Friday, December 29, 2006

In House #1775: Best of 2006: The Top Five Releases

5- Kelley Stoltz: Below the Branches (Sub Pop)

(MP3)"Ever Thought of Coming Back"
(MP3)"Birdies Singing"

4- Neko Case: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Anti)

(MP3)"The Needle Has Landed"
(MP3)"Star Witness"

3- The Decemberists: The Crane Wife (Capitol)

(MP3)"Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)"
(MP3)"Sons & Daughters"

2- Josh Ritter: The Animal Years (V2)

(MP3)"Girl In the War"
(MP3)"Lillian, Egypt"

1- Belle & Sebastian: The Life Pursuit (Matador)

(MP3)"We Are the Sleepyheads"
(MP3)"Song For Sunshine"

In House #1775.
Airdate: 12/29/06
Focus: Best of 2006: The In House Top Five.

Last year's In House Top Five


In House PODCAST #230

Thursday, December 28, 2006

In House #1774: Best of 2006: Top Five Roots/Americana Albums

5- The Gourds: Heavy Ornamentals (Eleven Thirty)

(MP3)"Pick & Roll"
(MP3)"Burn the Honey Suckle"

Related content

4- Johnny Cash: American V: A Hundred Highways (Lost Highway)

(MP3)"God's Gonna Cut You Down"
(MP3)"Further On Up the Road"

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3- Old Crow Medicine Show: Big Iron World (Nettwerk)

(MP3)"Minglewood Blues"
(MP3)"My Good Gal"

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2- Scott H. Biram: Graveyard Shift (Bloodshot)

(MP3)"Been Down Too Long"
(MP3)"No Way"

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1- Bruce Springsteen: We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (Columbia)

(MP3)"Oh Mary, Don't You Weep"
(MP3)"Pay Me My Money Down"

Related content

In House #1774.
Airdate: 12/28/06
Focus: Best of 2006: The In House Top 5 Roots/Americana albums of the year.

Last year's Roots/Americana Top Five


In House PODCAST #229

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

In House #1773: Best of 2006: Rock n' Roll Singles

In many ways, the year in rock music 2006 was all about the hype. For every deservingly fawned over act or album that gripped the blogosphere's attention for an internet minute, it seemed there were twenty more getting way more attention than a band playing recycled music deserves (and at least ten more that actually deserved attention getting none at all). Such are the mysterious machinations of taste and psychology one supposes, coupled with a human lust for HYPE. But I digress.

The fact is, there were plenty of musically positive things to talk about in 2006, including a couple of transformations that were met with near universal acclaim. The Denton, Texas-based band Midlake opted for a lush, autumnal sound full of shades of Fleetwood Mac and America for their Trials of Van Occupanther. Little the band had done previously suggested such a direction, but the early mp3 release of "Roscoe," and its haunting textures caught the immediate attention of many and didn't stop all year long. Indeed, it may be the single of 2006, or at least indie rock's version of "Crazy."

Elsewhere, Chan Marshall reinvented her Cat Power as Dusty Springfield for what is by far her warmest-sounding album in The Greatest. Recorded in Memphis, the album is steeped in roots, gospel and classic soul sounds-- or at least their indie pop doppelganger. The stellar results suggest that this is perhaps the sound that Marshall should have been mining all along as her voice could hardly be a better fit.

There were plenty of strong debuts to go around, the most surprising and successful of which was likely Band of Horses' Everything All the Time. Formed by former Carissa's Wierd members Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke, the album was surprising not only for just how little it sounds like their former band, but for how popular it became. Bridwell's reverb-drenched vocals form the basis for a solid set of songs, including the epic "The Funeral," which announced just how far this apple was going to be falling from the Carissa's Wierd tree. Other debuts of note in 2006 included Catfish Haven's Tell Me, Islands' Return to the Sea, Snowden's Anti-Anti, The Raconteurs' Broken Boy Soldiers, and The Silent Years' self-titled effort, among others.

Finally, the year saw returns from several longtime favorites that continue to impress with their consistent excellence. At the top of this list was undoubtedly Hoboken's own Yo La Tengo, who issued a return to form of sorts with I Am Not Afraid of You & I Will Beat Your Ass, an album that revisits their vintage noise-pop in places (including its 10-minute bookends) while never leaving occasionally horn-laden, occasionally bossa nova-inspired indie-pop behind. We also saw the returns of Built to Spill (You In Reverse), the Pernice Brothers (Live a Little), the Mountain Goats (Get Lonely), The Decemberists (The Crane Wife) and Belle & Sebastian (The Life Pursuit).

In House #1773.

Airdate: 12/27/06
Focus: Best of 2006: The Rock n' Roll Singles.

The Silent Years, from The Silent Years:
"Someone to Keep Us Warm" (MP3)
Midlake, from The Trials of Van Occupanther:
"Roscoe" (MP3)
Band of Horses, from Everything All the Time:
"The Funeral" (MP3)
Cat Power, from The Greatest:
"The Greatest" (MP3)
Catfish Haven, from Tell Me:
"Tell Me" (MP3)
Crystal Skulls, from Outgoing Behavior:
"The Cosmic Door" (MP3)
Bishop Allen, from the June EP:
"The Same Fire" (MP3)


In House PODCAST #228

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

In House #1772: Best of 2006: Roots and Americana Singles

All in all, it was an exceptional year for music that twanged in 2006. There was plenty around from both old-timers and newcomers, and even new releases from some dearly departed artists. The lines between genres continued to blur, as established indie artists like Cat Power, Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis, Stars' Amy Millan, and M. Ward released roots-leaning efforts in a seemingly well-orchestrated attempt to throw a wrench into genre-divided best of the year lists.

Willie Nelson made up for a recent lull with two solid efforts in 2006: the swinging tribute to Texas songwriter Cindy Walker, You Don't Know Me, and the Ryan Adams-produced Songbird, which also featured the backing of Adams' band The Cardinals. The latter included some reworked Nelson classics as well as covers of songs by the likes of Leonard Cohen ("Hallelujah"), Gram Parsons ("$1000 Wedding"), and Fleetwood Mac ("Songbird").

The year also saw stellar efforts from artists who only seem to do great work. This included Wayne Hancock's Tulsa, a driving album if there ever was one, and singer-songwriter Dan Bern, who continued to position himself somewhere between Bob Dylan and Buddy Holly with the wry songwriting and energy found on Breathe. Oh yeah, Dylan himself returned, too.

One of the most interesting releases of the year was also its most successful comeback: Jerry Lee Lewis' Last Man Standing was an aptly-titled celebration of six decades of rock n'roots n'roll. The outing featured guests appearances by everyone from Neil Young to Merle Haggard to Jimmy Page and showed that The Killer ain't done quite yet. Elsewhere, the Queen of Rockabilly Wanda Jackson issued a solid tribute album to the music of former boyfriend Elvis Presley. I Remember Elvis sounds nothing if not vintage, and Jackson's trademark pipes are impressively strong on classics like "Blue Moon of Kentucky," and "Mystery Train."

Yes, the old folks were impressive, but youth was served in 2006, too, with several impressive debuts of note. These included Angela Desveaux's Wandering Eyes, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals' Nothing But the Water, Matt Masters' Centennial Swell, and Boston-based singer-songwriter Eilen Jewell, whose self-released Boundary County was picked up for distribution by Signature Sounds before the year's end.

In House #1772.

Airdate: 12/26/06
Focus: Best of 2006: The Roots and Americana Singles.

Willie Nelson, from Songbird:
"Songbird" (MP3)
Wayne Hancock, from Tulsa:
"Shootin' Star From Texas" (MP3)
Jerry Lee Lewis with Neil Young, from Last Man Standing:
"You Don't Have to Go" (MP3)
Angela Desveaux, from Wandering Eyes:
"Heartbeat" (MP3)
Mark Pickerel & His Praying Hands, from Snake In the Radio:
"Forest Fire" (MP3)


In House PODCAST #227

James Brown, 1933-2006

The Godfather of Soul died early Christmas day in an Atlanta hospital. He was 73. More via the Chicago Tribune.

"Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" (MP3)

"Its a Man's Man's Man's World" (MP3)

"Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto" (MP3)

Friday, December 22, 2006

In House #1771: The Holiday Special 2006

From In House to your house, the best of holiday seasons. Cheers!

Coming next week: The Best of 2006.

In House #1771.
Airdate: 12/22/06
Focus: The Holiday Special 2006 featuring music from Apples in Stereo, Lylas, Sufjan Stevens, James Brown, Tom Waits, The Kinks, Billy Idol, and more.

Martha Wainwright: "Merry Christmas & Happy New Year" (MP3)

Kristoffer Ragnstam: "Merry Christmas Baby" (MP3)

Jill Sobule: "Jesus Was a Dreidel Spinner" (MP3)

Aberdeen City: "Just Like Christmas" (MP3)

Casiotone For the Painfully Alone: "Cold White Christmas" (MP3)

Orange Juice: "Holiday Hymn" (MP3)


In House PODCAST #226

Thursday, December 21, 2006

In House #1770: The Panda Band's This Vital Chapter; New Band of Bees

The debut release from Perth, Autrailia's Panda Band evokes valid comparisons to four decades worth of pop music: Sgt. Pepper's to Spacemen 3 to The Soft Bulletin (not to mention a twist of twang). This Vital Chapter dropped back in September on Filter U.S. and has slowly been gaining attention thanks to tours with Evermore and townmates The Sleepy Jackson. Adventurous pop gems like "Sleepy Little Deathtoll Town," demonstrate a swagger that belies the band's relatively short time together, and the occasional chaos of "Eyelashes," shows them to be unafraid of a little dissonance in their pop. The Panda Band look and sound to be the proverbial band to watch.

The Panda Band

In House #1770.
Focus: Debut release from The Panda Band, This Vital Chapter, plus new music from Band of Bees, Apples in Stereo, Jarvis Cocker, and more.

The Panda Band, from This Vital Chapter: "Eyelashes" (MP3)


In House PODCAST #225

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

In House #1769: Lee Hazlewood's Cake or Death

January 23rd marks the release of what looks to be the swan song for iconoclastic singer-songwriter-producer-labelhead Lee Hazlewood. Forty-four years after the appearance of his debut, Hazlewood releases Cake or Death, an effort that is at once oddball, biting, hilarious, bizarre, self-depricating, and poignant-- in short, a release characteristic of the eccentric maverick. Adding an extra level of heavy to the mix this go around however is the fact that Hazlewood was earlier this year diagnosed with renal cancer, meaning that Cake or Death could very well be his final release, and in many ways he's fashioned it as such. Of course, given Hazlewood's track record it's not surprising that that doesn't mean a sentimental weep session; it's also not surprising that it instead means going out entirely on his own terms, whether that means a remake of sorts of "Some Velvet Morning," sung by his eight year-old granddaughter, or a duest sung mostly in German with Bela B. Elsewhere is a re-recording of Hazlewood's tune "These Boots Are Made for Walking," (here identfied as "Boots") that uses the darker, originally intended melody aided wonderfully here by Duane Eddy's guitar. It boils down to a warts and all celebration of a musician whose influence has been felt from Phil Spector and Nancy Sinatra to Beck and Howe Gelb.

Lee Hazlewood

In House #1769.
Airdate: 12/20/06
Focus: Upcoming release from Lee Hazlewood, Cake or Death, plus music from Nancy Sinatra, Willie Nelson, Calexico, and more.

Lee Hazlewood (with Bela B.), from Cake or Death:
"The First Song Of the Day" (MP3)


