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.