Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wess Meets West - Tonight (12/21) @ BAR

If we lived in New Haven, we’d be at BAR each and every Wednesday. After all, where else can you have New Haven style pizza, house-made beer, and free music to boot? Manic Production’s ongoing free concert series has made BAR New Haven’s place to be on Wednesday nights, although all too often work and other obligations get in the way. It takes a special lineup to get us out most weeknights, and tonight certainly fits the bill when Connecticut’s own Wess Meets West takes the stage.

Having been a staple of BAR Wednesdays and the entire CT music scene, Wess Meets West headlines tonight, with True Apothecary and A Paper Tugboat supporting. Tonight is also the record release party for Chevaliers, the formal debut from the band. We heard a few tracks from this record at their last BAR appearance when they opened for Fang Island, and the tunes have only gotten better with time. Sleek production, interlacing guitar work, and epic post-rock anthems are all hallmarks of Chevaliers, an album we’re excited to finally get our hands on. So come on down to BAR, tonight at 9. Pizza. Beer. New records (and a future Vintage Vinyl post). What could be better?

 Oh, and happy Hanukkah!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Remnants - Bad Taste

“We’re the Astro Investigation and Defense Service! (AIDS)”
“We’ve got to change that name…”

“It’s like elevator music for head bangers!”

“What are you astro-bastards doing on my planet?”

“Did ya have to drink some chuck?”

Keep in mind all of these lines are much better delivered with a Kiwi accent amid the madness of an invasion of hungry aliens, which was the plot of Peter Jackson’s directorial debut, Bad Taste. The film, a gory splatterfest replete with violence, vomit, brains, and big guns, combines gross-out moments with a darkly comedic tone (An AIDS joke in '87? Bold.) making for an over the top action experience that will have you laughing until it hurts. And as no action flick would be complete without a good tune for the end credits, here’s the catchy-as-hell “Bad Taste” by The Remnants.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Hempsteadys @ The Outer Space

It's been over a year since we last saw New London reggae-rockers The Hempsteadys.  Complex horn and guitar arrangements played with an undeniable energy is the hallmark of their live experience, and was the perfect mid-afternoon set at 2010's incarnation of I Am Festival. They'll be opening for The Soul Merchants tonight, who are playing their 2nd to last show ever.  Tickets are only $5 at The Outer Space in Hamden, or $10 for a combined ticket which includes the Teles reunion at The Space (see post below).  We've had our combo tickets for weeks and couldn't be more excited.  Hope to see you there, and check out a clip from The Hempsteadys' I Am Fest set.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Teles Reunion Show 12/17 - Bring on the Nostalgia!

This Saturday (tomorrow), we’re going to party like it’s 2004: Local pop-punk band The Teles are playing a reunion show at The Space. Also in the lineup are the Sex Tigers, Keith Zarriello of The Shivers, and the Caligulists. Show starts at 7. $8 for the all-ages show at The Space alone, $10 for entry to both The Space and the 21+ show at The Outer Space across the parking lot, where there is a bar.

If you’re from the south-central region (or any region, really) of Connecticut and went to high school in the early to mid-2000s like me, the Teles are part of a fond high school memory of spending Friday and Saturday nights rocking out to local bands at area Knights of Columbus and American Legion halls. I remember keeping The Teles’ CD “Trust” in my CD visor in my car and listening to it as I drove to school my junior and senior year (back in the day when I hooked my portable CD player to a cassette tape adapter!). This reunion show is going to be a reunion not only for the bands, but for the fans too. I’m looking forward to this party.

More info on the facebook event page:


John Valby - Toad's Place TONIGHT (Xxxmas Show)

In a last minute decision, myself and the good Dr Bendel will be getting absolutely blotto tonight and singing along with John Valby, also known as Doctor Dirty.  Most famous for his "12 Dirty Days of Christmas", Valby spins classic drinking tunes into topical and disgusting epics.  Known for audience participation and taking the stage to chants of "Valby sucks!" or "Valby fucks sheep", the show will be a must see, especially so close to the holidays.  So bring the kids to Toad's tonight and give a listen to what Valby's true love gets him each Christmas.  Needless to say, NSFW.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sinn Sisamouth - I'm Still Waiting {House of the Rising Sun}

I've been listening to far too much Sinn Sisamouth to go without posting a track.  His Khmer-language rewrites of Western hits feature distorted guitar work and frenzied, garage-band style playing.  East truly meets west on tracks from seminal acts such as Procol Harum, The Beatles, and The Animals.  More prolific than Elvis, Sisamouth recorded an astounding amount of music in his career, which was cut short in the Killing Fields after the Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia.  Give a listen to the 5:13 of overdriven guitar virtuosity that is "I'm Still Waiting" his version "House of the Rising Sun" and give it up for the 'King of Music' and the amazing work he left behind.

Sinn Sisamouth - I'm Still Waiting {House of the Rising Sun}

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Vintage Vinyl #8 - Snake Oil (Self-Titled)

What a surprise Snake Oil was. I’d missed their previous set at BAR where they opened for Woodsman, but was glad to see them supporting for Mates of State last September for their fall tour kickoff. I was blown away, tweeting about “spacey psychedelic instrumental ROCK” during their set. Many tracks build upon themselves, a slow crescendo not unlike “The Power and the Glory” off Spiritualized’s Amazing Grace, but with more control to the clamor. Rather than fully descending into dissonance, their self-titled LP remains lush rather than cluttered, making for a melodic journey. The cover art, minimalist depictions of a desert landscape, helps influence the feel of the album, taking the listener floating across that topography, complete with washed out sands and a talking space coyote. Each side of the LP reflects the dual album covers, day and night as you travel that landscape.

Find your soulmate, Homer!
But the beauty of this album, like the bulk of instrumental rock, is that this is just my take on it. Any other listener could be transported to any number of other places, times, or even worlds based on what they hear and where it takes them, but let me assure you, Snake Oil will take you there. I used the hashtag #BuyThatLP while they were playing, which might be among the truer things I’ve ever written. This album is a must have. Here’s a clip of their BAR set, playing “I Was A Total Pyro”, the lead-off track from their debut LP, Snake Oil.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Look Back @ The Goonies

The Goonies is one of my all-time favorite films.  It is also a film I have railed against for a number of years.  The version shown in the early 90s by a pre-commercial break Disney Channel included several scenes that greatly enhance the film's characters, plot, and narrative cohesion.  The absence of these scenes cause glaring plot holes and gaps in characterization that leave the film disjointed in parts and nonsensical in others.  For clarity and posterity for you fellow Goonies aficionados, enjoy the following scenes including an encounter with Troy at the shop, a pop-loving giant octopus, and an accidental introduction of Data's patented pinchers of peril.  I know.  It turns out it's not pinchers of power, but pinchers of peril.  You can sit down for a minute, I just found out too.  Watch the 'outtakes' below as they are definitely worth a look back.  The Goonies are still good enough.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Joe Hisaishi - Ano hi no Kawa e {Spirited Away Image Album}

The image albums for Hisaishi’s Miyazaki scores are often as entrancing as the scores themselves. Featuring alternate soundtrack arrangements as well as songs inspired by the films, these image albums are perfect companions to the official soundtracks. Take for example, this vocal rendition of “One Summer Day” on the Spirited Away Image Album under its original title “Ano hi no Kawa e”, Japanese for “Day of the River”.  Instant relaxation.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Doctor's Orders - Poe Tha Dah

Dr Bendel, I Presume?

Today we feature an international edition of Doctor’s Orders, as the good Dr Bendel is currently abroad, but let’s let him tell it.

“I have been in Southeast Asia for the past few weeks, working at a medical clinic in Mae Sot, Thailand, roughly 3 kilometers from the Burmese border, in a town inhabited by UN & NGO workers, drug & human traffickers, guerilla warlords, mercenaries, missionaries, monks, medics, amputees, and, of course, the people that have drawn them all here - Burmese civil war refugees, thousands of them (and hundreds of thousands in the 2 nearby refugee camps). Mostly belonging to the Karen ethnic group, they have been bravely and fiercely fighting the Burmese for over 60 years. The Karen in Thailand (and in Burma) have no rights, little education, and almost no access to health care, so the Mae Tao clinic at which I’ve been working is a true godsend for the Karen people. Most of their staff - including its Nobel Prize nominated director - are Karen refugees themselves, as is one of my close friends here in town, having spent a good portion of his twenties as a guerilla resistance fighter in the Burmese jungle.

