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February 3, 2009

bonnaroo does it again

bonnaroo does it again
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i’m consistently amazed at how the superfly and AC entertainment folks manage to pull together incredible lineups year after year for the bonnaroo music & arts festival. from snoop dogg to merle haggard, the lineup is all over the place—all over the place in that good “holy crap, how am i going to decide between this tent or that tent?” kind of way.

i’ll be heading down to the farm for my sixth bonnaroo. the only bad part is having to wait until june.

here’s the official promo video, released earlier today.

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March 30, 2008

it tolls for thee

it tolls for thee
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bell x1
café du nord
san francisco, ca
2008-03-26

sometimes i look for a show just to fill a gap in the calendar. such was the case when i decided to see Bell X1 (hate the name, btw) after reading the café du nord calendar email recently. not sure what made me click through to read about this band, but i did and the blurb was interesting enough for me to click through to the myspace page and listen to a few tracks. i liked what i heard and decided to fill up wednesday night, march 26. oddly, the opening band had a six degrees of separation (more like three) connection to me and my band from back in the day. i was more familiar with the two musicians—blake hazard and jack dragonetti—that comprise the submarines than i was with Bell X1 (really don’t like that name), but unfortunately i didn’t make it in to see anything but the final minute of the submarines’ set. next time.

so, Bell X1. they’re irish. and, of course, any irish band is going to invite comparisons with other irish bands (i don’t know why this is, but it is). but i don’t think i was imagining things when i heard traces of hothouse flowers (the rolling piano licks that drive some of the tunes) and U2 (some anthemic choruses on a bed of shimmering guitar lines) throughout the night. what really struck me on occasion, however, was the similarity of paul noonan’s voice to that of gord downie of the tragically hip. in fact, i didn’t make the connection until just now listening back as i write this. it drove me crazy all night during the show.

other musical reference points are midlake (again, the piano might be the common ground, but there’s a shared overall vibe as well) and oddly, at times, siren-era roxy music. there was even a moment in “flame” where the vocal melody line was aping the talking heads’ “girlfriend is better.” (and noonan had quoted three lines from “once in a lifetime” earlier in the set) and oddly, i found myself thinking of “axe victim”-era be bop deluxe during “white water song.” together, all of these aural reference points, influences or not, make a pretty interesting stew. irish stew, to be precise.

i like this band. there is an earnestness that doesn’t feel calculated or silly—just honest. and though i wholeheartedly recommend and support changing the band name, it isn’t likely given the amount of success they’ve had in ireland and europe (i was reminded of this by bbernardini over on DIME).

here’s the second song of the set, “My First Born for a Song.”

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