List: 5 Winter to Spring Trade-ins

Spring has arrived! (At least for now). It is time to put away the wool sweaters and take some light blazers out of storage. It is time to trade the fuzzy ugg boots for converse sneakers and ballet flats. It is time to bust out the sunglasses and the straw bags and, in due time, the bathing suits and flip flops.

In addition the many wardrobe changes associated with the beginning of over-50 degree weather, I find that when the first spurt of spring arrives so begins a shift away on my recently-played list. I exchange my Ray Lamontagne and Fleet Foxes records for something more whimsical and light, like a Camera Obscura or a Noah and the Whale.

So in honor of that, I have complied a list of some spring “trade-ins” – meaning replacements for those bands that really only fit into the cold blustery days. Bust out your sunglasses, it is going to get bright in here…

From Fleet Foxes to Noah and the Whale
Fleet Foxes is one of my favorite “mountain-y” bands, as I have stated before. The fact that their sound emits certain ‘snow covered mountain’ imagery is unmistakable. So when the sun is out and the snow has melted, trade in your Fleet Foxes for your Noah and the Whale. NATW is pure joy and features ukulele, piano and clapping. Like Fleet Foxes, NATW has choruses and verses of enchanting harmonies. “Five Years Time” even has whistling! Delightful!
From Joshua Radin to Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers
Both of these male singer-songwriters have a certain amount of mainstream charm but have been largely unable to cash in. Radin, on one hand, is the perfect fall/winter artist. He even has a song named “Winter.” His vocals are quiet, yet powerful. Kellogg is a lighter version. Even though he is from Massachusetts, there is a certain degree of Southern twang in his voice. He is a great lyricist who departs wisdom on his listeners. He captures how it feels to be young and innocent in songs like “Summer” and “Blue Jean.” “Milwaukee” (from 2007’s “Glassjaw Boxer”) is all about growing up and dealing with the changes of life. Throughout the song he repeats “I guess I learned that too” as a response to all of the experiences that occurred in his young years.

From Interpol to Spoon
One of the major characteristics of “spring” bands for me is the use of lighter instruments, like ukuleles, tambourines and percussion shakers. In creating their own signature style, Spoon utilizes these tools. 2007’s “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” is an excellent example. It includes Britt Daniel’s charming vocal style and melodies. “Don’t You Evah” and “Rhthm and Soul” both feature light drums and could be inserted into any road trip mix cd.
From The Frames to The Long Winters
Glen Hasnard, front man of The Frames, has a strong presence and a stronger sense of how to construct interesting lyrics. John Roderick, the front man of The Long Winters, also shares this talent. The Frames are much heavier than The Long Winters and that is why TLW are one of my favorite spring band replacements. The acoustic nature of many of their songs lend themselves to a feeling of airy goodness. One song, “Hindsight,” wonders what happens when the snow melts: will things be the same? Of course, TLW use some electric guitars (“Rich Wife,” “New Girl,” and others) but Roderick’s vocals, harmonies and acoustic sounds are the most noticeable. Overall, when listening to this band, you will imagine open fields and crave the sunshine.

From Ryan Adams toLimbeck

Limbeck is one of these bands that I believe more people should know about. Hailing from Orange County, California, they are an alt-country rock band whose influences include The Beach Boys, The Replacements and Old 97s (according to their wikipedia page). The great part about Limbeck is the way they play – with pure enjoyment. Their songs are geographically aware and touch upon experiences that are incredibly universal – like hanging out with friends, trying to decide what to do (“Everyone’s in the Parking Lot”), feeling frustrated (“Trouble”) and being home (“Let Me Come Home”). Their use of tambourines and hand claps is unmistakably interesting. “Honk and Wave,” one of their best tracks, is kind of about a road trip and kind of about a broken heart. The version on “Hey, Everything’s Fine” (an acoustic/live recording of the songs found on 2003’s “Hi, Everything’s Great) features banter and hand claps. It is as if the band is reliving the experience via a sing-along with all of their fans and friends.
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Video Killed The Radio Star: 6 Awesome Music Videos To Kick Start Your Weekend

When was the last time MTV played two music videos consecutively? When was the last time you saw a music video?
Since The Buggles first appeared on MTV the possibilities for music videos has grown, just look at Michael Jackson’s epic short feature and now soon-to-be Broadway musical, “Thriller” video. They come in many shapes and sizes, whether it’s exclusive backstage footage, band’s flexing their acting skills and playing dress up or an artful animation sequence. So here’s some vid picks, some old, some new, some borrowed (kinda, thanks for your suggestions girls, even if they didn’t make the cut) and some blue (or rather from the band that brought you the Blue album), for your viewing pleasure:

Fleet Foxes- White Winter Hymnal

The idea for this video is super cool, comparing the cycle of life to the round structure of the song, and besides, who doesn’t love claymation?!

A-Ha- Take On Me

One of my favorite videos ever, these pretty boys from Norway leap off the page.

Radiohead- Just

I LOVE this video! Conceptually brilliant, the unknown, possibly existential crisis combined with Radiohead’s abrasive jam is the work of genius.

