Monday, August 13, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Thank you! I'm very gratified that "...Imagining You" is hitting an emotional trigger in people. It was a song I felt very passionately when I was writing it, although it was very whimsical. I wrote the whole thing in about the amount of time it takes to sing it, but the band really brought the song to life. I had almost nothing to do with the production of that song- laid down the guitar structure, which was re-done by Nick, gave a scratch vocal performance which ended up as the keeper lead vocal, and suggested that Alex use the upright bass instead of a too-fat electric tone we were originally using. Everything else was created by the guys, and I think they are to thank for how that song comes across. It's also my favorite mix that Danny Kadar has done for us- something about the reverb. The work of all of these people is why the lyrics and melodies pop out.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
You see I listened to WBDC more than any other record last year. I mean I really listened. But for whatever reason, "Through the Soot" didn't really resonate with me until recently. One of the things I like to do here at A Better Offer is to look back into a band's catalog--to look at where they came from. And most of you out there already know how wonderful Welcome Back Dear Children is. But I thought I'd take a minute to talk about a track that you may have missed over....
"Through the Soot," begins with a gentle vocal melody that leads into a catchy little acoustic guitar hook. Ben begins his trademark vocals with "Well, it took me a long time to get there." And when I hear it I have to laugh--because as I explained it took me a long time to get there too. The track continues up and down with vocal and musical melodies that seem at times dark and depressing and other times they seem uplifting. The first time Ben sings the hook it's "I'll never stop riding that train..." and that idea shifts rather quickly to "You'll never stop riding that train..." It seems to me that sometimes moving is the only thing we can do. Towards the end of the track Ben asks, "How am I supposed to step on the brakes?/When everbody's not on the same page." And it's a fitting conclusion to this beautiful little gem hidden away amongst Welcome Back Dear Children."
MP3--Through the Soot, Arizona
Monday, August 6, 2007
Why on earth would I bring this up? Because I dunked on my much taller brother (see above) wearing my super powered Arizona shirt--that you too can own, for free. All you need to do is enter the Arizona contest. It's easy folks...just send in a story (either factual or fictional) about how an Arizona song played into your reality. It doesn't need to be long, just send it to the special email address, email@example.com. And this Saturday, the band and I will announce the winner of a copy of their new EP Fameseeker and the Mono and super powered Arizona T-Shirt. Fun Times...
So what do I have left in week two of my coverage...oh only the best stuff EVER! I have the rest of my interview with the band, insight from Ben into the beautiful track "...Imagining You," exclusive lyrics and photos, and a couple more MP3's for you to check out. Stay tuned.
And finally if you are looking to hear some more Arizona, they were played on the incomporable Shifted Sound podcast. You should be listening.
Friday, August 3, 2007
North Carolina has been great. Everyone in the band has been able to dig their fingers into the soil of the city we're living in now, Asheville, and bask in the chilled-out pace, the mostly progressive social/spiritual vibe, and good natured company it affords us. The mountains are nice; lots of little magical spots to sit and write music. I haven't written that much new stuff, but the rest of the band has been going crazy. I feel like it's probably just a matter of time before the plasma tentacles of the vortex reach out to my sleeping mind and massage my creativity centers. It's nice to be somewhere that is consistent, and on the whole very positive, and we also have found that people down here are really drawn to what we're doing through our music.
We were doing very well on the local level in NYC, and we made a decision to leave during a time when the gatekeepers to that scene were just starting to consider forging us a set of keys, which a lot of people found weird. New York City spawned this band and nursed us on high-octane, transsexual breast milk rich in psyche-spiritual nutrients. Its where we learned how to speak and take our first steps, broke our first bones, and had our first kisses (you know, with people not in this band). Many of us got to a certain level there where we felt deeply connected to the city, a relationship that was passionate and dynamic, and city imagery more than any other thing besides maybe the Sun has informed the lyrics and concepts behind our songs. But we're a globally minded band that can't afford to be tied down to or associated with just one geographical location, and certain folks within the band also weren't able to sink their meat hooks into the prime roast beef of NYC for whatever reason. We all love the NYC scene and the great friends we've made there, but we want to show the world we're more than just a Brooklyn-based indie rock buzz band.