“He's keen on video editing, and has made a variety of music video home movies of his family, complete with Karen pop music. The song featured is a reggae-ish Karen song called “Poe Tha Dah” (Little Child) and will give you a glimpse of my friend's family (he's even instructed his 2 children to call me Didi Kalawa, literally, Uncle White Guy), his single room tenement in which I've shared so many meals, seated on the floor and often eaten with our hands, and a little bit of the outskirts of town and its fields and rice paddies, where the refugees all must live. You will also see the flag of Kawthoolei, literally, "land without evil", the name of the Karen state.”

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fartbarf - Hero of Time

Yes, yes, I know.  Ignore the name.  Today we've got a track from LA's Fartbarf, a largely local act that stands to have a bright future.  Featuring analog synthesizers, adept set playing, cavemen masks, the occasional vocoder, and jumpsuits out of Devo's yard sale, Fartbarf is getting quite the reputation for their overwhelmingly lively and fun performances.  Check out their track "Hero of Time", embedded below, and keep an eye out for their debut album coming soon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Joe Hisaishi - One Summer Day

A number of director/composer teams have gained great renown throughout film history. The films made by these pairings have become classics, much more enhanced by music that goes beyond being merely incidental and enters the collective consciousness. The collaborations of Steven Spielberg and John Williams (such as E.T. or Jurassic Park) have earned billions of dollars, delighting audiences the world over. Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann made thrilling pictures like Psycho and North by Northwest, still highly regarded ever decades later.

More recently, the team of Hayao Miyazaki and Joe Hisaishi have brought serious attention to their animated films, a genre often considered to be lightweight, a term that the creative output of this duo is anything but. Since 1984’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Hisaishi has provided sweeping, truly epic scores for Miyazaki’s work with Studio Ghibli. From the waltz of Howl’s Moving Castle to the genuinely moving choral theme for Castle in the Sky, Hisaishi’s compositions add both gravitas and joy to Miyazaki’s films, aptly establishing the tone of a given scene. Take for example, the opening scene of Spirited Away, light piano notes with a gentle crescendo accompany a country drive, melancholic beauty to accompany the uncertain feelings of protagonist Chihiro as she moves far away from her hometown. We’ll feature more from Hisaishi in the near future, as all of his film scores are essential listening for soundtrack devotees. Here’s a concert clip of the composer himself, a heartfelt, solo piano rendition of “One Summer Day”, the Spirited Away intro.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tommy Wiseau's The Room in New Haven

We’ve written about Tommy Wiseau before, and his pseudo-masterpiece The Room, but we still haven’t seen it the way its meant to, in a raucous live audience, complete with short range football and a tall glass of Scotchka. I’m literally far too excited to see one of my favorite films (it really is) along with a group of like-minded rabble-rousers. Call and response, interactive moments, and general MST3K-style riffing will be afoot at New Haven’s Criterion theater tonight and tomorrow at 11:30 PM. We’ll be there 9/23 with the crowd, giving a rousing “Oh hai!” to Wiseau’s Johnny and seeing framed pictures of spoons and shots from Full House everywhere we look. Check out a couple of my favorite The Room centered videos, featuring a call and response portion of the film, and don’t miss this hilarious interactive experience this weekend.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Waiting for October – Fall ‘011 Concert Preview

Or Freesia and Garrett... whatever.
Autumn’s here, the leaves are changing, and its times for another preview column that features a Mark Mulcahy reference but no Mark Mulcahy show. Damn. Until then, check out some of the great concerts happening around Connecticut in the next month while we wait for October.

--Hanson @ Toad's Place

Hanson is Freesia’s favorite band. That is now on the Internet. Forever. And our blog’s credibility suffers for it.

All kidding aside, Hanson had quite the successful run as the tweens’ favorite band before they had such a dominant market share, all while being everyone else’s favorite band to hate. (MMMBop went #1? Really?) While to some they may have dropped off the face of the Earth, they’ve been thriving in relative obscurity, maintaining a devoted fan base through acclaimed new releases and frequent touring. At the Hanson show I was once dragged to, one (clearly insane) woman said she is now into Hanson like she was once into the Grateful Dead, having seen both acts some umpteen times. As much as I make fun, they did put on a good show, not only playing the sugary pop rock that is their hallmark, but also showing more musical range than a casual listener might be aware of. They make their return to Toad’s Place October 8th, playing their most enduring album Middle of Nowhere in its entirety. 20-something tweens rejoice!

--Man Man @ Daniel Street (Manic Productions)

A look at Manic Productions’ upcoming schedule is almost mind-blowing. Averaging over one show a night, a plethora of outstanding acts are coming to Connecticut. For starters, there’s Yo La Tengo coming to Toad’s tomorrow, 9/23, The Lemonheads coming back to Daniel Street on 10/13, and the dynamic pairing of Surfer Blood opening for The Pixies at Waterbury’s Palace Theater 10/29. This is all not to mention Manic’s continuing free concert series Wednesday nights at BAR, due to feature Lydia Loveless, Sarah Lee Guthrie (Arlo’s daughter) & Johnny Irion, and David Wax Museum in the coming weeks.

Manic Mark has really kicked it into high gear this fall, with a ton of great talent coming through, but the show I’m most excited for is Man Man making another stop in Connecticut. We’ve talked about Man Man a great deal, having been a highlight of this year’s B.O.M.B. Fest and their new LP Life Fantastic being one of the best releases of 2011. Rounding out the bill are Manic regulars Grandchildren and M.T. Bearington, who recently played a 4/20 show at BAR. This might be the best lineup for any single show this year. Don’t miss this one – Wednesday October 12th at Daniel Street.

--Kevin Devine @ Toad's Place

Kevin Devine brings his hard-edged yet folk-tinged rock to Toad’s Place. His packed show at The Space last December was a genre-bending experience, playing songs from across his catalogue as well as a few covers. Having repeatedly sold out The Space, it will be interesting to see him in the larger venue. Will he still fill the room? Will the show stay intimate even with a larger crowd? Will this be a repeat of Daniel Johnston’s outstanding, but extremely undersold 2008 show? We’ll find out Sunday October 23rd, with An Horse opening.

Let us know in the comments if there's any must-see shows we missed.  And check us out on Facebook or on Twitter at @merrypicnic.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fleet Foxes @ Mountain Park – Sunday 9/25

All Points West 2009 was absolutely nuts. It literally poured on the crowd for the better half of the first day, leaving Liberty State Park in New Jersey a veritable quagmire, making the next two days (which we were unable to attend) somewhere between ridiculous and unsafe. Despite the wild weather, Day One’s festivities went off without a hitch, featuring incredible performances from Vampire Weekend, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The National, and Jay-Z, but a cut above them all were Seattle folk rockers Fleet Foxes. Led by Robin Pecknold, the band played as dark clouds loomed behind the Statue of Liberty, making the scene look more like Mordor than New York City. It even seemed as though Pecknold and the gang were controlling the weather, with the winds kicking into high gear during the chorus of “Your Protector”. Hair blowing back as the rain rolled in made them look downright messianic, more akin to a band of Jesuses (or would it be Jesi?) than musicians. Pecknold even commented that he felt like a wizard on stage, quipping “Once we’re done I’m gonna ride offstage on a horse”. The strength of their recent self-titled debut, along with their weather-enhanced performance, truly made it a set for the ages.

The oft-bearded sextet is known for their intricate guitar work, tenor vocal harmonies, and a baroque, pastoral feel to their work. Their most recent LP Helplessness Blues continues what they got right on Fleet Foxes, with key additions like saxophone and 12-string guitar making the sound that much more expansive. Much like fellow folkies Bon Iver and Iron & Wine, their sound has evolved over time, which makes for a fuller, more dynamic performance, one we can’t wait to experience again. Currently on tour with indie rock act The Walkmen, we’ll be catching their stop at Holyoke’s Mountain Park this Sunday, 9/25. We’re looking forward to closing out Mountain Park’s season with some good music, good people, and good beer. Here’s hoping Magic Hat brings their Octoberfest, and here’s hoping we see you there. Check out a couple live cuts, including their All Point's West performance of "Blue Mountain Ridge" and a more recent Jools Holland performance of "Sim Sala Bim".

