CD Review: Volume 1, She and Him

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It’s no secret that actors haven’t had the greatest track record concerning their attempts to break into the music industry. Remember Russell Crowe’s band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, for example? Exactly. The musical efforts of other pretty faces haven’t fared much better, usually because, a.) they aren’t anywhere near convincing in their supposed passion for music, or b.) the product itself is just…well…crap. There are, however, a few pleasantly surprising exceptions to the thespian curse. She & Him, the pairing of actress Zooey Deschanel (Almost Famous, Elf) and indie folk favorite M. Ward, is one of these.

The two met while working on a song for the soundtrack to one of Deschanel’s movies, The Go-Getter. As their friendship grew, Deschanel revealed that she had been recording home demos of her own material for quite some time. Though initially shy about others hearing her work, she eventually gave into Ward’s encouragement and shared them with him. Impressed with the quality of her songwriting, Ward suggested a collaboration to formally record the songs and give the songs the audience they deserved.

It’s immediately clear upon listening to their album, Volume One, that whatever insecurities Deschanel might have had about her ventures into the music world were unfounded. Her voice sparkles over this collection of instantly classic songs, and leaves the listener with no doubts about her massive talent. Ward, already an indie darling known for his delicate, yet emotionally powerful folk, is the perfect musical partner for Deschanel. He is able to arrange the songs in such a way that Deschanel is always supported, but never overpowered or drowned out by superfluous production. As a result, Volume One is a lush, haunting throwback to the early ‘60s, with hints of old country, pop, and classic girl groups.

The first single, “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?” is a bouncy, sweetly innocent plea to the boy who just doesn’t get how simple love can be. The Phil Spector-inspired beats and instrumentation coupled with the smooth oooo la, la, las on “Sweet Darlin’” are unmistakably reminiscent of girl groups like The Ronettes and The Crystals. Deschanel’s most compelling performance is on the country-tinged “Change is Hard.” A comforting aural arm around the shoulders, she sings directly to every broken heart within weeping distance. “I was never/ no I was never/ no I was never enough/ But I can try/ I can try to toughen up/ I listened when they told me/ if he burns you let him go/ Change is hard/ I should know,” she sings with equal parts regret and determination. Sure to be a pleasant listen any time of year, Volume One is supremely enjoyable in the current summer setting—the crisp, bright jangle of Ward’s George Harrison-influenced guitar on the easy-going “This Is Not A Test” is especially suited for warm, breezy evenings. The three covers on the album, “You Really Got A Hold On Me,” “I Should Have Known Better,” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” compliment Deschanel’s originals with a charming, gentle vocal approach. With a style that classic, she knows she doesn’t need to make any drastic changes to what comes naturally to her to appeal to music listeners.

What Deschanel and Ward have achieved with Volume One is nothing short of extraordinary. Listeners can forget about the track advance button for this album—every song offers something special and instantly unforgettable, sure to be surpassed only by being performed in a live setting. Madison residents are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to experience just that. This Friday, She & Him will present their body of work at The Barrymore. Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond opens the show at 8:00 pm.

-Shelley Peckham

This Weeks Shows & Downloads

We’ve got lots of videos, interviews, and songs you can watch or download for your very own.

Enjoy!

Friday June 27

ROSE POLENZANI

Genre: Indie/Folk/Americana

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MEG HUTCHINSON

Genre: Folk/Acoustic/Pop

The Boston Globe describes her sound as “elegant and free-floating melodies that feel both modern and rooted.

Song for Jeffrey Lucey- Meg Hutchinson

with special guest ROSE COUSINS

Friday, June 27, 6:30 pm early start time High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $10 – 18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Sunday June 29

PETE FRANCIS (of Dispatch)

Genre: Rock/Folk Rock/Jam Band

In his songs a poetic tension exists between textured imagery and pure improvised rock and roll. The record expresses Francis’ soulful rock, folk and blues influences with layered instrumentation of B-3 organ, lap-steel guitar, mandolin, and a driving rhythm section.

Similar to: Slightly Stoopid, John Butler Trio, Matt Nathanson, & Matt Costa

Shooting Star and the Ambulance- Pete Francis

Pete Francis Interview

with COLOURMUSIC

Genre: Pop/Rock/Experimental

messily refined indie rock..and innovative, yet catchy, melodies that work their way into your head without you even knowing it..wildly inventive shows, and it’s while performing that the band’s vivid personalities come through.

Similar to: The Flaming Lips, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, & Kings of Leon

Circles- Colourmusic

Free Downloads:

Colourmusic- Yes Yes Yes

Colourmusic- Circles

Colourmusic- Calling Your Name

Sunday, June 29, 8pm High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $10 –

18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Thursday July 3

DEAD CONFEDERATE

Genre: Rock/Psychedelic

Though the band is pinned as producing the same kind of indie rock aesthetic à la My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses, Dead Confederate dabbles in darker shades than their compared predecessors..Dead Confederate echo the Drive-By Truckers’ bittersweet southern rock angst with the smoke-heavy swagger of the Black Angels.

The Rat- Dead confederate

Dead Confederate Interview

Free Download:

Dead Confederate

with special guests ROCK PLAZA CENTRAL

Genre: Folk/Americana

After a pair of glowing reviews from the influential music website Pitchfork they have recently come to prominence as a major indie rock band.

..evocative lyrics and powerful instrumentation..an outstanding fusion of alt-country earnestness and indie rock absurdity. Without any trace of flaunt or deliberateness, this homespun epic proves as casual in tone as it is ambitious in scope… sure to have tears welling and fists aloft in raucous salute.”- Josh Berquist, PopMatters, April 2007

Similar to: Okkervil River, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, M. Ward, The Avett Brothers, & My Morning Jacket

My Children, Be Joyful- Rock Plaza Central

Rock Plaza Central Interview 2007

Free Downloads:

Rock Plaza Central- My Children, Be Joyful, 2006 Are We Not Horses

Rock Plaza Central- We’ve Got a Lot to be Glad For, 2006 Are We Not Horses

Thursday July 3, 9pm High Noon Saloon 608.268-1122 $8 adv $8 dos

18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Friday July 4

WORT-FM welcomes

STARS AND STRIPES EXTRAVAGANZA featuring ROBBIE FULKS AND FRIENDS

Genre: Country/Indie/Bluegrass

While most current country music is calculated to form an inoffensive backdrop to the suburban shopping experience, Robbie Fulks writes songs that make you think and feel and quite often laugh out loud.

Similar to: Steve Earle, Neko Case, & Lyle Lovett

Cigarette State- Robbie Fullks

plus ROMANTICA

Genre: Americana/Folk/Pop

With an album on Paste Magazine’s Top 100 of 2007 and comparisons popping up all over the place between singer/songwriter Ben Kyle and both Jeff Tweedy and Ryan Adams, it probably won’t be too long before you’ll no longer be able to catch these guys in such a cozy venue.

Drink the Night Away- Romantica

Free Downloads:

Romantica- The Dark (with Ryan Adams)

9:30 pm High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $15 adv and dos . 21+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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A Week in Live Shows

Can you keep up after last weeks intense run? Oh yes you can! Summer is rolling around and that means tour schedules will slow down- so get it while it’s hot (or at least before you have to travel 4 hrs. for a touring band and a beer)!

Friday May 2

THE DIRTBOMBS with special guests DAN SARTAIN & TERRIBLE TWOS

Genre: Rock

“..rock and roll at its pure, shaggy best. If you’re tired of that, you’re tired of life…” -Splendid

Chains of Love- The Dirtbombs

10:00 pm @ High Noon Saloon 608-268-1122 $12 adv – 21+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Saturday May 3

BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB with special guests THE DUKE SPIRIT

Genre: Rock

“..proclamations about life and the Devil growled over careful acoustic strums and tiny wisps of pedal steel…” -Pitchfork

Dane 101 Interview

Two Free BRMC Song Downloads

Saturday 9:30 pm @ High Noon Saloon 608- 268-1122 $16 adv / $18 dos – 18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Sunday May 4

RA RA RIOT + THE LITTLE ONES with special guests HEY CHAMP

Genre: Indie/ Folk Rock

“Ra Ra Riot – a band of Syracuse University students past, present and on hiatus – find that balance — already in its short life, literally putting heartbeats and pacemakers into the stuffing of all of the songs that they’ve thus far put to their name – an explosive tag of cheerful and misleading aggression…” -Daytrotter

Dying is Fine- Ra Ra Riot

Four Free Ra Ra Riot Downloads from Daytrotter

The Little Ones..are here for you to feel better about yourself, once the cabin fever has lost its control and you’re free to go. They taunt everything from the waist down — on everyone within a 10-mile radius — to not go on and freak out all over the place with euphoric spasms becoming dancing and universally recognized getting down…” -Daytrotter

Lovers Who Uncover- The Little Ones

Four The Little Ones Free Song Downloads From Daytrotter Sessions

Three The Little Ones Free Song Downloads

8:00 pm @ The Annex 608- 256-7750 $10 adv – 18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Monday May 5

HIGH NOON SALOON CELEBRATES FOUR YEARS featuring DEAD MEADOW with special guests DARK FOG & DROIDS ATTACK

Genre: Indie/ Psychadelic

“..the band can strum hypnotic, Eastern-tinged folk as it well as it pounds hypnotic, Sabbath-style riffs.” -Onion AV Club

What Needs Must Be- Dead Meadow

Five Free Dead Meadow Song Downloads

9:00 pm @ High Noon Saloon 608- 268-1122 $8 adv / $10 dos – 18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

$1.50 PBR bottles all night & FREE Pizza from Glass Nickel!

Thanks to WORT FM and The Onion!

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Tuesday May 6

TEGAN AND SARA Out of Hibernation Tour with special guest AN HORSE

Genre: Indie/ Pop/ Alternative

“..defying conventional notions of rock rhythm, and featuring songs that seem to go through at least three melodic changes before recycling.” -Onion AV Club

Walking With A Ghost- Tegan and Sara

Free Tegan and Sara Song Download

7:30 pm @ Barrymore Theatre 608-241-8864 $25 adv – all ages

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Thursday May 8

JIM WHITE with VID LIBERT

Genre: Americana/ Alternative/ Country

“With accompaniment as varied as vocals from Ollabelle and Brazilian percussion from Mauro Refosco, White still keeps us off balance with rich, unpredictable textures that convey lost-in-the-backwoods disorientation.” -Billboard

If Jesus Drove a Motor Home- Jim White

Listen to NPR World Cafe – March 5, 2008 Jim White in-studio performance/ interview

8:00pm @ Orpheum Stage Door 608.255.8755 $15 adv $17 dos – all ages

BUY TICKETS NOW !

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No giveaway on this post darlins’ but check back on Monday- that one’s a guarantee! Continue reading

This W(eek!) in Shows

Watch out Madison music fans, lots of shows to check out this week highlighting talent in smaller rooms. Catch them before they are too big to get cozy with!

Today Friday April 25

SPLIT LIP RAYFIELD

Genre: Bluegrass

“Slap your knee to these guys and you’ll be sore the next day.” – New York Press

Split Lip Rayfield- Truth and Lies

With THE JAVELINAS Friday 9:30 pm @ High Noon Saloon 268-1122 $12 adv – 21+ BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Sunday April 27

THE ACORN

Genre: Indie/ Folk Rock

“..a melodic hodgepodge of brass, rumbling drums, intricately plucked guitars, and Klausener’s plangent vocal melody do more than their parts to propel a charming, inspirational lyric. Elsewhere, the group avoids generic world-music traps, using dynamic shifts and evocative instrumentation to forward the narrative…” -Pitchfork

The Acorn- The Flood Pt.1

With special guests JOHN CRAIGIE + MARTY FINKEL Sunday 8:00 pm @ Café Montmartre 255-5900 $8 BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Monday April 28

LIONS

Genre: Rock

Lions create a blend of retro riffage, artful noise, melodic interludes, and revolutionary attitude with a live show that has been described as “furious” with “a full- frontal assault” that will leave you “half-deaf and disoriented.”

