indie rock cafe

The super-talented emo-rock indie band Bright Eyes, flying on the success of the release of the Four Winds EP and a string of hot shows in New York City two weeks ago, are teasing fans with the upcoming full-length release of their long anticipated album Cassadaga scheduled for official release by the band's own indie label, Saddle Creek Records.

Cassadaga is Bright Eyes' first full-length album in two years. The album is titled after the name of a town knof psychics in Florida.

If you can't wait until April 10, you can stream the entire Cassadaga album from the band's record label website.

Just in the past few years, the band has achieved enormous success worldwide. In fact, their stardom rivals that of "Big Five" label artists who have worked decades to reach the same level of popularity and record sales.

In 2004, the band hit the Billboard Hot Top 100 twice within two weeks of release with their singles "Lua" and "Take It Easy (Love Nothing)." While they have not released a new album since 2005, rumors say it's in the works.

The new EP, Four Winds, currently No. 5 on Billboard's Top Independent Albums charts, is a pre-ample for the upcoming release of Cassadaga, which critics call the band's best work to date. The album is as American as anything Oberst has ever created with intricate observations of American history - good and bad - as he travels across the country.

In the single "Four Winds", Oberst writes "off to old Dakota where genocide sleeps, in the Black Hills, the Badlands, the calloused East, I buried my ballast, I made my peace."
Other notable songs include the ironic "Soul Singer in a Session Band," the energetic "hot Knives" and a show favorite "I Must Belong Somewhere".

On the Saddle Creek Records website, the fun song "Make A Plan To Plan To Love Me" is described as "Bright Eyes at their most playful; a straight-up love song, replete with girl group vocals and Burt Bacharach strings.

From the website: "Oberst, the fumbling guitarist whose impassioned prose tumbles out under stark stage spotlights, is still recognizable in every track, but the songs are rich with elaborate production, cinema-sized orchestration and, at times, sprawling, almost psychedelic, atmospherics. "

Here is the official track listing for Cassadaga:

1. Clairaudients (Kill or Be Killed)
2. Four Winds [mp3 link above]
3. If The Brakeman Turns My Way
4. Hot Knives
5. Make A Plan To Love Me
6. Soul Singer In A Session Band
7. Classic Cars
8. Middleman
9. Cleanse Song
10. No One Would Riot For Less
11. Coat Check Dream Song
12. I Must Belong Somewhere
13. Lime Tree

Bright Eyes is the creation of guitarist, singer and songwriter Conor Oberst and producer and instrumentalist Mike Mogie and Nate Walcott.

The band is also frequently joined by many indie artists from the Omaha scene and beyond, including Andy LeMaster (Now It's Overhead), Ben Kweller, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, Maria Taylor, Rachel Yamagata, M. Ward, Janet Weiss (ex-Sleater Kinney), Jason Boesel (Rilo Kiley) and John McEntire (Tortoise).

Bright Eyes is somewhat like Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene - they have rejected Big Five contracts and make wonderful, creative and experimental music that involves artists from other bands or disciplines in a rotating-type fashion.

Fame and experience in the business world is nothing new to these guys, especially for Oberst who caught the attention of the indie rock world in 1994 at the age of 14! as the founder, singer and songwriter of the indie outfit Commander Venus.

Realted Links:

Bright Eyes Spring 2007
Tour and Show Dates

Bright Eyes MySpace


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   March 22, 2007    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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The debate over "illegal" downloading of music over the Internet has raged on since the turn of this century, and will likely continue to for some time until the recording industry and music consumers find a fair middle ground in the pricing of music.

In fact, this debate has been one of the most contentious issues ever since the Internet became a household world by the late 1990s.

Not long after, ambitious software programmers came up with software that interlinked servers set up to offer music lovers the ability to share and download just about as much music as they pleased at no cost.

These networks, called P2P (Peer-to-Peer), still exist today. Napster cut a deal with the recording industry, but others like Kazaa and Limewire persist.