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Walkmen - Juveniles

While boning up for Fleet Foxes this Sunday, I’ve been listening to quite a bit of opening band The Walkmen. Here’s a recent Letterman performance of “Juveniles”, the leadoff track from their most recent LP, Lisbon. Good fun indie rock that will be a great start to an early autumn show.

De Dannan - My Irish Molly

Evoking the sounds aboard an Irish pirate ship, De Dannan crafted a uniquely fun tune in their version of “My Irish Molly”. Another cut off Pro’s Folk Sampler (see the tag for previous posts), “My Irish Molly” features accordion, fiddle, and more to create a jaunty old-fashioned dancehall song that gets in your head and stays there. De Dannan is still playing shows to this day, having played Prospect Park in Brooklyn this past summer, and here’s a live version from 1982 featuring their classic lineup.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mates of State - Sleep The Clock Around (Belle & Sebastian cover)

I did my fair bit of complaining about Crushes (The Covers Mixtape).  I was less than thrilled about a band like Mates of State, who have so many great songs of their own, performing an entire LP of the work of others.  A couple years (and shows) later, I’m willing to admit it grew on me.  Hearing Kori and Jason put their signature sound to songs both new and old has been welcome when I’ve played “Goods (All in Your Head)” to death.  Check out a highlight of the mixtape, the classic Belle & Sebastian track “Sleep the Clock Around”, which retains the charm of the original but still has the undeniable fun of the Mates' oeuvre.

Don’t forget the free show at BAR New Haven, tonight!  Mates of State and Snake Oil.  Be there.  Here’s the event page link:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mates of State @ BAR New Haven (FREE SHOW)

The fantastic new LP Mountaintops from Mates of State dropped earlier this week (in white vinyl, no less), giving another set of infectious twee-pop tunes to their devoted fans.  To show their appreciation, they'll be playing a free show at BAR Monday night (9/19) as a warm up for their huge fall tour.  Along with CT collective Snake Oil as the opener, the audience is sure to hear finalized live versions of new Mates tracks as well as some classics (I'm still waiting for them to play their All Day EP in its entirety, but that might be a pipe dream).  Either way, we're super excited for this last minute show.  You can't go wrong with New Haven pizza, toasted blonde ale, and one of our favorite live acts.  Be sure to check out the lead-off track "Palomino" (embedded below) and for the rest of the tour dates.  See you at BAR!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mike Carano - Happy

On the surface, this might just be another punk tune, but the guitar interplay, driving percussion, and lyrical content of Mike Carano’s “Happy” make it anything but typical.  I’m also finding constantly humming to myself the refrain of “have you ever been so happy that it makes you cry?” or the tag at the end, "gone are the sorrows".  Check out it below, you might get hooked too.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that this is the theme music for the Loveline After Disaster, a hilarious train wreck of a podcast brought to by Anderson Cowan, Tyler White, and Mike Carano himself.  Follow them on Twitter at @AfterDisaster or download the podcast for free on iTunes.  It will be disastrous, but that just adds to the fun.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kevin Devine's "Between The Concrete & Clouds" - $3.99 mp3 today on Amazon - and it's really good!

Kevin Devine's new album, "Between the Concrete & Clouds," is today's Daily Deal on for $3.99, and it's a great deal indeed. I just downloaded it, and it'll keep me going through tonight's studying/work. Here's the link:

This album is out just in time for us to be ready for his current tour, where he's making a stop right in our backyard, at Toad's Place in New Haven on Sunday, Oct. 23. I can't wait. We saw Kevin Devine last year at The Space, and he never ceases to amaze us with how much sound and good music one man and a guitar can make. His last two shows at The Space sold out, so it should be interesting to see him at the bigger venue of Toad's Place. Tickets and more info here:

You can find more tour dates and some of Kevin Devine's other music on his myspace page here:


Monday, September 5, 2011

Goblin - Suspiria

Last week I was clearing out my DVR and found a film I’d recorded nearly two years ago, but had not yet seen. 1977’s Suspiria, visual feast from Italian master of horror Dario Argento, tells of an American ballet student who goes abroad to find sinister forces at work at her academy. Through stylistically bold direction and an outstanding score, written by the Italian band Goblin, the film serves to dazzle and scare, in spite of a somewhat convoluted narrative. Alternating between music that is borderline industrial and hauntingly Gothic, the score provides that sense of slow dread, the foreboding nature present in the first act of so many great horror films. Give a listen to the title track off the film’s soundtrack, which serves as a terrific overture highlighting the common motifs used to great effect throughout the film.  It rivals the great horror scores of our time, from John Carpenter’s work in Halloween to Bernard Hermann’s score for Psycho, in that it creates genuine tension and occasional terror, the true aim for any horror flick.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dion & The Belmonts - Runaround Sue

Having a relaxing, oldies kind of day today.  Doing some cooking and packing some coolers to get ready for UConn football's season opener tomorrow against Fordham (slaughter!), and playing a classic Dion tune "Runaround Sue".  Sampled by rapper G-Eazy for his newest album The Endless Summer, the track gets into your head and stays there.  Check out the original song, embedded below, or G-Eazy's track of the same title, right here:

David Bowie & Andrew Kolb - Space Oddity

By now, many of us have heard of or read the children’s book adaptation of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”.  Space Oddity, illustrated by Andrew Kolb, is a singularly spectacular adaptation of the song’s lyrics.  Even better are the two works, song and book, presented together as a music video.  The emotional arc of any great tragedy is condensed into a 5 minute slideshow with audio.  The pdf isn’t currently available due to legal issues, but is likely now on file sharing sites and, for the time being, is available here via YouTube.  Let us know in the comments if the link goes dead, and enjoy.

Also, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at @merrypicnic where I say hilarious things or like us on Facebook, just search Merry Picnic.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dâm-Funk - Kaint Let 'Em Change Me (No!)

Another future-funk outing from keytar wunderkind Dâm-Funk showcases all of his signature features.  From the dueling melodies to his crunchy space-grooves, the track continues in his trademark style of cool, refusing to "let 'em change me".  Check it out.

Kaint Let 'Em Change Me (No!) - DāM-FunK [unreleased] by DâM-FunK

Monday, August 29, 2011

Charles Bradley - This World (Is Going Up In Flames)

Earthquakes. Hurricanes. In Connecticut? At this point I'm just waiting for the plague of locusts and wondering if Mr. Bradley is right.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Neil Young - Like a Hurricane (Live Rust)

Still obvious, I know, but if Neil Young and Crazy Horse can't see us through a hurricane, who can?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Jimmy Buffett - Trying To Reason With Hurricane Season

Obvious, I know, but it's time to hunker down for Hurricane Irene.  Grab a cold one and turn on the radar.  Fire up the grill and charge those iPods in case the power cuts out.  Most of all, stay safe (and dry)!  See you on the other side.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Flaming Lips - Jesus And A Spider Are In My Sleeping Bag Tonite

I'm going camping for a couple days, and I couldn't stop thinking about this track off Bradley Beesley's documentary Summercamp!  Written and performed by The Flaming Lips, the tune places you in a swampy, noisy forest, complete with chirping crickets and croaking frogs.  It's folky, casual, and wholly evocative of the summer camp experience.  Just give it a listen if you want to be transported to a simpler time, roasting marshmallows around the fire and kicking back with friends, instantly a happy camper.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Henry's Kitchen (Guest Stir Friday)

We're bringing in guest chef Henry Phillips for today's "Stir Friday" with his increasingly famous Anytime Chili for One.  Hope it helps you make it through the night.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dire Straits - Walk of Life

Sorry, but is this not the funniest song ever? It's Friday, get outside and enjoy it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

G-Eazy - Runaround Sue (Endless Summer OUT TODAY)

G-Eazy's new offering Endless Summer drops online at NOON today (1 PM EST).  He's been steadily releasing tracks and outtakes since his amazing B.O.M.B. Fest set, culminating with this weekend's release of the official video for "Runaround Sue", a washed-out, nostalgic trip blending today's hip-hop with a 50's jukebox that is more short film than music video.  Featuring Greg Banks on vocals and samples from Dion & The Belmonts, come back in time with G-Eazy and stay right here in this endless summer.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bon Iver with The Rosebuds @ Mountain Park - TONIGHT

Nearly a year after our most-successful excursions to central Massuchusetts' Mountain Park, we make our return for indie folk-rockers Bon Iver with the dance-folk group The Rosebuds.  Catching The Flaming Lips and MGMT were highlights of 2010 for us, not to mention the huge plus of Magic Hat drafts being available (hoping for some Circus Boy tonight).