In House PODCAST #224

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

In House #1768: Sufjan Stevens' Songs For Christmas Box Set

What began as an annual EP recorded for friends has (ahem) snowballed into a five-disc holiday opus for Sufjan Stevens, recently collected and released as Songs For Christmas. The specially-priced box set includes 42 varied tracks, 17 of which are Stevens originals, in addition to a stocking's worth of stickers, animated comic and video, short stories and essays, a songbook with chords, and more. Given the sheer amount of creative output Stevens has managed in the past, with his states albums and otherwise, the girth here isn't surprising-- but how well the collection works is. Whether it's the layered, building quality of Illinoise-era originals like "Sister Winter," or the comparative simplicity of the earlier recordings-- the banjo-backed version of "Amazing Grace," for example-- it works as a whole with rare sincerity throughout. Perhaps most impressive is the ability Stevens shows in avoiding cliche where so many have failed. Endlessly-played, canon-entrenched songs like "Silent Night," "Joy to the World," and "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," among others, are consistently unique and inventive without being ridiculously over-reaching. These songs manage to sit along side less than traditional numbers like "Come On! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance!" and "That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!" with little shock to the system, a juxtopasition that Stevens himself notes is not unlike the seamless melding of the sacred and the profane that only Christmas can produce. Songs For Christmas is a charming, if imperfect, alternate take on the Christmas canon, one that may eventually wind up alongside recordings like Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas or John Fahey's seasonal efforts.

Sufjan Stevens

In House #1768.
Airdate: 12/19/06
Focus: Sufjan Stevens' recent Songs For Christmas box set, plus new music from Pas/Cal, Mark Kozelek, Rosie Thomas, Bishop Allen, and more.

Sufjan Stevens, from Songs For Christmas:
"That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!" (MP3)
"Sister Winter" (MP3)

Stream the whole box here.


In House PODCAST #223

Get Sufjan's Songs For Christmas box at Insound.

Monday, December 18, 2006

In House #1767: Yusuf Islam's An Other Cup

He's the Artist Formerly Known As Cat Stevens, but Yusuf Islam has done quite a lot under his own name in the twenty-eight years since he turned his back on the world of pop music. For many though, Islam's post-Stevens career contains little else but the comments he made that seemed to support the fatwa calling for the death of author Salman Rushdie in 1988-- comments that Islam has insisted were misinterpreted. Whatever the case, Islam's actions before and since that controversy tend to support his claim, as he has worked to support causes promoting peace, education, and charity, largely through the sales of his pop recordings, which continue to number 1.5 million albums per year.

An Other Cup
marks Islam's first pop effort since 1978's Back to Earth (and first, obviously, under his current name), though the results might suggest that Cat Stevens never left us. Things start off rather unexpectedly with the horn-laden chorus of "Midday (Avoid City After Dark)" signaling that this will not necessarily be a reserved return; indeed, Islam sounds positively joyous to be back. The voice and delivery continue to be unmistakeable, having been kept in great shape by Islam's faith-based musical forays over the years, and the songwriting is based largely in the searching, introspective vein his reputation was built upon, with many of the new compositions made up of the familiar rhythmic changes and shifting cadences of classics like "Peace Train," "Moonshadow," and "Father & Son." In 1970, following a life-threatening bout with tuberculosis, Stevens returned with the decidedly more serious and spirtual Mona Bone Jakon, an album that saw him making the transition from teen pop sensation to introspective singer-songwriter. It's no mistake that a re-realization of that album's cornerstone tune, "I Think I See the Light," is included on An Other Cup. It's a gesture that is at once a transformation and a return to form, perhaps the only way it could be for one of the most complex personalities in the history of pop music.

Yusuf Islam

In House #1767.
Airdate: 12/18/06
Focus: New release from Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), An Other Cup, plus new music from Tom Waits, Richard Swift, Ron Sexsmith, and more.

BONUS MP3s from today's show-
Yusuf, from An Other Cup: "Midday (Avoid City After Dark)" (MP3)

10,000 Maniacs, from early pressings of In My Tribe: "Peace Train" (MP3)

Richard Swift, from Dressed Up For the Letdown (due 2/20):
"Kisses For the Misses" (MP3)


Friday, December 15, 2006

In House #1766: Land Sound Record #4- Neil Young's Harvest

Lest we should forget what came before, today we exhume a semi-regular feature: Land Sound Records. The gist is a revisiting of watershed releases, hopefully either reigniting a desire to listen to, or uncovering for the first time, essential releases of days gone by. Or, aside from all of the important-speak: really good albums you should own.

Land Sound Record #4: Neil Young's Harvest

Release Date: February, 1972
Label: Reprise

If his previous work as a member of both Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and his three previous efforts (with and without Crazy Horse) hadn't already done so, Neil Young's 1972 release Harvest announced, without a doubt, the arrival of a formidable talent. Backed by the legendary Stray Gators, Young established the country yin to his more rock n' roll yang with americana nods like "Out On the Weekend," and his biggest hit "Heart of Gold,"-- a division that would become well known in his music over the thirty years or so that followed. Indeed, the likes of "Cinnamon Girl," or "Cowgirl In the Sand," are not to be found on Harvest, which finds its most rocking moments, ironically enough, in the song that seems to announce Young's move toward a rootsier sound, "Are You Ready For the Country?" It's not difficult, in fact, to see this album and it's predecessor, After the Goldrush, as forefathers of the alt-country movement, if not the first releases in the genre. That having been said, the scope of sound is wide here, with songs backed by piano, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and the London Symphony Orchestra, respectively. Young also got plenty of outside help aside from the Stray Gators, including James Taylor on banjo and guitar, and Linda Ronstadt, Stephen Stills, David Crosby, and Graham Nash all contributing backing vocals. While critics have always seemed hung-up on its "overwrought orchestral moments," found presumably in "A Man Needs a Maid," and "Words (Between the Lines of Age)," Harvest is a rare example of mass appeal and creative genius (it was the number one selling album of 1972), an undeniable classic that continues to give back.

(MP3)"Are You Ready for the Country?"
(MP3)"Out On the Weekend"
(MP3)"Old Man"

In House #1766.
Airdate: 12/15/06
Focus: The return of our Land Sound Records series, featuring Neil Young's Harvest. Plus new music from Anais Mitchell, Tom Brosseau, and more.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

In House #1765: Darren Smith & Douglas Cameron Live; New Mark Erelli

Singer-songwriters Darren Smith and Douglas Cameron make their way back through southeastern Idaho today with three (count 'em, three) performances tonight in Pocatello. The duo are nearing the end of their December acoustic tour after playing together in similar fashion this past fall. Since playing together in bands during college years spent in Moscow, ID, Smith now resides in Seattle while Cameron makes his home in Boise. Each of them has a solid solo release recently out: Smith's Last Drive and Cameron's remedies, respectively. More on the pair here.

Douglas Cameron & Darren Smith

In House #1765.
Airdate: 12/14/06
Focus: Darren Smith & Douglas Cameron live In House, plus new music from Mark Erelli, reissued Lucinda Williams, and more.

BONUS MP3s from today's in-studio performance-
Darren Smith with Douglas Cameron: "Back to the Bottle" (MP3)

Douglas Cameron with Darren Smith: "Remedies for Remembering" (MP3)


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

In House #1764: Memphis' a little place in the wilderness; New Young Galaxy, Menomena

The thriving Canadian indie scene seems to just keep churning them out: Memphis is the side project of Stars' vocalist Torquil Campbell, and represents yet another solid act out of the (mostly) Montreal-based contingent that includes Broken Social Scene, Metric, Feist, Apostle of Hustle, and others. While Campbell's Stars partner Amy Millan opted for a surprising rootsy direction with her recent solo debut, his Memphis project adds "chamber" to the desciptors already befitting his regular act, namely "indie" and "pop." A Little Place in the Wilderness is Memphis' sophomore release, having been released earlier this year in Canada to rave reviews (a U.S. release is slated for sometime early in 2007). Campbell is joined by Chris Dumont, as well as Metric's James Shaw, and Josh Trager of the Sam Roberts Band in composing bookish, occasionally jaunty tunes that could have only been produced by the stark beauty of a Montreal winter. One might call them a Canadian Belle & Sebastian. The new album is out in Canada on Good Fences.


In House #1764.
Airdate: 12/13/06
Focus: New release from Memphis, a little place in the wilderness, plus new music from Young Galaxy and Rosie Thomas, and 2007 material from Menomena, Apostle of Hustle, and more.

Memphis, from a little place in the wilderness:
"I'll Do Whatever You Want" (MP3)


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

In House #1763: The Figgs' Follow Jean Through the Sea; New Joseph Arthur

Last month marked the seventh full-length release from the New York-based band The Figgs. Follow Jean Through the Sea marks their first effort since the wonderful 2004 double-album Palais, and the latest in a career that reads like something of a rock n' roll cliche, the major exception being that their creative output has been consistently solid and only gotten better as the years have gone by. Formed in 1987 in Saratoga Springs, NY, The Figgs have shown an endurance that is all the more impressive when one considers their nearly perpetual underdog, underrated status. The latest is full of the kind of golden power-pop nuggets they've become known for, with songs like "Breaking Through These Gates," and "Don't Hurt Me Again," standing alongside anything they've ever done. Their first release on Gern Blandsten, Follow Jean Through the Sea actually marks the second recorded appearance for the band in 2006, as they also backed Graham Parker on his live, digital-only release 103 Degrees in June.

The Figgs

In House #1763.
Airdate: 12/12/06
Focus: New release from The Figgs, Follow Jean Through the Sea, plus a new digital release from Joseph Arthur & the Lonely Astronauts, upcoming material from Lee Hazlewood and more.


In House PODCAST #222

Get The Figgs' Follow Jean Through the Sea at Insound.

Monday, December 11, 2006

In House #1762: Forro In the Dark's Bonfires of Sao Jao; Latest Caetano Veloso

To begin with a little background, forro is a popular style of music and dance originating in Brazil's northeastern region. In its most traditional form the genre calls for a trio consisting of accordion, zabumba, and triangle, although several off-shoots and sub-genres have reimagined the sound and configuration of the original form. Taking this tio the extreme, perhaps, is New York City's Forro In the Dark, a sextet that has gained an impassioned following largely through the Wednesday night residency they've held at Club Nublu over the past four years or so. Originally assembled as a one-off for a friend's birthday party, the group's sound might be described as a form of forro heavily fortified with pop, rock, and other flavors (the occasional spaghetti western flair thrown in, for example). They've recently issued their second album, entitled Bonfires of Sao Jao, on which they find plenty of help from the likes of David Byrne, Bebel Gilberto, and Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori, among others. The selections include a Byrne-fronted take on Luiz Gonzaga's "Asa Branca," showing just how far their apple falls from the forro tree by covering one of the signature songs by the man who almost single-handedly put the traditional form of the style on the map. Elsewhere are sizzling dance numbers like "Que Que Tu Fez," and smoky, laid-back instrumentals like the saxophone driven "Cajuina." The album is out on the Nublu label.

Also today, we get to several selections from the outstanding compilation Tropicalia: A Brazilian Revolution in Sound, released earlier this year by the Soul Jazz label. The collection celebrates the artistic and political movement known as "Tropicalia" that grew out of Brazil in the late 1960's, largely in reaction to a repressive military dictatorship. Included are the works of six artists central to its musical manifestation, including Os Mutantes, Gal Costa, Tom Ze, Jorge Ben, Gilberto Gil, and Caetano Veloso, the latter two of whom were famously imprisoned by the government for their art and later exiled. The twenty tracks serve as a solid primer to a fascinating, albeit brief musical direction, combining the psychedelic leanings of Sgt. Pepper with the bossa nova of Brazilians like Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

In House #1762.
Airdate: 12/11/06
Focus: Recent release from Forro In the Dark, Bonfires of Sao Jao, plus the latest from Caetano Veloso and selections from the 2006 compilation Tropicalia: A Brazilian Revolution in Sound, featuring Veloso, Os Mutantes, Gilberto Gil, Tom Ze, and others.

From Tropicalia: A Brazilian Revolution in Sound:
Gilberto Gil: "Prociss√£o" (MP3)
Caetano Veloso: "Tropic√°lia" (MP3)


In House PODCAST #221

Get Tropicalia at Insound.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

In House #1761: The Format Live In Studio

Who needs a record label anymore, especially a major one? Examples of successful out-of-the-label-loop acts abound these days, from those better off after being rejected (Wilco, Cracker, Nellie McKay) to those who have never had a label in the first place (Bishop Allen, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah). Arizona's The Format, however, may be one of the few who have changed musical directions in order to get dropped. Apparently, it worked. Atlantic records, unenamoured with the decidedly more adventurous and musical tone of some of the new songs that would eventually make up Dog Problems, granted the band's wish, leaving them to record and release the album on their own. The result is nothing short of a few light years ahead of the bands The Format is, for whatever reason, generally grouped with-- think more Kinks and Beatles than FalloutRomanceRejects. The production often ventures into circusy, Jon Brion-like territory with Jellyfish's Roger Manning behind the controls resulting in unclassifiable gems like the title track. Elsewhere, it's a Cars vibe that inhabits the high-energy "Oceans," and "Time Bomb," jaunts along nicely to what we dare say is almost a disco beat. The Format play Idaho State University's Student Union Ballroom tonight.

In House #1761.
Airdate: 12/07/06
Focus: The Format's Nate Ruess live in-studio, plus new music from Band of Horses, +/-, The Little Ones, and more.

The Format, from Dog Problems:
"The Compromise" (MP3)
"She Doesn't Get It" (MP3)

Band of Horses, from The O.C. Mix, Vol. 6: Covering Our Tracks:
"The End's Not Near" (MP3)

The Format's "Dog Problems":


An Interview with The Format's Nate Ruess

In House PODCAST #220

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

In House # 1760: DeVotchka, My Brightest Diamond In the Area

Denver's DeVotchka, for our money, is one of the most interesting sounding bands around. Over the past few years the quartet has released three full-lengths meshing Eastern European rhythms (Gypsy music, if you will) with indie rock, resulting in a sound all their own not to mention the arrival of similarly-themed acts like Beirut and Gogol Bordello. For their latest EP, Curse Your Little Heart, they expanded their sound to include spaghetti western and latin strains, covering everything from Siouxsie & the Banshees to the Velvet Underground to Frank & Nancy Sinatra's "Somethin' Stupid." In addition this year, they also contributed to the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack, adding brilliantly to Mychael Danna's moody score, and providing one of the best sounding singles of the year in "Til the End of Time." DeVotchka plays Park City's Club Suede tonight and The Neurolux in Boise tomorrow night as part of a fascinating bill that also includes Shara Worden, aka My Brightest Diamond. Worden got her start as part of Sufjan Stevens' troupe of performers before releasing her debut Bring Me the Workhorse this year under the My Brightest Diamond moniker. Despite the name, her creations are decidedly darker and more sparse than those of her former bandleader, instead bringing to mind Portishead, Low, and the Cocteau Twins, among others. The debut is out on Asthmatic Kitty.

In House #1760.
Airdate: 12/06/06
Focus: DeVotchka and My Brightest Diamond in Park City tonight and Boise tomorrow night. Plus, new music from Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and more.


In House PODCAST #219

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

In House #1759: Deluxe Reissue of Lucinda Williams' Car Wheels On a Gravel Road

It's not often that an album gets the remaster/reissue treatment just eight years after its initial release, but Lucinda Williams' Car Wheels On a Gravel Road may be one of the few releases over the past decade or so that deserves such an honor. At the time, it had been six years since her previous effort (1992's Sweet Old World), and the recording of Car Wheels proved to be a frustrating and arduous process for Williams as she switched locales and producers three times, beginning with Gurf Morlix in Austin before moving on to Steve Earle's Twangtrust in Nashville, and finally Roy Bittan in Los Angeles. Whatever was wrong, she finally got it right-- the result was (and is) her strongest output, garnering both acclaim and sales after a somewhat obscure twenty year career as a musician. Guest stars included the likes of Jim Lauderdale, Buddy Miller, and Emmylou Harris, among others, on an outstanding collection of songs of love and loss, much of it reading like a desperate Southern roadtrip with songs titled "Lake Charles," "Greenville," and "Jackson." It was here that the "realness" of Williams' imperfect, whiskey-pained voice set a new standard for female artists on the alt. side of the country spectrum. Indeed, her influence can be traced to a number of artists who have arrived since, from Kathleen Edwards and Kasey Chambers to Angela Desveaux and Amy Millan.

