what happens around us is here

Anthony’s Alternative Music Blog

Story: Singer-songwriter strikes personal, individual pitch
Sound: Sweet singing, spartan acoustic guitar, slow-burning cellos, odd production flourishes

One of the songs I’ve found myself playing plenty in the ’10 has been a cut called “Perfect Plan.” The work of 24-year-old Texan singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe, it’s a rollicking two-minute tune in which Jaffe’s sugary-sweet voice (best couplet: “don’t be my old man/let me wrestle with my own ghosts instead”) and spartan acoustic guitar collide with ricochets of percussion and a bass-end piano line that sounds quite literally bashed out. 

Veering from loud to quiet and back again (and again), “Perfect Plan” is a study in contrast. That notion is played up by producer John Congleton (the Paper Chase frontman whose in-studio work includes stints with Shearwater, St. Vincent, The Polyphonic Spree, The Thermals, etc), who lets the contrast between the cleanly-recorded voice/guitar of Jaffe and the dirty, distorted, in-the-red sounds of piano/percussion create a sense of aural tension. 

“Perfect Plan” is the stand-out cut on Jaffe’s impressive debut LP, Suburban Nature, which was issued in April on Dallas-based imprint Kirtland Records. And it’s the only jam on the album that could be described as “rollicking.” Jaffe routinely keeps things more slowed down and stripped down; barely-there ballads like “LUV” and “Pretender, Pt. 1” creating a genuine sense of fragility via their minimalist remove. 

Thus far, the cult of Jaffe is still fairly cult-like, but tours with fellow Denton residents Midlake and Norah Jones have started to expose her to many more ears. If you try to divine Jaffe’s musical fate via listening to Suburban Nature, you get contradictory messages. At some points, you feel as if music this charming and accessible could lead Jaffe to mass popularity; at others, you get a protective sense that songs this personal and individual will only ever engender a following of fervent devotees whispering Jaffe’s greatness in an awed hush.

  • Listen: Sarah Jaffe, “Perfect Plan” [via I Guess I’m Floating]
  • Listen: Sarah Jaffe, “Clementine”
  • Visit: Sarah Jaffe on Myspace
  • Visit: Sarah Jaffe on Myspace
  • One of the more unexpectedly influential acts of the past decade was lo-fi analogue-tape alchemist Ariel Pink, a gonzo Los Angelino whose archives of bedroom recordings transfixed many and inspired countless imitators with their unironic soft-pop melodies buried in muddy, cruddy audio. 

    The lo-fi fog has lifted, though, for the forthcoming Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti LP, Before Today. The first-ever AP LP made in the studio —made, indeed, as an album— Before Today is looming as one of the bigger indie records of the year, and a near-certain breakout for the thus-far cult-like Ariel Pink. 

    With killer single “Round and Round” currently slaying whoever hears it, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti —these days a fully-functioning four-piece combo— are planning a massive tour to take these warped pop jams to the masses.

    Oh, and, for their month-long North American jaunt through July and August, they’ll be joined by two of the coolest young combos (teenagers ahoy!) in the country: Los Angeles’ sunshine-haze moodists Pearl Harbor and exuberant Tennessean pop tykes Magic Kids. Yikes! 

    Round and Round the Touring Circuit:
    May 4: New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
    June 10: Brighton, England – The Freebutt
    June 11: Bristol, England – The Fleece
    June 12: Nottingham, England – Spiky Van Dykes
    June 13: Glasgow, Scotland – Captain’s Rest
    June 14: Leeds, England – Brudenell Social Club
    June 15: London, England – Scala
    July 9: Los Angeles, CA – Echoplex
    July 10: San Francisco, CA – Bimbo’s
    July 12: Portland, OR – Doug Fir
    July 13: Seattle, WA – Neumo’s
    July 14: Vancouver, BC – Biltmore
    July 16: Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
    July 17: Denver, CO – Bluebird
    July 19: Minneapolis, MN – Entry
    July 20: Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
    July 21: Detroit, MI – Pike Room
    July 22: Toronto, ON – Mod Club
    July 23: Montreal, QC – La Sala Rosa
    July 24: New York, NY – Irving Plaza
    July 25: Boston, MA – Middle East
    July 27: Philadelphia, PA – JB’s
    July 28: Washington, DC – Rock n Roll Hotel
    July 29: Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506
    July 30: Atlanta, GA – Earl
    July 31: Birmingham, AL – Bottle Tree
    August 2: Denton, TX – Hailey’s
    August 3: Austin, TX – Mohawk
    August 5: Tuscon, AZ – Plush
    August 6: San Diego, CA – Casbah
    August 7: Costa Mesa, CA – Detroit Bar


When not giving charming interviews, Zooey Deschanel and her partner-in-musical crime, M. Ward &Mdash;AKA jukebox-country sweeties She and Him— also take to stages near and far. 

Thus, in support of She and Him album number two, Volume Two, Deschanel and Ward are set to play a show or two. The duo have announced a run of summer shows in which they’ll take their suitably-summery soft-pop to the North American masses. The dates look a lot like this: 

In the Sun:
May 6: Amsterdam, the Netherlands – Melkweg
May 7: London, England – Koko
May 8: Minehead, England – ATP Festival
May 10: London, England – Shepherds Bush
May 28: Santa Cruz, CA – Rio Theatre
May 29: Oakland, CA – Fox Theatre
May 30: Bend, OR – Le Schwab Amphitheatre
May 31: George, WA – Sasquatch! Music Festival
June 4: Milwaukee, WI – Verge Music Festival
June 5: Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
June 6: Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak Theatre
June 7: Chicago, IL – Millennium Park
June 9: Toronto, ON – Sound Academy
June 10: Cleveland, OH – House of Blues
June 11: Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo
July 1: Boston, MA – House of Blues
July 2: Philadelphia, PA – Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing
July 3: Oxford, ME – Nateva Music Festival
July 4: New York, NY – The Beach at Governors Island
July 6: New York, NY – Terminal 5
July 7: Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
July 9: Atlanta, GA – Botanical Gardens
July 10: Birmingham, AL – Sloss Furnaces
July 11: Louisville, KY – TBD
July 18: Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Bowl
August 29: St. Louis, MO – LouFest

With the release of their second LP, Sea of Cowards, as imminent as May 11, alt-rock/blues-scuzz supergroup The Dead Weather are lining up a bunch of shows. 

The quartet —fronted by Alison Mosshart (who gave me an exceptionally-friendly interview early this year) and featuring a drummer by the name of Jack White— will spend much of July rolling through the North America, taking Sea of Cowards to the people. 

Sea to Shining Sea:
June 12: Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo
June 26: Pilton, England – Glastonbury Festival
July 2: Belfort, France – Les Eurockéennes Festival
July 13: Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
July 14: Boston, MA – House of Blues
July 15: Toronto, Ontario – Sound Academy
July 17: Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre
July 19: San Diego, CA – House of Blues
July 21: Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Palladium
July 22: San Francisco, CA – Warfield Theatre
July 24: Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
July 27: Billings, MT – Babcock Theatre
July 28: Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
July 29: Milwaukee, WI – The Rave
July 30: Chicago, IL – The Congress Theater
July 31: Detroit, MI – The Fillmore
August 2: Baltimore, MD – Ram’s Head Live!
August 3: Brooklyn, NY – Prospect Park


May 16, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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