This is more a double-headline show for us than a traditional opener/headliner pairing, as both acts' 2011 LPs have been in constant rotation all summer.  Check out our previous posts on these albums (here and here and dig a couple more cuts we're almost certain to hear tonight.  Show's at 7, comment or tweet at us (@merrypicnic) if we'll be seeing you in Holyoke.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Look Back @ Revenge of the Nerds

Holy cow have I seen this flick a time or two.  Or thirty.  Something about the 1984 comedy always had me in stitches and coming back for more.  Perhaps it was that geeky bespectacled kid I was once was (and mostly still am) wanting a taste of revenge for himself, but maybe that Animal House ideal of college just appealed to me.  Either way, while by no means a great film, I'd go as far as to say "Revenge of the Nerds" is perfect.  Scene after scene of wildly varying humor builds up over is running time, leading to a satisfying (though abrupt) conclusions.  From panty raids to fiery jockstraps, from musical numbers to tricycle races, "Revenge" truly runs the gamut of madcap comedy from wild gregariousness to quiet subtlety, providing something new with each viewing.  Check out the iconic (to me, at least) tricycle race scene, featuring an electronic take on the venerable tune "Daisy Bell", sung in Japanese no less.  Enjoy, because it won't be long, mark my words.  The time has come for Revenge of the Nerds.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Van Morrison - Into The Mystic

I'll admit when it comes to Van Morrison, my knowledge is essentially limited to "Moondance" and the god-awful "Brown Eyed Girl".  But earlier tonight, a friend's status simply said 'Felt like a good night for some Van Morrison' with this video attached, and despite my general ignorance, I couldn't agree more.  Enjoy it.  (Special thanks to Ranger Frank)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Roy Orbison - In Dreams

A recent viewing of Blue Velvet has me on the biggest Roy Orbison kick.  One of the singularly unique voices and personalities in the history of rock and roll, Orbison's lasting talent and influence cannot be denied.  Any number of tracks are instant classics, but "In Dreams" lends haunting gravitas to Frank Booth's borderline personality as exhibited throughout David Lynch's film.  Check it out (
with much more to come) embedded below.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Stir Friday: Better-Than-Crack Brownies

This brownie recipe has been circulating the Internet and my friends’ kitchens, and for good reason. These brownies might be the best things I’ve ever eaten. They’re called “better-than-crack brownies,” and they include Reese’s cups, salted peanuts and a milk chocolate/peanut butter concoction with Rice Krispies cereal. It's everything I ever wanted. They’re better after being in the refrigerator for a while because the milk chocolate/peanut butter part can be messy when it starts to melt.

Here’s the link to the blog we found this recipe on. It has better pictures than I can take.

And here’s the recipe:

1 batch brownies (boxed mix is fine – just make sure it’s for a 13 x 9 pan)
1/2 cup salted peanuts (if don’t have salted, add sea salt)
1 cup chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups (I found them easier to chop if they’re refrigerated first.)
1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies Cereal

1. Mix brownies according to directions, and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Remove and top with peanuts and peanut butter cups, and bake for 4-6 minutes more.

2. While they are finishing baking, melt chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter. (You can do this in the microwave. I start with just the chocolate chips and butter, power at medium-high, one minute. Then mix in peanut butter and microwave another minute at medium-high heat.)

3. Stir cereal into the melted chocolate-peanut butter mixture. Remove brownies from oven and evenly pour chocolate mixture over top. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

I’ve now made four batches. Good luck.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Guess Who on the Hamden Green - For Free - This Friday!

The Hamden Arts Commission's 2011 Free Summer Concert Series is going out with a bang this Friday, bringing us both a “big” name classic rock band – and a local favorite. The Guess Who are headlining, and we recently heard that Mighty Purple will be playing at 7.

The Guess Who brought us “American Woman,” “No Time,” “No Sugar Tonight,” and “These Eyes,” which I’ve embedded above. As soon as I hear it, I can’t get the Michael Cera in Superbad version of “These Eyes” out of my head. And I don’t mind.

We haven’t been to any of these Hamden concerts this summer, but we went to two last summer, and they were a fun time. The concerts are Fridays in July at 7:30 at the Town Center Park at Meadowbrook, 2761 Dixwell Avenue. Food is available at the site, but a lot of people pack coolers and bring their own. I’m expecting to get there early with my lawn chairs and picnic blanket. It’s going to be a good time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Modest Mouse - Satellite Skin

I was playing some Modest Mouse today, first time in a long time, and I had completely forgotten how good their 2009 EP was, No One's First, And You're Next.  Culled from b-sides to 2004's Good News For People Who Love Bad News and 2007's We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, No One's First  serves as a perfect companion piece to those two LP's.  Check out the lead-off track "Satellite Skin" embedded below, and don't miss out on the rest of the EP, an eclectic musical trip through the band's recent history.

By the way, sorry it's been such a ghost town around here lately.  Been spending a lot of time watching Twin Peaks and getting outside, but we'll be back to it this week.  See you next time.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Battlefield Band - Bonnie Barbry-O

There's an album I'd have you know of.  It's called "Pro's Folk Sampler".  It's been the soundtrack to my life, and it's found on four sides of two cassette tapes, ripped from the original vinyl by my father's old roommate "Pro" (aka Dick Lewis).  It's through these collegiate tapes I've gotten both my taste and my love for folk music, especially the classics from the British Isles.  I ripped those cassettes, plugging my boom box into my record player, finally managing to feed those venerable cassettes into my MacBook.  I'll be working through several songs, mayhap posting the entire mixtape if interest ensues, over the next few weeks.  I'll begin with a cut off Pro's first tape, brought to us by the Battlefield Band, a track entitled "Bonnie Barbry-O".  Come down the stairs and have a listen, and know that I can hardly wait for the next installment.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Iron & Wine - Summer in Savannah

Just a lazy summer Sunday, kicking back with some Beerlao and Iron & Wine. Give a listen to "Summer in Savannah" one of the b-sides off their Black Friday Walking Far From Home single, and don't miss the other b-side "Biting Your Tail" our featured track for Record Store Day 2011, found here,

Friday, July 15, 2011

Game of Thrones - A Dance With Dragons

Now that my copy of A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice & Fire - Book 5) came in from Amazon, it's going to be a few days before I get back to normal.  For those of you who lack the patience for the 4000+ page (currently) 5-part epic, don't miss HBO's adaptation of the first book in the series, Game of Thrones.  Check out the intro below, and good luck in finding the episodes pirated online! legally, of course.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Beets - Killer Tofu (A Look Back)

Holy crap do I wish I were writing about a real band right now.  A full-on reunion tour is just what the world needs right now.  The Beets were the biggest thing to hit Bluffington since sliced bread (Beets-lemania? Anyone? Moving on...), and they had the tunes and style to back it up.  Half Rolling Stones, half Beatles, and all the rock and roll success and excess you could cram into a kids' show, The Beets were a hallmark of the 90s series Doug.  Their 'hit' single "Killer Tofu" entered my playlist a few months back, and I was most amused to find I still knew every lyric.  Not to mention the song still absolutely kicks.  Enjoy it (with lyrics!) embedded below, along with their other classic "I Need More Allowance".  Yodel-ay-ee-oo.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Muppets - Sweet Vacation

Like I've been saying, blame it on the Muppets.  We're off to Punta Cana until Wednesday, but enjoy a couple tropical outings from the Muppets.  Both these tunes were on a sing-along VHS tape I wore through when I was little buddy, and I'm in no way ashamed to say that I still know every word.  We'll see you all back stateside soon, but until then we're gonna take it slow.  Sweet vacation indeed.

PS. Don't miss Kermit's mad skills on ukulele, a close second in hilarity to his bicycling scene from The Great Muppet Caper. Until next time.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Stir Friday: Back with a summer mixed berry pie!

We made two pies for the 4th of July weekend - a blueberry pie, and the following mixed berry pie. We originally went to the store hoping to make a cherry pie, but we couldn't find frozen tart cherries, so we bought a bag of mixed berries and made up the following recipe as we went along. We added the peaches and some fresh berries because we had them around the house, and we found that we liked this pie better than the blueberry. Try it for yourself - and if you have some extra time, enjoy it with some fresh whipped cream. I've included that recipe right underneath the pie recipe.

Summer Mixed Berry Pie:

1 9-inch pie crust (either from a recipe or store bought)
1 bag of frozen mixed berries
2 peaches
1 handful of any fresh berries you have around this summer (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, etc.)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar

1. Thaw and drain frozen berries. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Chop up peaches. Mix frozen berries with chopped peaches and fresh berries.
3. Mix fruit with cornstarch and sugar.
4. Line a 9-inch pie plate with half the pie crust dough (one layer of dough if store bought). Pour in berry-peach mixture. Top with the rest of the dough and slit holes in the middle, or top using a lattice design.
5. Bake at 425 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

Whipped Cream:

1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip all three ingredients with an electric beater for a few minutes until it reaches whipped cream consistency. Don’t mix too long, or it’ll become too thick.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dirty Beaches - West Coast Bird

Dirty Beaches is the musical identity for Alex Zhang Hungtai, a Montreal musician of Taiwanese background has gained much attention for his evocative, noir-ish soundscapes.  Reminiscent of a David Lynch film score (more on Badalamenti to come), Dirty Beaches' oeuvre manages to be loungey, foreboding, calming, and churning, often all at once.  Check out his video for "West Coast Bird", the lead-off track off his Bird EP, where the video is absolutely perfect for this moody instrumental.

Also, don't miss our previous post on Dirty Beaches' Trans Pacific Radio Mixtape, letting you get a sonic tour of Pacific nations in under an hour.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Song of the Day: Angelo Badalamenti's Twin Peaks Theme

I just started watching Twin Peaks after Garrett has been into the show for some time. As we started the pilot episode, I immediately recognized the theme song as something Garrett plays all the time. It’s a soothing, peaceful song all by itself to play in the background while doing some work or relaxing, but it’s much better as an introduction to Twin Peaks. This haunting theme is the perfect start to each episode in this series that chronicles the effect a murder has had on a small town. It’s heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time. Now that I’ve started watching the show, I can’t really listen to the theme song without wanting to see the next episode right away.

Angelo Badalamenti composed a number of soundtracks for David Lynch, which is really perfect because he seems to understand exactly what Lynch is aiming for. His music captures the feeling on screen.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Vic Chesnutt - Little Man (Miracle Legion cover)

Disclaimer We at Merry Picnic have an irrational, near fanboyish love of Miracle Legion, Polaris, and Mark Mulcahy himself.  Ciao, My Shining Star (the covers album produced in honor of his late wife, Melissa) was one of 2009’s best releases and the record release party at Toad’s in New Haven was one of 2009’s better shows.  Any concert featuring the lead singer of Polaris on stage with both Big Pete and Little Pete (Mike Maronna & Danny Tamberelli) is a dream come true for anyone who grew up on 90s Nickelodeon.  In fact, we would like make a formal request that Mark tour soon, so we can get the live experience that we’ve been deprived of these last two years.  Expect features on further albums and upcoming shows as they (hopefully) come up.

I wrote that soon after Merry Picnic's inception, wholly planning on getting to more posts sooner than now.  Giving Ciao, My Shining Star a listen for the first time in some time reminded me of how many truly great tunes Mulcahy and his former bands have put out over the years.  We'll be featuring more tunes in the coming posts, but here's the late Vic Chesnutt's haunting take on the Miracle Legion original "Little Man".

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Song of the Day: "Two Princes" (And a Little on the Spin Doctors' Comeback.)

The Spin Doctors’ “Two Princes” is one of our all-time favorite songs here at Merry Picnic. It’s a classic, feel-good pop song that we can just listen to over and over again anytime. I loved the Sarah Silverman Show bit where Sarah’s neighbor Steve finds that his boyfriend Brian, who’s supposed to be a big metalhead, only has one song on his iPod – yep, it’s “Two Princes.” The montage of Brian skipping through the park and high-fiving people to the song might be the happiest thing I’ve ever seen. At the end of the episode, he explains that it keeps him from going crazy angry from just listening to metal. He makes a good point. It’s impossible to not feel at least a little happy listening to this song.

And I just read some very cool news in Spinner today: The Spin Doctors are making a comeback for the 20th Anniversary of Pocket Full of Kryptonite - the fantastic album that gave us "Two Princes" and "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong." It's hard to believe that this classic album came out when we were 4 years old. The album's getting a re-release, and the band is going on tour - something they were stopped from doing in 1999 when the lead singer developed a vocal cord paralysis and dropped out of the band, according to the Spinner article.

So here’s the “Two Princes” video, so your day can be made better, and so we can keep looking back on our blog and clicking “play” ourselves.

And for good measure, here’s the Sesame Street version, which is awesome not only for its storyline and lesson on friendship but for the way it sounds exactly like the original – with just a few changes. Yeahhhh, cooperation!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Rosebuds - Come Visit Me

If you're not listening to The Rosebuds, you should be. I've spent the last week immersing myself in their two most recent LPs, with more to come I'm sure. Their danceable blend of indie and folk rock sensibilities is right up our alley, and is sure to be a terrific compliment for their shows with Bon Iver later this summer. We'll be sure to catch them at Mountain Park on Saturday, August 6th, but for now check out "Come Visit Me" off the new album Loud Planes Fly Low.  Even if it fucks you up.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Look Back at Heavyweights

We spent this weekend at our friend’s lakeside cabin, and hanging out by a lake, with a water trampoline, in the summer, can only remind us of one thing: Heavyweights.

Heavyweights, one of the best movies of our childhood, is still a classic in our hearts today. We have friends who say it’s Ben Stiller’s greatest movie, and I have to agree. In 1995, when Heavyweights came out, we were 8 years old – the perfect age to enjoy a movie about kids at fat camp. At 23 and 24, it’s even funnier in a lot of ways. Here’s a video clip of one of our favorite characters, Lars - to really make it feel like summer.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Beardo - 24 Hour Party

We're off in the Adirondacks for two-day bender with some awesome people, taking a turn from the incomparable Beardo and partying for twenty-four hours a day.  There's nothing like idiot punk-rock as a soundtrack for pounding beers, so crack one open and follow Beardo's lead.  Drink! Drink! Drink!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

G-Eazy - Well-Known

New G-Eazy tune off Endless Summer, an EP coming out summer 2011.  With guest rapper Kam Royal, the track samples dream-pop trio Au Revoir Simone to fit G-Eazy's usual party hip-hop elan.  Check out the track, embedded below, and we'll have more on Endless Summer as soon as its released.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Beetlejuice - The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)

Talking Belafonte last week got me thinking altogether too much about my favorite use of my least favorite track off Calypso. “The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” has become a part of the collective consciousness due to its inexplicable overuse at baseball games, completely ruining for me what would otherwise be a fairly inoffensive tune. There’s still one situation where I’ll find myself enjoying it, the famous possession sequence from Beetlejuice. Catherine O’Hara and Jeffrey Jones’ enthused but confused dance routine while possessed by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis’ ghosts is nothing short of hilarious. The looks on their faces, feeling the music co-mingled with the terror of having no control over their bodies, make for a delightful dichotomy. The whole film is classic, but this scene stands out as the funniest scene lacking Michael Keaton’s manic title character. Check it out, embedded below.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

MST3K - The Dead Talk Back

Love Lights... into Dark Star... into Sugaree...
The Dead talk back today on Merry Picnic, or at least the Satellite of Love’s premiere tribute act do.  Crow, decked out in his Garcia/crazy prospector garb, lovingly tears into Jerry’s musical persona, noodling his way through a spectacular(ly long) homage to the Grateful Dead’s propensity for extended soloing.  What’s most amazing is how Crow’s solo starts off actually sounding like any number of Jerry’s solos, but quickly devolves into what the uninitiated hear whenever a Dead jam is playing.  Either way, it’s simply hilarious, check it out below.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The 36th Anniversary of JAWS

Hard to believe 36 years years ago today my all-time favorite film was released.  There are so many little moments that make Jaws poignant, sharp, hilarious, and downright harrowing that it's hard to keep track.  I'll keep it to two for today, John Williams' iconic score and Quint's quip of "here's to swimmin' with bow-legged women" as a toasts some of his own moonshine.  (Quint's constant quaffing of Narragansett Lager is worth at least an honorable mention though.)  Celebrate the anniversary with us and John William's still-scary theme embedded below.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Roger Waters - Brain Damage (acoustic)

Disclaimer: "The Gunner's Dream" is my favorite Floyd tune. Sorry Gilmour devotees.

The Dark Side of the Moon marked both an end and beginning for Pink Floyd. Having moved on from Syd Barrett's departure through a series of collaborative and eclectic sounding albums, they reached their collective zenith with the one-two punch of Meddle and Dark Side. However, beginning with Wish You Were Here, the band became less of a team effort and more Waters-led. The old school fans take umbrage to this, believing Waters' egomania to largely bring about their downfall and breakup. Personally, as a Waters fan, the trilogy of Waters' penned albums Animals, The Wall, and The Final Cut are among Floyd's best, and this acoustic take on "Brain Damage" gives some insight into what earlier tracks might have sounded like on those later albums. There's a degree of restraint that would be a perfect sonic fit for The Final Cut, bringing more feeling and finesse than Gilmour's later albums. Check it out, embedded below.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Eels - Mr. E's Beautiful Blues

Thanks to Todd Phillips and his debut comedy Road Trip for introducing me to Mark Everett's musical output as Eels.  Ten years later, and their both still god-damn right, it's a beautiful day.  Get outside and do some grilling, or blast this track while cruising with the windows down, it's what we'll sure be doing.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Harry Belafonte - Will His Love Be Like His Rum?

Surely everyone knows “The Banana Boat Song”, Harry Belafonte’s lead track off his classic 1959 album Calypso. For completely mind-boggling reasons, it has become ubiquitous at baseball games and other sporting events as a call and response cheer. I know for me, there’s nothing like Belafonte’s cry of Day-O being followed by 30,000 languid, uninterested responses from hot, drunk sports fans, but I digress. Maybe that’s the reason why I can’t bring myself to listen to the song outside of Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice, and it’s definitely the reason why I’m digging deeper into Calypso for today’s offering.

The rest of the album is truly fantastic, a classic example of John Q. Public’s first foray into world music. Calypso is known for being the first LP to sell one million copies, but it earned every one of those purchases. We’ll talk about standout tracks like “Come Back Liza” or “Man Smart (Woman Smarter)” in later posts, but for today we present “Will His Love Be Like His Rum?”, also called “The Wedding Song”. Sung from the perspective of friends and loved ones at a raucous wedding reception, they ask the hard questions of the happy newlyweds. “Will his love be like his rum? Intoxicating all night long? Will she be a perfect? Make him work hard all his life?” The revelers respond to each question with a jubilant cry of “Yes, he/she/it will!” as they drink a toast “to the two we love the most”. It might be among the cheerier songs ever written, full of the excitement, hope, and positivity you would expect at wedding celebration, the key word being celebration. Too often the joy at such an event is sacrificed in favor of a somber or (God forbid) dry environment. This song (embedded below) makes no such mistake. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bon Iver - Self-Titled

Indie folk-rock can seem like a cliché, bordering on redundancy.  Fairly uninspired acoustic acts are a dime a dozen, pumping out albums that shamelessly (to a much lesser degree) ape on Nick Drake, Roy Harper, and the other great folkies of yesteryear.  Bon Iver is one group that does not have that problem.  Their 2008 debut For Emma, Forever Ago is a superlative example of modern folk, evocative of the wintry forests of Wisconsin where it was recorded, saying as much with the sparsity of it's arrangements as the music itself.  Their sound has grown beyond their initial offering on their newest album, Bon Iver.  Much like their musical compatriots Iron & Wine, musical expansion is paramount between efforts, with more prominent percussion, synthesizers, and electric guitar presented on their sophomore LP, all the while retaining Justin Vernon's signature vocals.  While not the borderline jam-rock of Iron & Wine recent LP Kiss Each Other Clean, listeners can readily hear how much the band has grown on Bon Iver.  Check out the new album, out today on Jagjaguwar, and give a listen to "Calgary" embedded below.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Antlers with Little Scream at The Space - This Friday!

The Antlers with Little Scream might just be the best musical pairing to come to our small state this summer. Yes, I think I’m willing to say that.

NPR had The Antlers’ new album, “Burst Apart,” streaming live for some time before it came out last month, and I couldn’t stop listening to it for those first few days it was up. Their emotional, anthemic rock spans such a spectrum that it really can be listened to it for hours on end. If you’re reading this right now, it’s likely you’re already interested in the show, and I probably didn’t have to tell you that. If you haven’t heard this band, I think you want to. Below is a video of The Antlers performing “I Don’t Want Love,” the first track off “Burst Apart.”

The Antlers, on tour with Little Scream, just played two sold-out shows in New York City a few weeks ago. We get to see them in our backyard, right here in Hamden, in the intimate space that is The Space, for only $13 in advance or $15 at the door. And it’s their last stop in the U.S. before heading overseas for sometime and coming back to play Austin City Limits in September. I don’t think it gets any better.

Little Scream is one sweet tour companion, too. Little Scream, Laurel Sprengelmeyer’s moniker, describes her sound in the name itself. She has this sweet, soft coo over steady folk-driven, yet still progressive, guitar, keyboards and drums. You can listen to some yourself on the Little Scream Myspace page:

Friday is going to be good. Make sure to get your tickets in advance, or get there early, because like those two New York shows, this one will probably sell out too.

Show info:

The Antlers with Little Scream
Friday, June 17 – 8 p.m.
The Space – 295 Treadwell St., Hamden, CT
$15 ($13 advance)

I’ll leave you with one more little music video from The Antler’s last album:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Mamas & The Papas - Creeque Alley

A veritable who's who of the 60s music scene, "Creeque Alley" details the beginnings of the seminal folk rock group The Mamas and The Papas.  Born out of the ashes of The Mugwumps, the band went on to produce signature tunes such as "California Dreamin'" and "Monday, Monday".  For me, this story of music and success is their best tune, describing their formation as well as that of The Byrds, The Lovin' Spoonful, and several popular haunts of the time.  Dig the live version embedded below to see them before their breakup(s), still young and having fun "leaving the folk music behind".

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Shivers, Pearl and the Beard, and Celebrated Tigers at Bar - This Wednesday!

The Shivers, Pearl and the Beard, and Celebrated Tigers are playing a free show this Wednesday at Bar in New Haven as part of the Manic Productions Wednesday series, and it’s sure to be one of the better Wednesdays there yet.

The video above is a song off The Shivers’ album, “More,” released just last month. The Shivers’ sound is all over the place, and I can’t describe it accurately, so you'll need to listen for yourself to get a good picture. Some of their songs have a real electronic, psych rock feel, while others are folk rock, and yet others sound like they have a Tom Waits influence. There’s slower ballads and fast-paced indie rock that you want to dance to. Their set is sure to be a good time.

Pearl and the Beard is a really interesting band from NYC with great instrumentation and a lot of spunk. Below is a really cool “Subway Sessions” video of Pearl and the Beard performing the song “Reverend” at a subway station. The sound is great – guitar, drum, tambourine, and cello in tow – and the video is shot just beautifully. I also clicked through related videos to a “Will Smith Medley,” which is super sweet. The band - armed with a glockenspiel, cello, and snare drum - play parts of a bunch of Will Smith favorites around the city.

Celebrated Tigers’ indie rock album, “Year of the Tiger,” released just this past April, can be streamed in its entirety at

All three bands are sure to make for a chill, very inexpensive night at Bar. I’m looking forward to getting there early for some beer and maybe some pizza and sticking around for some really good free music.

Show info:

The Shivers, Pearl and the Beard, and Celebrated Tigers
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Bar – 254 Crown St., New Haven, CT
21+, Free

Manic Productions event page for the show:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Doctor's Orders - Kris Kristofferson "Sunday Morning Comin' Down"

We're proud to present the very first guest-written post on Merry Picnic.  The good Doctor Bendel has graced us with his talents and extensive music background, in a new feature we'll be running under the moniker Doctor's Orders.  Check it out, and hopefully we'll have him back soon.