ABO: I know many of the tracks on "Fameseeker and the Mono" were completed before this tour, but did playing those songs live change the final versions of them? And what was the crowd's response to those new tracks?
Just about everything we did for Fameseeker and the Mono was finished in 2006, months before our first national tour, so unfortunately none of the nuances we picked up from our audience were translated to the recorded version. Live, we've found that "Street Sweeper" has a lot of resonance with the crowd, and when we play it right, "Thimble" seems to turn a lot of heads. Those are the songs that have evolved the most in our live arsenal- we've added lots of dramatic moments or guitar layers live that would have been nice to get onto the record. In general, we've never gotten live-audience feedback before unleashing an album into the wild. Virtually nothing from Welcome Back Dear Children saw the light of day before being released- but we recorded that album as a way of saying 'herro there!!'- you know, introducing ourselves to an audience. So fortunately, those songs do very well with both veteran and virgin Arizona audiences.
Fameseeker was more an album we did for ourselves, to get Andrew and James initiated into the 'making an album as Arizona' experience- the songs are more contemplative and exploratory than what you hear on WBDC, and I don't think it was really designed with an audience in mind. I think more cerebral audience members respond to the Fameseeker stuff.
ABO: I can't help but believe that there is a bit of cynicism in the track "Life is Great." I mean as a country right now, we are involved in a senseless war, gas prices are astronomical, and the majority of us are eagerly awaiting election day. Was this track written from that standpoint or was it a more personal take on life…? But the line "this'll get better, let your inner golden heart out for awhile," seems to provide some hope for those of us who still believe that love and goodness will prevail.
This is lyrically probably my favorite song in the Arizona collection, especially since each verse was written by a different band member. The "let your inner golden heart out" line is a tip of the hat to Neil Young. We started writing and recording this song just minutes after we finished listening to Young's "living with war" album in its entirety. I guess our response was to say "yeah, thank you for pointing out all of these things, it's about time someone used the power of music to do it, but we'll go one further: this will get better."
The idea for "Life is Great" as a title actually came from a friend of mine, a girl I was trying to date, who had me wrapped around her finger. One night she asked me if we could do something I really didn't want to do. I said "Of course" and her response was a jubilant "My life is great!!" We're a nation of submissives addicted to being dominated by screwed up rich dudes with a fetish for power. With this administration, as addicts, we've hit our low- which means the only two ways we have available are either total extinction via our habit, or rehabilitation and striving to rid ourselves of the addiction. It's my personal belief that we'll choose to "get better."
The other idea with the "Life is Great" title has to do with terrorists. Ever see one of those post 9/11 shows with kamikaze terrorists? They always have them going "God is Great!!!!" before blowing themselves up, or if they get shot in the lungs, that'll be the last words they utter with their dying breath. I was just thinking... yeah, God may be Great, but if God exists, of COURSE he's great and he knows it! You think he needs a murderer to tell him he's great? Life is also great, and it doesn't get nearly enough respect. If these people were dying with "life is great" on their lips well, they probably wouldn't have just killed anyone or died themselves. I'm really pro-LIFE, if you know what I mean. As in, if you're on this planet, I want you to have the best life you possibly can, and I'm going to try not to screw it up by bullying you, let alone trying to kill you. I feel other people could stand to adopt this policy.
So, I would say that the song is of course about all the things you mention- I'd be shocked and awed to find out that someone in this band supports George W Bush's administration. The one thing that they did for us though, is announce to the American public "uh... btw, yeah America was well known for this whole 'constitutional democracy' thing, but... that's not really how it works, as we're making painfully obvious to you now" - which at least tells us where we stand honestly. We're not living in a Democracy, really, and I don't think we have been for a while. We've got generations upon generations to thank for that. But this song is an assertion that every human being has a heart of gold, and you don't need to go searching for it across the planet's surface, just gotta mine for it in the love geography of any person's life.
ABO: The intricate details and sounds on this record seem much more pronounced than on WBDC. How much of your energy was spent on the background tracks, the string and key arrangements, and all of the other wonderful sounds on Fameseeker?
