I’ve been reading The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald for graduate school this week. Sebald’s writing is descriptive and purposeful, his words gently reconstructing a world that exists only in memory. Like all great artists, Sebald trusts his audience, understanding that the reader has the power to interpret, the ability to perceive what lies behind the words on the page. Sebald, who died in a tragic car crash at the height of his prowess in 2001, also has the unique capacity to convey intimacy, as is illustrated in the following quote, “Doubtless we should have driven on without accomplishing a thing, if we had not summoned up the nerve, exchanging one of those swift glances, to at least take a look at the garden.” One of those swift glances. We’ve all experienced that type of intimacy. The kind where words are unnecessary, and a fleeting glance is all that is needed.

The Fleet Foxes, like Sebald, have that wonderful ability to convey intimacy through their art. This was abundantly clear this past Wednesday night as the boys from Seattle lit up the sold-out 3,000 seat United Palace Theater with one and a half hours of beautiful music. Touring hot on the heels of the release of their brilliant sophomore album, Helplessness Blues, Robin Pecknold and gang gave it to us raw, and the respectfully silent audience (apart from the heckling about lowering the bass, which they seemingly took seriously as the sound noticeably improved) ate up every moment.

For me, the evening was about two things; memory and intimacy. Robin Pecknold’s songs speak to both. The following lyrics in Drops in the River reveal both themes,

You hesitate so my memory fades. I’ll hold to the first one,
I wouldn’t turn to another you say, on the long night we’ve made,
Let it go.

The opening lines of Montezuma also grapple with memory and intimacy,

So now I am older,
Than my mother and father,
When they had their daughter,
Now what does that say about me.
Oh how could I dream of,
Such a selfless and true love,
Could I wash my hands of,
Just lookin out for me?

I caught the Fleet Foxes’ July, 2008 show at the Bowery Ballroom, one month before I married my best friend and the love of my life. I can only speculate through listening to his word what Robin Pecknold was going through then and now, but by providing us with a glimpse he draws us closer and reminds us of the centrality of memory and intimacy to the human experience. They are, indeed, all that we have and share.

One final note about the Fleet Foxes’ performance. During the second half of the set, I believe it was right after Ragged Wood (correct me if I’m wrong), the audience erupted in a spontaneous standing ovation that lasted for over a minute. It was a special moment that will stay in my memory for years to come.


The Cascades
Grown Ocean
Drops In The River
Battery Kinzie
Bedouin Dress
Sim Sala Bim
Your Protector
Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
White Winter Hymnal
Ragged Wood
He Doesn’t Know Why
The Shrine / An Argument
Blue Spotted Tail
Blue Ridge Mountains

Oliver James
Helplessness Blues

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Cave Singers. Without going into much detail, they rock my world and I loved every moment of their opening set.

Video: Fleet Foxes – Montezuma/ He Doesn’t Know


Dirty Gold might just be the most blogged about new band in 2011. In these days of viral videos and blog hype, bands that plug into the right interweb coordinates seem to spread around the net at the speed of light. What hasn’t changed, however, are the difficult realities of putting on a live show.

I caught Dirty Gold last Wednesday night at Union Hall, and although there were moments of unbridled genius that filtered through, I was struck mostly by their youthful inexperience. Not that they don’t have a good excuse; they’re in high school, have yet to release their first EP, and have never played in front of more than a 150 people. I guess it’s only fair that I temper my expectations a bit. Highlights from the set included Overboard, The Quiet Life and California Sunrise.

Oh yeah, and the best part of the show was when they mentioned that the reason they were able to tour is because they’re on spring break. Their debut EP, Roar, will be released tomorrow (April 12th).

Dirty Gold – California Sunrise

Video: Dirty Gold – California Sunrise (Live at Union Hall, NYC)



The Moondoggies have been a busy group in 2010. Over the summer, they released an EP, which was followed by the release of their sophomore LP, Tidelands, in September. Meanwhile, the Seattle-based quartet was on the road supporting Blitzen Trapper, and is getting ready to head out on a month long tour of the Midwest and West opening for Dawes. Luckily for those of us in New York and Chicago, the band found time to schedule a few headlining shows.  They’re also visiting HearYa in studio for a session today before their show tonight at Schubas.

Last month, The Moondoggies stopped by The Mercury Lounge for a late night set that delighted longtime fans and newcomers alike. The band powered through songs from Tidelands and Dont Be A Stranger, and offered a selection from their recent EP. Highlights from their hour long set included “Aint No Lord”, “Black Shoe”, “Tidelands”, and “Its A Shame, Its A Pity”.

Although each of the four band members give the appearance of playing alone, the resulting blended instrumentals and vocal harmonies make it clear that each player is keenly aware of what his mates are doing. The end product is a band thats primed to take over headlining duties on subsequent tours.

In the meantime, those in Chicago should take advantage of The Moondoggies headlining appearance at Schubas tonight.


Pepper Rabbit opened up for Cotton Jones at the Knitting Factory this past Wednesday evening and provided the flanneled-hipster crowd with a rollicking set of folky psych-rock.

Reminiscent of Damien Albarn, Daniel Rossen and Stuart McLamb, Xander Singh successfully manages to meld instruments (clarinet, ukelele, keys, guitar) with electronic loops and catchy vocals. His partner in crime, Luc Laurent, keeps it all together on the drums while adding occasional backing vocals, and a new bass player adds a nice dimension to round out the lower registry.

The boys ran through material off their upcoming debut, Beauregard. The highlights were “Harvest Moon,” “Red Wine” and “Older Brother.”

It’s pretty damn exciting to ponder Pepper Rabbit’s potential. They’re young, ambitious and talented, and once they iron out a few kinks (out of tune guitars, vocal levels, etc.) and start playing in front of larger crowds, their live show will be seriously awesome. With the release of their much anticipated debut album (October 26) and a national tour in the works, it’ll surely be an interesting year for these sprightly gentlemen.

Brief background from Kanine Records:

“Pepper Rabbit formed when the bands principal songwriter, Xander Singh, was recording what was to be a solo album in New Orleans. Eventually, he recognized in his friend, Luc Laurent, an excellent drummer and musical companion. The two joined forces and named themselves Pepper Rabbit, playing scattered shows in New Orleans and at such events like the Pop Montreal Music Festival. Live, the band rely on samplers, loopers and their raw talent to create a soundscape that is meant to transport the audience to whatever psychedelic realm the band deem fitting.”

Pepper Rabbit – Older Brother

Live Video: Pepper Rabbit – Older Brother (Live at The Knitting Factory)


Free Tickets to The Thermals w/ Cymbals Eat Guitars at Irving Plaza, 10/13 [NYC Giveaway]

October 8, 2010

We have two pairs of free tickets to see The Thermals with Cymbals Eat Guitars at Irving Plaza on October 13th! Like us on Facebook and then send an email with your first and last name to to win. You must like us very much to win. The Thermals – I Don’t Believe You […]

1 comment Read the full article →