Tag Archives: Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

Death Cab for Cutie

Keys and Codes Remix EP

You guys! ZOMG! Did you hear the news about Ben and Zooey? OK, OK, so it’s not exactly news anymore that Death Cab for Cutie frontman and 500 Days of Summer starlet Zooey Deschanel filed for divorce after their own 500 days (give or take) of marriage. According to my sources… A. That news broke in early November; B. It’s now the middle of December; and C. I’m a terrible celebrity gossip blogger. Regardless, it’s always sad when two seemingly nice people split up (apparently not too sad to use the whole incident for a blog post setup), leaving them to wonder what could have been, and what could have been done differently. Though there are seldom second chances in marriage, fortunately for Mr. Gibbard, there are second chances in music, as his band’s Keys and Codes Remix EP exemplifies so enjoyably. All the way back in October, when Ben and Zooey were still hitched and Death Cab for Cutie’s most recent full-length Codes and Keys was but a six-month-old bundle of joy, the group started releasing one remixed track every Monday, each featuring a different guest producer, leading up to the November 22 release of a 7-track remix album. From the beginning, I was a fan. I liked the marketing — the slow rollout built suspense, letting you hear one piece of the (CHEESY ALBUM CONCEPT METAPHOR ALERT) puzzle [groan] at a time. I liked the results — the tracks vary wildly but each one offers a fresh view on the source material. But more than anything else, I like this concept. Given how difficult it is these days to profit from record sales, I love that artists are taking control of the secondary consumption market by releasing their own remix albums. Radiohead did the same this year with TKOL RMX 1234567, the follow-up to King of Limbs, as did Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr with It’s A Corporate World’s companion Horse Power EP. Some might say that these groups should leave well enough alone and let their albums stand for themselves, and it’s true that not every single one of these remixed tracks has been a winner for me, but so many of them are winners, and I can’t help but enjoy having the opportunity to look at all of these songs in a different light, like I’m hearing them again for the first time. Listen to the Keys and Codes Remix EP for yourself to decide where you stand on the matter, and if you like what you hear, head over to iTunes to make it official.

Death Cab for Cutie — Keys and Codes Remix EP

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Foster the People

What the Hell Just Happened?!? Week: Day 4 — Foster the People

Being a floor tom ain’t easy. You labor in the corner of the drum set, the last stop on solos and fills (if the guy with the sticks even gets to you). You watch as song after song is written about your bigger, bassier brother, the kick drum. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Well the times they are a-changin’, thanks to a phenomenon that was on display at September 23rd’s Foster the People show at the National in Richmond, VA. I’m talking about the lead singer floor tom solo. Please tell me you’ve seen this… there’s an extra stand-alone floor tom set up within reach of the frontman, and as the song reaches a crescendo, he or she grabs a set of drum sticks and starts pounding away. Mark Foster of Foster the People did just that at the National during “Helena Beat” (start at the 3-minute mark), and the gents of Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr did the same just two days before at the Southern in Charlottesville. It never fails to get people going, and it’s symbolic of a larger theme that united both shows — how to put on a satisfying live show when your studio music relies heavily on sampling. The lead singer tom solo is fascinating to me, in part because it strikes me as a form of vicarious audience participation. Few people at any given concert can play a full set of drums, but just about everyone, if given the opportunity and some sticks, could wail away on a floor tom. I think that’s where the excitement comes from — people can picture themselves on stage, taking all their energy and aggression out that drum, just as Mark Foster was. Maybe I’m wrong, but either way, it works… and so did Foster the People. They put on one of the highest-energy shows I’ve seen, running around the stage, earning every single clap, whistle and shriek (yes, shriekers were out in full force). I walked away from the National with a great deal of respect for a band that had a meteoric rise to fame, but can back up their notoriety with a hard-working, substantive live show. To see what I mean, check out the video I found of the night’s very last song “Pumped Up Kicks” above (studio version below). Be sure to stick around for the floor tom action at the 4:15 minute mark! If you dig it, buy their album here.

Foster the People — “Pumped Up Kicks

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Kyle Andrews

Robot Learn Love

What the Hell Just Happened?!? Week: Day 1 — Kyle Andrews

Wow. What the hell just happened?!? Let’s see… Seven bands. Five days. Three venues. Two states. One blown mind. My head actually exploded, and it’s going to take a full week to put it back together, so I hope you’ll grab a glue stick and join me as I collect the pieces. I already shared my experience from Wednesday’s headlining Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr set, but I haven’t yet mentioned their dynamite opening act, Kyle Andrews. The past five days have been an embarrassment of opening act riches, and I know I’ve said it once, but I’ll keep saying it until the Statue of Liberty is buried in sand and the apes won’t let us use the interweb anymore — heading to concerts early is one of the best ways to discover new music. Fortunately, my wife and I were way early to Wednesday’s show, and we were ready when Mr. Andrews hit the stage with his artful marriage of efficient pop songcraft and upbeat synth. Andrews’ latest album, Robot Learn Love, sets out to explore the relationship people have with the machines that we use on a daily basis, and I enjoyed the results, both in the car on the way to the Southern and in person once we were there. We were even treated to a guest appearance by Dale Jr Jr on Andrews’ “Heart U 4 Ever” — fitting, given that the Detroit duo recently remixed the song. Check out the original and the remix below, buy Robot Learn Love here, and check back for another trip to the awesome opening act buffet!