The Strokes- Reptilia

If you don’t like The Strokes you may not like the video, but clean partial shots of a shoe, an eye, or a frenzied hand strumming guitar strings make for a visually aesthetic experience.
Favorite moment: As Julian sings: “Now every time that I look at myself,” curly headed Hammond Jr. slowly turns to face the camera, his eyes glancing upwards.

Weezer- Keep Fishin’

Known for their videos, the geeky 90’s rockers team up with the Muppets for a most sensational, inspiration, celebrational, Muppetational performance!

Loney Dear- Saturday Waits

In the style of photographer William Wegman, dogs dressed as human’s act out a tragic story of a relationship gone bad.

Appreciation! La Blogothèque

In a hallway, in front of elaborate iron-worked windows and two green trash bins, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon leads his band in an acapella version of “For Emma,” off his debut album “For Emma, Forever Ago,” clapping rhythm like a human metronome. Vernon tries and fails to open the door for building residents, vocalist/pianist Sean Carey then buzzes them in, bassist Mike Noyce smirks at Vernon’s ineptitude, Carey stoops to pet a friendly dog that runs over; throughout all of which the band never pauses in their acapella serenade. The long hallway, lit by a soft pink glow that seems to radiate off every surface, fills with beautiful three-part harmony. As the song winds down the camera pans to the other end of the entrance-way where a crowd has gathered to listen, and the same dog jumps playfully, looking to be pet.

No. 93 in an ongoing series of Les Concerts A Emporter or ‘Take Away Shows,’ this Bon Iver performance is one of my favorites. Produced by La Blogothèque, brainchild of Chryde and French indie filmmaker Vincent Moon, the artistically filmed live performances take music out of the concert halls and into the streets, literally. Bands play acoustic and/or acapella sets walking down the street, in parks, bars, apartments and even elevators!

The groups, with guitars strapped to their backs, portable percussion (maraca’s, a single drum) and vertically carried keyboards travel through quaint city backdrops and everyday soundscapes (birds, rushing traffic, surprised screaming fans a la The Kooks video) like bands of roving troubadours. In an I’m From Barcelona video, lead singer Emanuel Lundgren leads an unprompted ever-growing pedestrian chorus that follows behind him, like a pied piper of indie rock.

On Parisian boulevards lined with trees and in the interiors of architecturally aesthetic buildings an honest, clean sound is captured in continuous, single-takes, through a lens that makes the images appear to have been sepia-toned and then filled in with water colors. The minimalistic performances paired with facial close-ups, lends an authentic experience to online viewers, granting intimate access to your favorite bands. The only audience is the omniscient camera, or occasionally impromptu crowds of curious locals drawn in (as are we), by the music.

Started in Paris in April 2006, the project has now spread globally and involves other directors in addition to Moon, who shoot bands in locations around the world such as Jerusalem, Montreal and Austin, TX. Lykke Li, The National, Cold War Kids, Fleet Foxes, Bloc Party, Beirut, Margot and The Nuclear So & So’s, The Shins, Andrew Bird and many others have performed for the web outfit. For a full listing of bands and videos go here.

“Our goal is to try and capture instants, film the music just like it happens, without preparation, without tricks. Spontaneity is the key word.”

Other Favorite Performances (in no particular order):

Squeezed into an elevator, the 8-piece outfit still manages to churn out a heartfelt rendition of “Neon Bible,” off their album of the same title. The jigsaw puzzle of guitars, violins, brass instruments and bodies are fitted together in a claustrophobically tight space, making for an intimate performance venue. Band members bang on the ceiling and rip magazines, while bowing violins swell in a tide of emotion, producing a sound that the small space cannot contain. Or if that doesn’t do it for you, the sheer fact that the whole band with instruments fit in that elevator is a feat in itself!

The camera encircles the foursome in a gated courtyard/parking lot as they play acoustic guitars, a keyboard laid down on the concrete, and use dumpsters as a drum set. Surrounded on two-sides by the windows of high-walled apartment buildings, Ezra Koenig’s squeaky voice echoes and amplifies around the courtyard. Something about the open space and stripped down rendition of “The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance” with big drum sounds and a simple guitar riff just works. Then almost like an afterthought the video cuts to the band walking single file down the street playing a minimalistic guitars/vocals/maracas version of “Oxford Comma.” The band’s sparse song stylings echo Moon’s single takes and shaky panning shots, the marriage of which is a match made in heaven . . . or maybe Cape Cod by way of Paris.

You don’t need to do much to make Fleet Foxes look and sound good. With their beautiful, ethereal harmonies and signature Pacific Northwestern flannel outfitting, the group was one of the best to break out 2008. What makes this video great is that Moon in fact doesn’t do much, using subtle filming techniques such as an enhanced dark/light color contrast, and strategically picked locations to compliment the band’s sound and image. A slowed, acapella version of the “Sun Giant” on a park lawn brings to the foreground the naturalistic imagery abundant in the lyrics, and the epic “Blue Ridge Mountains” is performed in a deserted, high-ceilinged area of the Grand Palais, an old palace that fills and echoes with their brazen saccharine voices.