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The National and Obama ’08

September 5, 2008

Further evidence of Barack Obama’s good musical taste (or at least his campaign’s) – an instrumental version of The National‘s “Fake Empire” provides the soundtrack for the Obama ’08 campaign’s latest ad. And, conversely, The National is selling “Mr November” shirts to benefit the campaign. [thanks for the heads-up, Brad!]

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Upcoming: The National DVD, A Skin, A Night

April 18, 2008

  [embedded YouTube video; if you can’t see it, click here] Indie-rock auteur Vincent Moon worked with The National to make a one-hour documentary about the creative process behind their brilliant 2007 release, Boxer. Judging by the trailer above, it’s shot in a gorgeously moody style that complements that of the album. The official site also […]

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Coverage: The National, “Mansion on the Hill”

April 12, 2008

My friend Scott, who is an aficionado of cover songs, was kind enough to make me a mix CD, including a set of amusing and insightful annotations. I prevailed upon him to be a de facto z=z guest blogger and he graciously agreed; I’ll be posting some of the songs, together with his notes, over […]

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2007 in review: The National

January 19, 2008

The National – how I love thee. Their album Alligator, released at the end of 2005, may be the first CD that I’ve destroyed through overplaying (it hasn’t left my car for two years, and is now skipping uncontrollably), and they almost single-handedly elicited a trip to Chicago, where they played the 2006 Pitchfork Music […]

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Engineering and music at the Frontiers of Engineering

October 4, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to be able to attend the National Academy of Engineering’s Frontiers of Engineering symposium on behalf of my day job. One of the sessions focused on Engineering and Music, organized by Daniel Ellis of Columbia University and Youngmoo Kim of Drexel University, and some of my notes […]

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Tourfilter Night playlist (April 15)

April 16, 2010

As promised, here’s a full playlist from last night’s set for Tourfilter Night at River Gods, in Cambridge, MA. Unsurprisingly, local and Canadian bands are overrepresented – I’ve flagged the local bands with a red asterisk, but you’re on your own for spotting the Canucks. Hyperlinked song titles takes you to free MP3 downloads. I […]

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Music and mood

February 20, 2010

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen this tweet about a week ago: Warning: Listening to @TheMagFields‘ “All the Umbrellas” can induce psychosomatic cardiac fracture, even in asymptomatic individuals. followed a day or so later by this: I am declaring a temporary moratorium on the Magnetic Fields, the National, and the Mountain […]

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Archive of Crocodile live sets

September 21, 2009

Jim Anderson, the sound engineer at Seattle’s legendary (and recently re-opened) live music venue The Crocodile, has donated five years worth of live show recordings (2002-2007) to the University of Washington’s Ethnomusicology Archives – nearly 3000 hours of music. Artists include z=z faves the Dresden Dolls, the Mountain Goats, the National, and oodles more – […]

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Music, tech and culture roundup, bis

September 2, 2009

It’s the start of school! Here are your reading assignments for the week. Music History 101: The transition from live music performance to recordings. In the 1950s, music used to be about songs – what we now think of as standards. Whether in Paris or Poughkeepsie, people wanted to hear someone sing Cole Porter’s  “Miss […]

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Tiered pricing for music

March 2, 2009

Why should all your fans pay the same amount and get the same thing? We’ve talked about name-your-own-price merchandise in the context of establishing and maintaining a relationship with your fans. Here’s the other side of it: tiered pricing for music and merchandise. I’m a huge fan of The National. I own all their CDs […]

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Upcoming: Dark Was the Night

January 7, 2009

So looking forward to this. Bryce and Aaron Dessner, of The National, curated a 2-CD release called Dark Was the Night. It’s being released by the “Red Hot” organization, who’ve put out about a dozen or so albums to benefit AIDS research and related causes. The lineup looks amazing – as well as an unreleased […]

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Counter-programming: indie music vids

November 28, 2008

[embedded YouTube video; if you can’t see it, click here] If your family holidays are characterized by everyone gathering in the living room and watching large, heavily-armoured men crash into each other (that would be American football, for our non-US readers), and that’s not exactly your speed, I commend to you some counter-programming. On opposite […]

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Pre-election playlist

November 1, 2008

Like most progressives in the US, I’m rapidly oscillating between giddy optimism and fear. Naturally, I had to find a set of songs that reflects this. For best effect, set your iTunes playlist to ‘shuffle.’ Hope: MP3: The National – Mr November (National/Obama t-shirt, more National) MP3: Bad Religion – You Are (the Government) (more […]

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Neophile: The Airborne Toxic Event

September 16, 2008

[embedded YouTube video; if you can’t see it, click here] Rounding out our posts about bands with literature-inspired band names is Los Angeles-based The Airborne Toxic Event (from Don DeLillo’s novel White Noise). I first heard the track “Somewhere Around Midnight” on KEXP and immediately clicked to their playlist page to identify the artist. The […]

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Threesome: mister mister

May 25, 2008

Three terrific songs with “Mr.” in the title. Liars and Clinic, from opposite sides of the Atlantic, are both a little more experimental but still compelling and listenable. The Liars track here, “Mr Your on Fire Mr” is from their first full-length, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top […]

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Coverage: Vampire Weekend, “Exit Music (for a Film)”

May 8, 2008

Guest blogger Scott says: Yet another example of “literate, geeky bands with overeducated lead singers.” Vampire Weekend isn’t the sort of sound I normally like, but any band that writes a song that starts off “Who gives a fuck about the Oxford comma?” is okay in my book. I have an idea for a project […]

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Coverage: I Hate Kate, “Major Tom”

May 1, 2008

Guest blogger Scott says: There are so many things that ought to be wrong with this song. Peter Schilling wrote a conspicuously 80s new wave song that wasn’t so much a cover as an, I don’t know, elaborate retelling of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”. In the U.S., at least, he was a one-hit wonder with […]

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Coverage: Self, “Ana Ng”

April 22, 2008

Guest blogger Scott says: I have it on good authority from my other purveyor of indie rock opinions that Self is “made of industrial-grade awesome”. This being their only song I’ve heard, I can’t really offer insight into that conclusion, except to say that, were that so, you’d think I’d have an easier time finding […]

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Tracklisting: The Heartache Continues

December 29, 2007

[December 2007] Nicole Atkins: The Way It Is KT Tunstall: The Other Side of the World Swans: Love Will Tear Us Apart [J. version] Sea Wolf: The Garden That You Planted Bon Savants: Mass Ave and Broadway Dave Gahan: Saw Something The National: Start A War Tragically Hip: The New Maybe Everclear: Portland Rain Leather […]