the couch and those of you who know him know that's rare. This is bound to b e the most entertaining part of tonight's ceremony.

8:20 Well that was nice while it lasted. Now Rhianna is out singing her umbrella song. I'm mesmerized by her dancer's metallic purple tights.

8:24 Tom Hanks? At the Grammys? Talking about The Band? I'm not complaining.

8:25 Aw, Yoko looks so excited. I love her little top hat, she can do whatever the hell she wants and is still cool in my book. (I think even Tom Hanks realizes that all those Beatles song title puns they scripted for him are a little too much.)

8:30 Is it possible that I'm just not intelligent enough to truly appreciate Cirque de Soleil? (don't answer that) I want to like it, I really do.

8:32 This kid singing "Let It Be" is sort of giving me chills. Or I need to light the fireplace. Note to self: Rent Across the Universe...and buy firewood.

8:34: Cindi Lauper + Miley Cyrus? And when did Miley turn, like, 30? Sidebar: HATE it when they nominate people for Best New Artist who have been around forever (Feist). Winner is Amy Winehouse: woot! Girlfriend needs some good news these days.

8:36 And now we bring you "the people's Grammys" with Jason Bateman (LOVE him.) and the Foo Fighters. This is so incredibly lame.
8:37 Did I mention how much I love Jason Bateman? ("John Paul Jones...of Led Zeppelin, for the morons.")

8:46 And now for the official pyrotechnic/black light display of the evening, we bring you Kanye West. Isn't he done with those shades yet?

8:47 Is he supposed to have some weird light-up tail dangling from the back of his jacket? I'm oddly fixated on it.

8:49 I'm not very well versed in samplers, etc., but the Daft Punk moon man thing was pretty cool. Now Kanye's singing "Mama," a tribute to, well, his mother, who died recently. Moments like this, you really can't say the guy's not a versatile performer.

8:53 So correct me if I'm wrong,
but isn't the point of the Grammys to GIVE OUT AWARDS? Fergie and John Legend are performing now. Don't care for her either, I'm sure you're stunned by that revelation.

8:57 Love, the Beatles album...thing, just won best compilation and Ringo gets to get on the stage to introduce George Martin. Anyone else wondering where Paul is?

9:01 I glanced up briefly during commercials and thought i saw Moby's bald head staring at me from an e-trade commercial. That was scary. So here we are at the one hour mark and...yeah. Another 2.5 hours to go. Maybe this liveblogging thing was a bad idea. But we will soldier on!

9:04 Beyonce presents the history of black female perfomers...all while annoying the crap out of me. She's multi-talented, that one.
9:06 I must say, for being 97 years old, Tina Turner looks GOOD. Dammit, and thank you WRAL for beeping in to tell me it's windy outside. 'preciate it.

9:08 OK, I checked, she's 68. Let's see if Beyonce's still out there shakin' her ass and singing like Tina when she's that age.

9:13 I'm sorry for this, but...Andy Williams is still alive?
9:15 OK, song of the year. A real award. Winner is...Amy Winehouse!! WOOT! Is this a sweep so far?

9:21 Shocker, the hot girl won the "My Grammy Moment" competition. (no offense to the cellist.)

9:24 Wait, Pat Smear? He's...back? I also sort of feel bad for the orchestra members seeing as you can't actually hear them. (Of course right after I hit publish on that they got a solo) And: is Pat Smear on 'roids? He got big all of a sudden.

9:33 And if seeing Pat Smear wasn't random enough, here's George Lopez! Introducing...Brad Paisley. Don't the country singers get their own awards show?

9:36 Brad Paisley plays a sparkly paisley print guitar. That's almost cool. ALMOST.

9:38 Wow, and Chris Brown wins the tacky award for his...ensemble. Also: Will Kanye turn violent if he doesn't win?

9:40 Ahh, and we don't have to find out. Kanye wins best rap album. Does anyone know what he's talking about? He's now told Mark Ronson it's ok if Amy Winehouse wins album of the year. Gee, thanks Kanye. They were trying to play him off but then he started thanking his mom so they stopped. But, as always, a fine display of pretension from our good friend Kanye.

9:44 Ohh, Miss Aretha. I'm so, so sorry for this. But please, buy a dress with two arms next time.

9:49 Oh dear God I'm bored.

9:51 I really can't believe we're about to have a Daughtry vs. John Fogerty vs. Wilco situation here. Presented by Kid Rock, naturally.

