One thing that I like to do every now and then is check in on my last.fm profile and look at some of the statistics they’ve accumulated about my music listening habits. One stat I find particularly interesting is seeing how many artists I’ve listened to over 100 times — something that, on average, amounts to about 6 hours of continuous music. Well this time when I checked in it just so happened that an even 100 artists had at least 100 plays, so I thought I would share the results with you guys. The following is the cream of the crop Top 10 with the entire list plus analysis after the jump (included as well are the number of plays):
1. Ryan Adams // 609
2. Bright Eyes // 576
3. Lil’ Wayne // 542
4. The Mountain Goats // 503
5. Sunset Rubdown // 443
6. Wilco // 438
7. Radiohead // 408
8. Stars // 406
9. of Montreal // 368
10. Kanye West // 350
As if Spencer Krug needs another side project (Sunset Rubdown, Wolf Parade, Swan Lake, and formerly Frog Eyes), he has decided to spend the sliver of free time he has developing a solo-act called Moonface. This past April, I purchased a limited edition 7” two song EP titled Introducing Moonface (well technically the name is Aagoo Records Presents: A David Horvitz Picture Disc with Sunset Rubdown: Introducing Moonface, invoking images of a Hollywood film’s opening credits), thinking all along that it was just stubs of never-produced Sunset Rubdown songs. However, when news broke that Krug has a one-sided 12” EP coming out in January, humorously named Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums, I began to look at that 7” in a new light.
I guess clues that this was a different project was there all along. For one, the songs are incredibly simple and performed only by Krug with some help by Rubdown percussionist Camilla Wynne Ingr. And if that wasn’t enough, the credits on the insert state “Sunset Rubdown is, on these recordings, Moonface and no others”. However, in my defense, I thought this was just another cryptic phrase which the band likes to throw around all the time in their lyrics.
Side A consists of the song “Coming to at Dawn”, a simple ballad featuring only a piano-vocal pairing by Krug. Although completely stripped down, the song still encompasses aspects that I like about Krug’s full-band music. One of the most noticeable is his ability to masterfully control the volume and tempo, allowing them both to ebb and flow throughout the piece in order to highlight the phrasing of the vocals. When Krug crescendos, it is to solidly emphasize lines such as “just from the power / of you refusing to believe it can not happen”, however while decrescendoing, he hides and protects others like “of course you wanted everything cold / but when you opened the door all the flower petals fold”. Now with any of Krug’s lyrics, the meaning seems to be secondary to the musicality of the words. He’s not the first to do this (Thom Yorke explained this same method to NPR a while back), but he is certainly one of the best, with this track being one of hist best examples.
As for the B-side “Insane Love Is Awakening”, Krug opts for his instrument du jour, the electric guitar. Most likely recorded before any sort of serious dabblings into constructing Dragonslayer, you can tell that he is still in the process of becoming comfortable with the instrument. The whole song seems like it is being tentatively played, with most of the awkwardness stemming from a sense of hesitation before guitar intros — much like how a trumpet soloist in a junior high band is unsure about wanting to enter in on “Smoke On the Water”.
As for what the Dreamland EP will be, we can only speculate and ask questions. Will he be a multi-instrumentalist or just to stick to Marimba and Shit-Drums (whatever the hell that is)? Any guest performers? Are the songs going to be broken into parts, much like the first s/t Sunset Rubdown EP? Whatever the album is, it’s likely we’ll have to wait until January to find out as, no promo copies are being distributed (sorry leakers). Let the countdown begin…
Here’s the Sunset Rubdown version of “Coming to at Dawn” played at a show I caught over the summer in Austin as well as the original Moonface version. If you need mp3s, use Dirpy!
Picking up where I left off from my previous post, in June I was fortunate enough to visit the musical center of the south: Austin, Texas. Although I was in town on some other matter, I was able to sneak out and watch Sunset Rubdown tear down the house at Mohawk. I won’t gush too much about the greatest band on the planet, but let’s just say seeing them play tracks off of Dragonslayer, especially their perfect performances of “Idiot Heart” and “You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)”, was one of the most awe-inspiring things I have ever experienced. On a side note, lead singer and all around bad ass Spencer Krug mentioned the performance to Pitchfork.
July sneakily crept on me and before I knew it I was celebrating my Jack Bauer Birthday (24) with Rhode Island alt-country act Deer Tick and LA barnstormers Dawes. Knowing nothing about Dawes, I was pleasantly surprised with their act. Lead singer Taylor Goldsmith confidently spit out vocals throughout, climaxing when Deer Tick’s frontman John McCauley joined him onstage for a powerful rendition of their song “When My Time Comes”. When it came time for McCauley to shine with his group, I have to admit the performance was rather lackluster. Although all the classic songs were played and they performed past their allotted hour and a half time slot, I got the impression that they shipped in their set from the get-go. Fortunately, listened to Dawes in my car on the way home got the sour taste out of my mouth.
Unexpectedly, later in the month when I visited my friend at Penn State, I noticed that Deer Tick and Dawes were performing in Montreal. After exhausting everything to do in State College, PA (which was pretty easy to do in the small college town), we decided to road trip it up to Canada for the weekend. Again, Dawes kicked ass with their performance and Deer Tick sort-of floundered throughout (McCauley cut this performance short because of a sore throat).
Once arriving back into Lubbock via Pennsylvania, I had three days of relaxing before jet setting again; this time to Portland, Oregon. Although I was there to scout out an apartment, I would be lying to you if I said I had no intention to check out the music scene. As fate would have it, I saw a guy in a KTXT T-shirt at one of the bars I was in who just so happened to be the drummer for Thao and The Get Down Stay Downs. He invited me for a non-publicized “secret gig” at the newly christened venue The Woods later that evening. Needless to say, I took him up on the offer and was completely taken aback by the whole show.
Opening was Portland’s own Horse Feathers, which is essentially a more delicate version of Iron & Wine. Lead singer Justin Ringle captivated the crowd so much that you could literally hear a pin drop. Saying it was an intimate setting would be an understatement. The quiet atmosphere was unbecoming to Thao, leading her to plead to the audience to stand up and “come and dance with us”. By the time she busted out “Bag of Hammers” for her second song, everyone shed their cautious skin and started to at least do the “indie-sway”. All-in-all it was a great performance that had the one-of-a-kind Portland feel to it.
That concludes the second part of my catching-up series. Here are some mp3s from the mentioned acts: