Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Raleigh's 2012 Hopscotch Festival Announces Lineup

The Roots are one of the headliners at the third
annual Hopscotch Music Festival, Sept 6th-8th.
Those of you who've been reading Myxem for a while know that we're huge proponents of the annual Hopscotch Music Festival in downtown Raleigh, NC and have been anxiously awaiting this year's lineup. Well, at approximately 12:01AM on Wednesday April 18th, that wait was over. This year's festivities will be headlined by hip-hop all-stars (and Jimmy Fallon's favorite co-workers) The Roots, legendary noise pop pioneers The Jesus & Mary Chain, and influential introverts Built to Spill. Also of note: the one-of-a-kind solo set from John Darnielle (a.k.a. the Mountain Goats) consisting of 50% acoustic Mountain Goats rarities and 50% heavy metal songs covered on a grand piano, Matthew E. White performing his currently unreleased 5-track album with a gospel choir and full string section, and what is certain to be an electrifying performance from quirky Pittsburgh MC Danny Brown. Also, according to the official press release, "New York guitarist Ben Greenberg, who performs as Hubble, will offer the world premiere of a piece called Lag, in which he uses the Internet as a delay pedal." Not sure how exactly that will work, but I'm excited to find out.

3-Day Wristbands and VIP wristbands are on sale now for $110 and $165 respectively, with single day passes and City Plaza tickets going on sale in July when the performer schedule is announced. Check out the full lineup after the jump and be sure to check out the festival website for details and ticket information.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Shakori Hills Spring 2012 - The Undercard

With over 60 bands attending the four-day festival,Shakori Hills' spring 2012 iteration has more than enough variety to please every taste. The full list of performers, including a schedule of events is over on Shakori Hill's official website, but we're going to be taking the weeks leading up to the festival to introduce you to some of the acts we're most excited about.

Jim Avett
Jim Avett
Sunday, Cabaret Tent: 5:00pm
After 35 years of running his own welding company, Jim Avett has returned to his true passion: making music. He first recorded a collection of gospel music, Jim Avett and Family, featuring his daughter Bonnie, and sons Scott and Seth Avett (yes, those Avett Brothers). In 2010 and 2012, he released albums of original tunes, ranging from lighthearted rock n' roll to soulful true country ruminations of boyhood memories and loss. All of Avett's endeavors are marked with an unwavering honesty and an unflappable charm, and Shakori Hill's Cabaret Tent is a perfect, intimate setting to experience the earnest, heartfelt songwriter up close.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Myxem Picks 'Em : 04/09/12

Click above to play, available only on Spotify!
As the winter's begun to give given way to spring, a deluge of new music has been released, both from established artists and newcomers. This week's playlist features tracks like Lost In The Tree's "Golden Eyelids," Justin Townes Earle's "Unfortunately, Anna," and Norah Jones' latest single, "Happy Pills." Newer artists like Of Monsters and Men and Alex Clare burst onto the scene with much critical acclaim, and some artists, like Justin Robinson, previously of The Carolina Chocolate Drops, have respawned with new bandmates as Justin Robinson & The Mary Annettes. Click HERE or the banner above to listen; available only on Spotify!

Of Monsters and Men | Justin Robinson & The Mary Annettes |  The Sheepdogs | Adam Green | Lost In The Trees | Justin Townes Earle | Civil Twilight | Rural Electric | Sigur Ros | Carolina Chocolate Drops | Regina Spektor | Mike Quinn | Norah Jones | Dirty Projectors | Alex Clare 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rufus Wainwright Releases "Out of the Game" Video

A trio of Rufuses step in to frustrate librarian
Helena Bonham Carter (and sing the choruses, as well).
With buzz already building for Rufus Wainwright's upcoming album "Out of the Game," the Canadian-born pop star released the video for the album's title track. The video follows frustrated librarian Helena Bonham Carter as she struggles to cope with her disheartening vocation and a trio of misbehaving Rufus Wainwrights. With a vaguely country/folk musical setting, with Wainwright's obvious penchant for operatic grandiosity, the track is (not surprisingly) a wonderful listen.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bonnaroo Announces 2012 Comedy Lineup

A few short months after dropping a stellar list of bands for 2012's Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival (including Radiohead, the Beach Boys, Bon Iver, Phish, Skrillex, Das Racist, tUnE-yArDs, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers just to name a few), the folks behind the four-day affair in Manchester, TN announced their hotly anticipated comedy lineup, which has been a festival mainstay since 2005. This year's roster of funny folk does not disappoint. We already knew Aziz Ansari would be performing since his name was announced with the initial offering of bands, but he will now be joined by comedy greats such as Steven Wright, Brian Posehn, and "World Champion" Judah Friedlander (perhaps best known as supernerd Frank on 30 Rock). The festival's official website promises more names have yet to be announced, but be sure to check out the full list so far after the jump.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

From the 'Net: Look At This Fucking Jeopardy Contestant

Image courtesy of
If someone says "classic game show," the first thing that should come to mind is the timeless quiz show known as Jeopardy! (If you said Wheel of Fortune, get the hell out of my sight.) For over four decades, Jeopardy has been a regular fixture in American households and continues to enjoy regular viewership from every demographic.We here at the Myxem staff are huge fans; I've got my DVR set to record every episode and recently took a test to appear as a contestant (a lifelong dream of mine, wish me luck!).

Now, being the cynical sort of fellow that I am, I've been known to poke fun at contestans, pick favorites, and root for others to fail miserably. I laugh at their misfortunes and revel in their successes. As such, I was absolutely thrilled when I stumbled across a Tumblr page entitled "Look At This Fucking Jeopardy Contestant", updated regularly with pithy observations, anti-contestant rants (the blogger who runs the site is particularly concerned by contestants who don't dress up to appear on television), and hilarious/perfectly timed screen captures. It's all way funnier than I'm making it sound. Be sure to stop by at and check out a few of our favorite pictures after the jump.

Earl Scruggs, Banjo Pioneer, Passed Away at 88

Earl Scruggs, front, with long time partner Lester Flatt, rear
Out of Nashville Wednesday morning came the unfortunate news of banjo legend Earl Scruggs' passing at the age of 88. A true pioneer of the banjo, Scruggs not only popularized the instrument, but developed and perfected a playing style that was wholly his own. Known simply as "Scruggs Style," it uses the thumb, index and middle fingers to pick strings in rapid succession. While that may not sound revolutionary, it is important to bear in mind that Scruggs Style is credited with introducing the banjo to bluegrass music.

In 1945, when Scruggs joined Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, the banjo was seen as little more than a novelty instrument, a holdover from the antebellum south. When they hit the stage at the Grand Ole Opry, Scruggs' unique picking style would bring new life to the instrument and the Blue Grass Boys' lineup (upright bass, mandolin, fiddle, guitar, banjo) would become the de facto standard for many bluegrass bands to follow.

In 1948, he and guitarist Lester Flatt split from Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys to form the Foggy Mountain Boys, later simply known as Flatt and Scruggs. Flatt and Scruggs recorded "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," whose syncopated banjo and soaring fiddle is immediately recognizable. Featured prominently in the 1967 film Bonnie & Clyde, the piece has been twice honored with a Grammy Award. In 1962, Flatt, Scruggs and vocalist Jerry Scoggins would record "The Ballad of Jed Clampett," the story of a man named Jed, the rural mountaineer that winds up in the Hills of Beverly.

The duo would perform together until 1969, when Scruggs' open-mindedness, such as adding Bob Dylan songs to their repertoire, conflicted with Flatt's conservatism and the duo dissolved. The duo would go on to be inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985. In 1991 and '92, he was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in Kentucky and received the National Medal of the Arts, respectively. 

As a pioneer of the banjo, Scruggs' legacy is cemented in the rich musical heritage he helped to create. Bela Fleck, banjo virtuoso and newgrass pioneer, cites Scruggs as an influence. It's obvious to make the connection, Scruggs' pioneering work in changing the public perception of the banjo by changing the way it was played would obviously influence Fleck, whose genre-bending banjo playing has revolutionized the instrument again. Now, we can hear Scruggs' work even on Top 40 radio and through major national acts, as The Avett Brothers, Mumford and Sons, and The Carolina Chocolate Drops once again bring the syncopated Scruggs' style of banjo to a large national audience.

From The 'Net: Charles Barkley's Golf Swing

Golf aficionados, weekend warriors, and even, perhaps, those diehard Charles Barkley fans more than likely know the story. Sir Charles Barkely, The Round Mound of Rebound, has taken up golfing in the years since his retirement. Of course! Why not?! That's what retirement is for! Except in Charles Barkley's case, he has two things that distinguish him from your average plaidpant at the country club: (1) immense public recognition and (2) a golf swing that makes the Tin-Man look like a prima ballerina. Complicated analogy? Possibly, but watch:

See? If there's anything more complicated than that golf swing, it's the kind of analogy one would be forced to use to describe it. This is a golf swing that's so bad, even a novice golfer like myself, whose meager experience amounts to no more than 36 holes, can be moved to audible laughter at it. It's the kind of swing that Kevin Nealon finds "entertaining" and the kind that makes John Elway "cringe when [he] see[s] it." (link - There has even been a reality show, The Haney Project: Charles Barkley, on the Golf Channel, where former Tiger Woods coach Hank Haney attempted (and failed) to correct the hitch in Barkley's giddy-up. In any case, there are no less than 7 danzigs of videos on YouTube celebrating Barkley's swing. More videos after the jump!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shakori Hills Spring 2012 - The Local Bands

With over 60 bands attending the four-day festival,Shakori Hills' spring 2012 iteration has more than enough variety to please every taste. We're going to be taking the weeks leading up to the festival to introduce you to some of the acts we're most excited about. It's starting today with bands from the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Triangle and North Carolina as a whole. Look for new Shakori updates every Wednesday.

Saturday, Grove Stage: 11:00pm

As one of the resounding highlights of the Hopscotch Music Festival, Bombadil was a not-so-surprising but thoroughly exciting addition to the Shakori Hills line-up. Having recently released their second album, All That the Rain Promises, Bombadil's star is rising. After a hiatus related to health issues, Bombadil is roaring back to form, expertly crafting their singular mixture of Bolivian folk, roots rock, and chamber pop as if they'd never missed a beat. It is highly recommended that everyone make every effort to catch their set at the Grove Stage Saturday night. This is a quartet of masterful musicians and unparalleled showmen whose live performances vacillate between bombastic energy and restrained solemnity.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In Brief: Future Heart Drops Flaming Lips/Bon Iver Track From Upcoming Album

The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne on a
typical Tuesday Morning, 10am
Oklahoma City's golden children, The Flaming Lips, have plans to release their star studded double LP, The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends, as a Record Store Day 2012. Boasting an almost unbelievably diverse cast of performers, Heady Fwends includes Bon Iver, Erykah Badu, Nick Cave, Yoko Ono, Neon Indian, Ke$ha, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Lightning Bolt, Biz Markie, New Fumes, Chris Martin of Coldplay, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero, among others.

The first of many tracks that will no doubt surface between now and Record Store Day, "Ashes In The Air" features Bon Iver joining the spaced-out, psychedelic, okie-indie-popsters. The Future Heart, whose aim is to chronicle their "enthusiasm for life, rock n’ roll, pop culture and The Flaming Lips," released the track earlier this evening to both the internet and Sirius XM DJ (and one of my many twitter nemesis), Jenny Eliscu. Eliscu premiered the song on her XM U program.

You can preview the track after the jump.

Monday, March 26, 2012

From the 'Net: Tim Tebow's Exciting Press Conference

Tim Tebow, the former Denver Broncos quarterback, has been in the news a lot recently. The football sensation that captured our nation with sheer jubilation, Tebow was recently ousted from the Mile-High City, who signed Peyton Manning. Manning had previously been under contract with the Indianapolis Colts, with whom he twice attended and once won the Superbowl. These, I imagine, are exciting times for football fans. Having been recently signed to the New York Jets (the Jets?),Tim Tebow himself is excited. So excited, in fact, at a recent press conference discussing his relationship with the aforementioned Jets of New York he managed to utter "excite" in a great deal of tenses and variations a total of 44 times. The video is below:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review: "Beak & Claw" by s/s/s

Beak & Claw was released March 20,2012 by Anticon Records
Many of you may have been as shocked as I was when, a little over two weeks ago, the blogosphere lit up with news that Sufjan Stevens, the master composer who has brought us opuses like the timeless Illinois and and neoclassical symphony The BQE, was working on a hip-hop record. Beak & Claw is a four song EP which sees Stevens collaborating with Chicago's avant-garde rapper Serengeti and Denver's Son Lux, whose production style defies classification but lies somewhere between trip hop and ambient electronica. The first single "Museum Day", which was available to stream when the EP was announced, was exactly as out-there as one would expect. The song opens with Sufjan crooning some kind of bizarre, autotuned new age poetry ("Make it right, make it right, energy") and slows to a sparse drumbeat layered with spacey synthesizers and Serengeti drops some stream-of-consciousness rhymes before the song builds back up to its hooky chorus, the psychedelic insanity of which would make Wayne Coyne jealous.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Two Raleigh, NC Festivals Add New Venues

Photo courtesy of
The burgeoning metropolis of Raleigh, NC is already gearing up for the 3rd Annual Hopscotch Music Festival this September (check out our extensive past coverage here). For those of you unfamiliar with the event, the aptly named Hopscotch Festival takes place across over a dozen different venues in downtown Raleigh, all within reasonable walking distance of each other, consisting of a large outdoor stage in City Plaza and an assortment of bars, clubs, and theaters of all shapes and sizes. Back in November, a mere two month after 2011's stellar weekend, the folks at Hopscotch announced that they would be adding the main gallery of Raleigh's Contemporary Art Museum as their fifteenth performance venue, indicating that the festival was continuing to build on the expansive growth that it made after between 2010 and 2011. It turns out that was only the beginning.

Monday, February 20, 2012

In Brief: Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival, Spring 2012

Photo courtesy of The Bottom String.
Recently, Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance released a scintillating taste of what is sure to be an EXCELLENT lineup for their Spring Festival, to be held April 19th-22nd. Featuring returning favorites and some fresh blood, there's no way to complain about this preliminary list. Myxem favorites Driftwood are returning, as well as Midtown Dickens, Mandolin Orange and Holy Ghost Tent Revival. After stunning the entirety of our staff at Hopscotch, seeing Bombadil make it onto the lineup was a delightful surprise. Having been recently introduced to Curtis Eller's banjo-based roots-ragtime, seeing his name pop up was both unexpected and certainly a good reason to dig further into his catalog.

The preliminary lineup announcement is after the jump AND on Shakori Hills' website

Friday, February 10, 2012

Album Review: "Be the Void" by Dr. Dog

Be The Void was released on February 7, 2012 by Anti- Records
With so many new releases so far in early 2012, it would be understandably difficult for any one of them to stand out from the pack. Thankfully, bands exist that have never really cared about "the pack" and continued to charge bravely on doing what they do best. We have one such band in the resilient Philly-based freak-folk outfit known as Dr. Dog. Be the Void is their 6th studio effort and the second released by indie giant Anti- Records, who helped push their last release Shame, Shame to widespread recognition. Thought they're not really a household name (yet), Dr. Dog's burgeoning popularity seems to grow stronger by the second, and it's not at all undeserved.

Monday, January 30, 2012

In Brief: Neil Young's Doing Neil Young Things

Neil Young, seen here expressing either the magnanimity of
his catalog, or his complete confusion regarding Greendale's
popular reception. 
For the first time in almost nine years, Neil Young announced plans last week to re-enter the studio with longtime backing band Crazy Horse. Most initially seemed doubtful about the realistic prospects of the project, given the Grandfather of Grunge's penchant for on the fly decision reversals. Today, however, we are treated to what is (more than likely) an extended jam session recorded by Mr. Young and Crazy Horse, available here. Featuring a nearly 38 minute jam of both "Fuckin' Up" and "Cortez the Killer," Young's growling guitar sits restlessly atop the pulsing rhythms provided by the long adrift backing band. At around the 25 minute mark, when "Cortez the Killer" begins, the guitar switches from the muddy fuzz to a soaring solo. Neil's voice, still his trademark ethereal whine (only slightly older), lends a newer credence to the song, but, be warned, this is probably only for die-hard Neil Young fans (like you should be).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursday TV - It's Back

After a three episode story arc wherein our hero becomes a pirate king and summarily spends every bit of the pirate's loot on incredible parties and threesomes with pirate-party babes (who may or may not've been prostitutes), super spy extraordinaire Sterling Archer returns tonight at 10pm on FX. Archer is a perfect example of when consistently good writing and well-developed (if not, at times, broadly drawn) characters can make a ridiculous concept and, frankly, silly situations into an uproariously hilarious program. The humor of the show does not lie in the mission at hand, nor in the main story arc that's unfolding. The true humor comes from the sharp, witty dialogue and the relationships the characters have with each other. You can bet we'll be watching tonight, as Archer returns to FX at 10pm EST.

Of course, no mention of Thursday television has ever been complete if one does not mention the perennially hilarious, infinitely rewatchable 30 Rock. The show started its sixth season (purportedly Baldwin's last with the show) last week with a vengeance, hitting all the right, laughable notes while showing us that the characters have continued to develop while our eyes were not glued to them; Jack Donaghy is settling into his role as patriarch-sans-matriarch, Liz Lemon has a new secret beau (that commercials have revealed to be James Marsden (and there's something wrong with him (of course there is))). Featuring the return of Kelsey Grammer and the aforementioned Marsden guest spot, 30 Rock is on NBC tonight at 8pm EST.

But wait, there's more:

Bruce Springsteen Releases New Single

Springsteen released "We Take Care Of Our Own"
as the first single off of "Wrecking Ball"
due out 03/06/12.
Earlier today, we reported on the slew of Leonard Cohen singles from his upcoming release. Now it seems The Boss is following suit. His new album, "Wrecking Ball," is apparently his "angriest" album ever, but you wouldn't know that from the freshly released single, "We Take Care Of Our Own." It's treads the familiar grounds of "Born In The USA," with thundering drums, a chugging rhythm and a superficially pro-America chorus (replete with strings) wherein Bruce howls "We take care of our own/wherever this flag's flown." Like "Born In The USA," the lyrics reach a little deeper than that, mentioning some recent instances where perhaps we haven't taken care of our own, "From the shotgun shack to the Super Dome/There ain't no help, the cavalry stayed home/Ain't nobody hearin' the bugle blowin'." There's a point of unintentional humor; the opening lyrics, "I've been knocking on the door that holds the throne," conjure up (to me) a scene where Bruce has been trying unsuccessfully to get into the bathroom. Regardless, it is a new Bruce Springsteen song that's been released on the heels of a new Bruce Springsteen album, which is cause enough for celebration. You have to figure that someone realized releasing the new "angrier" Springsteen as a single would not build sufficient buzz, whereas this song follows a tried-and-true model that will (theoretically) see to the success of the album, "Wrecking Ball" due out March 6th, 2012. The video for the single is posted below.

Leonard Cohen's Forthcoming Release, "Old Ideas"

Leonard Cohen's "Old Ideas" will be
released January 31st, 2012 on Columbia Records.
After seven years of studio silence, the master songwriter Leonard Cohen will return with a new batch of songs at the end of the month. My excitement hangs in the air like a veil (the type you'd have to draw aside to see the serpent eat its tail), as Leonard Cohen holds an eternal place in my personal pantheon of critically important musicians. To build buzz for the release (because "Leonard Cohen is releasing a new album," is, for some reason, not enough for people), there have been three tracks from the forthcoming album released. The first to hit the net was "Show Me The Place," a vocal/piano number with a slow string build and Cohen's trademark lyrical depth and raspy vocals.  That was followed by "Darkness," whose swirling organ perfectly counterpoints the depth and darkness of Cohen's sound, and, most recently, a thinly-veiled battle with mortality, streaming from the New Yorker's culture desk, "Going Home." Click the link at left to listen to "Going Home," the other songs and the complete track list are after the jump.