For the uninitiated: Near/Far is The Bulletin’s totally free, totally legal, two-disc compilation of some of the best songs of the year. The 2010 version — all 36 tracks of it, including Superchunk, Laura Veirs, Freeway, Das Racist, Black Mountain, Larry and His Flask, Mosley Wotta, Sara Jackson-Holman and more — can be downloaded by clicking here.
We’ve been doing Near/Far annually for the past four years, and you can still grab 2007 and 2008 here and 2009 here. That’s 138 awesome songs, for free. FOR FREE.
But that’s not enough for me. Each year, there are inevitably tracks I can’t use on the official Near/Far, either because I run out of space, or I can’t get permission to use them. So this year, I decided to take advantage of YouTube’s playlist function and put together a “bonus disc” of great songs that didn’t make it onto the 2010 version of Near/Far.
Here are the artists in this mix: Kanye West, Big Boi, Band of Horses, Mumford & Sons, Deerhunter, Weezer, Surfer Blood, Fang Island, My Chemical Romance, Purling Hiss, Tame Impala, Peter Wolf, Junip, Janelle Monae, Sun Araw, School of Seven Bells, Jonsi and Cee Lo Green. (I had to cut “Bed Intruder Song” at the last minute, sadly.)
I’ve gone on and on about my favorite recordings of 2010, but live music is the backbone of any good scene. Here is a look back my 13 favorite shows of the past 12 months in chronological order, with excerpts from reviews already published in The Bulletin or on Frequency.
(Jake) Smith’s talents are many, but his voice is obviously his most distinctive quality. It’s a show-stopper. A jaw-dropper. It’s canyon deep and sequoia strong, with a natural resonance that 99 percent of singers would kill to have.
The closest comparison I can come up with is Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, though when he’s at his best, Smith makes Vedder sound like Bobby Brady going through puberty.
He’s just that great of a singer.
Smith showcased that voice on barnburners like “The Madman” and “Carnage,” with their ultra-low notes, as well as meandering, pretty numbers such as “Sleepy Little Town” and “Where Dirt and Water Collide.” And he let it soar during two of his best songs, “Love Song #1” and “Damned.” The ascendant pre-chorus of the former and the roller-coaster verses of the latter were perfect examples of Smith’s skill for writing melodies that are both unconventional and memorable.
Portland-based hip-hop/magic/comedy band Chicharones are headlining the big “Madhappy Freak Show” at the Domino Room Saturday night. I spoke with band principals Josh Martinez and Sleep, who aren’t your average MCs, that’s for sure. For example:
“We’re bringing … exploding cigarettes and a bunch of other random things that we’ve brought together,” said one half of the Chicharones, Josh Martinez, in a telephone interview last week.
“Now we levitate Josh on stage,” chimed in Martinez’s partner, the MC known as Sleep. “Which is pretty awesome.”
Martinez and Sleep are both Northwest-based rappers and musicians who, for the past several years, were better known for their brainy solo work than their joint venture.
That’s changing, though.
Since Martinez moved to Portland a few years ago, Chicharones’ vaudevillian take on hip-hop has gained the duo a higher profile, bigger crowds and more opportunities. And that means more money.
Which means — what else? — buying more magic tricks!
Both these guys were great interviews, and I’m truly stoked to see them perform Saturday. The whole night — which features locals Jukebot, Mindscape and Capture the Flag — is going to be fun, and I hope you’ll read my whole article by clicking here.
(Perhaps the highlight of Sunday’s Band of Horses show in Bend. Video by buckluther.)
For the first time in 2010, Feedback traveled to Les Schwab Amphitheater to see She & Him and Band of Horses. The former was boring, but the latter was great. Here’s a bit of my review:
New tunes “Compliments” and “Laredo” provided a taste of “Infinite Arms,” and were followed by “No One’s Gonna Love You,” a beautiful older song that struck me in a new way. Looking back, I’m surprised it wasn’t a huge hit thanks to its soaring chorus and some shrewd placement in a romantic comedy film.
The highlight of the night, though, came during “Monsters,” when some serendipitous soul let fly with fireworks across the Deschutes River. They first caught the attention of the crowd, and then (Band of Horses frontman Ben) Bridwell, who was visibly stoked to see them, shouting “Keep doing that, please!” Which they did. For a couple of minutes, the fireworks flashed and boomed and fell glistening to the ground, while “Monsters” loped to its crescendoing chorus and then faded into the night air as Bridwell bowed to the east, pressing his hands together in thanks.
Also in this week’s music section: pop-rock singer-songwriter Tyrone Wells is at The Annex tonight, and burly, bearded folk singer The White Buffalo returns to Silver Moon Brewing on Saturday. And there’s always more in The Bulletin’s complete music listings.
Very, very solid show last night by Band of Horses. I have one complaint, but it’s relatively minor and I’ll save it (as well as my thoughts on She & Him) for my review in Friday’s GO! Magazine. For now, let’s look at some pretty pictures by The Bulletin’s Ryan Brennecke, who was a busy man this weekend. Be sure to click below to see the photos of She & Him and Dawes.
Fairly ginormous week of music in Central Oregon, isn’t it? This is awesome! Let’s jump in …
(I am currently obsessed with this song.)
Band-on-the-verge Band of Horses plays at Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend on Sunday. I chatted with head Horse Ben Bridwell — one of the nicest musicians I’ve interviewed, I might add — about how he’s feeling as he stares down fame.
“But with me it’s never really been about some grand ambition to be the biggest band in the world. I guess, if anything, it makes me happy when we can make more people happy,” he said. “But people say, ‘You guys are going to be the next Kings of Leon’ or whatever, and that terrifies me more than anything.”
Terrifies? Bridwell elaborates: “I came into this game so late; I didn’t start playing guitar and singing until my late 20s. It’s never been that comfortable of a position for me. So I feel like I can barely keep up as it is (with) trying to curb the anxiety of performing and stuff like that. It scares me to think that we would be in the position of Pearl Jam, where you have an arena of people that you have to (impress). It seems like a lot of responsibility, right?”
I hope you’ll read the whole thing by clicking here. Also, Band of Horses is co-headlining Sunday’s show with retro-pop duo She & Him, aka Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. My colleague David Holley interviewed Ward, and you can read that here.
’90s alt-rock holdover the Goo Goo Dolls will kick off the 2010 Bend Summer Concerts series tonight. Another colleague, Adrianne Jeffries, spoke with bassist Robby Takac about being in a band for nearly a quarter-century.
We have fans from 6 to 60 coming to the shows, which is pretty interesting to me to watch, seeing the sort of generation gaps being broken … People with kids come to the show and they’re like, “Hey man, we’ve been playing your band for our kids since they were infants!” Since they were infants? For God’s sake, the kid’s got a beard!
Need more laughter in your life? Maybe you need to see Trainwreck — featuring Kyle Gass of Tenacious D — at Mountain’s Edge Bar in Bend tonight. Yet another colleague, David Jasper, shot the bull with Gass a couple of weeks ago.
Along with Gass, whose wigged alter-ego in the group is Klip Calhoun, Trainwreck also contains “biker-hayseed” Darryl Donald, also known as “Lee,” Jason Reed or JR.
“Klip is the gentle, maternal matriarch of the group; he nurtures the boys,” Gass explain ed while strumming his guitar in the background. “As contrasted to JR, who plays Darryl Donald, who’s kind of the fiery, quick-tempered, lead-singer type. So we’re kind of the mom and dad, and then the boys, as we call them, they all bow to our will.”
The “boys” are most of Tenacious D’s live and studio band: Shredman, Boy Johnny and Dallas St. Bernard.
“I’ve arranged it so I do little or no work out there,” Gass claim ed. “I don’t even pick up my own guitar. I assign everyone else, just because I pay, and whoever has the gold makes the rules.”
Also in this week’s music section: Morwenna Lasko and Jay Pun kick off the summer concert series in the old ghost town of Richmond, three Oregon-based hot jazz bands play the Hep Cat’s Ball at the Tower Theatre, an update on Last Band Standing, and Silver Moon Brewing has a big week of shows, including The River Pigs, Dela Project, Baki and Clumsy Lovers.
So … that’s the rundown. Weather’s getting warm, music’s everywhere. Leave me a comment and tell me what show you’re most excited about!
You are welcome to be more excited about She & Him if you like. As for me, I’m infinitely more stoked to see Band of Horses, whose first two albums are modern classics, and whose third, “Infinite Arms” — due out May 18 — is also going to be awesome, if the new song on their Web site is any indication. Take a listen:
Band of Horses, She & Him and Dawes perform May 30 at Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend. Details here.
No offense to the other contests we’ve had here on Frequency, but this one is the coolest so far: We’re giving away two tickets to see the just-announced Band of Horses / She & Him / Dawes show happening May 30 at Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend!
If you haven’t heard of those bands, click their names above and dive in. If you have, you already know that this is going to be one great night of every-so-slightly twang-flavored indie rock courtesy three fast-rising bands. Just this week, the Horses announced their new album, “Infinite Arms,” will be released May 18, and if it has the same kind of impact as the band’s first two records, these hirsute dudes could be big-time stars by year’s end. And She & Him is more commonly known as Zooey Deschanel and that guitar player guy (if you’re into movies), or M. Ward and that cute actress (if you dig throwback indie-folk). Either way, those two stay plenty busy outside this project, so who knows how many more times you’ll be able to catch She & Him. I don’t know much about Dawes, but the songs on their MySpace sound pretty sharp.
Anyway, the tickets: If you want them, just leave a comment below and tell me why you deserve to win them. Deadline is noon on Monday, and the Frequency Contest Operating Committee will pick a winner shortly thereafter. Tickets cost $35 apiece, plus fees, so you’re looking at a prize worth around $80. Sweet!
Not willing to wait till Monday to know for sure you’re seeing the show? Tickets go on sale tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster outlets, including The Ticket Mill in the Old Mill District, where you can save a few bucks if you pay with cash.
Just in from the Old Mill District’s Twitter: South Carolina indie-roots-rockers Band of Horses will play May 30 at Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend. Also, they’ll bring along a “special guest” to be revealed next week.
This is terrific news. In tomorrow’s GO! Magazine, I’ll have a column lamenting the lack of great rock bands at the Schwab over the past 18 months. This announcement is a big step in the right direction toward solving that problem, not to mention a hopeful sign for Memorial Day weekend. Band of Horses has two excellent albums under its belt (including my co-fave of 2007), not the mention the best song I know that contains only 14 words: