Monday, August 13, 2007

Arizona: Contest Winners!


Alrighty folks, sorry this post didn't go up on the weekend, but I'm a freakin slacker... Anyways the winners are;

Tim K. and Alan G! Both of you will receive a copy of FATM and a t-shirt in the size/color of your choosing. Ian will get in touch with you for mailing address and size.

And as promised, here are the winning stories.

Tim K.

I was in love with this French girl. So I listened to Diventa Blu about a million times to try and figure out what to do with this girl. And alas I figured out that Diventa Blu was actually Italian...so needless to say, my attempts failed miserably with her.

Alan G.

One day, while driving home, listening to Arizona to alleviate as much stress as possible, I had reached Splintering and as I always do, I began wailing the lyrics along with the song until I came to the Ferret St. and Palmer Ave. intersection. Distracted by the electric guitars finding their way into the song, I completely missed a car speeding from my right. Well, in my state of euphoria, I managed to slam right into the driver's side of the white Nissan. Needless to say, the side of that car was pretty badly crunched, but my car, protected by Arizona's sonic aurora came out virtually unscathed. True story.

And if you haven't picked up your copy of Fameseeker and the Mono, you can do so right here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Arizona: Photos and a contest reminder...







So tonight at midnight (eastern standard time) we will stop accepting contest entries. Oh okay actually if you send it in tomorrow morning, you'll probably get accepted...But I'm not making any promises. Don't forget to send your stories about how an Arizona song has played a role in your life (factual or fictional) to arizona.storytime@gmail.com. The winners of a sweet Arizona shirt and a copy of the wonderful Fameseeker and the Mono mini-LP will be announced some time tomorrow. We will also post the winning stories. We've had a nice time reading the entries we've already received...but keep them coming.

And as an added bonus Ian (Arizona's manager) sent over these photos as one of the many exclusives he's provided A Better Offer. So enjoy these last few photos, and check back tomorrow to see if you win the contest!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Arizona: ...Imagining You


So in my humble opinion, ...Imagining You is the best song on the Fameseeker and the Mono EP. It seems to tie the whole record together for me--you know brings it all home. But even as a single track it's beautiful in it's own right. I first heard what would become ...Imagining You when Arizona sent over some tracks to the Two Mirrors last August for me to post. ...Imagining You was the lead in for a live version of Surviving the Savior. It didn't even have the ending that it has now. It's fun to hear this song before it became what it is now. But it is no longer available for download. But I digress...

In my interview with the band Arizona, I asked Ben specifically about this track. Check out his response.

ABO: The track "…Imagining You," is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful songs you've written to date. The lyrics and melodies seem to resonate in my mind every time I hear it. It seems like we all tend to focus on the future and what may happen, when in fact the present is all we have—especially with the ones we love. Can you talk a little about the inspiration for this track?

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.

Every ballad I write, whether it be "Through the Soot" or "Some Kind of Chill" or "Imagining You" or even "Diventa Blu", the original inspiration is a specific person who I'm focused on in my life. I write these songs hoping that their heartfelt nature and catchy melodies will convince that person (who is almost never the same from song to song) to love me unconditionally for the rest of eternity. It's never worked.

And now you too can hear "...Imagining You."

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Arizona gets reviewed in Under the Radar


Here's what the Under the Radar magazine said about the Fameseeker and the Mono EP. I'm not sure I agree with the 7 out of 10 rating, but their write up is quite supportive and accurate.

A lovely, intimate offering from Arizona, who have a lazy, charming swagger. They apply it to guitar-driven, Neil Young-flavored rock, gentle folk numbers, and dense Elephant Six-style psychedelia, covering a lot of ground in the short 23 minutes of this mini-LP. Always leave them wanting more. 7 out of 10 stars. By J. Pace, Under the Radar.

Arizona: "Everybody's not on the same page"


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

Arizona: Week Two

I know you didn't come here to read about me...And I normally don't post on personal stuff here. BUT yesterday was my 31st berfday (say it phonetically--you'll laugh)...and my family got together and had a basketball game (not quite as exciting as last year's whiffle ball fiasco) on my son's 8 foot goal. Wildness ensues, limbs are sore, and a whole lot of sweat was produced.

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, arizona.storytime@gmail.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

Arizona: The interview

Okay folks, sit back enjoy a thought provoking and insightful intervew with the Neil Young loving boys from Arizona. They were ever so kind to sit down and hash out their responses to my questions. I considered breaking this interview into two parts, but I decided to leave it up as the main post through the weekend. I hope you enjoy!

ABO: How's North Carolina treating you? What was the motivation in coming to NC for the summer? You guys doing any writing while you're there?

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.
It's very gratifying to see local musicians find ideas in our music, or our production, that they feel they can use to enrich their own music. A teenaged musician from Raleigh recently sent me an mp3 of a song he wrote for a friend's movie that started out as a cover of "Some Kind of Chill" and one of the first friends I made down here already knew how to sing/play most of our songs. That sort of desire to bring aspects of someone else's music into one's own music is something we didn't experience in New York City, where lots of musicians (ourselves very much included) seemed to be competing for an imaginary "most unique and un-influenced band" award. While we've witnessed some catty/back-talking elements down here that are universal to all music scenes, the overwhelming openness and lack of pretense is very refreshing.

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?

I'd say that the same amount of time and energy is put into every song we do, between 24 and 72 hours of more or less non stop (except for sleep) work. Some songs on WBDC were recorded in way shorter amounts of time- "Waking Up" "Judgment Day" "Old Man With a Bad Back" and "David" were each made in under a day. But most of the tracks you hear from us are done in one sitting, between a day and 3 days worth of time and energy and mind-wracking.

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.

ABO: Tell us a little bit about the movie score you've recently completed…And will the songs ever be available commercially?

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!

Arizona: Farily Light




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!

And don't forget about the contest. The guys were kind enough to put up a post on their myspace blog about the contest! It should be fun times.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Arizona: Life is Great video

This video for "Life is Great" was directed by the Young Francis who also directed the Pant + Whisper video (which is a track from the lovely Sun and the Room EP). And it has been floating around the blogoshpere quite a bit, but my coverage of Arizona would be woefully incomplete if I didn't post it as well.

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

Arizona: The contest


Alrighty ladies and gentlemen...Do you want to win some free Arizona goodies. The band has offered a free copy of their new EP Fameseeker and The Mono as well as a free t-shirt up for two lucky winners! After months* of careful planning in our plot to create the most amazing contest the blogging world has ever seen** we have come up with the following.

Readers should submit a specific story (either fictional or factual) about how an Arizona song played a part in their reality. Like the time I listened to Somersby so many times in a row, I purchased a spaceship to follow in the footsteps that the deranged scientist takes in the song. That really happened to me by the way. But you can make yours up if you like.

Anyway after writing your story, send it to arizona.storytime@gmail.com. This is an email address that Ian (Arizona's manager) has set up specifically for this contest. And we will announce the winner at the end of my coverage of Arizona. It doesn't have to be long...just make us smile with your story.

*by months I really mean two or three emails
**Or at least a really fucking cool contest

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Arizona: Thimble


So, I'm in Moultrie, GA. If you'd like to know what Moultrie is like, just say the name aloud with a deep southern drawl, and I'm sure you can get a picture of this town. I'd thought I'd quickly share some thoughts on "Thimble" the leading track of FATM.

"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.

For now, take a listen to "Thimble" by Arizona (link fixed, Thanks...)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

New (sort of) Featured Artist: Arizona


Ladies and gentleman, it is my distinct pleasure to announce that I'll be covering Arizona for the next two weeks. Arizona was the first band I covered at A Better Offer and they've got a new EP out and it so exciting to have them back. I've got an amazing two part interview, MP3s to post, tons of info about the new EP and movie scores, videos, and an awesome contest. I am thrilled! Check back often because things will be happening quickly around here. For now check out...


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Pela: Some final thoughts


This will be my last post on the wonderful band Pela. The guys were exceptionally friendly and giving in supporting my little project. I hope over the past few weeks, you've gotten to know their music and the band a little better.

And just one last time...I urge you to purchase their latest release "Anytown Graffiti." It'll more than likely end up on your best of 07 list.

And again, I do not make any money (its an ad free blog for goodness sake) and by no means represent any of the bands featured on A Better Offer. I simply love their music and want to share that passion with you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pela: Review of "Trouble with River Cities"


Anytown Graffiti is really a brilliant collection of songs that rock and roll with the best of them. And one of those fine tracks was even featured in an Express advertisement. But another track, that may not be the most representative Pela song, is exceptionally wonderful. "Trouble with River Cities" nestles in at track four on Anytown Graffiti and it is moving to say the least.

The song is much more mellow than a typical Pela song, and it begins with Billy singing "float like a sparrow/t-top camaro/is the wind done blowin you down?" and it reminds me the past. You know the days when you were growing up and we were much more care free. I asked Billy about the inspiration for this track in my interview and he replied, "Ya know its one of the oldest songs that i still play. I wrote it when i was 19. Its a snapshot of a period of time i spent with someone i loved and that theme again of being doomed to keep returning to an undesirable town." It is simply a beautiful snapshot of that time, and to me it's reminiscent of a small town friendliness.

Towards the end of the track Billy sings, "Yeah there's an undertow/but it ain't got me..." and it seems like there is some hope in the ending to this track. It's like an acknowledgment that trouble may remain, but moving on is an option. I asked Billy specifically about this lyric, and he wrote, "I really like mixing the dark and difficult aspects with fantasy where your imagination can sort of alleviate the grittiness that life can be. There is a dreamy highway escapism going on in that song....probably hatched from a stuck 19 year old me daydreaming. Daydreams are fucking valuable and i try to do it as much as possible. Really the process of creating is meditative and seeing it through from the bedroom, to a record, and later seeing fans sing it back to you a enormously gratifying."

I did not get permission from Pela's management to post this track, and I whole heartedly respect that. So if you're inspired to hear this song, go purchase "Anytown Grafitti." I assure you that it's worth your $13.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pela: Lost to the Lonesome video shoot

I got this email today from Pela. Check it out and get your little self out there to be part of this if you can.

Hey all,

Just wanted to send out a quick (and last minute) invite to see if you wanted to be in a video we are shooting this Sunday July 29th.

The video will be for the song 'Lost to the Lonesome', and it will be filmed in Woodstock, NY. It will be an all day event and you would have to provide your own transportation. You may also have to bring certain clothes as the video will be a period piece from the late 1800s/early 1900s. Food and fun will be provided.

If you are interested, please write us by Wednesday (tomorrow) at theband@pelamusic.com for more details. Again we'd like to stress that we will not be able to provide any transportation, so if you need to steal a car we completely understand.Hope you can make it down, sorry for the lack of notice.

All the best to you....

Eric

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Pela's thoughts on a new record


The following was posted on Pela's tour blog on the 16th of July. Check out their initial thoughts on a new record.

We’ve been driving all day. Conversation has bounced from topic to topic, mostly landing on thoughts for our upcoming record. All of us are excited about the new material that is being brought forward. There is also a growing realization that this record will be quite different from Anytown Graffiti.

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.
If you haven't bought Anytown Graffiti yet, you can do so here. I highly suggest you do so.

More to come...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pela: Calvary live with Chris Herb



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

Pela: New Tour Dates Added!


Just a quick update for those of you who will get the chance to check out Pela in all their glory. They've added some more tour dates, and expect to add some more soon. Here's the info released via their website...


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
8/21 400 Bar, Minneapolis, MN

For a full list of tour dates, click here. Check them out if you get the chance.

Pela featured on Dinner With The Band


You may have seen this referenced in one of the questions in A Better Offer's interview with Pela. But, Pela was on the Dinner With The Band Podcast. The band cooks up two recipes with host Sam Mason and plays three songs live. (Waiting on the Stairs, Lost to the Lonesome, and Philadelphia). And please, if anyone knows better than I correct me, but Philadelphia is not on either Pela release, and as far as I can tell it's previously unreleased. Also on the episode, Sam talks with the band about food, life, and the making of Anytown Graffiti. It is well worth your time to watch.

Here's a little blurb about the show itself, Here's a cooking show that breaks the mold - the perfect mash-up of indie music and edgy food for total entertainment. Chef Sam Mason has been raising the stakes in the culinary world for the last ten years. Now join him as he invites his favorite touring bands to dinner for an intimate evening of cooking, conversation and live performance. Part rocker, part chef, Mason creates "intellectual food" that stimulates the palate as well as the dialogue. Rock on.

Check it out here. Now the episode is broken into five parts--for easier viewing. But I'm guessing if you subscribe to the podcast, you can see it all in one episode.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Pela: A Better Offer Interview


So, the guys from Pela were kind enough to respond to some questions I (and a guest writer) sent over to them. I'm sure you'll see soon, but they are extremely authentic and well spoken. Hopefully this will entice you to purchase their record (if you have not already done so). Make sure you read the bold faced quote from the fourth question down. It is the reason that A Better Offer exists. Hopefully, my little project is attempting to fight this. Enjoy the interview.

ABO: Can you tell me about how Pela the band came to be?

Pela: We met in late 01. There was a subway that my best friend and i had been playing in for change post 9-11. Jobs weren't easy to come by because NYC was still in shock. So there we were trying to make some money in a tunnel when Eric walked by. He was really gifted and i dont think we played a whole lot in the subway after that. Eric came from a great community of musicians and thats how we came to play with Nate. After a couple drummers Tom came into the fold and only lived blocks from us on Columbia st on the waterfront in Brooklyn..

ABO: You guys seem to have a do it yourself attitude with your music. You seem to have a large amount of input in everything from the artwork to the production of the records. Can you talk about how important this is to you as a group of artists?

Pela: Honestly we always made flyers, t shirt designs and produced our records to the point were somebody would have to really be committed to step in. We take alot of pride in our Independence.

ABO: What inspires you to make the music you do? What other musicians inspire you?

Pela: I dunno just following our hearts i guess.Our tastes our always changing so its hard to pinpoint. I'm a great fan of writers like Shane MacGowan,Joe Strummer, Springsteen, Steve Earle etc.

You recently said (On "Dinner with the Band") that Anytown Graffiti is essentially three concepts/records in one. Would you please explain what you mean by that and how you put your debut record together? Also, do you feel that there is going to be a space for concepts/full records that are meant to be listened together in an increasingly singles-oriented music business (with single-song digital downloads becoming the new norm)?

Pela: I dont remember the 3 in one thing. Maybe what you are thinking of is that we recorded in 3 waves. I find it conceptual by way of its themes. The songs sort of weave in a perspective from a person living in a smaller environment that is not convinced that that this is what life has to offer and then little betrayals or dramas that has led up to the lyrics. I come from a town of 6100 people and those were hard years to start realizing i was gonna have to leave to follow my heart and of all places i ended up in New York....As for the digital I tunes listening experience,we obviously are losing so much...-Who didn't sit down and pine over a record and its art/lyrics? So the thought of younger fans maybe never having that by way of being raised with a home computer, surfing around and downloading singles is just hard to accept...i think we are missing out but that's just me. Something that im seeing alot is a frenzied reception to talented upstart bands...its great for all of us but in a way it makes a shorter shelf life for bands. Its difficult for anyone to sustain that sort of underground swell for too long and with the webs density with constant bands coming out, or awareness of all things in the national music scene ,its hard to keep up. That said, shelf life or not we are not a slave to the dreaded old school magazine subscription or your older brothers back issues of maximumrockandroll anymore. Its your generation now and you can plug in and shape your tastes by youtube, itunes, myspace...ect. It would be a tragedy to try to strategize how to streamline a record to meet the demands of the i tunes generation. Not to fair to your soul if you ask me. We recorded in our bedrooms,in studios and really anywhere we could. We paid for it out of our pockets and self produced it. Id say after a year and a half and running out of money several times, its nice it saw the light of day. I was worried at times if we would crack (lol)

ABO: "Tenement Teeth" was featured as the song of the day from KEXP (and it may well be the song of the year, in my opinion). What's the story behind this track?

Pela: I meant it as in "cutting your teeth" and obviously a tenement conjures thoughts of poverty. So in a sense getting used to or an acceptance of being among the downtrodden. It isn't about me but a couple and their love story. I like the thought of listening to a record player crackling because the records done and a couple so defeated from their mismanagement of the great gift of love that they actually need each other. I like the visual thought of them leaning on each other and dancing to the skipping record. My favorite lyric is "i kissed you lips of ruby red and this is what was said......Land." Who hasn't felt adrift and the thought of reaching the shore via a kiss makes me smile its a nice thought.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pela: Waiting at the Stairs (live)


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

Pela: Lost to the Lonesome

Photo credit: Bob Sanderson


So if you are wondering what Pela sounds like, here is the best place to start. Pela has given A Better Offer permission to post this track as part of our coverage. So grab it while you can.

We recently had a death in the family so I'll be traveling quite a bit for the next few days so my posts may be a little scarce...but stay tuned as I may extend my coverage of Pela because I've got lots to share...

For now check out Pela's tour dates and get out there and see them while you can.

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
08/15 - Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, CA (tickets) with Film School
08/17 - Douglas Fir, Portland, OR (tickets) with Cloud Cult
08/18 - KEXP BBQ, Seattle, WA (tickets) with a bunch of great bands
08/25 - Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY (tickets) THEY ARE HEADLINING THIS SHOW!

New Featured Artist: Pela

Photo Credit: Bob Sanderson

Ladies and Gentleman, it is my pleasure to announce that I will be covering Pela exclusively for the next two weeks. You can expect all the usual highlights from A Better Offer. I have tour dates, background info, album reviews, an interview with the band, and hopefully another contest! Check back often during the next two weeks, to find out much more about the spectacular band Pela.

If you are completely new to their music, you can stream their new album "Anytown Grafitti" here. Or you can check out the links to the right as to where to hear more Pela. And about their sound--think good old American rock and roll. These guys make brilliant rock music. Their website describes them as being, "guided by the voices of Bruce Springsteen, Hubert Selby, Husker Du, Raymond Carver, The Replacements, Andre Dubus, The Pixies, Wilco, and the Hold Steady, amongst others, Pela’s brand of pastoral punk has been beautifully described as equal parts desperation and inspiration, which they have masterfully crafted into a signature sound."

You can go ahead and make your day by purchasing their music through any of the usual online retailers...




Saturday, July 7, 2007

Gotye: The Winner


Congrats to Sarah, from Portland, Oregon
She is the winner of a copy of "Like Drawing Blood" from Gotye. I'll get your cd out early next week! Thanks to all who entered. It was one of my most successful contests! I had lots of entries.

And if you still have not done so, I strongly suggest you check out Gotye. He is making some of the most creative music around today. It will move you.

Gotye (you can purchase his music here)


And if you missed it, you should check out Faux Pas music also. He remixed one of Gotye's tracks on the upcoming "Mixed Blood" LP.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Gotye: Some final thoughts (and some Basics love thrown in)


So as my coverage of Gotye comes to a close, I hope you have had the chance to listen to his music objectively. Gotye does not easily fit into any category. However, in my opinion, his music is heartfelt, moving, and downright fun to listen to. So if you haven't heard it yet, make sure you scroll down and download a few MP3s, or head over to Shifted Sound to hear the interview and some other tracks. And make sure you continue to check Gotye.com to find out more about the remix album "Mixed Blood."

And Wally posted the following info about his tour on his website...

In response to much demand, 500 more tickets are being released for the Gotye mini orchestra’s matinee performance at Sydney’s Metro Theatre on Sunday July 29.

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.

And tomorrow I'll announce the winner of a cd copy of "Like Drawind Blood," by Gotye! There is still time to enter. All you have to do is send me an email to thetwomirrors@yahoo.com by tonight at midnight with the subject "Gotye" and your mailing address. And in the body of the email answer this question...

Where will Gotye play on August 10th?

And I'll randomly choose a winner tomorrow morning.

And finally, I would be a failure if I didn't mention that Wally was also in another band that you may enjoy. The band is called The Basics and they are much more of a straightforward rock band, but somehow find a way to infuse more types of music into their music than humanly possible. Check out the Basics here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Gotye: The tour, a contest, and A Better Offer interview


For the record today's post was going to be about Gotye's tour (which I will still write about) but Wally sent back his responses to my interview questions. So you get a double post today, which I'll leave up through the 4th of July holiday. And there is contest information and the end of this post.

This tour is set to kick off on July 26th. Wally will be hitting the four corners (so to speak) of Australia in a little more than two weeks. All the shows have sold out--which is a huge accomplishment--but some more tickets will be released on July 4th (tomorrow). Gotye will be accompanied by a "mini orchestra" and Mountains in the Sky will be opening. And according to Wally you can expect "an audiovisual treat featuring strings, skins, saxes and axes, not to mention projections and reflections (that’s lights yo)" Those of you in Australia better get out there and see at least one of these shows. They are sure to be amazing. The dates are...

Jul 26 2007
8:00P
Fly By Night - SOLD OUT
Perth, Western Australia

Jul 27 2007
8:00P
Fly By Night - SOLD OUT
Perth, Western Australia

Jul 28 2007
8:00P
The Metro - SOLD OUT
Sydney, New South Wales

Jul 29 2007
8:00P
The Metro - SOLD OUT
Sydney, New South Wales

Aug 3 2007
8:30P
The Powerhouse (all ages) - SOLD OUT
Brisbane, Queensland

Aug 4 2007
8:00P
The Powerhouse (all ages) - SOLD OUT
Brisbane, Queensland

Aug 5 2007
8:00P
Splendour In The Grass - SOLD OUT
Byron Bay, New South Wales

Aug 9 2007
8:00P
Governor Hindmarsh - SOLD OUT
Adelaide, South Australia

Aug 10 2007
8:00P
The Athenaeum - TICKETS ON SALE WEDNESDAY JULY 4
Melbourne, Victoria

Aug 11 2007
8:00P
The Athenaeum - SOLD OUT
Melbourne, Victoria

Aug 12 2007
8:00P
The Athenaeum
Melbourne, Victoria

So, Wally from Gotye is simply one of the nicest (and busiest) people on the planet. Since Shelby from Shifted Sound conducted such a great interview last week, I decided to focus in on one Gotye track in my interview and go in depth into that song. The song I chose was "Hearts A Mess" from the Like Drawing Blood LP. If you have not heard the song yet, here's the MP3 again.


ABO: Can you talk a little about the inspiration for "Heart's A Mess".


Wally: A broken relationship. Ruminating on my attempt to feel alright afterwards. One night stands versus longer term meaningful relationships. Oh...and a loop from a 60s record ;)


ABO: One of my favorite things about this track, and your music as a whole, is your ability to push the limits (lyrically and sonically). You seem to be able to take listeners to a place that's almost uncomfortable, yet not cross the line. Can you talk a little about that moment in "Hearts A Mess" where you sing, "But I'm desperate to connect..."


Wally: Sometimes pop songs have a key moment. I guess in Hearts A Mess it's that line/vocal. I think I was pretty aware that I needed to usher the listener into a tension/buildup towards that moment. I believe the radio edit (available on Gotye's MySpace) does that"ushering" less effectively because it gets to the chorus too early. That vocal is the top of my range, where my voice starts to break up, but if I keep it together it can have a certain power to it I guess. Perhaps I captured something special in that final take.


ABO: What about the technical aspects of this song? Can you talk a little about the samples used, instrumentation, and how it will play out live. I know you mentioned that you really never intended to play these songs live, and I'm interested in hearing how you expect this track to play out live.


Wally: This particular track has proven very difficult to play live. Specifically the main loop of drums and bass. Sometimes samples have some idiosyncratic vibe/sound that just can't be recreated/reinterpreted without gutting your song. In the end I've decided to use the loop from a sampler live. It's augmented by my live vocals, live bass, drums and string quartet.


ABO: Is there anything else the readers at A Better Offer should know about this track?


Wally: It's missing an apostrophe (Hearts A Mess). Should technically be "Heart's A Mess". But I'm gonna stick with the apostropheless spelling :)


And now for the contest...I have a copy of "Like Drawing Blood" that Wally is sending my way to give away to one lucky listener. Just send me an email (thetwomirrors@yahoo.com) with the subject line "Gotye" and answer this question.

Where will Gotye play on August 10th?
Make sure to send me your mailing address also (its open to anyone who reads A Better Offer regardless of where you live) and I'll announce the winner on Saturday. Good Luck!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Gotye: Faux Pas remixes "Coming Back"


Gotye will release a remix version of his acclaimed record, "Like Drawing Blood" soon. The remix album is entitled "Mixed Blood." It is not your typical remix album in the sense that it will have remixes, covers, reinterpretations, and more from a number of different artist. Last week on Shifted Sound Shelby played the ENS remix of Puzzle with a Piece Missing (which is exceptionally beautiful) that will be featured on the album. You can check that out here. The full track list follows...

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)

But here at A Better Offer, I strive for a little more than the typical. And through a serious of misspellings and emails, I came in contact with an you fella named Tim. Tim happens to be the brains behind the acclaimed Faux Pas (who was also played on Shifted Sound). And Tim has given A Better Offer permission to post a web exclusive remix that he did for the Gotye track "Coming Back." This track did not end up on "Mixed Blood," but another one of Faux Pas remixes did. Anyways check out the remix below and check out Faux Pas music as well. I think you'll be delighted.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Gotye: Heart's A Mess video



Wow!

For more info on the making of this video, listen to Shifted Sound episode 66.

Video by Brandon Cook.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Gotye: Some intital thoughts


So I first heard Gotye when a friend of mine from Australia made a mix of her favorites from Australia. It included Wolfmother, Youthgroup, Ben Lee, Gotye, and many more. Well there were a few that stood out. And Gotye was one of them. The two tracks she included were, "Hearts a Mess," and "Thanks for Your Time." They both blew me away. Gotye just seemed to have a way to push things sonically and lyrically. I was impressed especially with Heart's A Mess. And still to this day that track has stood out as one of my favorites. (I'll have more on this track coming soon!)
Below is my initial review of Gotye, when I posted it on the Two Mirrors site that I used to write for. Check it out.

Gotye was next up and by far these two songs were my favorite songs from the Australia comp. His music is simply stunning. He has that quality in his music where it's almost uncomfortable to listen too. Think early Bright Eyes with an electronic edge. Both of these tracks are highly recommended! You will be hearing more from Goyte when I get the new record. You can order it here.



Stay tuned folks, I've got lots more Gotye, including tour dates, remixes, an interview, and A CONTEST!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Gotye: Background info

An MP3 to listen to while you read. What do you want by Gotye

Below is some background listed on Gotye's site.

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.
Sometimes

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?
Hmmm…

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.

Buy directly from Gotye's website




And the good news, I heard back from Wally and I hope to have an exclusive (albeit short) interview with Wally in the next few weeks. And definitely a contest!

Monday, June 25, 2007

New Featured Artist: Gotye



So if you haven't heard it yet, go check out the latest installment of the Shifted Sound Podcast.

We (Shifted Sound and A Better Offer) have been trying to sync up for quite a few months now, where Shelby could interview a band and I could cover them. And it still hasn't worked out perfectly yet. But here goes. I'll be writing about Gotye (pronounced gore-ti-yeah) for the next two weeks and as of right now, I haven't heard back from Wally (of Gotye fame) with the definite go ahead to cover his music. But that's alright with me, because I've got lots to say and share on the matter. If you have not heard Gotye yet, I suggest you start over at Shifted Sound and download podcast number 66 (and subscribe while you are there) to hear some music from Gotye and an EXCELLENT interview with Wally de Backer of Gotye.

Or you can check out the links to the right for more Gotye. Stay tuned!

If you are really wanting and MP3, try Out Here in the Cold
**Spelling corrected via email from Tim. A big thanks!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Okkervil River: the cliff



So I'm back from the wonderful mountains of North Carolina. The first thing I'd like to point out is that I have a new "you might be indie rock if..." joke. It follows.

You might be indie rock if, you hike up this freakin mountain in jeans.

