Pygmalion Festival Announces Dates and Initial Lineup

The Pygmalion Festival (located in the idyllic Midwestern town of Champaign-Urbana, Ill.) recently announced their band lineup for this year’s music extravaganza. Currently the September 21-24 festival will include Japandroids, Toro y Moi, Deerhoof, Viva Voce, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, The Hood Internet, Mansions on the Moon, Ava Luna, Brass Bed, Adam Arcuragi, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Ivan and Alyosha, The Parsons Red Heads and more with Explosions in the Sky headlining. This year the festival will be celebrating the 15th anniversary of the indie label Polyvinyl Records. The all-day outdoor Polyvinyl showcase will feature the artists from the label’s roster including Deerhoof, Japandroids, Xiu Xiu, STRFKR, Owen, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, and Asobi Seksu as well as the long awaited reunion of local heroes Braid. Early Bird Festival passes go on sale Friday May 6, 2011 at 12 p.m. CST and cost $60. The price will be increased to $65 and $70 at later dates. The festival pass guarantees admission into every show at the festival, depending on capacity limitations. Single tickets for every show will be available as well.

Single show tickets for Explosions in the Sky will cost $20 in advance. The Polyvinyl 15 Year Anniversary Party will cost $25 in advance. Both of those shows will go on sale Friday May 13, 2011 at 12 p.m. online and at local Champaign-Urbana outlets.


Cap’n Jazz Reunite!

Of all the bands we never thought would reunite, Cap’n Jazz was pretty high up on the list. Now the wait is over. On June 15th, Jade Tree Records will release Analphabetapolothology, for the first time on vinyl. The original release on CD was put out ten years ago, and the demand for the anthology to be out on vinyl was something fans were strongly behind. The band’s members have always stayed in the spotlight with being in groups like Joan of Arc, Owen and The Promise Ring just to name a few.

The vinyl version will be quite different and updated, and will also include a few songs not available on the CD. There will also be never before seen photos, show fliers, and new liner notes by Tim Kinsella.

If this deal could possibly get sweeter, Cap’n Jazz played an amazing one time only short surprise show in January, and seem to have rekindled the flame. The band is officially reuniting and their first show of the year is set to take place at the Bottom Lounge in Chicago on July 17th. More tourdates will be announced in the weeks to come.
Cap n Jazz-Messy Life by modernmysteryblog

Analphabetapolothology Track Listing:

1. Little League
2. Oh Messy Life
3. Puddle Splashers
4. Flashpoint: Catheter
5. In the Clear
6. Yes, I Am Talking To You
7. Basils Kite
8. Bluegrassish
9. Planet Shhh
10. The Sands Have Turned Purple
11. Precious
12. Que Suerte!
13. Take On Me
14. Tokyo
15. Ooh Do I Love You
16. Hey Ma, Do I Hafta Choke On These
17. Forget Who We Are
18. Olerud
19. We Are Scientists!
20. Sea Tea
21. Troubled By Insects
22. Rocky Rococo
23. AOK
24. Sergio Valente

Bonus Downloads:

25. In the Clear
26. Soria
27. No Use For A Piano Player When You Got A Player Piano
28. Scary Kids Scaring Kids
29. Bluegrass
30. Winter Wonderland
31. Geheim
32. Easy Driver
33. Theme to 90210
34. Ooh Do I love You

Modern Mystery’s Top 25 Albums of 2009


1. The Wooden Birds-Magnolia
From the ashes of the classic indie band, American Analog Set, rose a new project from former frontman, Andrew “AK” Kenny, called The Wooden Birds. Shifting completely everything he’s done musicially, AK has come out with one of the most surprising releases of the year. Creating a record that is more folk than rock, no songs on the album contain any drums what-so-ever. The bass and vocals really take off and captivate you, the listener. The live sets of the song also include Matt Pond on guitar along with songstress Leslie Sisson. I’m not sure I’ve heard such a heart felt and warm record in the past 10 years.