The difference with Fameseeker is that instead of 3 musical psychos running around, you've got 5. And these two guys play every instrument under the sun. Andrew is a phenomenal trombone player, and he plays a number of other brass instruments. James wails on the sax - but more importantly, he's our first permanent drummer and brings a unique approach while providing a sublime fusion of the drum stylings (guitarist) Nick Campbell and (bassist/engineer) Alex Hornbake displayed through their kit performances on Welcome Back Dear Children. Andrew and James are both excellent keyboard players although Andrew really truly scares everyone with how good he is on keys. He took over for me as the main key-man in Arizona, and for the greater good, believe me. Now I get to spend more time playing the erhu! (a 2 string chinese fiddle featured most prominently during the ending of "Thimble")
After recording The Sun and The Room and Welcome Back Dear Children, Alex Hornbake's engineering chops were amazingly sharp and he was very eager to capture the new sound of the five piece Arizona. So you've got this whole new brass element, a lot of stuff with sound manipulation ( Fameseeker's title track), this elegant keyboard playing, a new guitar sound via Andrew's telecaster wailing, and two new brains who can also be processing detail and coming up with ideas. So it's the same number of hours and joules of energy, but the two extra guys is really what makes all the difference.
We've now done a bunch of work for movies. We give these projects the full Arizona session treatment and usually turn around mega-quality songs in 12-60 hours. It's actually easier for us than coming up with stuff for our own records, which is why we want as much film work as we can get! It's the most fun we've had in the studio for sure. We've gotten super quick at finding the moments of scenes that have the most "pop" and emotional resonance, and we isolate these tiny little moments and will build an outline around them, and very quickly flesh those outlines out. I like to sing to the actors when we do these sessions, look them right in the eye and serenade them as though my words might actually reach them and change the scene.
We love timing out a song perfectly to highlight these subtle but emotionally huge moments, which can be scattered all throughout a scene. Making something that sounds like a coherent song out of all of this is the challenge, and I think we've done very well- most of these songs sound cinematic, but would be just as happy appearing on a record without the visual accompaniment.
It's unclear if the movies will ever see the light of day, but the songs will. We'll either do a "we like to score" type record, or re-record the songs for the upcoming LP. Or something. The songs will be made available.
ABO: What does the future hold for Arizona?
Danny Kadar and the band are going into the studio again to make another full-length record. We know that this is to be the most adventurous record yet, and I pray every night that I'll be able to write songs for this record that will stand up to what I've done in the past. Nick and Andrew already have some mind-meltingly cool songs up their sleeves.
If the royal light of Art Gods shine upon us, we will create some exciting pieces in collaboration with the terrifyingly talented Deems, who has done all of our album artwork. We are also eager to work on our first properly financed music video, which we'll be doing with our longtime friend and artistic contributor Cyril Besnard (an incredibly gifted filmmaker/editor living in France) along with his collaborative partner Ben and the mysterious Dr. Breint.
Hopefully there will be lots of film work coming our way. We could seriously score movies all the livelong day and we'd be happy. We're doing some production and arrangement for a massively creative platinum selling pop artist who has become a friend of ours, and we hope our work will make the cut for that album!
It is my sincerest hope that we'll start to see Arizona start to become a more distinct presence, something people can understand a little better. We've been such chameleons, I'm hoping that some sort of "Arizona sound" will coalesce in the minds of our audience, which we also would like to see take some sort of shape. We have fans, and the fans we have are usually quite passionate about us, but it's all extremely scattered. The more coherent the audience gets, the better our music will become. Bands like Modest Mouse, Arcade Fire, The Shins- they all know who their fans are, and so they have that dimension of knowledge to draw upon when they are making a record. It's a dimension I feel I lack when I'm working on a record, and it's one I badly want because it always makes the music better in my opinion. But for this to happen, Arizona has to work harder and harder, and we're looking forward to pushing ourselves to the limit starting this September!
Oh my stars, I freakin love this song. You can find out more about the band and their work with movies in my interview (which I'll post later on this evening). But for now just keep hitting play again to hear the beauty of this song. Wow!