9:57 In other odd pairings: Carole King and Dirks Bentley presenting a lifetime achievement award to Earl Scruggs, and now introducing Feist.

9:58 A woman and an acoustic guitar. The only honest, straightforward performance of the night (thus far).

10:00 Well that was short. Bastards.

10:01 What is going on? This is the most awkward thing I've ever seen. Kid Rock and this woman (Keely something?) are proving once and for all that Kid Rock has no talent. And now there's a man with a saxophone. Does anyone have any aspirin?

10:04 Best Rock Album goes to...Foo Fighters. Good for them. Who are the two suits getting on stage with them? And PAT! They've got a whole gang up there. This Keely lady is just sort of chillin' up there.

10:13 Why does Alicia Keys get to perform twice, yet Feist only gets to play two minutes of her song without her full band. I call BULLSHIT.

10:15 I'm boggled by this keyboard Alicia has at the end of the catwalk where she sort of pretends to play a chord or two. Ahh, the industry.

10:16 Dear John Mayer: Get thee AWAY from the spray tan booth. I think it must be in his recording contract that he's in the Grammys every year whether he actually does anything or not.

10:19 I now have a crush on Vince Gill. "I just had an award given to me by a Beatle. ... Have you had that happen yet Kanye??" Genius.

10:28 OK, I zoned out for a minute while reading some updates on the WGA strike. ( I enjoy that the Grammy ceremony still acknowledges other genres of music other than top 40. As a former musical theatre geek and orchestra student, this makes me very happy indeed.

10:30 And hey, congratulations to North Carolina native Max Roach who was just presented, posthumously, with a lifetime achievement award. Roach, a jazz drummer, was from the Township of Newland in the western part of the state. He's considered one of the "last giants from the birth of bebop" and "instigated a revolution in jazz drumming that persisted for decades."

10:34 I have no idea who either of these people are. Best Rap Collaboration...Rhianna and Jay-Z for "Umbrella." Isn't that song...really old?

10:41 Cuba Gooding Jr. is in London to introduce Amy Winehouse. Random.

10:44 Amy almost had me until she gave her husband (who is uh, in jail) a shout out.

10:46 She's rather cheeky in her performance of "Rehab." Ah, irony. Lovin' the backup singers, as usual.

10:47 OK, she pulled it off. Good girl, Amy! Now, uh, get back to rehab.

10:50 Record of the Year goes to Amy Winehouse. And oh dear the girl's in shock. I'm not sure if she realizes she's on live TV right now, she's just hugging people. I'm really so, so happy for her right now. She dedicated the award to Mark Ronson, her parents, "my Blake, incarcerated" and all of London.

10:57 And now a speech from an old bearded man. Zzzzzz

11:00 "And the piano boy grows up to be a piano man." — Kevin

11:01 That was officially the most awkward introduction to the "in memoriam" section...ever.

11:04 Andrea Bocelli is paying tribute to Pavarotti with Josh Groban, who Kevin just described as "the respectable Clay Aiken."

11:12 I'm amazed by how they've managed to stretch out the last 15 minutes. The show is set to go on for another 18 minutes, and only one more award to present.

11:15 This performance of "Great Ball of Fire" is sort of lacking in the "fire" department, but I'll let it slide seeing as Jerry Lee Lewis may keel over at any moment.

11:17 To John Fogerty, lay off the Botox. And Little Richard? (He's 75, by the way) just, damn.

11:26 They haven't presented an award in 36 minutes, and now I have to sit through In other news, Bright Eyes won for best packaging on Cassadaga. As someone who can't totally get into buying albums on iTunes, that may be my favorite award.

11:28 Fiiiiiiinally, Album of the Year, presented by Usher and Clive Davis.

11:29 And the absolute wild card Herbie Effing Hancock for the win. "This is like when Steely Dan beat Radiohead," says Kevin. I don't have an opinion one way or the other on Mr. Hancock, but I have to say I'm disappointed that Amy Winehouse didn't get her clean sweep.

11:32 Herbie's getting played off. Sort of BS, considering they stretched out the last half hour and then won't let the man talk for more than a minute or two.

Well, OK, that's it. Grammy 2008 is over and not a moment too soon. Good night, folks, and if you actually continued reading this far, God bless you.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Pearl Jam, Metallica to headline Bonnaroo

It's a little hard to get excited over the Bonnaroo lineup after all the rumors that Led Zeppelin would headline the 2008 festival didn't pan out.