Lions- Metal Heavy Lady featured on the Guitar Hero 3 game

With DROIDS ATTACK and UNITED SONS OF TOIL Monday 8:30 pm @ The Annex 256-7750 $7 – 18+ BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Tuesday April 29

FOALS

Genre: Pop

“The British band takes cues from recent dance-rock and post-punk revivalism as much as the early-’80s stuff that inspired the revival in the first place” -Onion AV Club

Foals- Balloons

2 Free Song Downloads Here

With WORRIER Tuesday – early show 7:00 pm @ High Noon Saloon 268-1122 $10 dos – 18+ BUY TICKETS NOW!

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THE MEDIC DROID + A CURSIVE MEMORY

Genre: Techno/ Rock/ Power Pop/ Indie/ Alternative

The Medic Droid

Free Song Download From The Medic Droid

Genuine sound that dances with ACM’s overwhelming sense of raucous energy and refusal to take themselves too seriously.

A Cursive Memory- Everything

Learn More About Both of These Bands or Enter to Win Tickets Here

With special guests SINGLE FILE and THE WHITE TIE AFFAIR Tuesday 6:30 pm (doors open 6:00 pm) @ Orpheum Stage Door 255-8755 $8 / $10 dos – all ages BUY TICKETS NOW ! Tickets also available at Strictly Discs

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Thursday May 1

CHRIS PUREKA

Genre: Americana/ Indie/ Acoustic

One stark, solo acoustic guitar builds into layered swan songs and raspy serenades that resonate with unassuming depth and candor.

Chris Pureka- Interview and Song Momentary Thief

Plus MARTHA BERNER special early start time Thursday 6:30 pm @ High Noon Saloon 268-1122 $10- 18+ BUY TICKETS NOW!

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PETE FRANCIS (of DISPATCH) + MATT POND PA

SORRY EVERYBODY- THIS SHOW HAS BEEN CANCELED BY THE ARTISTS. WE WILL FILL YOU IN IF WE LEARN MORE- REFUNDS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE POINT OF PURCHASE!

Genre: Folk Rock/ Indie/ Pop

“Pete Francis (of Dispatch) presents a style combination of Funk, jazz, reggae, folk with musical influences of Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Pink Floyd and Miles Davis, which culminates into a sound that takes you on an amazing ride.” -CD Baby

Pete Francis- Shooting Star and the Ambulance

“Employing handclaps, sing-along choruses, and guitar solos with equal measure, the more intricate musical arrangements punctuate and add layers to Pond’s slow-burning guitar melodies.” -The Boston Globe

Matt Pond PA- Sunlight

With special guest DICK PRALL Thursday 9:00 pm @ High Noon Saloon 268-1122 $15 adv and dos – 18+ BUY TICKETS NOW !

Mad-Town Monday Music Tix (Free Free Free!)

Not excited about the beginning of the work week? Lets start it out then with a pair of free concert tix..feel better yet?

April 29 THE MEDIC DROID + A CURSIVE MEMORY

The Medic Droid is for those who are bored with genres and titles. Full of sassiness and attitude, this trio fuses dance music with indie rock power and punk rock DIY ethics, The Medic Droid have created their own scene.

the medic droid

“..with their first major record label release the Californian quartet (A Cursive Memory) exploded into the scene with catchy tunes that reminisce of Hellogoodbye’s rise to fame. Infectious keyboard and a pair of soft vocals lead this pop rock driven band.” -AbsolutePunk.net

How A Cursive Memory Became Bandarazzi!

SPECIAL EARLY SHOW With guests SINGLE FILE and THE WHITE TIE AFFAIR Tuesday 6:30 pm (doors open 6:00 pm) @ Orpheum Stage Door 608.255.8755 $8 / $10 dos – all ages BUY TICKETS NOW! Tickets also available at Strictly Discs!

The 4th person to email MJ@TrueEndeavors.com with the subject line TMD & ACM Tix will win 2 guest list spots to this show.

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May 3 BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB

black rebel motorcycle club

With special guests THE DUKE SPIRIT Saturday 9:30 pm @ High Noon Saloon 608- 268-1122 $16 adv / $18 dos – 18+ BUY TICKETS NOW!

Be the 5th person to email MJ@TrueEndeavors.com with the subject line “Win Rebel Tix” and you will receive 2 guest list spots to the show!