We’ve all heard Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee”, Elvis Presley’s “Help Me Make It through the Night", Roger Miller’s “Best of All Possible Worlds”, or maybe, for the real classicists, even Johnny Cash’s #1 hit country single “Sunday Morning Comin’ Down”. Few, however, can name the mind who generated so many of these songs that have shaped American country and folk rock since the early 1970s, and even fewer have had the privilege to hear these songs as performed by the man himself, Kris Kristofferson.

“Sunday Morning Comin’ Down” was one of Kristofferson’s first real hits, first popularized, before Johnny Cash, by country great Ray Stevens, at a time when Kristofferson’s own albums were largely overlooked and undersold. Kristofferson, who began his songwriting career while a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, returned to the United States in 1960 to become a decorated Army Ranger, only to turn down a professorial appointment at West Point and end his Army career so he could focus on his songwriting, a move which would thrust him and his young family into poverty. It was during this time, while working as a janitor in Nashville, that Kristofferson wrote some of the best songs of his career, including “Sunday Morning Comin’ Down”. In this track you can really feel Kristofferson in his place and time: The self-pity and the valor, the dirtiness and loneliness you’d feel at a church or by a family in the park, the smell of booze in your sweat, the eyes burning with decades of bar smoke, the shudder of the whiskey going down, and Kristofferson brushing it all off. We all know the vapid hollowness of our hung-over Sunday mornings, feeling much like the condensation on a warming beer can; but they are those empty Sunday mornings, those that propel us so hopelessly into each week of tedium, that, like “Sunday Morning Comin’ Down”, invisibly define more of our lives than many would care or bother to appreciate.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

FREE CONCERT - Yo-yo Ma in New Haven

Don't miss Yo-yo Ma with the Silk Road Ensemble TONIGHT on the New Haven Green.  The show will be happening outside from 7-8:30, so dress warmly and park early to enjoy a night of diverse music, instrumentation, and culture.  We'll see you there with an Irish coffee and lawn chair, and be sure to check out their Arabian Waltz which they'll be playing tonight.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bill Kirchen - Seeds and Stems (Again)

Almost immediately after posting Commander Cody's original version of "Seeds and Stems (Again)", I found this version by original Lost Planet Airmen guitarist Bill Kirchen.  Playing at New Haven's Cafe Nine, the man whose guitar made "Hot Rod Lincoln" so classic gives us his take on another Commander Cody tune.

Enjoy it below, and happy weekend!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Look Back @ Rocko's Modern Life - Zanzibar

Among the highlights of 90s Nickelodeon were its “event” specials. Sort of like the tentpole releases of children’s television, we would be inundated with constant advertisements and reminders of the upcoming Nick ‘r Treat specials or Rugrats’ Passover Special, until we were chomping at the bit to get our promised programming, regardless of how little we actually knew or cared about the holidays.

Rocko’s Modern Life was no exception with its conservation-themed musical event, “Zanzibar”. Featuring catchy tunes on the subjects of spring cleaning, recycling, and basic spelling, the songs stay with me today. I often find myself humming “R-E-C-Y-C-L-E, recycle! C-O-N-S-E-R-V-E, conserve!” while I pull recyclables out of the trash. Rocko also taught us the merits of civil disobedience, that with a little effort you CAN fight City Hall. This is all on top of the fact that this uniquely madcap take on conservation education was rampantly hilarious. I still crack up at Heffer’s pubescent cry “that you shooouuld” before the big reprise. Most importantly, I’ve taken to heart the advice of Captain Compost Heap, given at the episode’s close, “If you’re not nice to mother nature… or she’ll kick our butts!” Check out the full episode, embedded below, it’ll take you back.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth

Certain songs say certain things at certain times to certain people, and completely weave themselves into the collective consciousness and landscape of a period.  There might be no one song that does that better than Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth".  While thought by many to be about the Kent State shootings, the song is a more general commentary on the feelings of unrest due to the Vietnam War and the Youth-vs-the-Establishment climate of the 60s.  Check out a more positive association for the song, the band's 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival (embedded below), featuring a rare David Crosby appearance prior to CSN's formation.  Also, if you're heading to Bonnaroo, do NOT miss Buffalo Springfield's set, featuring the reunited surviving members for the first time since '68.  For those of us not so lucky, they'll be continuing the reunion with a full tour this fall, a must see show for 60s aficionados.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Exuma - Fire in the Hole

It’s a people explosion here on Merry Picnic, as we bring you the largely forgotten Bahamian musician Exuma. Taking his stage name from the island of his birth, Exuma’s musical output defies classification, combining aspects of reggae, African folk, and protest songs into his own frantic blend of energetic shout-singing. Perhaps his uniqueness was an impediment to his success, as people were unsure what exactly Exuma was. Were they a band? Was it a solo act? Was it something to do with the island itself? The album art and packaging gave little in the way of clues, requiring would-be listeners to make a greater leap of faith than normal. Those brave souls that took the plunge would find themselves brought into Exuma’s world of junkaroo, rake and scrape, and other aspects of Bahamian culture. No track takes you there better than “Fire in the Hole” of 1970’s Exuma II. Give it a listen (embedded below), because to quote the man himself, you can’t kill human emotion.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Yourself and The Air & Wess Meets West @ The Outer Space (TONIGHT!)

Looking for something to do tonight? We've got a pretty good option in Hamden: Yourself and The Air & Wess Meets West @ The Outer Space

As a former marching/concert band pit member (high school and college), both of these bands appeal to me for their infusion of mallet percussion sounds into sweet guitar and bass lines and steady, building drum beats. They're the perfect pairing for a show at The Outer Space. I've been streaming Yourself and The Air on their myspace page, linked below, and I like what I'm hearing. Make sure to play the video below and/or listen to their stuff from the link. Wess Meets West rocked their show at Bar a few months back, so I'm looking forward to seeing them again.

Not only are these great bands, the setting is perfect for a Monday night off, and it's a bargain. We finally made it out to The Outer Space, the recently opened sister bar/venue to The Space, and it's everything I've ever wanted in a bar venue. Great corner stage, small tables, and a nice patio out back. Drink specials from 5-7 include $2 drafts. The show itself is a deal at $5 - and there's no cover until a half hour before the music starts. The show starts at 8, according to the Manic Productions website. Thanks, Manic Productions and our friends at The Space and Outer Space, for making this happen. 

Here's the info for the show:

Yourself and The Air & Wess Meets West
The Outer Space, 295 Treadwell St., Hamden, CT
8 p.m.

Listen to more Yourself and The Air here: 

And some Wess Meets West here: 

And check out this Wess Meets West video: 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Andrew Gold - Thank You For Being A Friend {RIP}

Just found out about the untimely passing of Andrew Gold, 59, the songwriter behind hits like "Lonely Boy" and "Thank You For Being A Friend", which of course was immortalized as the theme song for The Golden Girls, one of our favorite shows.  Check out Gold's original masterpiece below.  RIP

Crosby, Stills, & Nash - Our House

We saw these venerable folk-rockers open for Tom Petty last year at The Meadows, and frankly they stole the show.  It's easy to overlook the number of killer tunes they've put out of the years, but they've been the soundtrack for a generation since Buffalo Springfield split up in '68.  From their take on Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" to the sprawling "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes", their intricate vocal harmonies and collective instrumental skill still wow audiences as they approach their seventies.

Give a listen to one of our personal favorites, "Our House", a definite candidate for greatest love song ever written.  Anyone who's ever been in love can agree with that, knowing the best place to be, their favorite place, is at home with their partner.  Our house.  Enjoy.

Bonus find: Here's cell phone video of the performance we saw before Petty at The Meadows with surprisingly good sound quality (embedded below).

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen - Seeds and Stems (Again)

The subject of a Vintage Vinyl post some time back (read it here, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen have spent their careers writing rollicking country love songs. Subjects range from cigarettes to booze to lovely ladies, but the Commander and crew love them all. Feeling lovelorn for a bit of greenery is no exception to this, being the subject of his classic tune “Seeds and Stems (Again)” off his ’71 LP Lost in the Ozone. Referred to as “our only slow song”, it isn’t solely about Mary Jane, but rather a laundry list of the narrator’s troubles. Bored on a Saturday, seeing his lady’s new beau, jealousy of a friend’s new squeeze, the death of his dog, and a visit from the repo men all pale in comparison with his lost love. In a lot of ways, your run of the mill country tune, but to top it all off, he’s got the seeds and stems blues. So if you’re in the mood for a bottle of Ripple (or Wild Irish Rose, for you kids) and the saddest song ever written, check out “Seeds and Stems (Again)”, embedded below.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Flaming Lips with Prefuse 73 (2011 EP)

The Flaming Lips have been churning out new music at an astounding rate this year, as part of Wayne Coyne’s new initiative. Rather than spending 2+ years writing 20 some-odd album tracks to be arranged, produced, recorded, mixed, and eventually whittled down to the 12 or so that make the album, The Lips are opting for frequent releases in varied formats. From their 12” EP collaboration with Neon Indian to their Gummy Song Skull with a flash drive of music embedded in the brain, it has been a fruitful year for the Oklahoma psych-rockers.