Thursday, August 2, 2007
It's an interesting take on the track. The premise of the video focuses on a group of French dancers who do an interpretive dance to the song...It's a bit like that old Bjork video for "It's Oh So Quiet." The video certainly looks how the song feels sonically to me. And it doesn't hurt at all that the dancers are incredibly attractive females. So check out "Life is Great"...
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
"Thimble" is the leading track off the new EP. The boys begin the track with the distant sound of a storm that slowly getting louder. Then the the drums kick in. It's one of the most prominent openings of an EP that I have heard in a while. It certainly sets the stage for the tone of the record. "Thimble" then weaves in and out of sounds and lyrics in a such a way that you feel like the trip you're about to take will be well worth your time. Probably the most amazing thing about the track "Thimble" is the bands attention to detail. The band and I talked about this attention to detail with this record and I'll have more on that this weekend in the interview. I strongly suggest you throw on a pair of headphones and sink in to oblivion while listening to the sweet sounds of Arizona.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
With Anytown we did the best we could given circumstances it was birthed in. We battled a lack of funding, a lack of a cohesive schedule, and the daily struggles of being independent artists living in New York.
For the new record the atmosphere is different. In many ways we are now given a chance to make the record we’ve always dreamed of, an opportunity we are all taking seriously. So, as we drive across this country we’ve been writing incessantly, reviewing our demos, and talking in great detail about everything that will go into making this record come to life. It’s a wonderful quest ……
I, for one, am in love with the sound on Anytown Graffiti. I think it's a brilliant compilation of rock songs that sound like the best of yesterday and tomorrow. I can't wait to hear what their music will sound like if they have funding, a cohesive schedule, and a more dedicated fan base.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
So this post is a blatant rip off from Pela's website...but I really wanted to share it with you. And my time is short right now--but it's looks like Pela is going to get a bonus week next week for a number of different reasons. But the most important is that they freakin rock! Trust me--I have more from my interview with Pela, a contest, and many more thoughts about Pela. Check back often.
Anyway here is the info directly from the band's website about this video...
A couple of weeks ago, we announced that a video of Pela playing an acoustic version of Cavalry. No sooner than we announced it, it disappeared. We’re still not sure what happened to it but it has been reposted. It shows the lads playing with Chris Herb, an old friend and bandmate of Billy, who wrote the lyrics. The video is not the best quality but you may never see the song being done this way again.
And here's a version of them playing Calvary in it's rocking glory...
Monday, July 16, 2007
The following dates have been confirmed for the August tour. In addition, we expect to add another 3 or 4 in the near future.
8/09 The Cavern, Dallas, TX
8/10 Mohawk, Austin, TX
Friday, July 13, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Here's a clip of "Waiting at the Stairs" live taken at SXSW. I'll have lots more up by the soon, including an interview and the contest! Check back.
For now don't forget to check out Anytown Graffiti. You can stream it here.
And if you'd like to purchase Anytown Grafitti, you should purchase it from Insound. Buy at Insound and receive a free mp3 of “Present”, from the iTunes-only “Exit Columbia Street” EP.
Monday, July 9, 2007
07/11 - Black Cat , Washington, DC
07/12 - Local 506, Chapel Hill, NC
07/13 - Village Tavern, Mt. Pleasant, SC
07/15 - The Earl, Atlanta, GA
07/18 - Schubas, Chicago, IL
07/20 - Buffalo Icon, Buffalo, NY
08/14 - Spaceland, Los Angeles, CA with Film School
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Friday, July 6, 2007
Also, an extra show at the Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne will be happening on Friday August 10.
The extra Sydney tickets and new Melbourne show will go on sale at 9am on Wednesday July 4 through Ticketmaster and the venues.
In other news, the Gotye mini orchestra will also be playing a set at Splendour In The Grass on Sunday August 5.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Jul 26 2007
Fly By Night - SOLD OUT
Perth, Western Australia
Fly By Night - SOLD OUT
Perth, Western Australia
Jul 28 2007
The Metro - SOLD OUT
Sydney, New South Wales
Jul 29 2007
The Metro (Matinee all ages show from 2pm) - MORE TICKETS RELEASED ON WED JULY 4
Sydney, New South Wales
Jul 29 2007
The Metro - SOLD OUT
Sydney, New South Wales
Aug 3 2007
The Powerhouse (all ages) - SOLD OUT
Aug 4 2007
The Powerhouse (all ages) - SOLD OUT
Aug 5 2007
Splendour In The Grass - SOLD OUT
Byron Bay, New South Wales
Aug 9 2007
Governor Hindmarsh - SOLD OUT
Adelaide, South Australia
Aug 10 2007
The Athenaeum - TICKETS ON SALE WEDNESDAY JULY 4
Aug 11 2007
The Athenaeum - SOLD OUT
Aug 12 2007
The Athenaeum (Matinee all ages show from 2pm) - SOLD OUT
Aug 12 2007
Monday, July 2, 2007
Joe Hardy - Hearts A Mess (3AM remix)
Karnivool - The Only Way (cover)
ENS - Puzzle With A Piece Missing (remix)
DLake - Hearts A Mess (Electro-Baltimore Club remix)
Faux Pas - Get Acquainted (A Distinctive Sound remix)
Bass Kleph - Learnalilgivinanlovin (That’ll Learn ‘Em remix)
Bitrok - Thanks For Your Time (remix)
Infusion - The Only Thing I Know (remix)
Duosseudo - Hearts A Mess (remix)
Rocky Lolo - Seven Hours With A Backseat Driver (Way Back When remix)
King Charlie - Out Of My Mind (Oceans of Dub remix)
Velure - Puzzle With A Piece Missing (cover/remix)
Inga Liljestrom - Coming Back (cover)
Fourth Floor Collapse - Worn Out (Worn Out Blues cover/remix)
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Gotye is many things to many people, and, at once, many things to just one person (himself for instance), although, at times, he may be a few things to a few people. At once.
Sometimes, he may mean something to some person…or people (and we all know you can fool some people, some of the time) but it must be said: his aim is to fool himself, all of the time. Which he does.
But seriously…by Phil Collins was an album that informs pretty much all of Gotye’s songwriting to date. Any sounds in his tracks that sound familiar are of course, exactly that.
They come to Gotye in his dreams, and he gathers them round him like little children round a campfire, desperate (although they don’t know it) for visions of a glorious future, where all children (that is, “sounds”) can play (read: “resound”) together harmoniously… in a world where love rules and everyone will gladly “lay their body down for the groove”.
Is that how they say it these days?
Variously described as (i) a reclusive hunchback with a penchant for blue cheese and a horrible flatulence problem, (ii) a leading Soviet authority on ancient and early modern Russian political, economic and social history or (iii) a debilitating affliction of the neck (resulting from a childhood inattention to spelling), in actual fact, Gotye is just a young Australian fellow named Wally De Backer who makes music in his bedroom.
But which account do you find more interesting huh? I mean, really!
Boardface (2004) and Like Drawing Blood (2006) are two lps he has released independently. Gotye also has a remix album called Mixed Blood coming out soon. You can buy his records at the following links.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Thursday, June 14, 2007
So I'll be heading out of town tomorrow and won't be back until Sunday. And I have decided to keep covering Okkervil River through next week (for reasons that may or may not become more clear on June 24th). One main reason is that I still cannot stop listening and I'm sure you can't either. So I'll keep talking. Plus there's the contest. Make sure you enter.
And a big thanks to RD for giving me the heads up on the outstanding KEXP live performances podcast. Below is a link to download the Okkervil River performance from SXSW. It is really something and the version of Westfall is stellar to say the least. The setlist follows the link.
Download the Okkervil River KEXP podcast here
The President's Dead
The Latest Toughs
Our Life is Not a Movie
Okkervil River Song
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Monday, June 4, 2007
Saturday, June 2, 2007
So the new Okkervil River drops on August 7th, 2007. And true to the current trend, it will also be released as a deluxe edition. But unlike other "deluxe" editions, this 2XCD set will offer more than a few extra pictures and a hard back book. According to the description at Insound.com, the deluxe edition will contain a solo version of each of the tracks. That's good stuff folks.
The track list follows and I have included the link from pitchfork to download the first single. If you have not heard it yet, you're in for a treat. All of the trademark Okkervil River is there, but Will Sheff's voice sounds a little cleaner to me. And I don't think it's a bad thing, just something to get used to. Check it out!
1. Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe
2. Unless It's Kicks
3. A Hand to Take Hold of the Scene
4. Savannah Smiles
5. Plus Ones
6. A Girl in Port
7. You Can't Hold the Hand of a Rock and Roll Man
8. Title Track
9. John Allyn Smith Sails
Friday, June 1, 2007
Okkervil River has an incredible bio posted on their website. It is very lengthy, but well worth your reading. So check it out here.
But for my purposes here's a little synopsis. Okkervil River are currently a six piece that hail from New Hampshire. They make moody keyboard driven music that David Fricke of Rolling Stone describes it as music that, "pines and crawls with enriched instrumentation… and a gripping cross of drowsy understatement and lightning bolts of anxiety, like Pavement bursting through the middle of REM’s 'Country Feedback." They make music that I just can't seem to get enough of. I have purchased tons of music this year, but it seems like every time I turn on the old IPOD, I want to listen to Okkervil River. I have been purchasing everything I can find from their back catalog and the good news is that they have a new record coming out in August (check back soon for more details). This is what I have found listed as their catalog. There may be some other things available and if so, please leave me some comments so I can find it too.
Stars to Small to Use--1999. I'm fairly certain this is out of print, and I do NOT have a copy.
Don't Fall in Love with Everyone You See--2002. A great release. It is not my favorite, but in it's defense, I just bought it in D.C. a few weeks ago and have not given it a fair shot.
Julie Doiron/Okkervil River (split EP)--2003. It's on order. More soon.
Down the River of Golden Dreams--2003. Amazing record. Enough said. Just go buy it. MP3 Check out Blanket and Crib Here
Sleep and Wake-Up Songs EP--2004. Again It's on order.
Black Sheep Boy--2005. My favorite Okkervil River release. I already posted Black as an MP3. Check out the MP3 For Real Here
Black Sheep Boy Appendix--2005. Oh man. If ever an appendix to a record was needed. This is it. I strongly suggest when you purchase Black Sheep Boy, you buy the deluxe edition as it contains this appendix. I'll have a full write up and an MP3 of my favorite track up soon.
For Real (EP)--2005. On Order
The President's Dead (12")--2006. Two tracks. The title one is priceless. Get the MP3 Here
The Stage Names--to be released August 7th 2007. Pre order here. There is an MP3 for the first single available from pitchforkmedia here.
Okay so you too can purchase all this music from the various internet sites, but I suggest you get it from the Okkervil River website.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
photo credit: Jean-Marc Luneau
I'm not going to apologize for being absent for past month or so. I'm not even going to pretend that many of you are still reading this. I do however realize that Shelby at Shifted Sound has been so very supportive for the past month and I understand that I would basically be starting from scratch had it not been for his constant promotion of this little project here at A Better Offer. So if somehow you still read this blog and don't subscribe to Shifted Sound, it is your duty to do so.
Onto the music. I was turned onto the brilliance of Okkervil River from Jeff at Out With the Kids (another shameless plug) and I was instantly shocked that I had not heard their music before. In fact, here is an excerpt of the email I sent Jeff after he so kindly sent me their music...
Okay so I am a complete and utter failure when it comes to music. I've got somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 cds and another 300 records or so, and throw in a couple hundred cassettes and countless downloads from the internet and somehow, someway, the sweet sounds of Okkervil River have never found their way to my ears. I am so utterly blown away by their music. It has been awhile since I have been so enamored with a band.
If you are wondering about their sound. My best description is that they fall somewhere between older Bright Eyes, Pavement, and a little Wolf Parade for good measure. Check out this track below to get you started and then check out the links to the right and download those MP3s and then buy everything you can find from them, because it is all amazing.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
I just wanted to take a moment and thank SHIFTED SOUND for helping introduce people to our site. If you are not familiar with the Shifted Sound podcast, you're missing out.
Click here to subscribe thru iTunes.
The Annuals have a few shows planned, so if you're lucky enough to be in the area check them out:
All Tomorrows Parties
w/ The National!
Dot 2 Dot Festival
Dot 2 Dot Festival
Bonnaroo Music Festival