The new Car Wheels deluxe edition, aside from being entirely remastered, adds three bonus tracks including the original version of her song "Out of Touch," an outstanding take on the 1920's blues classic "Down the Big Road Blues," and an alternate version of "Still I Long for Your Kiss," originally appearing on the soundtrack to the film The Horse Whisperer. In addition, the second disc captures Williams and her band on a thirteen song set they played live for WXPN's World Cafe back in July of 1998. Included there are versions of four songs from earlier on in her catalog. Not surprisingly, Car Wheels On a Gravel Road hasn't aged a day and sounds as fresh now as ever. Whether you're looking for a starting point in Williams' music or listening again after some time on the shelf, the reissue is a welcome excuse for either.

In House #17
Airdate: 12/05/06

Focus: Newly reissued, deluxe edition of Lucinda Williams' Car Wheels On a Gravel Road, plus new music from Willie Nelson, Dan Bern, Hacienda Brothers, and more.

Lucinda Williams, from Car Wheels On a Gravel Road:
"Drunken Angel" (MP3)


In House PODCAST #218

Monday, December 04, 2006

In House #1758: The Dears in Salt Lake City; New Stephin Merritt

The outside seems to become Murray Lightburn. The Dears' frontman proudly declares that he "hangs out with all the pariahs," in the midst of "Ticket to Immortality," and it's a theme he stresses throughout the course of Gang of Losers, the third full-length from the Montreal-based band. Again and again Lightburn's lyrics broach the topic of what might be called the dispossessed, the other-- whether that means personal, social, or political-- leading to the de facto title track, "You & I Are a Gang of Losers," missives like "Whites Only Party," and lines like "nobody wants you, but we want you." The dramatic set is at once both dark and hopeful, Lightburn's silver lining being that he and the rest of his outsiders are on the outside together, that they "have the same hearts." Artists as diverse as Serge Gainsbourg, Queen, and The Smiths have all been cited as influence on the music, and Lightburn's music-as-therapy approach to its creation is well-fed by such sources. Currently touring in support of Gang of Losers, The Dears bring their much talked about live show to the area tonight, playing the Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City.

The Dears

In House #1758.
Airdate: 12/04/06
Focus: The Dears in Salt Lake City tonight, plus new music from Jarvis Cocker, Stephin Merritt, The Silent Years, and more.

BONUS MP3s from today's show-
The Dears, from Gang of Losers: "Whites Only Party" (MP3)

Jarvis Cocker, from Jarvis: "Dont Let Him Waste Your Time" (MP3)


In House PODCAST #217

Get The Dears' Gang of Losers at Insound.

Friday, December 01, 2006

In House #1757: Clumsy Lovers in Pocatello This Weekend; New Tom Brosseau

In House #1757.
Airdate: 12/01/06
Focus: The Clumsy Lovers return to Pocatello this weekend, plus New South Fork live tonight at the First Friday Coffeehouse Series. Also, music from Tom Brosseau's upcoming Grand Forks, the Old Crow Medicine Show, and more.

New South Fork, recorded live In House, 6/30/06:
"Can't You Hear Jerusalem Moan" (MP3)

"(Put More Water In the Soup) There's Better Times a-Comin" (MP3)


The Decemberists Play Letterman, Get Put On Notice By Colbert

It's been a busy week for The Decemberists as fresh off Colin Meloy's recent sickness they made their Late Show debut with "O Valencia!" before being lambasted by Stephen Colbert for allegedly stealing his green screen idea. This, in reference to the band's recently announced "Re-Animate the Decemberists" contest, in which they performed in front of a green screen for the video to "O Valencia!" and are asking tech-saavy fans to provide the rest of the scene. Colbert issued what he's calling a "Second Green Screen Challenge," in which he's asking his own fans to edit him into the Decemberists' video. The fun hardly stops there: in late breaking news, the band has retaliated in an email sent to Pitchfork by issuing two challenges: first to fans, to create a video to be sent to Colbert demonstrating how they would "'mulch' him, take him down to the banks of the Ohio, put a cap in his Dockers." Second, to Colbert himself, an old-fashioned guitar solo challenge. From the sounds of things, this is just the beginning-- breaths are bated.

"Let's see how well they perform their trademark brand of hyper-literate prog-rock when I'm slicing off their legs at the knee."- Stephen Colbert on The Decemberists