Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Beirut, America

A common theme one might notice take shape at the beginning of many articles written regarding the band Beirut, is that this music, isn't for everyone. That while brilliant, unique, and talented, this band fronted by Sante Fe native Zach Condon, is for a certain kind of music listener. That his voice won't find favor with some and that the lyrical content of his music will be lost to others. From the first moment the sweet sounds of Beirut poured from my mid 1990's Altec Lansing PC speakers... I would have taken issue with those prior assessments, had I known they existed.

It is quite a statement of fact to say that the product of Beirut is going to be different for the average music listener. But to say that this music isn't for everyone, should actually just be a nice way of saying spoon fed top 40 listeners will find the quality of Beirut elusive. Not because of what this music is... but rather because of their own lack of discernment regarding what really makes great music.

With Beirut, a variety of sounds clash resulting in something magically difficult to slap a label on. Never a fan of using mixtures of other bands or artists to describe a new group to someone who hasn't heard their music before; I don't think it could be done for Beirut even if I attempted. Certainly not by using any American bands available. The most likely reason for this is the traveling of young Zach and the timing of those travels. Condon experienced late in his teen years the wonders of Europe and European folk music. Lucky for us it happened to shape his future explorations.

Strings, horns, accordions, tambourines, electronic beats, and an array of other instruments I won't even pretend to know the names of, are somehow blended together as if each one of them were invented solely as the perfect compliment to each other. While it is true some songs will take time to understand the occasionally complex lyrics, the feelings inspired by this music are instant and aggressive. The places the music will take you to are foreign and yet also home. Probably because a foreign land was the birth place of Condon's genius and yet most of what ends up being shared with us on Beirut's albums is produced in Brooklyn.

Beirut's third and latest completed work, March of the Zapotec/Holland, a double EP, shows Condon's growing depth of understanding. Not only depth in understanding what his soul wants to say through music but also the depth of possibilities involved with the kind of music he is creating. The first released single from the album, "My Night With The Prostitute From Marseille" triumphs in realizing that depth while keeping Condon's story accessible to the listener. Simple electro pop is all he needs to relate a complex series of events. Yet Condon can still drum up musical epics like "Postcards From Italy" and "The Concubine".

Currently touring through Europe one can remain hopeful that Beirut will be supporting their new double EP album in the states either late this summer or in the fall. Until we are blessed with such an announcement, the entire Beirut collection is available at i-tunes. Give the 10 songs on this page a listen and take a vacation to Europe, or to Mexico, but definitely into the heart of Zach Condon and Beirut.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

DF News... A Glance Ahead.

There are many shows at The Doug Fir Lounge remaining over the next three months that would be fantastic ways to spend your tax return. Luckily with shows at the DF costing on average 12 bones... you won't have to shell out much of that return and can easily use the bulk of it to buy tickets to see Coldplay at the Gorge in July. (@ nearly $127 a pop... that's no exaggeration)

The music playing on this page comes from each of the 3 featured bands/artists

Feb 24th: RA RA RIOT

This indie power rock quintet from Syracuse NY, has been speeding though the music scene and experiencing success doing it! Touring last year with Vampire Weekend, Ra Ra Riot has been spreading their brand of energy through the States and Europe. Continuing on after their drummer died in 2007... Riot has been able to recover and release their debut album "The Rhumb Line". A triumphant debut and tribute to the contributions of their late drummer, Rhumb Line delivers track after track of road trip worthy songs. Check out the two songs posted here for but a taste of why you will see more of them in the future.


Current front man from Mojave 3 and former front man of Slowdive, Neil Halstead has found new life recording a solo album for Brushfire records. Halstead's blend of acoustic guitar and thoughtful lyrics will have you eagerly straining to figure out his heart and his connection to his songs. Originally from England, this bearded wonder is fully integrated into the American music scene and isn't going anywhere for a long time. Be sure and check out these two songs here plus find some more great tracks from Mojave 3 and Slowdive at

April 23rd: COLD WAR KIDS

This California rock quartet has been around for nearly 5 years and yet you might not have heard of them. Just into their 2nd Album, Cold War Kids are a critically acclaimed band working hard to forge their way into land occupied by Radiohead and The White Stripes. While only one of several great shows available at DF in April, Cold War Kids promises to be the best because of the ability to see such a great rising talent in such a small intimate venue. Not that your heart will be moved by the powerful rock of CWK... but you will for sure find your soul jump started.

Cheque out these other great DF shows in the days to come:

Feb. 20th: THE MOTHER HIPS w/local favorites DERBY


Mar. 2nd: MATT WERTZ



Just to name a few...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Future Faces Of Music

It's cutting edge music at it's sharpest! Noisetrade offers the patient listener the best of tomorrow's musicians. If you are at all like me... you'll want to get in on them now via before you get annoyed by hearing their songs in commercials or drifting from the next cubicle over; played by the person who has no idea what good music is until it's on the radio and then acts like they were the first to know about them... even though it's the band's third album.

Noisetrade is a sharing site for artists trying to increase awareness of their music. Downloads of entire albums, EP's, and song samplers are made available through this unique and very "Radioheadesque" way. Artists join the community... post their music... and then offer it to listeners by download one of two ways. Visitors may choose to retrieve their music for free, by providing email addresses to five friends OR choose to pay whatever they would like for the music (minimum one dollar) and help out a budding talent.

There are a variety of genres and varying levels of brilliance. A gem is nothing near as hard to find as a needle in a haystack... but you will definitely need to put forth some effort to find something you will want to either add to your collection or pass on to friends. The site only offers 30 second clips of the available songs but provides links to artists' Facebook and Myspace pages for concert dates and complete song recordings. Featured on this blog are songs from 6 of the bands/artists found on Noisetrade, that I will be watching in 2009. Katie Herzig and Jessica Lee Mayfield have already been to Portland's Doug Fir Lounge this year and I am hoping for return visits in the future.

A special offer available now on Noisetrade, is a great subscription price to PASTE Magazine. As with the available songs, you can choose to pay whatever you want for a one year, 11 issue/11 CD subscription to PASTE (minimum one dollar). I went ahead and kicked them 5 bones for what I am sure will be a year's worth of solid music recommendations and reading/listening material. (special note: the deal does require an automatic renewal for $19.95 at the end of the year unless you cancel your subscription prior to... so watch for it).

Regardless of how much you choose to experience this great website with the freshest music around... I am sure you will find something you will be excited to bring up at the water cooler or turn the volume up on when you have friends in your car.