But as far as P2P networks, I do not recommend downloading songs from them. In fact, many people I know over the last few years don't even use P2P software anymore because there are so many better, yet fee-based, solutions available.

Not only can you not download say 65% or more of the download requests on P2P networks, there are also well-known, common problems using P2P downloads such as:

- Incomplete songs and other file downloads

- Poor quality

- Unreliable and incorrect titles and artist tags for some songs

- Corrupted or maimed songs (the ones that echo and skip with annoying sounds.
Those are put out on P2P networks by the recording industry - especially for
very popular songs and artists)

- Infected files containing viruses, trojans, worms and other malicious packets that are sometimes missed by the major anti-software updates or they take too long to get the patch to update their databases once a threat is discovered

- Huge drain on computer resources

Those of you who have suffered the consequences of downloading through P2P networks feel the collective pain, especially if you'd had viruses and trojan attacks (which I've experienced and hope to never again).

Many computer users that also use P2P networks complain of slow computers (even when the P2P is closed), weird things happening like pop-ups not being blocked by pop-up blockers, color, font and other settings mysteriously changing, frequent crashes, etc. Most likely they have some kind of virus that virus software has not been able to detect.

Sometimes a complete reformatting of your hard drive is needed to fix the problem. Viruses commonly hide like cockroaches from light on your computer hard drive and at times launch background programs that slow down your computer, collect your personal information and more malicious attacks like erasing your hard drive files (back-up, back-up, back-up).

Some folks have written and said that they get lots of great songs from such networks, but overall, is it worth it if a ghost virus unleashes on your computer (often undetected by various safety software) and does damage that will cause you headaches for days if not weeks? And what about if you pass the virus on to unsuspecting friends and other network users?

Many of the viruses and "dummy" MP3s found on P2P Networks and other downloading and sharing software programs have been said to be the work of the recording industry, criminals in various countries around the world and other hackers who are sympathetic to the industry and musicians.

Rumors have circulated for years about hackers hired (under signed confidentiality agreements) to create and distribute annoying, chopped up, empty and incomplete MP3s across various P2P networks in attempt to battle the "pirating" of music. Who knows what percent of bad files shared on P2P networks are the work, directly or indirectly, of the recording industry.

Where To Find Free and Low-Cost Quality MP3s

In a series of reports, I'm putting together listings of the best places to find free, quality MP3s that you don't have to worry are infected or illegal.

You be able to get MP3s from various websites, including many fee-based music services that offer dozens of great free MP3s at prices much lower than iTunes.

Another list will offer dozens of links to free MP3s from record labels, bloggers and band and artist websites, with of course, the emphasis being alternative and indie rock.

While you do need to supply a credit or bank card to launch your two week trial, just make sure to cancel on day 13 (and download as many free tracks as possible) of your trial and never be charged a penny. Otherwise, you can elect to continue with the service or not and cancel at any time.

If you try it out, I recommend choosing the eMusic Premium Best Value plan after your initial free 25 MP3s. You get 75 MP3 downloads per month for $19.99. That's approximately 26 cents a song, unless they have changed their pricing structure since this article was published.

So, download your 75 tracks, download as many of the free tracks as you want and then cancel, if that is your preference (I know many people who like it so much they don't cancel).

There are other plans as low as $10 per month for 25 songs. With iTunes, you'd pay more than double that for 25 tracks, approximately $24.75. The major benefit iTunes has over Emusic, at least for the time being, is that their music catalog is much larger than Emusic, because iTunes has the money and staff to cut deals with just about every label. Nevertheless, Emusic has a huge catalog that features many of the best artists and groups from every genre imaginable.

Download these free CDs (just click the "Download All" button):

- 2007 Independent Music Awards - With Watermelon Slim & The Workers, Paul & Price and Bitter:Sweet.
- Bloodshot Records Honky-Tonk Compilation - Featuring Old 97s, Paul Burch, Wayne Hancock, Riptones and The Misery Boys.
- Cantos Classic Titles - Highlights include world music artists such as Orchestra Baobab, Tabu Ley Rochereau,Bembeya Jazz National, Boubacar Traore, Ismael Lo, and Ami Koita.

Another advantage of Emusic is the liberal re-download policy. For example, if you somehow lose all your MP3s you purchased from Emusic, don't freak out. They let you re-download all of the music you ever purchased completely free. It is also neatly organized into menus in the Downloads section of your account to make the task much easier and faster.

Early on, Emusic was one of the first music download portals to offer comprehensive reviews of many artist and band songs, compilations and entire albums crafted by some of the best music critics and writers in the profession. Emusic is part of the larger All Music Guide, famous for being what many consider one of the most reliable and extensive guides to music and musicians for the past 15 years.

If you need to find information about an artist, song or CD, check out Personally, I love how their writers weave compelling and lively reviews of music and revealing, brilliant profiles of the greatest known and lesser-known artists from all genres of music for the past 200 years.

In addition, members are free to offer their own reviews, save albums to playlists to download them later, share lists with other members, access music maps and all kinds of other interlinking features, which AMG was basically the first to take music maps (influences, followers, similiar artists, etc.) and apply them to both modern and classic music.

So, here are just some of the current free MP3, and some entire CDs, from

(If you do sign up, please mention
Most of the free tracks available from are for subscribed members, including members on the free trial.

After you download your free MP3s, click the "Browse" tab and look for the "Free Tracks" link.

Here are some of my personal favorites, hope you enjoy them as well. (You do need to have iTunes downloaded and Emusic MP3s automagically add themselves correctly to your iTunes and your iPod just as if you had purchased the songs from iTunes):

- Energy - Apples in Stereo
- Dog Problems - The Format
- I Love This Game - Masta P and Romeo
- I See You Pan - Animal Collective
- Elephant Gun - Beirut
- All The Wars - Avon
- Telling Sue - Assembly of Dust
- Do You Want To Go Out With Me - The Donnas
- Walking To Do - Ted Leo/Pharmacists
- Master of None - Beach House

There is so much great free music at Emusic. Only catch is that to get it, you have to at least try the free trial.

Part Two (next week): Labels and Band Sites - A Guide to the Best Free MP3s

Subscribe to IRC's feed to get the next installment. Takes less than a minute to sign up and it's totally secured and hosted by FeedBurner so that you get plenty of indie news, concert listings, reviews, profiles and free music, videos and podcasts the way YOU want them.

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   March 15, 2007    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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When members of the alternative country rock band Uncle Tupelo decided to call it quits and pursue individual musical careers, fans were devastated.

In retrospect, the split doesn't seem so bad. Two great bands rose from the ashes - Jeff Tweedy ' s Wilco and Jay Farrar of Son Volt, and they each are happy working on their own vision of what is the music they want to make.

For example, Farrar tunes his guitar much differently than most musicians (sort of a Hendrix type of approach), which he says is to blend with his unique voice and songwriting.

This is nothing new with talented musicians and songwriters - the need to branch off at some point and take control of their work. It's a common evolution for successful artists, and thank goodness.

Son Volt's new CD release The Search carves new paths in the musical maturity of Farrar and the rest of the band.

Watch a New York Times interview Jay Farrar of Son Volt

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   March 10, 2007    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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arcade fire

Rumors have been swirling on the Internet that someone had set up a directory containing the MP3 files for Arcade Fire's new CD, Neon Bible, which is not officially available in the U.S. until Tuesday, March 6.

There have been no messages on the band's MySpace page or official website about the leak, but plenty of chatter in chat rooms, instant messaging, boards, websites and social networking sites like MySpace.

An anonymous reader contacted me and told me the album was available in a number of locations by setting up a specific search function in Google.

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   March 5, 2007    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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On Tuesday, Arcade Fire will release their anticipated second full-length album, Neon Bible, on CD and LP.
Check the links below to order and listen to an advance track from the new album

The album's release follows a year of astonishing success for an indie rock band that was little known just a couple of years ago. But after release of their debut album Funeral in 2005, the band quickly amassed a huge fan base and rocketed to heights many bands never come close to after playing for decades.

You can get a sense of a rock group's success from many different angles.

But when a group sells out nearly a dozen shows just minutes after the concert tickets go on sale, you can bet something bigger is happening.

During the past two years, Arcade Fire have sprung to rock stardom, making them one of the hottest and most popular rock groups on the planet.

Tell that to the band members. Until recently, the band members claim they were largely unaware of the full magnitude and reach of their success. On the Internet alone, there are hundreds of fan sites, articles, tabs, chords, lyrics, reviews, biographies, interviews and more.

By now, they can't help but to know they are world famous, even being featured on Time magazine, usually a cover that is reserved for world figures and cultural icons.

The buzz from critics and fans about just how fantastic their music is seems to not affect the guys and gals of Arcade Fire - they appear to be keeping it real - living the "indie rock" lifestyle, and at least suggesting they are not about to embrace the trappings of stardom. It's a refreshing sign at a time when so many bands that started indie have gone big-time and have never looked back.

Members of Arcade Fire are not the kind of band that will brag about selling out an entire concert tour in just minutes. In fact, band members don't care about the high-flying, money-spending lifestyle of rock stars.

They are just as happy playing for 50 people as they are for 5,000. Band members still drive old cars and wear second-hand clothes and they seem genuinely astonished that their debut album so quickly became of the most popular albums of the past year.

The question is: How long can they keep it "real"?

Hard-core indie fans (which are very difficult to define) have watched bands like The Starting Line, Fallout Boy, Bloc Party and The Killers go "Hollywood" by signing on with one of the five dominant record conglomerates (Sony, EMI, Capitol, Universal, Warner Brothers), taking the money and running with it.

The cross-over from a small label to one of the Big Five seems to be what many indie rock fans, writers and critics is what really sets an authentic indie group apart from the rest who claim to be indie/alternative.

The question is: Can a group go Big Five and remain true to the indie and alternative rock fan base, culture and to themselves or do they buckle to managers and record executives, compromising not just their soul, but their music and integrity for fame and money?

That's part of what attracts many fans to Arcade Fire. They are original and make damn good music. They buck the industry trends whenever possible and lash out at any attempt to take creative control of their work.

* Exclusive advanced release MP3 from Neon Bible, "
Black Mirror"

Get more stories on
Arcade Fire and subscribe to the IRC feed to stay updated on AF and many other great indie and alternative bands.

Check out the band's
profile on Merge Records - The deluxe CD version includes a paperboard clamshell box containing a 32-page flip book designed by Tracy Maurice and the Long Play (LP) version is minted for double 180-gram audiophile quality, featuring three sides of music plus an etching on the fourth side.

As an extra bonus, the LP also includes a coupon code for a free MP3 download of the entire album.

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   March 4, 2007    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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Just back from a road tour, rock guitarist Dave Navarro said tonight he is easing back into life in Los Angeles.

The former Jane's Addiction guitarist made news last week when the divorce of his three-year marriage with Carmen Electra, the former BayWatch star, became official.

From looking at his MySpace page, there are plenty of women "friends" he can ask on a date.

But during an Indie 103.1 FM (L.A.) broadcast in which he was deejaying, Navarro said he is tired of his MySpace page.

"Dude, I'm done," Navarro said, referring to the frustration he obviously has with the website service. Navarro complained not just about having so many online friends he can't possibly keep up with them all, but he saved his real fury for MySpace email.

"I get like 200 emails a day and 75% of them are advertising. I'm over it," he exclaimed.
Who exactly would be devastated by this news? Some guys I know because they like looking at all the hot women on his MySpace page and trying to befriend them.
During the "Camp Freddy Radio" show, Navarro said he was going to go home and stay up all night watching the full season of Nip, Tuck, smoke a pack of cigarettes and drink pots of coffee. Perhaps he has already settled into the single life.

Navarro, who is 39, also broadcasts "Spread Radio Live" Tuesdays & Thursdays from 7:30pm to 9:30pm PST from his home studio.


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   March 3, 2007    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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