Kyle Andrews — “Heart U 4 Ever

Kyle Andrews — “Heart U 4 Ever (Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr remix)

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Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

“Have you seen ’em live?” is a question that’s getting more and more difficult to answer. On one level, it’s a basic yes or no question about whether you’ve dragged your physical being out to a music venue to see a band perform. Why complicate something so simple? Well, because chances are, if you want to find out what a band’s live performance is like, you can do so right this very second by going to YouTube. Of course YouTube isn’t the same as being there yourself, with the lights a-flashin’, bass a-thumpin’ and that tall guy inevitably swooping in to stand in your line of sight, but the interweb does make it possible to see and hear how the potential energy of studio tracks are transformed into kinetic energy onstage. This transformation is particularly intriguing for bands that use samples in the studio, as Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr does. That’s why I was so excited when I saw this video of “Nothing But Our Love” from their recent set at the Austin City Limits festival. The song bursts out of its studio seams with a spectacular final sequence, adding aggressive dashes of spice to a dish that previously thrived on its sweetness. With this clip in the back of my mind, I gleefully dragged my physical being to the Southern in Charlottesville, VA last night to get the full, lights-bass-tall-guy, Jr Jr experience. It was an incredible show of talent, showmanship, jackets (my enjoyment of their costumes and marketing knows no bounds) and production savvy. It’s no surprise that these two are involved in the remix community — onstage and off they make one smart musical decision after another, carefully managing instrumentation, samples and harmonies to maximize the impact of each song. We were treated to a booming version of “We Almost Lost Detroit,” an extremely catchy new tune and, as I’d hoped, the evolutionary ending to “Nothing But Our Love.” Did already having seen this ending on YouTube spoil the moment? Not even a little. It was glorious. Check out the ACL performance above, the studio version below, and buy their album It’s A Corporate World here.

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr — “Nothing But Our Love

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Read It Later Roulette

I’m on earthquake watch tonight. The biggun happened on Tuesday afternoon, but I slept through both of the subsequent early-morning aftershocks. As I try to stay awake long enough for tonight’s edition, I thought I’d try something totally new — Read It Later roulette. If you don’t use Read It Later (or something like it), it’s an incredibly useful and simple tool (it’s a plugin for many browsers, my iPhone Twitter client uses it as well) that lets you add links to one central list for future perusal. It’s great for when you don’t have time to freely surf the world wide web of information by day, and great for keeping up with music news. Without further ado, let’s play! The following are links I stumbled across at some point today:

Apparently, Kate Miller-Heidke, whose song “Are You Fucking Kidding Me” still has me rotflmao-ing, once sang in an opera about Jerry Springer, which she calls “sheer brilliance” (the opera, not Springer). I think she’s brilliant, and I’m excited she’s recording an album in October! Read an interview with KMH at the Village Voice.

I hope Pearl Jam plans to update the liner notes for their next best-of album, given that the true spelling of some key lyrics to “Alive” have been unearthed. Thank to you Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr for documenting this important archival discovery on their Twitter feed.

St. Vincent released the video for new song “Cruel,” in which she has the worst kids and husband ever. Let’s find Annie Clark a better family, because she seems like a nice lady to me. And if anyone can think of what commercial(s) the husband is from, PLEASE leave a comment. It’s bugging the hell out of me.

Kanye performed a 20-minute version of “Runaway” in Portland, and Rolling Stone posted a fan video. Just when I was ready to cry senseless self-indulgence, he brings the free-form epic to a close by pointing out that he “had the nerve to play you this song.” That is why Kayne is the best. Never ever change, Yeezy.

Lastly, music blogs asploded (and I nearly spat out my lunch) last Wednesday when James Blake cryptically announced a collabo with Bon Iver. The gorgeous tune is called “Fall Creek Boys Choir” and it just made it’s way online. I would like to place an order for an entire album of that. Kthx.

So, still no aftershocks, but I’m going to bed. I need my sleep — hurricane watch is on tap for tomorrow…

 

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Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

It's a Corporate World

Repetitive listening … check. Telling all my friends that they should listen … check. Telling everyone a second time that they should listen … check. It’s official. I have a band crush* on Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr. It started a few months ago with their name, which is not only memorable but ballsy, in that it ignores some serious Google (or Bing, if you’re a Republican) search result drawbacks. I was drawn in even more by their marketing savvy, which is evidenced by persistent racing imagery and one of my favorite Twitter accounts in all of Twitterdom. But in the end, none of that would have mattered if their music wasn’t as special as it is. Their debut LP It’s a Corporate World rounds out my Tuesday music-buying binge, and I’ve been looking forward to sharing how great it is ever since I finished listening to the album. Theirs is a truly soulful brand of electro-pop, with an intelligence that permeates each note, sample and lyric. One of my favorite songs on the record is “Skeletons,” in large part because it highlights Dale Jr Jr’s talent for balancing mind and heart, electronic beats and acoustic guitar, enjoyment and meaning, all in one 2:20 second song. It’s a Corporate World is so much more than a fun summer album, but I’ll probably have more fun listening to it than any other album that comes out in the next few months. Join me in my band crush by listening to “Skeletons” below and downloading their album from iTunes.

*Damn you, Urban Dictionary. I thought I invented the term band crush. I was wrong.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

It’s NASCAR weekend in Richmond, and that’s got me thinking about Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr. I heard their (fantastic) name at SXSW, but didn’t check out their music until I heard them on Wednesdays Become Eclectic, a weekly feature where the folks at NPR’s Morning Becomes Eclectic showcase up-and-coming artists. I had to hear more, so picked up their Horse Power EP. It’s a powerful example of something I absolutely love: electronic music with a soul. These songs are built on a foundation of drum machines and sampling, but the lyrics and their delivery are charged with emotion, and what results is a beautiful type of art that is simultaneously old and new, organic and synthetic. As if to drive this home, the band even includes a creative, yet faithful, cover of the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows.” Check out their song “Vocal Chords” below, and if you dig it, head to their website to download a free song called “Morning Thought” from their upcoming full-length debut.

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