Instead, Pearl Jam and Metallica will headline this year, along with Jack Johnson and Kanye West.

Even so, there are some pretty great acts on the roster as organizers boast their "most diverse lineup ever." If that's code for "fewer jam bands," I'm in.

Artists who pique my interest include Death Cab for Cutie, The Raconteurs, Sigur Ros, Ben Folds, Iron & Wine, Rilo Kiley, Tegan & Sara, hometown heroes The Avett Brothers, Aimee Mann, MGMT and comedians David Cross, Janeane Garofalo and Zach Galifianakis.

Check out the full lineup at The festival will take place June 12-15 in Manchester, Tenn. Tickets will go on sale Feb. 16.

The problem with Bonnaroo, of course, is that it's crazy ass expensive and involves taking at least two days off of work. So come on, Bonnaroo people, cut me some slack at put our blog on the press list this year!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Looking behind the curtain with Jay Clifford

Jay Clifford has a lot to be excited about.

He’s about to release his first music video directed by none other than Zach Braff. Driving Blind, his first solo album since parting ways with Jump, Little Children, has received nothing but positive reactions from fans and critics alike. He’s about to head out on the road touring with good friend Howie Day. And if that wasn't enough, on Feb. 14 he and his band with take the stage for a one-night-only performance of his music with the Charleston Symphony.

I’m not sure when the guy sleeps.

I got the chance to talk to Clifford last week just after he arrived home to Charleston after shooting footage for his video, of his album’s opening track, “Know When to Walk Away,” in L.A. with Braff.

“We did a lot of the shooting in the back alleys at the Scrubs set,” Clifford said. “It was a lot of fun.”

The two hooked up in the last year or so after Braff started expressing an interest in Jump on his MySpace blog. Through the magic of mutual friends, they met out in L.A. while Clifford was recording Driving Blind.

“He was a regular guy and just really into music which is cool,” Clifford said. “Next thing I know we’re in this 6-month email correspondence.”

The premise of the “Know When to Walk Away” video is nothing new, but that’s not to say I’m not incredibly excited about it.

“The idea is [Braff] did a little video blog that he’s gonna put up on his MySpace that asks people to submit video versions of people lip synching the song,” Clifford said, adding that he hopes to get submissions from around the world — people singing in front of the Eiffel tower, the Great Wall of China, landmarks from all over.

It may take a little while before the video is actually released, but Clifford’s got plenty to keep himself occupied in the meantime.

The release of Driving Blind in September could almost be seen as a make or break for Clifford’s career. Many a musician have come out of bands to find they just couldn’t hack it on their own.

“Jump has some pretty passionate fans. So to move on from that and do something else, it definitely felt like a little bit of an uphill battle,” Clifford said.

But thankfully, and not surprisingly, the majority of his fans have embraced the new music.

“It’s been really great,” he said. “I’ve been excited about the way people feel about it.”

After writing for the band for more than a decade, Clifford said writing just for himself wasn’t much of a departure.

“It’s different in some ways. I did a lot of writing on the piano for this record, and that’s new for me,” he said. “It comes from the same place. It’s kind of the same general process where you’re weeding through the subconscious and trying to figure out what you’re saying as you’re saying it. But it’s surrounded by so many different variables.”

Of course, he’d had experience writing with and for others — Howie Day and Sean Lennon just to name a couple.

Clifford wrote a song with Lennon that would have been on Lennon’s album Friendly Fire.

“It ended up being a great song,” Clifford said. “We only had 3 or 4 hours together but it was like looking behind the curtain. I went to his house and he was rehearsing with his band so it was him, Harper Simon, Bijou Phillips was there. It was kind of rock royalty and me. They left and we just started writing this song and the phone rings and he’s like, ‘Hi mom.’”

And that’s how he found himself sitting in a Korean restaurant, listening to Yoko Ono talk about her Tokyo art opening.

“It was surreal. There’s those moments. They’re obviously cultural icons, but they’re people,” Clifford said. “There’s moments of just being human but certainly there’s a while other layer to look through.”

Back in the real world, Clifford is just now finishing the charts for his Feb. 14 performance with the Charleston Symphony.

“It’s gonna be the string section, all the brass and full band. A total of I think 37 people,” Clifford said. “This symphony show is kind of my excuse to step back and take a look at the last 10 to 15 years and play.”

If you’re not dedicated enough to make the trek to Charleston, you can catch Clifford and his band at Cat’s Cradle this Friday. Slow Runner and Steven Fiore will open. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 day of show.

iTunes Single Of The Week - We The Kings "Check Yes Juliet"

This week's free single, "Check Yes Juliet," comes from Bradenton, FL band, We The Kings.

This song could be classified as powerpop or emo pop. The song shares some similarities with the likes of Fall Out Boy and All American Rejects. It's a driving, well produced song that could easily find a home on commercial radio.

As much as I feel like I should hate this song, it's hard to deny a song full of melodic hooks. This is the same thing that is appealing about Fall Out Boy. The melodies will get stuck in your head for days.

"Check Yes Juliet" is a strong song from a band destined for mainstream success. If you're an indie snob, I suggest staying away. I don't want to hear your complaints.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Did Tom Petty lip sync at the Super Bowl?

Thor Christensen (yes, Thor) with the Dallas Morning News has a theory.

In an article published this morning, he contends that Tom Petty did not actually sing at the Super Bowl last night, but that things sounded "too pristine" and Petty must have using previously recorded vocals, a la Milli Vanilli.

Too pristine? As in, they sounded good, so it must be fake. Thor also argues that Petty's mouth was "strategically hidden" being a "big spongy microphone." Not that windscreens have ever proven useful when it comes to audio. Right.

I'm INCREDIBLY reluctant to buy into this theory, but Thor does make one interesting point.

Check out this video from last night's performance of "Free Fallin', specifically at the 2:15 mark. Definitely something odd there. [Update: I see what the two commenters are saying about how they probably just turned his mic down for the break. All I said initially was that it was "odd," not that he was definitely lip syncing!]

But maybe the real question isn't "did he fake it," but "does it matter?" It's not like we're dealing with someone like Ashlee Simpson here — we know Petty's the real deal. Is it OK to cut the guy some slack and give him a backup plan on one of the biggest nights of his career? Or should he be expected to suck it up and just play and sing, for good or bad.

I'm honestly torn on this issue, I'd love to hear what you all think.

[Update: Sorry, I had to take this down and repost it. I added all the comments back. I'm not about censorship!]

The Walkmen cancel show

According to the Cat's Cradle's website, The Walkmen have canceled their March 3 show. It's unclear why the show was canceled. There's no word on any other cancellations on The Walkmen tour, so it looks like the Cradle may be the only one.

We'll let you know if we find out more.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Tom Petty: The most interesting part of the Super Bowl

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers certainly didn't disappoint with their half time show tonight.

It was visually interesting without being cheesy (I'll admit I really liked the traveling arrow into the heart at the beginning — how did they do that?) and really just allowed the band and their music to shine.

The set list was "American Girl," "I Won't Back Down," "Free Fallin'," and "Runnin' Down a Dream."

What did you guys think?

Tickets officially go on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m. for the band's July 12 show at Walnut Creek.

I'll admit I was really peeved when I logged in to the pre-sale Friday morning and found that for a $65 ticket (that's about $160 for two including fees) the closest seats I could get were in row EE in sections 5 or 8. (That's, essentially, on the lawn)

Perhaps tomorrow will bring me better Ticketmaster juju, but for someone like Tom Petty, long heralded as the anti-establishment rock star (watch the documentary Runnin' Down a Dream, I highly recommend it) the whole thing is a little disappointing.

"American Girl"

"I Won't Back Down"

"Free Fallin" & "Runnin Down a Dream"

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Iron & Wine are coming to Chapel Hill

Iron & Wine have announced a string of US tour dates in April that will include a stop in Chapel Hill. The tour will stop at UNC's Memorial Hall on April 15. Ticket info will be added when it's available.

Sam Beam and his cohorts will bring Califone out for the entire US run.

Here's the complete US schedule.

4-9 New Orleans, LA - House of Blues
4-10 Tallahassee, FL - The Moon
4-11 Orlando, FL - The Plaza Theatre
4-12 Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Revolution Live
4-13 Jacksonville, FL - Freebird Live
4-14 Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse
4-15 Chapel Hill, NC - Memorial Hall
4-16 Richmond, VA - The National
4-18 Kalamazoo, MI - State Theater
4-19 Grand Rapids, MI - Calvin College Fine Arts Center
4-20 Louisville, KY - Headliners Music Hall

Download "Innocent Bones" from Iron & Wine's latest album, The Shepherd's Dog.