Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Christmas Present 2 U

This will most likely be my last post of the year 2008, so I wanted to leave you all with a nice little Christmas present. The band featured this week is called Empires. They are a fantastic traditional rock band from Chi-town. After forming in 2006 and then spending all of 2007 writing and recording. 2008 saw the release of their labor in the completed album "Howl". Howl delivers rock tracks with varying influences and styles. From the obvious rock style of Duran Duran on "Valmont" to the acoustic softness of the album's final track "Hayley". For those that would like to discover a rock band so unknown you can't even find them on i-tunes... this is the group for you.

And now the best part and my present to you... head on over to and you can download this album FOR FREE! That's right... Empires is putting themselves out there to be noticed by making their first album available at no cost to you. So go download this album and give it a listen while you are driving to your holiday destinations. Merry Christmas and I will return after the first of the year with new music to get you going!


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tycho Music Provides

Tycho, the music project by iso50's Scott Hansen, is capable of providing that necessary disconnet from your crazy thoughts provoked by a crazy day at the office. It is also capable of providing wonderful background music for school work, book reading, and for sure blog writing.

This triumphant ambient music has depth, soul, and promise. With shows typically perfomed in San Fransisco (the artists home), it is unlikely we will see Hansen bring Tycho up into the Pacific Northwest. But his music can definitely be enjoyed to it's fullest regardless of access to a live performance.

Life can be found in this music. It's amazing how sitting back and letting the sounds unfold will take your mind to different places each time you listen. One moment you might be driving on a coastal highway as the sun sets over the ocean and the next you will be soaking in a steaming spring. One might even lose themselves in a peaceful nap where worlds have a way of becoming much more than we could ever imagine while awake.

This music is available for purchase at as are many of Scott Hansen's prints and t-shirts that were mentioned in a previous article. If this is the kind of music you like than this is a must own for your colleciton. It's also great music to show off to friends as most have probably not heard of Tycho before.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Room For One More?

With Jack Johnson, Matt Costa, & G. Love dominating the sometimes sugary island pop rock scene... Another surfer turned rocker, Donavon Frankenreiter is making sure there is room enough for his own brand of soul & jazz infused feel good music on that island.

It's no surprise that he is friends with all of the above artists or that he often times plays with them in concert and on albums. What might surprise however is the different shape his music can take when performed live. While Jack Johnson typically remains true to his album recordings, Donavon is not afraid to explore the wonderful world of 70's soul and funk. Take a trip over to and settle into the complete live album "The Abbey Road Sessions". A rare treat to find an entire recording posted on Myspace. Abbey Road Sessions delivers a variety of musical treats including a shared performance with another little know music great, The White Buffalo.

Donavon's latest album "Pass It Around" has him on tour through the winter and continuing into the spring. His sunny music will be just the thing to warm up a Pacific Northwest winter and you can be part of that! Frankenreiter will be bringing his show to our area for two nights. The first will be Friday Feburary 26th at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland and the second will be the very next night in Eugene at the Wow Hall. Presale tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10am. This will be my first concert of 2009 and I suggest you make it yours as well! Give the music I have posted on here a listen and see if you don't make room for Donavon's music amongst your Jack Johnson and G. Love collection.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Best Of The Missed

Unfortunately not every single concert worth attending can be attended by someone like myself who works for a living... I suppose if I were lucky enough to get a job writing artist reviews for a music magazine then going to concerts could be what I did for a living. But until that day comes, I will be forced to prioritize my concert experiences and limit myself to those I can attend without doing too much damage to my bank account and the rest of my social life.

Posted in the music player at the bottom of the page is music by some of the artists I really wanted to see this year and just couldn't make it happen. As a result they will be at the top of my list for shows next year if they happen to venture near the Pacific Northwest. Two of the artists featured actually have shows coming up very soon in Portland. The first will happen December 12th when Vampire Weekend takes the stage at the Crystal Ballroom and the second January 27th when Adele highlights the calendar at the Wonder Ballroom. The first show I already know I will not be attending, yet I continue to be hopeful for Adele.

The rest of the artists featured have no scheduled dates for this area that I can find at this time. All but Monte Montgomery were in Portland sometime in the last few months, so it is likely they will return. Especially Jeremy Fisher who just lives across the border in Vancouver B.C.. For those of you that stay long enough to listen to all of the music, there is a special acoustic treat in the last song. When Will I, by Monte Montgomery shows that this guy can play and he will be a can't miss show for 2009.

As the concert series unfolds for the next year, stay tuned to this blog for updates on great shows coming our way. I won't let you down with my recommendations.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ray Lamontagne

After three years of knowing who Ray was and waiting, waiting, waiting to see him in concert... I have finally accomplished just that. And in fine fashion.

I arrived at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland well before the doors were to open. I was extremely excited and couldn't believe I was only a couple of hours away from realizing my goal. I had a ticket in my pocket for a very decent seat and it was all mine. Then, to the right of the marquee, I noticed a man selling front row tickets. I told myself that my seat was good enough and that I really didn't need to spend the extra money. Nevertheless my curiosity got the better of me. I strolled over and asked the man if he would be willing to accept cash and my ticket for a front row seat. He declined my offer and suggested I try to find someone else to sell my ticket to. Just then a man walked over and wanted to know which seating section my ticket was for. I answered, he made me an offer, I sold, then I bought the front row seat. I felt like I wanted to treat myself to something special and I am so glad I did. The front row placed me right up against the stage and after scoping out my old seat prior to the beginning of the show I know my experience was changed greatly by my position at the head of the concert hall.

If you haven't been to the Schnitz in Portland you are missing out. It is a beautiful theatre that was built in 1929 and originally used for screening movies. Today it is fully restored with grand balconies and flowing architecture. The show began with a very good opening act, a treat since I had never heard of her before. Leona Ness delivered mild acoustic performances and powerful vocals. Her set didn't last long but was sufficient.

Now this is the point at which my words will fail to provide any kind of justice to describing the rest of the evening. Ray did something to all of us in that hall that few artists ever 'truly' pull off. Ray, shared himself with us. Most of the artists that I enjoy are very good at telling stories with lyrics and sound instrumentation. But the artist that spills his guts out for all to see is very rare. Ray even indicated to us that he has to reach deep inside and pull his songs out of his heart when he sings them. He is someone who has loved, been betrayed, given in to his faults, and resurrected himself while accepting his own darkness. He is tough, yet soft... elusive yet accessible.

It takes really hearing his music in order to understand this, and I have provided some of it on this page for you to listen to. When you are done with that there is also a video from a performance in Atlanta of a song from his newest album Gossip In The Grain. The song titled "Winter Birds" perfectly describes the shift from fall to winter and the closeness that a man and a woman feel during this time as they prepare to nest. A much more poetic endeavor into this time of year than John Mayer's attempt at it in his song "St. Patrick's Day" (although a good song), "Winter Birds" is classic Ray, and seeks to not just tell a story but actually transport you to those times in your life.

I will get off my soap box now... however... if there is one concert you attend during the rest of your life. Let it be a Ray Lamontagne concert. This experience is something I will never forget. The crowd became one. I could really feel the love in the room for Ray and his love for us. I can't really explain it any other way than that. It was electric and beautiful, stunning and soothing.
A heart shaping moment.

P.S. If you have someone in your life... grab onto them and listen to this music with them. Especially -You Are The Best Thing-Shelter-Hold You In My Arms. This music is meant to be enjoyed together.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Stretch Your $$$

It's the time of year again when shopping deals abound! If you find it difficult to search through every retail website... If you have difficulties finding time on Thanksgiving to look through all of the black friday ads... If you just need more buying power out of your dollar... Then look no further than This is a site that not only provides you with the newest black friday ad info BEFORE it reaches the newspapers. It also collects information on hot deals that are available right now!

The first page displayed contains the early released black friday ads. Currently Sears and Walgreens are the two big ones out. Each post will list the deals that will be available the day after Thanksgiving. Some items will have links to the store's website so you can get model numbers on electronics and search the web for reviews or actually see a picture of an ambiguous item description. Ads will continue to be posted as the month of November rolls on. Some retailers find out about the posting and force the site to remove their ad (as Big Lots has already done this year). But if you check it often enough you will catch a glimpse of pretty much everything that will be offered this year.

Clicking on the "Hot Deals" or "Coupons" tab at the top of the page will take you to great deals that you can take advantage of today! It is a collection from many different store websites and a wide variety of items. Clothing to jewelry and yes of course... home electronics. Much of what is offered this year including TVs from DellHome include FREE SHIPPING!

With consumer spending continuing to dip and inventories continuing to rise. Prices this year will tempt you like you have never been tempted before. The economy may be hurting some people but an economy like this might allow the rest of us the ability to deck out our theatre systems with state of the art components or purchase a plethora of toys for needy children. However you decide to use these great prices to your advantage... you can definitely bring a smile to some one's face.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Black Cab Sessions

It's not that often that a music based website comes along that can be described simply as "brilliant", but that's exactly what is. The brain child of Just So Films aided by Hidden Fruit, Sessions delivers stunning acoustic performance after stunning acoustic performance by some of today's most talented artists all from the back seat of a British cab. Unorthodox? Yes… Unforgettable? For sure!

In the back of a cab, these solo acts and groups alike, must deliver solid musical and singing performances while driving through city streets and without the comforts of large scale drum sets, pianos, and even some band members ( I should note that the occasional group does find a way to bring in a very small amp). The songs are all recorded in one take adding still more to experience. A good portion of today's studio music lacks much in the way of raw talent; this site refreshes by exposing artists that need not the use of voice enhancers and studio make-overs in order to sound pure… They merely are pure.

The Sessions are divided up into chapters, of which there are currently sixty four to delight your ears and soul. Performances range from the established Death Cab for Cutie to virtually unknown but crazy fun, Lykke Li (the video of which is featured in my first post below). In between are treats and delights for all. If you are serious about music, take a stroll, or ride rather with the artists featured on Black Cab Sessions. The videos do take a bit of time to buffer and that is the only draw back to the site. But the music is completely worth it. Make sure not to leave until you check out one of the best this site has to offer.
The Kooks: This British quartet is featured in chapter 25. A band that has experienced lightning success since the release of their first album in 2006, The Kooks are putting their own stamp on UK pop rock. The cab in this video only had room for two of the band's members, and they treat you with two great double acoustic guitar performaces.

Sample Below: UK's Badly Drawn Boy

Friday, October 31, 2008

iso50: Scott Hansen is Brilliant!

Talk about some great graphic design and fantastic music! Scott Hansen delivers his creativity and so much more to the vistors of The print to the left is his work "arbor" which I am now the new proud owner of. I have two other prints of his as well and will be putting together an awesome wall display of his work.

His website features more than great design work available by poster or t-shirt. Hansen is also a musician and once you enter his exhibit his music will start playing. What you will hear is his project known as Tycho. Ambient house music that ebbs and flows flawlessly with more depth than the ocean.

There is also a blog you can follow as well as posts of other artists work and even some vintage work that no doubt serves as an influence over Scott's creative process.

This is one website you will definitely want to check out. The prices for his work are affordable and if displayed correctly will give you that edge over your friends' decor that you may be looking for. Even if you aren't the competive type you will surely have a piece that will spark many converstions. The detail in his work and the fact that Hansen stays true to the retro seventies look in every print might make it difficult to choose which prints you will order... but I am sure you will want to order something.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Doug Fir

The music below is a collection of some of the best artists that will be performing at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland during the month of November. It's line-ups like this that make me wish Portland was sunny so that I could move there. The Doug Fir is absolutely one of the best places in Portland to catch small intimate shows where you can get right up to the stage and hear very diverse music on almost every night of the week. There is always a good mixture of up and coming artists as well as some of Portland's own finest. One great show there that I could not find music for is a Portland band named DERBY. You can find them on myspace or at I will be seeing them in Corvallis at the Bombs Away Cafe on November 8th and I can't wait! So check out the Doug Fir website and if you can, check out a show or two this month. (hint: Nov. 14th is probably the best of the bunch)

Sunday, October 19, 2008