2. Julian Casablancas- Phrazes for the Young
It’s been a long time since we heard from The Strokes as a unified band. A lot of fans were hesitant on the thought of a solo album by the charasmatic leader, Julian Casablancas, putting out music that doesn’t resemble his band at all. What a surprise it was when we found he took his love for a bit of 1980’s dance and incoporated it with his unforgettable voice and lyrics. The end result? One of the coolest records of the year. We’d expect no less from him.

3. James Husband- Parallax 1
It took 10 years for multi-instrumentalist and drummer from Of Montreal, James Husband, to create his solo album masterpiece. Husband is in the spotlight for the first time in his career and wow, is he certainly taking advantage of it. Providing one of the best indie pop records of the past year, he lets out a 60’s retro sound that no one can mess with. The end result is something as charming as it seems. Raw, catchy, and glorious.

4. Alvin Band-Mantis Preying
Rick  Schaier is not only an amazing drummer and artist, but he is also an extremely talented singer and songwriter. Schaier who spends most of  his time playing drums in The Miniature Tigers has begun a new chapter in his book in the form of ‘Alvin Band,’ this year and completely blew our minds. Blending a retro sound with updated electronics, this is one album you should pick up if you haven’t yet. The catchy hooks and vocals will only leave you wanting more. That my friends, is a good thing!

5. Bishop Allen- Grrr
It’s been a long night since Bishop Allen gained attention by two teenagers named Nick and Norah, and fans were at the edge of their seat wondering what the Brookyln line up would come up with next. Taking a further step into their brilliant indie pop sound, the band did not disappoint at all with Grrr. See it as the next chapter in the Bishop Allen movie, one that is bound to have many sequels in store.

6. Grizzly Bear-Veckatimest
Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you may have heard of a little band called Grizzly Bear. Somehow exploding this year, it was certainly one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2009. Every song is flawless. Catchy yet moody. Beautiful in every way. This album describes itself better than anyone ever could.

7. Bat for Lashes- Two Suns
Completely out of left field, the lovely miss Natasha from Bat for Lashes surprised us all this year with making a stunning, charming, and beautiful record. The combination of her voice and the spacey background music is enough to send chills down your spine. And it does just that. The haunting track “Daniel” captivated the attention of many, and the rest of the album is able to keep you around.

8. Flight of the Conchords-I Told You I Was Freaky
Yes, they are known for writing ‘funny’ songs, but on this record, FOTC became even witty and even more advanced it seems in their writing. Their songs, even though the lyrics are mostly ‘silly’, are composed perfectly from start to end. Jermaine and Bret are really on top of their game with this record. We can’t wait to hear more!

9. Phoenix-Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
This band always makes a great record, and their 2009 hit was no different. Everyone wanted a piece of Phoenix and boy, did they get them. This classic indie dance pop record was a must have for everyone who ‘knew what’s cool.’ Apparently, this was the world.

10. Girls-Girls
An unlikely hit, this retro indie duo shocked us all with such a raw and appealing debut album. This lo-fi record filled with melodies, doesn’t need any frills or thrills to make it great. It hold’s its own firmly which is a hard thing to mess with.

11. Cass McCombs-Catacombs
12. Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Its Blitz
13. Pains of Being Pure at Heart-Pains of Being Pure at Heart
14. Casper and the Cookies-Modern Silence
15. Headlights-Wildlife
16. Japandroids- Post Nothing
17. Cymbals Eat Guitars-Why There are Mountains
18. Kevin Devine- Brother’s Blood
19. Joan of Arc- Flowers
20. Passion Pit-Manners
21. The Antlers- Hospice
22. Loney Dear-Dear John
23. Neko Case-Middle Cyclone
24. The Mountain Goats- The Life of the World to Come
25. Dirty Projectors-Bitte Orca

Flying Solo with Cale Parks

2009_1024CMJ0111 by you.

Google Cale Parks and you’ll wonder if he’s human or cyborg. The confusion will hit you when you read the extensive—and impressive—list of bands he’s been a part of in recent years (drumming for Aloha, White Williams, Owen, and Cex, among others), and you’ll question how he has the time/energy/ability to do it all. But multi-instrumentalist Parks doesn’t want to be just another drummer in the experimental synth-pop crowd. Instead, the Ohio native is working hard from his Greenpoint pad to establish himself in the music melting pot of Brooklyn. His advantage: wit. Parks is a funny guy with bulging eyes, pleasant disposition, and, you know, talent. The past three years have seen the 30 year old go from MySpace stalker to tirelessly touring solo act. One night we sat in the backseat of a Zipcar—innocently (Parks is a real gentleman)—outside The Bell House in Park Slope and discussed where he’s at and where he’s going.

You’ve played in so many bands, primarily as the drummer for Aloha. How did the solo venture come about?

How it happened is I made a MySpace page in 2006 with all my solo songs on it and started adding Aloha’s friends, not looking at who they were. I just started click add add friend add friend backspace add backspace and so I asked record label [Stiff Slack] in Japan to be my friend and they were like, “We love Aloha! Send us your stuff.” And I was like, “I don’t have a solo record. Why don’t you put it out? Ha-Ha.” And they were like, “OK.” And that’s how it happened. That’s how I did Illuminated Manuscript. Then I started writing more songy songs and trying to sing.

 What are songy songs?

 Songs with singing, songy songs!

Do you consider yourself a good singer?

No. It’s hard, I have a baritone voice, so it’s hard to project and then when you strain too hard…I don’t know, this is technical talk.

What are you saying? It’s too technical, I can’t understand it?!

No, no, no! Sometimes you strain your voice and it’s hard to project and blah blah blah. But I just started singing live, it’ll be a year in November, so it’s still a new thing. Singing in your apartment is different. But I like singing. I like to think I’m getting better.

Are you trying to get better?

My mom and sister teach, so I called my mom after the Grizzly Bear show [at McCarren Park Pool] and I was like, “Oh my God, they sing so good. Can you send me some voice training books?” And I did a couple of tours with Passion Pit and Michael [Angelakos] has the most incredible voice ever. Listening to him sing and do his warm ups backstage, it’s not even singing, it’s just weird sound effects and sounds that babies make. Just crazy.

Do you prefer being part of a band or performing solo?

I’ve always been in other bands playing drums. It’s not like they don’t take you seriously because you’re a drummer, but you want to make yourself known. I had other ideas for songs that weren’t appropriate for bands like Aloha.

Are you looking to form a permanent band with Eric Lyle Lodwick and Drew Montag Robinson or just have them as part of your solo act? 

I’m not sure, we’ll see what happens. I don’t want to speak before anything happens, but we’re having a lot of fun playing together. So far, so good. I’m happy with it.

What shows have you done outside of New York?

I did a full US tour with Passion Pit this summer. It was me, them, and Harlem Shakes. I was the first of 3 in an 800-capacity theatre. I played all over solo, but it’s hard to connect with an audience because I’m doing so much stuff on stage. I sing and I play a sampler pad and I play keyboards and I drum and I play cymbals.  

Do you work on the side to support your music?

At APC in SoHo, it’s a French clothing store. I’m not touring till after the winter so I’m just working and only doing local shows for a while.

What’s your favorite local venue to play?

I played at Le Poisson Rouge once and it was amazing. I like Santos Party House.

How early did music factor into your life?

I’ve been playing music all my life, since I was 13 playing in bad bands and garage and all that fun stuff.  My friend David was like, “I have a guitar,” and I’d be like, “Well let’s see what you learned at your guitar lesson this week, David.” “I learned the intro to ‘Dream On’ by Aerosmith.” “Cool, let’s play that.” “And I learned ‘Basketcase’ by Green Day.” “OK, let’s play it.”

Wow, hard stuff.

Yeah, almost as hard as a Weezer song.