Their newest effort pairs them with Prefuse 73, bringing glitch hop and intelligent dance music sensibilities to the Lips’ Embryonic-like computer-manipulated guitar compositions. The end product is 18 minutes of atmospheric chillwave, too loud to be called ambient, but largely devoid of standard song structure. Give a listen to the lead-off track “The Super Moon Made Me Wanna Pee!!!” embedded below, somewhat reminiscent of Embryonic’s “Watching the Planets”, and defying description in more ways than one.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cool Hand Luke - Plastic Jesus

I was staring out a rainy window recently and got this tune stuck in my head.  I had heard The Flaming Lips' version many times (it's a great down-tempo moment on Transmissions from the Satellite Heart), but hadn't thought about the version that made it famous in quite ahile.  Check out Paul Newman's emotional take on the tune from 1967's Cool Hand Luke, complete with the old timey banjo picking that makes it so classic.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gogol Bordello RSD 2010 (45 @ 33)

This is a new feature where we will be ripping our 45 rpm records at 33 and posting the results. Just like the grown men who were sped up to become Alvin and the Chipmunks, any artist on a 45 can be turned into Barry White by taking it slow.

More for comedic effect than anything else, we first found how hilarious it could be slowing down our 45’s by accident. Taking our Record Store Day 2010 release of Gogol Bordello’s “Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher)” and playing it slow had us stitches, partially because Eugene sounds like the devil and partially because it now sounds like GWAR rather than Gogol. That opening bass-line becomes so much more satisfying once it’s slowed down, making you feel it as much as hear it. The b-side, “Trans-Continental Hustle” is a different sort of hilarious, as it actually works slowed down. Check out the original tracks on YouTube, then check out the Mediafire links below to give the slowed-down versions a listen, and try to make it through without laughing. We dare you.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Flaming Lips w/ Stardeath & White Dwarfs – Borderline (Madonna Cover)

This pre-Dark Side collaboration between the FLips and Stardeath was featured on Covered, A Revolution in Sound, a tribute album in honor of Warner Brothers Records' first 50 years.  Both bands contributed their elements to this cover, which seems wildly disparate when compared with the poppy, very Eighties original. Wayne’s signature vocals, wild changes in dynamic and tone, and a bombastic distorted guitar breakdown on much of the track make it their own, almost unrecognizable as a Madonna tune. We’ll do a Vintage Vinyl post on their cover LP of Dark Side of the Moon in the near future, but until then enjoy their take on “Borderline” embedded below.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

Howdy and happy day to all the veterans, BOMB Fest attendees, and other folks glad to have the day off.  We'll be spending the afternoon grilling, drinking, and spinning our 40s era LP of Sousa marches.  Check out this vinyl rip of Sousa himself conducting "Stars and Stripes Forever" and raise a glass to those who serve either presently or in the past.  This one's for you!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

BOMB Fest '011 (Today!) - Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa

With lyrics that would make Sir Smoke-a-Lot blush (or at least make his eyes bloodshot), Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa bring their herbal-infused hip hop to Sunday's edition of B.O.M.B. Fest.  While we'll be missing Wiz in favor of The Shpongletron Experience, he's almost certain to make a guest appearance during Snoop's set, possibly on "That Good", embedded below.  You can also find us at Dum Dum Girls, New Pornographers, Nosaj Thing, and more on this second day of B.O.M.B. Fest, which looks to be even more epic than yesterday.  See you there!

UPDATE: Quintron and Dum Dum Girls had to cancel in recent days. Sucks, but at least now we have time to tailgate and catch Small Black at 1.  Ready? break.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

BOMB Fest '011 (Today!) - Weezer

The long-expected party is finally upon us, B.O.M.B. Fest 2011 is here!  We'll be there from noon on (we wouldn't miss Free Energy for the world), so find us at Wavves, Best Coast, G-Eazy, Real Estate, or any of the other acts we've profiled.  We'll be partying hard all day long, and we hope you are too.  Feel free to use Weezer's anthem "Say It Ain't So" as your pregame music and take after a generation of drunken college Rock Band devotees by belting the chorus at the top of your lungs.

Friday, May 27, 2011

BOMB Fest '011 - Woods

Tweeted this song recently, but do yourself a favor and listen to “September with Pete” off Woods’ 2009 LP Songs of Shame. These eclectic psych-folk-rock masters are scheduled at 7 on Saturday, so we’ll be running out of their set to try and catch RJD2 and Best Coast, but they’re sure to entertain. Also check out their label, Woodsist, home (or former home) to like-minded artists such as Real Estate, Kurt Vile, Wavves, Crystal Stilts, and more.

BOMB Fest '011 - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

We’ve actually seen Alex Ebert live before, when his former full-time project Ima Robot opened for The All-American Rejects at UConn (I know, I know, but tickets were cheap and Freesia managed to get front-row seats. And yes, I am blaming Freesia for that show). Ima Robot was underwhelming to say the least. It was the first time I’d ever heard a crowd cheer at the lead singer saying they have “one last song”.

He now is touring with a new band and new persona. As Edward Sharpe, he comes off as a new age hippie-Jesus. His band, The Magnetic Zeros, plays throwback rock, lushly arranged tunes reminiscent of 60s pop. Pitchfork gave their debut album Up from Below a less than favorable review, but that seemed more like petulant hipsters being angry at a band’s success rather than an honest critique of the music. Car commercials and radio play aside, Up from Below is an fun, certainly enjoyable listen. The band is sure to translate that energy to the stage when they play Saturday at 8:50, and we’ll see you on the walk to P-Funk as soon as Edward and the gang wrap up.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Concert Preview - Mates of State @ The Space

Mates of State are coming back to The Space tomorrow, May 27, for what's sure to be a fun, close-to-home show - and a great way for us (and probably lots of other attendees) to ease into a whole weekend of concerts. (B.O.M.B. Fest is this weekend, too!)

Mates of State at I Am Fest 2010. Photo by Freesia.
We've seen this indie-pop married duo (and their musician friends that they bring along) a number of times live, usually at least once a summer the last few summers, and they never disappoint. Their head-bobbing, catchy tunes - heavy on the drums and synth - are addicting. At this show, we're sure to hear the catchiest of songs that get us dancing the most off their more recent albums, as well as some staples like the sound cloud clip below, "Ha Ha," from 2003's "Team Boo."

Mates Of State - Ha Ha by VanderMusie

The last time we saw Mates was at The Space was an afternoon show - where they were able to bring their kids and the kids got to bring their friends from school. It was adorable. The Space is really the perfect setting to see Mates of State. Just small and intimate enough. And it's on their home turf.

The last time we saw Mates of State in general, they already had some songs from their covers album that was released in 2010, "Crushes (The Covers Mixed Tape)," and they played some of those cover songs plus a lot of their originals from their 2008 album, "Rearrange Us." I'm looking forward to that mix again, and whatever surprises they have in store.

Here's the info for the show:

Friday, May 27, 7-11:30 p.m.
The Space - 295 Treadwell Street, Hamden, CT
$15/All Ages Show at The Space and 21+ to drink at The Outerspace

This will be our first time going to the Outer Space, where we'll probably stop before the show. Another thing to look forward to!

Opening for Mates of State are Bear Hands and The Lonely Forest.

Bear Hands has a pretty cool sound, from what I've heard so far. A band of Wesleyan alums, like the likes of MGMT, Das Racist, and Santigold, they have a unique psych rock sound with lots of echoes, solid drum beats and short and sweet guitar riffs. Plus catchy choruses.

The Lonely Forest kind of sounds like a lot of the power pop I listened to in high school and would see at Warped Tour late high school/early college (circa 2002-2006), but they also have a slight indie feel to their sound. I think it'll be a good show.