I've got many more, but I just thought I'd share that one with you. And for those of you who don't know, that is me up there 4,000 feet in the air.
Anyways how does this apply to Okkervil River you may be asking yourself? Well as I sat on this cliff the following lyrics just kept repeating in my head.

Loosen the wire, your time has expired, the only word left is “goodbye.” In my new dream the light's shining on me, little needles of sodium unstitch the seams of the sky. Hold your head higher, the heavenly choir is settling in for the night. And where I had friends I am left with loose ends; four hours of vision exchanged for four hours of fright. But enough of “the fight,” enough “you and I,” enough of “prevail” or “walk in the light.” While the angels stand by I get high as a kite.

You can download the original version (from their first record, Stars to Small to Use) of this song here...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Okkervil River on KEXP (live performance podcast)


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

Interview

Westfall
For Real
Okkervil River Song

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Okkervil River: A contest


So as you can see, Ive been away for a little bit. But here I am again, plugging away at my little project. And I had an idea. I've gotten some emails (and comments) from you readers out there about how much you love Okkervil River. So I was thinking that you all have probably have something to say too. So what I'd like to do is propose a little contest.

The rules

1. Write a post about Okkervil River.
2. It can be about anything to do with their music, history, or future. But it must be about something I haven't covered yet.
3. Send me the post as an attachment to thetwomirrors@yahoo.com by Sunday, June 16th
4. Make it entertaining

What you get

I will judge the posts according to my own liking and for the winner (or winners--if there is more than one really good one) I will pre-order a copy of the new Okkervil River (Deluxe edition) cd that will be shipped to their door in early August. Now I'll be buying this with my own hard earned money--because really in a sense you are doing my job for me..

And here's an really fucking amazing MP3 for your listening pleasure...



Monday, June 4, 2007

Okkervil River: The Pitchfork Interview


Photo by Jean-Marc Luneau

I'll be brief...I have gotten permission from every band I've covered here on A Better Offer. And in my humble opinion, I have been successful in getting some quality interviews and giveaways. However, Okkervil River is just too big for this little project. I did not receive permission from the band to write about them and share their music. But I just had to do it, and I'm going to keep doing it for the rest of this week and maybe a little bonus week (more to come). And now some little indie rock enterprise has got the goods. Pitchfork has a full (and superb) interview with Will from Okkervil River. I have posted one particularly interesting part below. Read the entire interview here.

Pitchfork was asking Will about how he writes songs. His response follows...

WS: There's this weird little thing about writing, to me, that I almost think about as-- let's say you're loading film into a film movie camera, and you have to do it in the dark, so you have these little tents that you put your hands inside and you can't see what you're doing. And so, at a certain point, what are you going to look at? You can't look at anything, so you just stare into space while your hands are feeling around, trying to figure out a way to thread this film into the mechanism. And I think about that when I figure out how to write a song and assemble a record. There's this weird thing that I do where my hands, so to speak, know what to do, but I can't look at it too much. If I start to think about it-- like sit down and think about it and piece it out in a really cerebral way-- it all starts to fall apart or I start to ruin it.

I really start to think about how everything I could possibly do has been done by somebody else and how little new stuff, arguably, there is to do... but of course the point is to do things, to feel that thrill, to feel like you're doing something for the first time.

Okkervil River--For Real video

Happy Monday. Check out the video for one of the greatest songs I've ever heard. And I've got a contest coming soon...

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Okkervil River--The Stage Names (deluxe edition)



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--The band and thier music



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

New Featured Artist: Okkervil River


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.

Okkervil River--Black

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Annuals Tour dates




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:


5/19/07
Minehead, UK
Butlins
All Tomorrows Parties

5/22/07
London, UK
Astoria
w/ The National!

5/23/07
London, UK
100 Club

5/25/07
Birmingham, UK
Barfly
FROG

5/26/07
Bristol, UK
TBA
Dot 2 Dot Festival

5/27/07
Nottingham, UK
TBA
Dot 2 Dot Festival

6/14/07
Manchester, TN
Bonnaroo Music Festival
8pm

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Video Links: Annuals - Brother



I can't get enough of this song!!!



Here's the video.