Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What's Going on New Year's Eve 2011? Live Music in NYC

There's no shortage of live music in the New York area on New Year's Eve, and here's a selective guide to some of shows that still have tickets available (as of around 11:30 p.m. on Dec. 28th). Naturally, a lot of shows are sold out by this time, including Patti Smith at Bowery Ballroom, Gogol Bordello at Terminal 5, and Ted Leo & the Pharmacists at Maxwell's. But there are still some good shows you can get into, depending on your musical preferences, geographical area, and budget.

Deer Tick & friends play at Brooklyn Bowl on New Year's Eve.

Check out websites like the Oh My Rockness show list or Gig-o-Meter for more shows. For parties in NYC at bars, clubs, etc., with or without live music, see the MurphGuide New Year's Eve guide.

Here are some interesting shows that still have tickets as of late Wednesday night:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Free Streaming Christmas & Holiday Music - Still Tasty the Next Day!

Like leftover turkey and cookies, holiday music is still with us after Christmas or Hanukkah have ended... and sometimes these tunes are just as tasty after the fact. Since there are no new albums available for free online streaming this week (a usual Podcast Party feature on Monday or Tuesday), I thought I'd offer some streaming and/or downloadable holiday music to listen to if, like me, you enjoy hearing it after the actual holidays.

Spinner has an all-holiday group of album previews this week (as of Dec. 26th, at least).
Over at, a variety of holiday albums are still up for streaming, including some I've mentioned before like "A Brushfire Holiday, Volume 2" by This Warm December (featuring G. Love, Zee Avi, Matt Costa, and more). There's also "The Beach Boys' Christmas Album," "Christmas in California" by Ash Reiter, the four-song EP "Tennessee Christmas" by Lindi Ortega, Shonen Knife's three-track EP "Sweet Christmas," and one that sounded odd to me: "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," a collection of traditional Christmas songs by Scott Weiland, the troubled singer for Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver.

TV viewers may want to check out AOL Music's streaming offerings, including "Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 2" and "The Sing Off: Songs of the Season" (with performances by Pentatonix, the Dartmouth Aires, season two winners Committed, and many more). Also on AOL Music is "Now That's What I Call Christmas 4," featuring seasonal songs by contemporary artists such as Sheryl Crow, Carrie Underwood, and Maroon 5 and by old-timers like Andy Williams, Nat King Cole, and Burl Ives.

Note: there's no telling how long the Spinner and AOL Music holiday albums will be streaming, so you might want to check them out sooner rather than later.

The cover of the 2011 edition of Bill Adler's eclectic "Christmas Jollies" mix.

The homemade mix tape "Christmas Jollies" by Bill Adler was the subject of an NPR story yesterday, and it has gotten a lot of holiday love via re-tweeting and other forms of online sharing. Adler does a "Jollies" mix each year and distributes it to friends; this year's edition includes songs from Peggy Seeger, Solomon Burke, The Beach Boys, and more. You can read the transcript of the NPR story here, hear excerpts from each of the songs here (with notes from Adler), and see the complete track listing here.

(Oh, and to answer the question everyone's asking, "Where can I buy the 'Christmas Jollies' CD?!," the answer is: you can't. Apparently Adler burns CDs for his friends, but otherwise doesn't distribute the mix on physical media [due to copyright issues, I'd guess]). 

Also from NPR Music is the collection "Jingle Jams:  A Holiday Mix For The Rest Of Us," what it calls off-the-beaten-path holiday songs for folks having hard times during the season (the mix is co-curated by Adler). It's billed as a set for those who "get dumped or lose their jobs, or spend the night in jail." The artists include everyone from the Andrews Sisters to Paul Simon, Lady Gaga, and The Pogues, and includes one of my favorite modern holiday tunes, "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses.

If you're interested in listening to Christmas music year round, check out the 400 or so streaming stations at You'll find genres from traditional to rock, R&B, classical, Christian, Latin, jazz, and more

And since family is a major theme of the holiday season, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention "Aloha, Merry Christmas From Hawaii," a catchy Christmas song which, in the interest of full disclosure, was written and performed by my nephew Ian Stearns. Yes, I know what you're thinking, but he is an accomplished musician who has been honing his chops in various bands over the last two decades, including the bluegrass group Brooklyn Playboys.

Take a listen to it below. It's got a nice, warm island vibe, and who couldn't use a little warmth (or the musically induced reasonable facsimile thereof) this time of year?

  Aloha, Merry Christmas From Hawaii by IanStearns

Look for a batch of new albums for free streaming early next week, as the holiday season wraps up and labels start pushing out their new releases.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thousands of MP3 Albums for $5 (or Less) at

The latest Dum Dum Girls album is one of thousands now on sale for $5 or less at

If you're looking for last-minute holiday gifts for folks on your shopping list (or don't think you'll get the music you want), head over to's music store. It's now having several sales running that together mean thousands of MP3 albums for $5 or less. First off, you can check the more than 1,000 albums for $5 each (this deal is good through the end of January).

If you include the many EPs they're offering at that price, it means there are more than 23,000 MP3 albums for less than five bucks,Amazon says.

Among the 1,000 MP3 albums for five dollars in the alternative and indie rock category (228 albums in all):
  • "The Head and the Heart" self-titled
  • "Helplessness Blues" by Fleet Foxes
  • "Cults" self-titled
  • "Civilian" by Wye Oak
  • "Smoke Ring for My Halo" by Kurt Vile
  • "Wild Flag" self-titled
  • "Slave Ambient" by The War on Drugs
  • "Only in Dreams" by Dum Dum Girls
  • "Let England Shake" by PJ Harvey
  • "Divine Providence" by Deer Tick
  • "Last Summer" by Eleanor Friedberger
… as well as the deluxe version of Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" and albums by the Avett Brothers, Blitzen Trapper, Arctic Monkeys, Tokyo Police Club, Superchunk, Girl in a Coma, and Yuck.

In the just-plain-ol'-rock category, some of the choices include:
  • "New Blood" by Peter Gabriel (his reinterpretation of his own songs, with orchestra)
  • "Endgame" by Rise Against
  • "Duluth" by Trampled by Turtles
  • "Disintegration (Remastered)" by The Cure
  • "Is This It" by The Strokes
… and albums by the Black Crowes, Green Day, Cowboy Junkies, Drive-By Truckers, Lindsey Buckingham, and many more.

There are also classic rock, pop, R&B, and other genres.

Odd name, odd album cover, good music: Yuck's self-titled album is one of the $5 editors' choices.

If you're not inclined to go searching through the thousands of albums, you can check out's editors' picks of $5 MP3 albums, which winnows down the list of 1,000. It's a diverse bunch, from Phoexix and Wye Oak to Leonard Cohen, Eminem, The Who, and the soundtrack to "The Sound of Music."

Also, for Dec. 24th only, is offering 10 of the year's most popular albums for only $3.99 each. The albums include "Lioness: Hidden Treasures,"the posthumous Amy Winehouse album; the She & Him Christmas album;"Ceremonials" by Florence and he Machine;and "The King is Dead" by The Decemberists.

I hope you get (or got) what you wanted for the holidays, musically speaking. If not, check out the thousands of sale albums above. There are at least five or six I'm definitely buying...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Yo La Tengo, The Sea & Cake Kick off Maxwell's Hanukkah Shows

Yo La Tengo kicked off its annual Eight Nights of Hanukkah run at Maxwell's with a rousing show on Tuesday, despite recent health concerns for frontman Ira Kaplan. As always, the night included a surprise opening act (on this night, Chicago's The Sea and Cake) as well as special guests joining YLT on stage.

(Apologies for the poor photo quality; the place was packed and I was stuck in the back of the room.) 
Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo, during the first night of the band's Hanukkah shows.

The Sea and Cake kicked things off at 8:30 with a one-hour set, followed by standup comedians Jon Benjamin and Jon Glaser, who pretended to be the sons (both named Dave) of actors Dennis Farina and Dennis Franz.

Yo La Tengo took the stage at 11 p.m., with Kaplan playing seated, as he mentioned he would be in his post on the band's website. (He mentioned that he "had a pretty serious health scare earlier this month," but doesn't delve into the nature of it in the post. And he didn't mention it at all on Tuesday.  The website does say that he is "well on the way to recovery.")

Georgia Hubley steps out from behind the drum kit to sing lead vocals.

 The trio was joined on stage by Mac McCaughan of Superchunk, who played the entire show with YLT. (Later in the set came guest appearances by several members of The Sea and Cake: Sam Prekop, Archer Prewitt, and John McEntire.) McCaughan in particular was great addition, adding continuity throughout the set, and he and the other guests help fill out the sound of Yo La Tengo's songs.

For a more detailed description of Tuesday's show (and some much better photos), see the official Yo La Tengo Hanukkah diary post by Liz Clayton.

Yo La Tengo left the stage shortly before 12:30, so it was an almost four-hour show (minus about an hour for changeovers between acts). Considering the quality of Yo La Tengo's concerts and the high caliber of guests they usually get, this show is definitely one I plan to catch at least one night of in future years.

Chicago's The Sea and Cake opened Tuesday's show.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from Guided by Voices, Jaimoe, & More

The much-anticipated reunion album by Guided by Voices is the most high profile of the new releases available for free streaming this week (it would stand out even if this week's selection wasn't so small).

The "classic" GbV lineup reunited last year to play at the Matador Records 21st anniversary party, and has done some shows since then. The new album, "Let's Go Eat the Factory" (due Jan. 17th available now, on iTunes at least) features the same lineup (Robert Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Greg Demos, Mitch Mitchell, and Kevin Fennell).

Pollard and company had their "farewell" tour seven years ago, but now they're back. As NPR Music says, "Let's Go Eat the Factory" is "for better and worse, a prototypical Guided by Voices album—it's 42 minutes long and has 21 songs."

Guided By Voices - Doughnut For A Snowman by FIRE RECORDS

Also online for streaming this week is the new album by another artist with decades of experience, though in a totally different vein than GbV: Allman Brothers Band drummer and founding Jaimoe Johanson. He's back with a new album from his group Jaimoe's Jasssz Band, called "Renaissance Man."(Despite the group's name, it incorporates blues, rock, & soul as well as jazz elements).

KCRW Album Preview: 
"Let's Go Eat the Factory" by Guided by Voices (also streaming at NPR First Listen)

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Renaissance Man" by Jaimoe's Jasssz Band's Listening Party:
"Cloud Maintenance" by Kevin Hearn
"A Brushfire Holiday, Volume 2" by This Warm December (features G. Love, Matt Costa, Rogue Wave, Jack Johnson, and more)
"Christmas Album" by The Beach Boys

Friday, December 16, 2011

More NYC Concerts: Tool, Coldplay 2nd Izod Show on Sale Saturday

Tool plays the Izod Center on Feb. 1st, and tickets go on sale tomorrow at the link below.

There was a mad rush today for tickets to The Magnetic Fields' concert and the second Black Keys show. And there's likely to be another virtual stampede tomorrow morning for two more big New York area gigs: Tool at the Izod Center on Feb. 1st, and the second Coldplay show at the same venue on Aug. 4th.

Tickets for Tool go on sale Dec. 17th at 11 a.m., while the Coldplay show goes on sale at 10 a.m. No tickets seem to be available for the first Coldplay show on Aug. 3rd, but sometimes tickets are released at a later date (extra tickets for the second Black Keys/Arctic Monkeys concert were made available this afternoon, just hours after they first went on sale).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

NYC Concerts: Black Keys, Magnetic Fields On Sale Friday; F*cked Up, Titus Andronicus, & More Play this Weekend

Tickets for the second Black Keys/Arctic Monkeys show at Madison Square Garden in March go on sale tomorrow, as do tickets for the long-awaited return of Magnetic Fields. And there's a good slate of talent performing live this weekend at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar. Details:

As mentioned here last week, The Black Keys and Arctic Monkeys have added a second show at the Garden on March 22nd, 2012 (the first one is March 12th). Tickets for the Black Keys/Arctic Monkeys concert go on sale tomorrow, Dec. 16th, at 9 a.m.

Stephin Merritt's The Magnetic Fields play the Beacon Theatre on Tuesday, April 3rd. Tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 16th at 11 a.m. The band will be coming out with a new album, "Love at the Bottom of the Sea," on March 6th, according to their website.

As for gigs to see this weekend, the Brooklyn Night Bazaar has a solid lineup. Friday has Toronto's F*cked Up, Dom, Big Troubles, Radical Dads, and more, while Saturday's Brooklyn Vegan sponsored finale features The Hold Steady, Titus Andronicus, Wakey! Wakey!, and more. (The bazaar started off Thursday night with LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy spinning a DJ set, along with several bands.)

The Brooklyn Night Bazaar combines live music, shopping, art, and food, and takes place at 149 Kent Ave. (entrance is between N. 5th and N. 6th Streets), from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. each night. (More info and directions here.)  The bazaar is free except for the musical performances, which require a ticket. Tickets are $10 for Friday and $18 for Saturday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Music Notes: Wild Flag Played Letterman; Matisyahu Shaves His Beard; D Generation to Record; More

Here are some tidbits of music news from far and wide:

  • Wild Flag made its network TV debut last night, playing "Romance" on Letterman (video below).

  •  Trent Reznor "feels at home" with "Dragon Tattoo": the L.A. Times looks at how the Nine Inch Nails frontman fit right in writing the music for one of the year's most anticipated movies.
  • Hasidic rap/reggae star Matisyahu shaved off his trademark beard and posted a photo of his cleanly shorn face on Twitter. He explained on his website that he is "reclaiming himself" from the many rules he used to follow, and tells his fans to "Get ready for an amazing year filled with music of rebirth." 
  •  D Generation to record new music: before Jesse Malin was a solo singer-songwriter, he was in the punk band D Generation, which reformed to play a few gigs recently. Now it seems they are going to record some new tunes in 2012. I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with.
  • Rolling Stone's recent issue named its 100 greatest guitarists of all time, but the list was, not surprisingly, short on women. mentions some of the women axe players that RS forgot.
  • Visqueen disbands, but Rachel Flotard plays on: I was sad to hear that the band broke up, but was glad to learn that its leader, Bergen County, NJ native Flotard, is already at work with another project, called Cobirds Unite, with singer-songwriter Rusty Willoughby and others (including Barbara Hunter, Visqueen's cello player).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from John Zorn, The 65's, & More

The trickle of new albums available for streaming continues this week, but there are still some new CDs worth checking out. The avant-garde composer and instrumentalist John Zorn has a new album called "A Dreamer's Christmas," and if you're into holiday music with a different twist, head on over to NPR Music to preview it. [Update: the Zorn Christmas album is very enjoyable and a much more mainstream Christmas album than I would have expected, considering his past work. It's still streaming on NPR as of Dec. 23rd.]

The debut album by NJ band The 65's is one of the titles available for free streaming this week.

New Jersey alternative rockers The 65's are out with their debut album, "Strike Hard!," and it's available for preview this week (listen to the first track from the album, "Walk On Selfishly," below, and listen to the album's killer version of "Pretty in Pink" here).

Also this week, there are EPs by groups including The Lower 48 and Sixx:A.M., the band featuring Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue. The Sixx:A.M. release, "7," is a collection of seven of the band's tunes reworked in acoustic versions. (See a review of "7" here.)

  The 65's • "Walk On Selfishly" by dromedary

Another album streaming this week is a benefit collection to fight cancer that features songs from performers as diverse as Ben E. King, Suzanne Vega, Tom Verlaine, Randy Brecker, and John Pizzarelli.

NPR First Listen:
"A Dreamer's Christmas" by John Zorn's Listening Party:
"Fire & Ice" by Kaskade
"Where All Maps End" by The Lower 48
"Strike Hard!" by The 65's
"Life in the Loos" (EP) by Ross and the Wrongens
"Lying to My Lies" (EP) by Dear Lions

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"7" by Sixx:A.M.
"Back to Love" by Anthony Hamilton
"Pioneers for a Cure - American Songs to Fight Cancer" by various artists (including Ben E. King, Suzanne Vega, Tom Verlaine, John Pizzarelli, Randy Brecker, and Tom Chapin).

Friday, December 09, 2011

Black Keys & Arctic Monkeys at the Garden: 2nd Show Added

It didn't take long for the March 12th Black Keys/Arctic Monkeys show at the Garden to sell out today, so a second show has been added on March 22nd. Tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 16th at 9 a.m.

Since 19,000 tickets have already been sold for the first show, presumably the second show won't sell out quite as quickly. But just in case, you'll probably want to get your Black Keys tickets soon after 9 a.m. on the 16th.

The Akron, Ohio duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney is touring in support of its latest album, "El Camino,"which came out this week.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

NYC Concerts on Sale Fri.: The Black Keys with Arctic Monkeys; Gomez; M83; Neon Indian; More

Tickets for lots of great early-2012 concerts in New York are going on sale this Friday, Sept. 9th at Noon. The biggest of these is the recently announced show featuring The Black Keys with the Arctic Monkeys at Madison Square Garden, which takes place on March 12th.

Video for "Lonely Boy," the first single off the new Black Keys album.

The Garden is not the ideal place to see a concert, but The Black Keys have certainly gotten popular enough to fill arenas, especially with the release (today) of their much-anticipated new album "El Camino."

Here's a look at some of the most popular or interesting shows going on sale this Friday:
Wed., Jan. 4, 2012: Elizabeth & the Catapult with Misty Boyce, Mercury Lounge
Wed. & Thurs., Jan. 11 & 12: The Pierces, Mercury Lounge
Sat., Feb. 11: Don Giovanni Records Show featuring the Screaming Females, Laura Stevenson and the Cans, and others
Sat., Mon., & Thurs., March 3, 5, & 8: Bombay Bicycle Club, Music Hall of Williamsburg (March 3); Bowery Ballroom (March 5); Maxwell's (March 8)
Sun., March 11: Gomez, Bowery Ballroom
Mon., March 12: The Black Keys with Arctic Monkeys, Madison Square Garden
Fri., April 6: The War on Drugs, Music Hall of Williamsburg
Fri. & Sat., May 4 & 5: Andrew Bird, Beacon Theatre
Thurs., May 10: M83 with I Break Horses, Terminal 5
Sat., May 12: Neon Indian, Terminal 5

There are of course many big concerts coming up that are already on sale, one of the most popular being the slate of shows The National is doing at the Beacon Theatre starting next week. The shows run every night from Dec. 12th to the 17th, and each features openers who are appealing in their own right, including Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, and Wye Oak.

The National's shows in New York have always sold out quickly, so it seems that the band is trying to address the problem with six consecutive shows. If you've wanted to see The National live in New York, this is your best chance in a few years.

Get your credit card out and get ready to see some great live music to start off the new year.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from the Dropkick Murphys, Warren Haynes, & More

New live albums from the Dropkick Murphys and Warren Haynes and friends highlight the new CDs up for free online preview this week. These two releases from musicians who specialize in high-energy live shows should make up in quality for what's missing in quantity in yet another week with a relatively slim number of titles available for preview.

The Haynes album is a two-disc set to benefit Habitat for Humanity and it features the guitarist and some of his very talented friends: there's his own band, Gov't Mule; Bob Weir & Friends; John Hiatt & The Goners; Robert Randolph & The Family Band, and others. According to Haynes' website, the show was recorded at his annual Christmas jam in 2002. I'm not sure why it took so long to see the light of day, but nevertheless it's here now.

The new Dropkick Murphys album includes 10 live songs from their Fenway Park shows.

The new Dropkick Murphys release, "Going Out in Style: Live at Fenway Park Edition," includes the band's full "Going Out In Style" album as well as 10 songs recorded live at their Fenway Park shows in the fall. Among the live tracks are "Hang 'Em High," "Sunday Hardcore Matinee," and of course the title track.

Another notable new album streaming this week is "The Very Best of Neil Diamond," featuring 23 of the original studio recordings by the singer and songwriting legend whose tunes have been covered by everyone from The Monkees to Barbra Streisand to Urge Overkill. Just this week Diamond was feted at the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors.

Also on preview this week is a release I'm really looking forward to hearing: "Whitehorse," the self-titled album by the duo of acclaimed Canadian roots singer-songwriters Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland. (This isn't exactly a "new" release since it dropped in August, but in any case it's up for streaming this week.)

For R&B fans, there are new albums by Anthony David and Anthony Hamilton.'s Listening Party:
"Going Out in Style: Live at Fenway Park Edition" by the Dropkick Murphys
"New Album" by Boris
"Sweet Creatures" by Crash Street Kids
"Dog Year" by Miracles of Modern Science
"The Lost and Found" by The White Buffalo

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Warren Haynes Presents The Benefit Concert Volume 4" featuring Warren Haynes and others
"The Very Best of Neil Diamond" by Neil Diamond
"Whitehorse" by Whitehorse
"Live from Paris" by Shakira
"Location, Location, Location" by Anthony David
"Damn Son" by Kid Is Qual
"Hats Off to the Bull" by Chevelle

NPR First Listen:
"Back to Love" by Anthony Hamilton

Friday, December 02, 2011

Hear 7 Songs from Trent Reznor's "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" Soundtrack

You can now listen to seven songs from Trent Reznor's new soundtrack to the movie "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"—and download six of them free. As Paste Magazine noted Friday, the six-song free sampler is available in exchange for signing up for Reznor's e-mail list at

You can also view the film's trailer there and pre-order several versions of the album (which drops Dec. 9th).

Movie trailer for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," starring Daniel Craig.

The seventh "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" song is one that you can't download (yet), but it's a tune you'll want to hear: the full version of Reznor's version of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song," featuring vocals by Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The stream comes from Seattle radio station The End 107.7 and is a great version, the only downside being that it clocks in at only three minutes.

Reznor and Ross offered a similar free sampler download for their soundtrack to "The Social Network"(I signed up for that offer too, and can attest that it's a low-volume mailing list).

The versions of the soundtrack for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"available from Reznor's website are: CD (three discs) for $14, digital version for $12, and HD digital for $14 (choice of Apple lossless or FLAC). And then there's the $300 deluxe version: six vinyl disks, a book package with a metal cover, a poster, and an "Exclusive custom 8GB metal razor blade USB pendant, inspired by Lisbeth's razor blade necklace." Oh, and the deluxe set is signed by Reznor and Ross.

The full "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" soundtrack features 39 tracks, though it's hard to tell how many of these are full songs and how many are just brief musical interludes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Live in NYC Thursday: Dum Dum Girls in Brooklyn, GoGirls Music Fest in E. Village

Fans of female-powered rock will be interested in two shows on Thursday night that will be starting December off with a bang, on both sides of the East River.

One of my new favorite bands, the Dum Dum Girls, are back from a brief European swing and will play Brooklyn Bowl in a show starting at 8 p.m. Brooklyn's Dive and Xray Eyeballs open the gig. Doors are at 6 p.m.; admission is just $10. Brooklyn Bowl is at 61 Wythe Ave. in Williamsburg between N. 11th and 12th Streets (directions).

If you miss this show, the DDGs will be returning to Brooklyn Bowl for another show on Dec. 17th. (UPDATE: It doesn't say this on their tour page, but the Dec. 17th show is not a DDG show; rather, the band will be spinning a DJ set during the Stylofone reunion show. They will be playing a solo acoustic show with Crocodiles on Dec. 22nd at Glasslands.)

More than a half-dozen female indie rockers play the GoGirls Music Fest Thursday.

Across from Williamsburg in Manhattan, a line-up of women indie rockers will play at the GoGirls Music Fest at Otto’s Shrunken Head (538 E. 14th St.). On the bill: ReW, Lachi & Meridian Gold, Inky Glass, Melissa Clark, Luciar, Rachel Lee Walsh, and Tiik (from the band G.U.T.S.). You can hear songs from the GoGirls Music Fest here (my favorite is the poppy "Bug Out" by Lachi & Meridian Gold).

The show is a benefit for the Red Thread Movement, which is dedicated to fighting sex trafficking in Nepal. The show is set for 7 p.m. and admission is only $5.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from Young Antiques, The Roots, Gorillaz, & More

This is kind of a slow week for online album streaming, perhaps due to fewer album releases during the holiday season (except for the usual flood of box sets and special re-releases intended for gift giving). Still, there are a few offerings: new albums by Young Antiques and Me Vs. Myself; the latest from The Roots; a new archival set by legendary singer-songwriter John Prine, featuring live and studio recordings; a singles collection by Gorillaz; and a four-song "Appalachian Christmas" set from jazz/classical/bluegrass violinist and composer Mark O'Connor.

Young Antiques performing "What I Can't See" from their new album, which you can preview this week on AOL Music.

NPR Music has an eclectic handful of new albums for preview, from the metal band Cormorant; the Polish musician Jacaszek, who combines classical, jazz, and electronica; and the new Broadway cast recording of Stephen Sondheim's "Follies."'s Listening Party:
"The Singing Mailman Delivers" by John Prine
"The Singles Collection: 2001-2011" by Gorillaz
"Live at the Armory" by Chadwick Stokes & Friends (ex of Hermit Thrush and Dispatch)
"Paper Butterfly" EP by Shana Halligan

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Where I Am... Where I Want to Be" by Me Vs. Myself
"Appalachian Christmas" EP by Mark O'Connor 
"Out of Place" by Ourlives
"A Man, Not a Biography" by Young Antiques

NPR First Listen:
"undun" by The Roots
"Dwellings" by Cormorant
"Glimmer" by Jacaszek
"Follies (New Broadway Cast Recording)" by Follies Cast

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Music Notes: Fugazi Releasing Live Archive, Last Call for Amazon's Nov. $5 MP3 Albums, & More

* Fugazi live archive set to launch: Fugazi fans, your wait is almost over. the Washington, D.C. band that has been on hiatus for eight years has been working on making its archive of 800 live shows available for sale, and the recordings are set to start being released on Dec. 1st.
According to the Fugazi website, "Over time each of these recordings will be made available to download for a small fee and will be presented beside available photos, flyers and general show info."

If you already have a Dischord account, you may be able to access the Fugazi Live Series in beta before Dec. 1st.

Fugazi's last album, "The Argument,"was released in 2001.

Fugazi performing "Turnover" live in 1991.

*'s $5 MP3 album sale:'s $5 MP3 albums for Novemberexpires in a few days; here are some of the titles you can find on sale for the rest of the month:

"A Very She & Him Christmas" by She & Him
"Fallen" by Evanescence
"Thickfreakness" by The Black Keys
"The Best Of Joss Stone 2003 - 2009" by Joss Stone
"Lights" (Amazon MP3 Exclusive Version) [+Digital Booklet] by Ellie Goulding
"Wild Flag" by Wild Flag
"The Bends" by Radiohead
"Ten Years Gone The Best Of Everclear 1994-2004" by Everclear
"Seeds We Sow (Amazon MP3 Exclusive Version)" by Lindsey Buckingham
"Skying" by The Horrors
"Jeff Bridges" (Amazon Exclusive Version) by Jeff Bridges
"Panic of Girls" by Blondie
"The Knot" by Wye Oak

* Music industry heading for positive year?: The music industry could have its first rise in sales since 2004 if holiday sales are strong, says Billboard. The publication says that heading into Black Friday "year-to-date U.S. album sales were up 3.2%," and it's hoped that the trend will continue with strong late-year releases including "Take Care" by Drake, "Under the Mistletoe" by Justin Bieber, and new albums by Coldplay, Florence and the Machine, Tony Bennett, Jay-Z and Kanye West, and Taylor Swift.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cheap Music: Black Friday Sales; Signature Sounds Sale

With Thanksgiving hot on our heels, that means the season of holiday music sales and Black Friday deals is near. Here are a couple of places to find good music at good prices, whether you're shopping for gifts for family and friends or, um, buying stuff for yourself.
Bruce Springsteen's "The Promise" 3 CD/3 Blu-ray set will be just $58.99 for a few hours on Thanksgiving Day. is having Black Friday music dealsthat started yesterday and continue through Monday, Nov. 28th.

If you're a fan of Amazon's lightning deals and other time-limited sales, you'll like the setup of their Black Friday music sale. Several items are put on sale for a two- or four-hour window, then they go up to their regular price.

For example, here are the Black Friday specials for Wednesday, Nov. 23rd:

5 a.m. - 9 a.m. PST:
Various Artists: "Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology" - $55.99
Amos Lee: "Mission Bell" - $5.99

9 a.m. - 1 p.m. PST:
Pearl Jam: "Live at the Gorge 05/06" - $18.99
Tony Bennett: "Duets II" - $6.99

1 p.m. - 5 p.m. PST:
Queen: "Queen 40 Limited Edition Collector's Box Set" - $32.99
Mumford & Sons: "Sigh No More" - $4.99

5 p.m. - 9 p.m. PST:
Various Artists: "The 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Concerts" (4CD) - $25.99
Eddie Vedder: "Ukulele Songs" - $4.99

Some of the highlights of Thanksgiving Day offerings:
5 a.m. - 9 a.m. PST: U2: "Joshua Tree" (Remastered/Expanded Super Deluxe Edition, 2CD/DVD) - $22.99
9 a.m. - 1 p.m. PST: Bruce Springsteen: "The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story" (3 CD/3 DVD) - $58.99

This Massachusetts-based label features a great stable of singer-songwriters and Americana musicians, and their annual sale at this time each year lets you buy any CD for $9.99 or less. (You also get a free 11-track sampler with each order than includes a physical CD.)

I somehow missed this sale until I got an e-mail from the label today, so unfortunately the one-week-only sale ends tomorrow, Wednesday, Nov. 23rd, at Midnight Eastern time.

Signature Sounds artists include Eilen Jewell, Josh Ritter, Crooked Still, Kris Delmhorst, Patty Larkin, Chris Smither, Lori McKenna, Winterpills, Richard Shindell, and Louise Taylor. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Free Album Streaming: Rhett Miller Live, Calexico's "Selections," Soundtrack to Michael Jackson's "Immortal," & More

New albums from Rhett Miller (formerly of the Old 97s) and Calexico highlight this week's free streaming albums. The Miller album is "The Interpreter," a live recording from Largo, the famed L.A.'s club. Calexico's new album on preview is a live one too, titled "Selections From Road Atlas 1998-2011." As the name indicates, it's a collection of tracks from the "Road Atlas" box set, which features all of Calexicos self-released tour albums on vinyl (it also includes MP3 versions of the music).

Preview Calexico's live collection this week at Spinner below.

Also of note this week is "Immortal" by the late Michael Jackson, the soundtrack of the Cirque du Soleil tour of the same name. The album is billed as "Michael Jackson's greatest recordings remained for Cirque du Soleil," and includes remakes and mash-ups of his tunes. You can see a video about the making of the album below.

And there's a tribute album to Linda McCartney featuring Beatles and Paul McCartney songs performed by country and pop artists including Ricky Skaggs, Shedaisy, Kenny Loggins, and Timothy B. Schmidt (who's been in Poco and the Eagles). I'm not sure of the connection between Linda McCartney and country music, but the collection (which is said to have received the blessing of Sir Paul) is to raise money for the Women and Cancer Fund, created in the memory of Linda (who died of breast cancer in 1998).

(My usual note: there are more albums available for streaming than just the ones listed below, and some of them are up for longer than one week.)'s Listening Party:
"Selections From Road Atlas 1998-2011" by Calexico
"The Interpreter (Live at Largo)" by Rhett Miller
"Immortal" by Michael Jackson

Other albums from Spinner this week include "Better Days" by Fonda, "Wildfire" by Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun, and "Grimm Reality" by Dimlite.

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Let Us In Nashville - A Tribute to Linda McCartney" by Various Artists
"Stream of Conscience" (EP) by 2/3 Goat (yes, that's "two-thirds goat")

Also on AOL Music: "No Kings" by Doomtree, "Streetlight Lullabies" by Toh Kay, "Break the Spell" by Daughtry," and "Your Name All Over It" (EP) by Knockout Kid.

What new releases are you looking forward to this week or in the coming weeks?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Los Campesinos! at Williamsburg (Photos)

Los Campesinos! wrapped their two-night stand in New York with a raucous show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg Thursday night. Playing before a crowd that moshed even during the quieter songs, the band of seven musicians who met as students at Cardiff University in Wales played tunes from their several albums. Naturally there was an emphasis on songs from their latest album, "Hello Sadness," which was released this week.

It's too late for me to write anything nearing a coherent review, so I'll just supply a few photos from tonight's show. You can listen to Los Campesinos! songs at their Soundcloud page.

The band has a few more upcoming concerts listed on it schedule (below); keep up with all Los Campesinos! tour dates here.

Fri., Nov. 18th - Union Transfer, Philadelphia
Sat., Nov.19th - The Black Cat, Washington, D.C.
Thu., Nov. 24th - Unit Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Thu., March 22nd 2012 - Electric Ballroom, Camden Town, London, U.K.

Brooklyn's own Dinosaur Feathers, the night's opener.

Los Campesinos!

Gareth, Ellen, and Kim.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Music Notes: iTunes Match Goes Live; Google Music Store Coming Wed.

Apple's iMatch cloud service went live this week; look for Google's music store Wednesday.

Cloud-based music services take another step forward this week with advances from both iTunes and Google.

Apple's iTunes went live with its iMatch service, which for $24.99 a year will sync your music library of songs, movies, and other media not purchased from iTunes, placing a high-quality version of songs you own on the company's servers. (If Apple doesn't have a copy of a song, you can simply upload it.) Note: you must have iOS5 and iTunes 10.5.1 to use iMatch.

As Apple notes:

"...iTunes determines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store. Any music with a match is automatically added to iCloud for you to listen to anytime, on any device. Since there are more than 20 million songs in the iTunes Store, chances are, your music is already in iCloud. And for the few songs that aren't, iTunes has to upload only what it can't match. Which is much faster than starting from scratch. Once your music is in iCloud, you can stream and store it to any of your devices. Even better, all the music iTunes matches plays back from iCloud at 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality—even if your original copy was of lower quality."

With the other music cloud services, Amazon Cloud Drive/Cloud Player and Google Music Beta, you have to upload songs yourself to the services if you want them to be part of your play-anywhere library.

Google's options may change, because on Nov. 17th the company is set to launch the Google Music Store. It's been working hard behind the scenes to get the major music labels on board so it can legally sell and store music from their artists.

Google is said to have recently reached a licensing deal with Sony, giving it access to most of the big music companies (Universal and EMI [which Universal bought last week], in addition to Sony). Google has not yet inked a deal with Warner Music Group. Google has also reached agreement with Merlin Network, which represents 18,000 musicians on independent labels such as Merge and those of the Beggars Group, according to the L.A. Times.

Google's service will be like that of Amazon and iTunes, CNBC says, and will work with Google Music Beta. But it says Google something the others don't offer: "customers will be able to share songs they've purchased with friends, using Google+. Those friends can listen to a song a few times before they must buy it themselves."

