Tag Archives: Delicate Steve

Friday News and Notes

A few Friday news and notes items, starting with the video above…

  • Holy crap — have y’all heard this Angelica Garcia songMatthew E. White tweeted about her yesterday, and Ted, the bass player for my band, saw her at The Tin Pan last night and raved about it. Can’t wait to hear more. (BTW s/o to a fellow son [daughter in her case] of a preacher [Episcopalian priest in both our cases] man [woman in my case].)
  • Mrs. YHT and I finished Stranger Things last night. No, YOU were a sobbing mess. Did you hear that the band that contributed the original score — they’re called, appropriately, Survive — is going on tour?
  • Speaking of soundtracks hitting the road, Seu Jorge is doing a David Bowie tribute tour, reprising his role in The Life Aquatic. He’s coming to D.C., but it’s on a Tuesday, and that Tuesday happens to be election day. Not sure I’m brave enough to go to that city on that day, but hot damn do I want to see that show. And hot damn to I want to get my hands on a copy of this.
  • So Delicate Steve played on Paul Simon’s last album. Which I love. I had no idea. I found this out because a press release celebrating his signing to ANTI- mentioned it. (Here’s the new tune of his they linked to in that email.)
  • David Vandervelde — one of two people named David who played music at my sister’s wedding — is putting out a collaborative EP with Tess Shapiro. It’s streaming over at Brooklyn Vegan, and I’d recommend listening all the way through. The whole thing is good, but I’m really digging the last two tracks.
  • The only thing better than friends who make mixtapes are friends who make mixtapes and also link you to other excellent mixtapes. Thank you for sending a link to this wonderful Aquarium Drunkard mix, Giselle!
  • I’m turning 33 tomorrow, and I’ll be celebrating the first few hours of my birthday by joining Doug Nunnally on Sound Gaze. Not sure when I’ll be jumping in, but the show runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on WDCE. Listen online, listen on the radio, peer into the windows of the station… whatever it takes.
  • Gigging tonight at bdubs, so no show recommendations. As for bdubs recommendations: spicy garlic. Now and forever, spicy garlic.

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Delicate Steve

Positive Force

I love me some good marketing. I loved the promotion for Delicate Steve’s last album (which involved a hilariously fictional press release from the desk of Chuck Klosterman), and I love the way Steve Marion introduced the world to the songs that make up his upcoming release, Positive Force. On June 26, he had a committee of 11 musician friends (musiciends?) tweet links to individual tracks from the new album that had been uploaded to YouTube. Through this “Positive Force Friendship Stream,” each song got its own “premiere,” with YHT-beloved groups like Yeasayer, Ra Ra Riot, Yellow OstrichtUnE-yArDs, and Akron/Family joining in on the fun.

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Record Store Day Superlatives

Record Store Day is quickly fading in the rear view mirror, and now that we’ve had a couple days to strip off the shrink wrap, listen to the loot and digest the day’s events, I wanted to share a few reactions and a few songs. In lieu of a list of acquisitions (I’m a little scared to a provide the complete inventory, as my better half reads this blog, and I may or may not have some financial splainin’ to do), I thought I’d keep the superlatives theme from earlier this month rollin’ by handing out a few RSD Superlatives. Off we go…

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YHT Top 10 Albums of 2011, Part 1

Aren’t top 10 music lists funny? They’re arbitrary, for one thing. Unless you’re quantitatively ranking performances (American Idol and X-Factor, I’m not going to call on you so please put your hands down), the order of your top 10 is usually based on gut feelings and random associations. Plus, they’re a dime a dozen — any yahoo, including this one, that listened to at least 10 albums in a calendar year can make one. Yet for some reason, people love to create them and debate them… and then debate them some more. And as annoying as it is to see people arguing about top 10 lists on the internet, therein lies their beauty. There may be no clearer testament to the fact that every human being experiences music differently, and that’s a good thing. Lists like these are a great way to discover bands that other people are crazy about that you might not even know existed. And someone’s conviction about an album you dismissed out of hand may finally convince you to give it a shot. I hope this list does one of those things for you, and if not, feel free join the ranks of these people and lash out about what’s ranked too high or how Bon Iver sucks.

10. Battles — Gloss DropGloss Drop

[Cue Most Interesting Man in the World music] I don’t always listen to math-rocky type stuff. But when I do… I listen to Battles. Their previous album Mirrored drew me in, even though proggy math rock isn’t really my thang, and Gloss Drop picked up right where its predecessor left off. Given that they lost a key band member in between that album and this one, I was impressed right away by how the group’s sense of intensity and adventure had endured, and had maybe even grown. “Ice Cream” became one of my favorite upbeat songs of the year, and I still can’t get enough of it. Listen below, read more about Battles here, here and here, and buy here.

Battles — “Ice Cream

9. Youth Lagoon — The Year of HibernationThe Year of Hibernation

Trevor Powers seemed to come out of nowhere, garnering lots of attention all at once thanks to a May Pitchfork article that linked to a few self-released songs, including the wonderfully haunting “July.” But his instant notoriety was no fluke, as his debut full-length The Year of Hibernation illustrates so convincingly. Powers is just 22, but his old-soul dexterity with themes of nostalgia and the fragility of youth is remarkable, and his album leaves you with the odd sensation that he’s older than he really is. Kind of like how it’s easy to forget that the basketball players you bet on each March in your office pool are really 18-year-olds who only recently learned how to drive. Now if only they’d learn how to hit their goddamn free throws. Listen to “July” below, read more here and here, and buy here.

Youth Lagoon — “July

8. tUnE-yArDs — w h o k i l lw h o k i l l

w h o k i l l is one of the most refreshing albums I’ve heard in a long time, absolutely bursting at the seams with creativity. Merrill Garbus is one of those rare artists who is capable of committing great leaps of the imagination to tape without drifting off into the obscure or unlistenable. Watching her loop-happy live performances online is a special treat, as her execution is flawless despite the fact that she employs so many off-kilter, rhythmically complex and densely layered elements. My favorite of these videos came in August, when she played “Gangsta” on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon with members of the Roots. I’d give you a link, but none of the embedded videos are currently working because NBC is comprised of a-holes who don’t understand the internet. Listen to the studio version of “Gangsta” below, read more here, and buy here.

tUnE-yArDs –“Gangsta

7. Delicate Steve — Wondervisions

Delicate Steve was the source of equal parts laughter, enjoyment and regret during the course of 2011. Laughter because of Chuck Klosterman’s hilarious fake press release; enjoyment because his album Wondervisions is a twisting, turning and totally addictive monument to the endless possibilities of melody; and regret because I wish so badly I could have seen him perform on the tour he did with Ra Ra Riot, as my mother- and father-in-law did in Harrisburg, PA at Appalachian Brewing Company. Hearing my father-in-law talk about how much he enjoyed seeing Delicate Steve helped the bitterness pass though, as it filled me with excitement for whenever I finally make it to one of his shows. Listen to his song “Butterfly” below, read more here, and buy here.

Delicate Steve — “Butterfly

6. Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr — It’s A Corporate World It's A Corporate World

I wrote about Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr incessantly this past year (please don’t do a search for the band’s name in the search bar to the right, my obsession is slightly embarrassing), and much of that writing was about the Detroit duo’s clever marketing and knack for PR. But when you look past their masterfully constructed image, you find sturdy electro-pop tunes that exhibit real heart and soul, as well as a clear gift for arrangement and instrumentation. It’s A Corporate World is an excellent listen from its first notes to its last, and I felt extremely lucky to have seen the album come alive in September at the Southern in Charlottesville, VA (complete with black lights and matching Tigers jackets, of course). Listen to their song “Nothing But Our Love” below, read more here, here and here, and buy here.

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr — “Nothing But Our Love

Check back tomorrow for Part 2!

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Yellow Ostrich

The Mistress

Tryptophantastic Week: Day 1 — Yellow Ostrich

I’ve had an incredible time sorting through the music I heard about from friends and family over the Thanksgiving break, and since I haven’t done a themed week in a while, I’d like to spend the next few days exploring some of the winners. Call it “Tryptophantastic Week.” The first of these winners, Yellow Ostrich, originally came to my attention courtesy of the fact that they’d been touring as one of the openers for Ra Ra Riot. Some of my Pennsylvania-based in-laws are planning on catching the tour’s rescheduled stop in Harrisburg tomorrow, so over the weekend I introduced them to the music of the other opener, the amazing Delicate Steve (“In-laws, meet Wondervisions; Wondervisions, in-laws”) and then spent some time introducing myself to Yellow Ostrich. As it turns out, it looks like YO won’t be playing in H-burg — the venue’s website says they are, the band’s site says they’re no longer with the tour. But for my folks’ sake, I sincerely hope I’m wrong, because Yellow Ostrich has something special going on that strikes me as a hallmark of seriously good musicianship. On occasion, you’ll come across a singer whose voice has an instrumental quality, where words seem to melt away and vocals fuse with the accompanying music in the same way that any single piece of a well-oiled orchestra blends in with its compatriots to create a cohesive musical expression. It’s extremely rare (Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Jónsi Birgisson of Sigur Rós are two canonized practitioners), but Yellow Ostrich exhibits that same quality, and their song “Mary” takes this idea to another level. “Mary” is a gorgeous song that starts out with carefully layered vocals that build until they they sound almost exactly like an accordion that’s expanding and contracting. I can’t tell you how much I love that real voices, which are created by breath escaping human lungs and traveling over vocal chords, are being used to mimic an instrument that, itself, mimics the production of the human voice. The resulting effect forms a conceptual loop that’s cooler than I can possibly describe, so listen for yourself below and click here to buy Yellow Ostrich’s album, The Mistress.

Yellow Ostrich — “Mary

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Delicate Steve

The story surrounding Delicate Steve’s album Wondervisions is a one-of-a-kind fable of authenticity that begins with Yale Evelev, the head of record label Luaka Bop. Evelev had a crazy idea. To generate interest in Wondervisions, he asked one of my favorite authors, Chuck Klosterman, to write a press release on the album without interviewing Delicate Steve or listening to the record. What resulted is a hilarious combination of fiction and satire that transforms the one-man band into a five-piece “hydro-electric Mothra,” touching on everything from post-rock minotaurs and a mountain of General Tso’s chicken to Big East football and a band member who will “fight a dog for no reason.” You really have to read it. While the NPR story that alerted me to the whole episode seemed to paint the press release in a somewhat negative light, I think the moral rings true: take the time to explore new music, because shows and albums are often promoted by people who don’t actually listen to the bands. All lessons aside, Wondervisions is fantastic. The real Delicate Steve, Steve Marion, is a wildly talented composer who, with an array of guitar effects, pedals and samples, crafts elaborate melodies that stretch across octaves and lodge themselves deep in your brain. I’m always impressed when an artist can string together so many notes in a memorable way, especially without the benefit of words. He clearly has a gift, and I encourage you to check out “Butterfly” below and the rest of Wondervisions and find out why I’m so excited to have found him, minotaurs or no minotaurs.

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