So your albums,  Illuminated Manuscript and Sparklace came out in the past three years, are you planning on any new recordings?

I had [To Swift Mars] EP come out in August. I did a remix for [Bear Hands], “What a Drag.” It’s Three 6 Mafia meets Pet Shop Boys with Dylan [Rau]’s voice. Yeah, it’s that good. I have a couple of remixes lined up that I’m working on and I’ve got a bunch of new demos, so we’ll see in what format they’ll come out, if it’s me, my name, or another project, or if I make them into a car commercial.

 Cale Parks and his band are slated to perform at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, on November 14th.

 For more touring and general information, visit his MYSPACE or Cale’s WEBSITE . Also check out Cale’s photos from the Polyvinyl CMJ Showcase AFTER THE JUMP!

Polyvinyl Records Showcase @ CMJ, Bell House, NY- October 23, 2009

Polyvinyl Records is undoubtably one of the best indie labels out there today, if not of all time. With a roster that includes everyone from Of Montreal to Headlights, they held a stellar showcase at the Bell House during CMJ where every performer seemed to be more brilliant than the one before. The venue, which was packed to near capcity, was one of the must sees on Friday night.

I arrived just as the band Owen, also known as one of Mike Kinsella’s many projects, was about to hit the stage and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have heard both good and bad things about their live performance, but I never thought I would experience what I did. Owen played none of their own songs but instead performed nearly all of the Oasis album, (What’s the Story?) Morning Glory (Epic), which was a confusing yet brilliant surprise. Not all of the fans in the crowd were pleased with this fact, but Kinsella and company couldn’t care less as they laughed it off saying “Hey, it took a long time to learn these songs!” There was no end in sight to their madness and they pulled it off well.

Up next was Aloha frontman, Cale Parks who was showcasing his solo work. Taking a far different approach from what he does with his band, Parks stuck to playing digital drums and singing, bringing a very interesting performance to the stage. One ongoing trend of CMJ this year seemed to be the use of digital drums though Parks mastered them like no one else did at the festival.

Also to take the stage was James Husband, the glam drummer from Of Montreal. Husband is currently showcasing his new solo project, joined by Dottie Alexander and Davey Pierce also from Of Montreal. This was one of the first of his solo performances and he did it like an old pro. A stretch from the glitz and glitter of his regular gig, he brought a bit of retro, garage and twee to the stage, and though most people would not have expected it from him, it fits him like a glove.

I stayed just long enough to catch Headlights who displayed a variety of tracks from their newest album,Wildlife (Polyvinyl). With three shows in two days at CMJ, Headlights lit up the stage with their male and female counterpart vocals. They come off sweet and sugary on their albums but onstage they unleash the lions, and the crowd seemed to like it. Singer Erin Fein’s voice is heavenly and it fills the room, taking the songs to a whole new level live.

In all, it was a fantastic night of music. Polyvinyl has proven itself to be a label that can stand the test of time, as we wait in excitement for more good things to come.

Dry Your Tears, Owen is Here.

Owen’s Mike Kinsella is one of the busiest men in indie rock. Juggling musical projects and now a baby, somehow he manages to create the most interesting sound out there. Owen just released New Leaves (Polyvinyl), the newest record yesterday and there is only one word for it: Brilliant. Our writer Elissa Suh talked to Mike over the phone on September 10th and got the inside scoop of everything Owen.

Elissa: So I heard you played a show last night in boston…

Mike Kinsella: Yeah I flew back today and just sort of got up from my nap, now I’ve got the baby in a stroller.

Congratulations! I heard you are now a husband. How old is the baby?             

Thanks! She’s just over five months.

I know youve been doing a couple college shows. Do you prefer to play in smaller venues like that?

 It’s funny because yesterday the show was on the quad. But yeah in general I prefer smaller venues. The thing with college shows is they pay really good money. They just have a huge budget, so they usually make it worth your while.

 So it’s not that you hate playing large shows and large crowds?