I'll be watching for Google's announcement on Wednesday to see how these and other predictions pan out. Of particular interest to me is that Google will supposedly have access to all that indie music.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Free Album Streaming: Kate Bush, Slash, & Betty Wright; John Lennon Tribute Concert; & More

Slash's new live album features Myles Kennedy (also seen in "Back from Cali," above).

There aren't a lot of big names among the musicians with free album streaming this week, but a couple of the well-known artists that are available for listening are returning to the stores after long waits.

Kate Bush, the eclectic British singer with the amazing vocal range, is back with her first album of all-new material since 2005. And longtime soul singer, producer, and vocal coach Betty Wright returns with her first album in 10 years, and she's backed by today's go-to house band, The Roots. (Hear an NPR interview with Betty Wright from Nov. 13th here.)

Unlike those two singers, Guns 'n Roses guitarist Slash hasn't been absent from the recording scene for a long time; he debut self-titled album came out just last year. But he has come out with his first live solo album, and it features a few familiar tunes from his old band along with originals.

There's a notable compilation out this month, too. 2011 marks the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's death, and a new live album captures the 30th annual concert held in his memory. You'll hear Lennon tunes performed by artists including Alejandro Escovedo, Patti Smith, Bettye LaVette, Aimee Mann, Shelby Lynne, Martin Sexton, Joan Osborne, and many more.

And for Frank Sinatra fans, there's "Sinatra: Best of the Best," said to be the first-ever collection from The Voice that combines hits from his Reprise and Capitol releases, from 1953 to 1980.

KCRW Album Preview: 
"50 Words For Snow" by Kate Bush (streaming through Nov. 22)
(Also streaming at NPR Music)

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Made in Stoke 24/7/11" by Slash
"30th Annual John Lennon Tribute" by Various Artists
"Betty Wright: The Movie" by Betty Wright and the Roots
"Best of the Best" by Frank Sinatra

AOL Music also has a number of albums that sound interesting by artists I'm not familiar with: "Circus Girl" by Sherrie Austin; "18 and Alive" by Chelsea Lee; "The Gilded Cage" by Electric Sun; and "Pretty Old Soul" by Lizzie Huffman.

In addition, Spinner features a number of albums this week that I'm looking forward to hearing, even though I don't know the artists. Among them: "Freeclouds" by Carter Tanton; "Prosopopoeia" by The Color Bars; "All Your Heroes Become Villains" by Ed Hale and the Transcendence; "Breaking Hearts" by Rah Rah; and "Will Work for Free" by Toy Bombs.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Concerts On Sale: Wild Flag, Jeff Mangum, Glen Campbell, Jane Birkin, & More

Glen Campbell received an all-star tribute at the CMA Awards last night, and you can see him live when his farewell tour comes to New York.

Whatever your taste in popular music, there's something you're bound to like in terms of concerts coming to the New York area in the next few weeks (and months). A lot of these shows go on sale tomorrow and tickets are sure to sell quickly, so you might want to note the on-sale times for the best selection.

Wild Flag plays at Webster Hall, April 1st, 2012, and no, it's not an April Fool's joke. The immensely popular all-female rock band is returning to NYC, and in a bigger venue, after three smash shows last month. On sale: Friday, Nov. 11th, 12 Noon.

Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel returns to the area after two recent sold-out shows at the Loews Theatre in Jersey City. He'll do two concerts at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Fri., Jan. 20th and Sat. the 21st. On sale: Nov. 11th, 10 a.m.

Nada Surf is touring again and will be at Webster Hall on April 7th (their Jan. 24th show is sold out). Coincidentally, Jan. 24 is the day their latest album, "The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy," comes out. (You can download a song from the album, "When I Was Young," at their website.) On sale date for the April 7th show: Nov. 11th, 12 Noon.

New Jersey native Sharon Van Etten will play two NYC shows, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Feb. 24th and Bowery Ballroom on the 25th. Shearwater opens on both dates. On sale: Nov. 11th, 12 Noon.

Country/pop legend Glen Campbell, who has Alzheimer's disease, is making his farewell concert tour, and it stops at Town Hall on Sat., Jan. 7th. Campbell received a moving tribute at the CMA Awards last night, and tickets for "Glen Campbell: The Goodbye Tour" go on sale Nov. 11th at 11 a.m. You can download the title song from his new (and final) album, "Ghost On the Canvas," at Glen Campbell's website.)

Another legend, British singer Jane Birkin, is touring again, singing the songs of her late husband Serge Gainsbourg. The worldwide tour, described as "Serge Gainsbourg and Jane via Japan," stops at Town Hall on Sun., Dec. 11th, and tickets are on sale now. (See Jane Birkin's recounting of the reasons for the tour here. It isn't quite clear to me, except that she's touring with a group of Japanese musicians and it's somehow related to helping that country heal from the earthquake and tsunami of earlier this year.)

Tickets for many other shows went on sale today; check venue websites or Bowery Presents for the shows they promote, including those at Bowery Ballroom, Terminal 5, Mercury Lounge, the Wellmont Theatre, etc.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from The Bees, Los Campesinos!, & Jonathan Coulton; R.E.M.'s New Anthology; & More

The latest album by The Bees (a.k.a. A Band of Bees) is one of the new releases streaming this week.
I'm not familiar with many of the new albums that are available for online streaming this week, but there is one 800-pound gorilla in the batch: R.E.M.'s two-disc, sprawling career retrospective with the equally sprawling title, "Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982 - 2011."It sounds pretty much like a greatest-hits album with some non-hit album tracks, along with three new songs recorded after the release of the band's last album, "Collapse Into Now."

As NPR's Tom Moon notes in his commentary at the KCRW website, "the narrative of 'Part Lies' leans a bit too heavily on R.E.M.'s latter-day attempts to rock.... If the goal is to savor R.E.M.'s spectacular creative peaks and fierce experiments, know that, as [Michael] Stipe himself said, you can't get there from here. Part Lies only tells part of the story—the truth lies within the original albums."

Also streaming this week is the latest from the Welsh seven-piece band Los Campesinos!, who have two shows next week in New York (Bowery Ballroom on Nov. 16th; Music Hall of Williamsburg the next night)... the "new" album from the British group A Band of Bees (known simply as The Bees everywhere but the U.S.), which came out in 2010 but is just being released stateside Nov. 7th... and the latest collection from singer-songwriter (and former computer programmer) Jonathan Coulton, which features humor-laced tunes like "Je Suis Rick Springfield" and an ode to "rockin' 'The Stache.'"

Folk fans will be happy to see the pioneering singer-songwriter Judy Collins returning with a new album, "Bohemian," which includes cover tunes and original compositions.

KCRW Album Preview: 
"Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011" by R.E.M. (streaming until Nov. 15th)
"Hello Sadness" by Los Campesinos! (streaming until Nov. 15th)
(both also streaming at NPR First Listen)'s Listening Party:
"Every Step's a Yes" by The Bees (A Band of Bees)
"Young Statues" by Young Statues
"Bear" by Bear & Moose
"Mannequin Men" by Mannequin Men

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Every Waking Moment" by The Dear & Departed
"Bohemian" by Judy Collins
"Never Out of Time" by Camille Bloom
"Porcelain" by Edward Rogers
"Artificial Heart" by Jonathan Coulton

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Free Concert Podcast Downloads: Wild Flag, St. Vincent, Olivia Tremor Control, & More

If you like listening to recordings of your favorite artists playing live, there's a big batch of free concerts that's been made available online recently (yes, I've fallen behind on my semi-regular postings of these shows). Many can be downloaded as podcasts as well as streamed online; I've noted the ones that only offer streaming.

Stream or download a concert by St. Vincent below. Photo: Flickr user Moses.

The NPR Music podcasts (*) can be downloaded through iTunes, or from the links below.
CBC Radio 2's "Canada Live" podcast offers downloads of live sets from Dan Mangan, Oh Susanna, Jason Collett (of Broken Social Scene), and more.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Free Album Streaming: New Music from Florence & the Machine, Laura Veirs, Meshell Ndegeocello, & More

"What the Water Gave Me" from the new Florence and the Machine album

The new Florence and the Machine album heads the list of interesting new albums available for streaming this week. Called "Ceremonials,"the album is streaming at MySpace Music, a source that I hadn't really thought of for playing full albums. Although MySpace has been shedding users, it does offer some good album streams, so from now on I'm making it one of the sources that I check weekly.

Also streaming this week are a children's album from Laura Veirs, an EP of outtakes from the "King is Dead" sessions by Veirs's sometime collaborators The Decemberists, and a new album by bassist and singer Meshell Ndegeocello. And if you missed last week's NPR preview of the new Girl in a Coma album,it's up on Spinner this week.

For those interested in classic rock and pop, there's a 40th-anniversary edition of Jethro Tull's "Aqualung"and the official release of "Smile" by the Beach Boys—the 1967 album that had never fully seen the light of day until now.

There's also the first album by filmmaker David Lynch ("Eraserhead," "Blue Velvet") and, for fans of jazzy vocals, "Brainchildren," the new albumby singer and trombonist Elizabeth Dotson-Westphalen, who performs under the name Elizabeth.

MySpace Music:
"Ceremonials" (Deluxe Edition) by Florence and the Machine

NPR First Listen:
"Tumble Bee" by Laura Veirs
"Crazy Clown Time" by David Lynch
"Weather" by Meshell Ndegeocello's Listening Party:
"Long Live the King" EP by The Decemberists
"SMiLE" by The Beach Boys
"Nightlife" by Phantogram
"Aqualung" 40th Anniversary by Jethro Tull
"Exits And All The Rest" by Girl in a Coma

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spooky Spanish Tunes for Day of the Dead

The radio show Alt.Latino has put together a playlist of scary Spanish tunes.

UPDATE, Oct. 31st, 2017: For some non-Spanish tunes, check out this Spotify Halloween playlist from that includes classic (though overplayed) songs such as Monster Mash, Thriller, etc. If you want some less conventional Halloween music, see "10 Songs that Actually Give Us Chills" from San Francisco radio station KQED.

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UPDATE, Oct. 31st, 2014: L.A. radio station KCRW has put together a Dia de los Muertos/Halloween Playlist that you can stream on Spotify or listen to on YouTube. It includes spooky tracks from Kinky, Ozomatli, Los Carniceros Del Norte, and more. Enjoy!

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A few years back I did a post pointing out a great podcast of spooky Spanish-language pop songs appropriate for Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) parties or commemorations. That podcast was an episode of Ritmo Latino, the great show of Spanish-language music that, sadly, later came to a close.

However, the public radio show Alt.Latino has an article this week with videos for 11 scary Spanish songs for Day of the Dead (and descriptions of some spooky stories from Spanish-speaking countries). The article is called "¡Que Miedo! Terrifying Tales And Scary Songs From Latin America."

Granted, clicking on each video to see it isn't as easy as just playing the continuous music of a podcast. But you can always create a playlist on YouTube (or Spotify, Rdio, or other streaming service) of these songs. (You can also stream or download the show's podcast, which includes clips of each of the songs as well as introductions and discussions of the songs, at the link above.)

Here are the songs in Alt.Latino's playlist of spooky Spanish tunes for Day of the Dead (which is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd):

"La Bruja" by Tien-Huicani
"Witch" by Dani Shivers
"El Fantasma" by Tijuana No
"Tango de Pecado" by Calle 13
"Diablo" by Davila 666
"Lobo Hombre en Paris" by La Union
"Diablo" by Gobia
"Monster" by Guarco
"Calaveras y Diablitos" by Fabulosos Cadillacs
"Llorona" by Chavela Vargas
"Yo Soy la Muerte" by El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico

Some videos are spooky, others are funny or silly, but they should help set the mood for your Halloween, All Saints Day, or Day of the Dead commemorations.