 No, it’s more that you’ve got to fight to be quiet, so I prefer smaller shows.

 I think it’s fitting to your music and your style. I read some stuff from your Myspace page about supposed fans and haters. ( Is that real?

Yeah, it’s really stupid, but it’s real. I think there are a couple of them that I think are genuine; people are mad at me or something, and then there’s a couple of people who just think it’s funny.

 Well we have an idea of what the Owen hates are like. Obviously some of them are misinformed. What are the fans like?

 Pretty polite. I would like to say kind of well-read… good looking, you know what I mean. You know, the cream of the crop; the best that society has to offer.

 Haha. What’s the weirdest thing a fan has ever done?

It’s just weird now with the internet. People ask a lot of random things like recently somebody wrote  “It’s my friend’s birthday, can you call up and say happy birthday? or leave a voicemail?” I didn’t even respond. I hate singing into the phone and I think it’s sort of weird. I can’t imagine when I was growing up, calling up… Morrissey and being like “HEY MORRISSEY sing to my friend!”

You have a lot of literary references. Are you well read?

 Oh, no. I’m just faking it.

 What’s the last book you’ve read?

 I usually start books and get attached to one theme or part of the plot and then most of them I don’t finish but I’ll wonder what happened to that part, or that guy, and sort of write it myself, and sometimes the reference shows up in my song. But I get way too addicted to television and sports.

So you’re pretty well rounded then.

My wife’s a high school teacher, she reads all the time.  So Id like to think she can teach me of the importance of reading and I can teach her the importance of….. 

A touchdown?

 A touchdown! Scoring more points to beat your opponent.

New Leaves comes out in a few weeks (released yesterday 9/22). I’ve heard it’s a departure as the title says, both musically and thematically, but when I listened to the title track I was pleasantly surprised to find it still retained that sort of biting quality. At some point it says “You’ll spend your whole fucking life walking”. I thought it was kind of ironic given the title, and it seems that people are expecting more heartfelt lyrics.

 I just did an interview where the kid was like,” I’ve heard you’ve totally changed in this record!” I don’t think it’s too different. I think New leaves is maybe the new perspective from which I’m writing from, which is a totally old dude, maybe. I still like to write about the same things. I think the same situations inspire me, but not the same perspective or the way I deal.  I’m still sort of critical of people. I don’t think I got real nice all of a sudden. I’m not giving anybody free passes all of a sudden. Haha.

You said you are inspired by situations, by what’s going on with you and your emotions. I guess how relevant is what you write to what you’re feeling? How reflective are they?

Most of the songs start with one or two lines. I’ll write a line or two and it might be a month later or year later that the whole song is written around it. Maybe to finish it off I’ll embellish or I’ll think of a way to make it more narrative.

 So it’s definitely a combination of how you’re feeling plus the editing process.

Yeah, it’s definitely not a stream of consciousness. I don’t fill pages and pages at one moment. It’s a song. And then there will be two lines from here and I’ll write a few more  there.  One will be third persona and one might be first person and I’ll fit them together somehow.

I understand that songwriting and making music in general can be really cathartic. Does it ever make you feel vulnerable? Or do you ever think “Hey, the person I’m writing this song about totally knows it?”

 It’s funny because I’ve been asked that because my music is pretty expressive and I usually dismiss it. But recently I realized that it is like an outlet. Maybe I don’t feel like I need to get it off my chest because I’ve just been getting it off my chest, without even realizing it. But within the past week I just sort of noticed that. Every so often a song will be about something or somebody but it doesn’t happen that much anymore. I used to write songs about girls and maybe a few times it got a little awkward but now they’re more…I don’t know if it’s more general or more specific, but they’re about things that hopefully more people can relate to without having specific information.

Alternative Press “Chicago’s most unhappy troubadour”.  How do you feel about that? Do you consider yourself a sad person?

No, I’m a very non-sad person. I think music is  a way to express the parts I’ve been down about.  I don’t think my songs are that sad. They’re mostly just critical. Maybe ten years ago I was pining over girls more but I think the situation, these are the reasons why, but it’s not sad. I think the music is sort of low-key and somber, but that’s because my favorite bands were always low-key and somber.

 You seem very observant. like you said, you’re critical. You’re not pining, you’re just able to see what’s going on in a relationship or given situation.

 Hopefully it’s just observational, and not about awkward or uncomfortable topics. I understand  certain songs, like when I read about my dad dying like, who the hell wants to listen to that? So I try to write it in a way that’s a little joke, or ironic so its not just super super heavy.

 Do you have a favorite song on the new album?

 There are certain parts. Like a guitar part I’ll play a million times and I’m like “Oh that’s so cool!” Just little moments where I get excited about it. But I don’t know if I have a favorite song. Each song I try to have a moment where it comes in and changes the song somehow.  But yeah it’s like choosing your favorite baby.

 I see I see. Not that I have songs or babies..

 Well what do you like?


 It’s like picking your favorite movie.

What is your favorite movie? 

Right, I can’t answer that!

 What goes into choosing your set list?  How far ahead of time do you decide?

It’s not spontaneous because there’s a lot of tuning involved. So I play songs relative. What’s relative to what’s before and after. But for these upcoming  shows, I’m learning a couple off the new record that I haven’t played just because people who have seen me before don’t have to hear the same 12 songs every time.

 Are you ever surprised at the requests?

Any sort of hint that anybody’s sort of listening to the song makes me uncomfortable. I never think about the fact that once the album comes out, people are listening to these songs. Any time there’s an allusion, I get sort of creeped out. But when they request a song, depending on where I am tuning wise, there’s probably a good chance I won’t be able to play it.

 Any song you won’t play?

 You’re probably talking about ‘Never Meant’ maybe?

 Oh I wasn’t referring to anything specifically.

 I think there are two or three songs my wife refuses me to play so I sort of forgot how to play those.  I’m not really against learning some of them. Some of them are 6 or 7 minutes long on the album and it’s just me and guitar and it’s hard to keep that interesting so I think some songs are better for a live setting.

 You recently got married and had a child, while writing the last album. Did that in anyway change its content? The people thinking you’ve turned into this happy man is attributed to the fact that you’re married and settled down.

 It’s just part of the process. I definitely enjoy being married. There’s definitely a transition period like, “Oh i love this girl i’m totally married to her its awesome! I’m going to the bars and get drunk,” and she’s like “Why would you do that? we’re married,”and I’m just like, “Oh it’s what i do.” You have to figure out your new role, you know? 

 Yeah, I’ve been happy all the time.  Some of these songs are written, maybe when I wasn’t happy. There are bands that write these songs and they’re real upbeat. Sometimes that is how i’m like… oh man I don’t feel like playing these sad songs. There was a band yesterday…this band was playing this pop punk or something and it was positive and you know what? They’re forcing it too. It’s really really hard, unless you’re playing watered down bland music like Jack Johnson, to each night be in that mood, to be totally flat, and I have no interest in playing really watered down music like Jack Johnson.

 So what’s the best way to get over a breakup?

 Um. [pause] alcohol and just being social. That would be my advice.

 What new music have you been listening to?

I don’t listen to music too much. I listen to sports talk or NPR in the car. I’ve got these albums of popular bands done in a style that a baby would enjoy, like all bells and flutes. So I’ve got a Ramones album I’ve been listening to a lot, a Cure album and then the Radiohead album for babies. So I guess a lot of baby music.

Haha. That makes sense for now. What’s happens in the future now?

I think I’m in a good place. I’ve played enough and satisfied that urge, and traveled enough to have satisfied that urge. Honestly, just continue what I’m doing. Hopefully write more concise or better songs.  So maybe in five years I will have written the best song ever written… No that probably won’t happen. I’ll be doing this in the next five years. 

Check out Owen on MYSPACE