Commodities of the Abstract Sort

a hopefully-less-pretentious-than-other-pretentious-music-blogs music blog

Album Review: Saltbreakers by Laura Veirs Sunday April 29, 2007

Filed under: album review,Local,local-ish — Kayla @ 6:29 am

laura viers2

Yes, this album came out over a month ago. I started writing this at that time and it’s been languishing half-written in my drafts folder ever since, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Laura Veirs is a singer-songwriter who is originally from Seattle, but recently moved to Portland. She has previously performed solo, but is now working with a backing band. You may recognize her name from the duet of “Yankee Bayonet” that she did with Colin Meloy on the latest Decemberists album.

I relatively new fan of hers, I saw her open for a Colin Meloy solo show about a year and a half ago, and was not really impressed. Then one day I forgot to bring my CDs to my radio show and had to search through the thousands of CDs in the station for an hour worth of music, which ended up being pretty much everything in there that I had actually heard of, including Laura Veirs. I discovered that her music makes a lot more sense on CD, when she is not having to loop things to get her lush sound. Fast-forward a few weeks: I had to make an unplanned trip to North Dakota over Thanksgiving break and I found myself listening exclusively to her Year of Meteors and +/-‘s Let’s Build a Fire while fighting my way through airport-on-Thanksgiving insanity. Consequently these two albums have become two of my favorite albums of all time. A tough act to follow, and something that the holders of other albums on this list have not been doing so hot at (ahem…Modest Mouse, I’m looking at you), but Laura Veirs has managed to put out the first album in months that has lived up to its predecessor and I might even venture to say, eclipsed it.

Saltbreakers starts off sounding very similar to Year of Meteors with Veirs’ clear voice floating over guitar and some mild electronic beats. The third track, “Don’t Lose Yourself” is where the album really takes off. That track marks the first use of piano for Veirs and it’s a wonder it has taken her this long to realize that her music is made for piano, it fits seemlessly with the dense guitar and string sound prevalent in her music. There is also a children’s choir backing her on “To The Country”, which came off a little creepy the first time I heard it, but has definitely grown on me. “Phantom Mountain” takes a more rockin’ turn, only to be followed by the simple “Black Butterfly” with Veirs singing to a simple piano accompaniment. The concluding song, “Wrecking” includes the backing strings common to Year of Meteors and ends on a maddeningly unresolved chord, which seems an odd choice, but I guess she was going for the “leave them wanting more” effect.

In addition to being her best album yet, Saltbreakers is also Veirs’ most accessible. The songs have distinctive, catchy melodies and there are fewer lyrics about “trees and wind and rivers and fish and shit” as my music director at the radio station puts it than her previous albums. This is the perfect background music for reading boring textbooks because it is interesting enough that you break up the mundanity of reading yet another thinly veiled Russian analysis of religion absconding as a “novel” but not so manic that you can’t concentrate. If you’ve always wondered who this Laura Veirs person is, this is the album to use to find out.

[mp3] Laura Veirs-Pink Light

[mp3] Laura Veirs-Don’t Lose Yourself

Official Site | Myspace | Buy Saltbreakers



Even More Non-Content Friday April 20, 2007

Filed under: mix — Kayla @ 9:33 pm

Assorted Cupcakes HA8V7488
(there is no logical picture to put here, but it would be awkward without one. Solution: Cupcakezzz)

For serious guys, I am so incredibly burnt out on writing anything that involves complete sentences that I am finding it hard even to write about music. Thanks 2 literature classes at one time, for killing my will to live. BUT! School is technically over in 1.5 weeks at which time I will regain my will to live/write about music. In the meantime here is another mix cd that I made for the KUPS picnic/mix cd exchange.

1. Tilly & the Wall-Bad Education

2. Headlights-Owl Eyes

3. Jordan O’ Jordan-Hard-Handed Lesson

4. Heypenny-Parade

5. Electric President-Good Morning, Hypocrite

6. Sea Wolf-Middle Distance Runner

7. Peter and the Wolf-The Fall

8. Cataldo-Wedding Cake

9. Ben Gibbard-Complicated (Avril Lavigne cover) (yes, you read that right)

10. The Format-1000 Umbrellas (XTC Cover)

11. Skybox-Various Kitchen Utensils

12. Black Bear-I Believe in Immediacy

13. Elliott Smith-Let’s Turn the Record Over (this was supposed to be the last song on a 2-disc From a Basement on a Hill

[zip] Mix CD (of glory and wonder)

The Tain by The Decemberists is on the original too, but I didn’t put it on here because that would be putting a whole album on the internet, and that’s even more unethical than putting single songs on the internet. Also there’s no cover art because I’m lazy, or better yet, let’s call it another fun interactive blogging experience and you can put your own cover art in.


Here are some music videos Sunday April 15, 2007

Filed under: local-ish,misc. good non-local music,music videos — Kayla @ 5:48 pm

This is the video for The Thermals “Pillar of Salt.” I’m not a huge Thermals fan, but I love this video, it is just a simple “band playing song” video but they have managed to spruce it up with lots cuts to the band wearing ridiculous costumes and random guest appearances by members of other Portland bands (Colin Meloy is in there for like 3 seconds and I’m told that “that one girl from Wet Confetti” is too). I also love the contrast of the stark white box set with the crazy stuff happening in it. Here’s a fun interactive blogging experience: spot the arrested development reference and win…well nothing actually, maybe like some indie cred or something.

This is the video for Wolf Parade’s “Modern World.” I love everything about this video, the song is one of my favorite songs of all time and the video fits it perfectly. It is stop-motion animation and therefore must have taken a ridiculously long time to make, but the results are amazing.

I’ve linked to this before, but now that I’ve figured out how to imbed things here it is again. This is the video for All-Time Quarterback’s “Plans Get Complex.” All-Time Quarterback is Ben Gibbard of Death Cab circa 1999 and this video is overwhelming evidence that he should not quit his day job. Awkward fondling of tranny posters? Check. shifty eyes? Check. Awkward dancing/swaying like a nervous little girl? Check. Umbrella in the subway? Check. This one’s got it all, folks.

This isn’t so much a music video as using MS Paint as a weapon in the war against emo kids. It’s a subtitled version of Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” with accompanying visuals. Warning: may not be suitable for people who are uptight slash at work. Also, this may not be funny to people who didn’t go to Emo Kid High (aka Mountain View Craphole, Bend, OR, USA, The World) or maybe it will be…only the omnipotent Pete Wentz knows….

And now we come to the obligatory cameo-appearances-by-indie-musicians-who-virtually-no-one-watching-the-show-will-actually-recognize

portion of the program.

First up: Britt Daniel of Spoon on Veronica Mars

I can just imagine the conversation that led to this happening: “hey, we should do a cameo of someone from one of those (finger quotes) ‘indie bands.'” Britt Daniel wouldn’t have been my first choice because he’s not recognizable enough (I didn’t recognize him the first time I saw this episode) but whatev….

Next up: Andrew Bird on a children’s show as “Dr. Stringz”

This one is without a doubt my favorite video in this post. The fact that Andrew Bird agreed to do this makes me love him even more than I already did. As someone in the youtube comments put it, “think of the indie cred those kids are going to have when they grow up.”


PS: Real content coming soon, I promise. School is kind of ruining my life again.



Possibly the most ridiculous thing to ever happen on Conan Saturday April 14, 2007

Filed under: misc. good non-local music,music videos,Uncategorized — Kayla @ 9:07 am

Here is a video of Of Montreal on Conan. This is pretty much exactly like an Of Montreal concert, except condensed into 2 minutes and with less partial nudity. Their show at the Showbox in Seattle a few months ago was second only to The Flaming Lips in terms of energy and ridiculousness. It was totally worth the $153 speeding ticket and uncalled for sobriety test that I got while driving home at 2 am. No, seriously, it was….


Jordan O’ Jordan Thursday April 12, 2007

Filed under: Local — Kayla @ 3:39 pm



Jordan O’ Jordan wins most ridiculous CD purchasing experience for sure. Two months ago I ordered his CD, Not Style Nor Season Nor Hard-Handed Lesson after finding him on one of my myspace time-wasting excursions. Yesterday it finally got here along with personal check for $5 and a hand-written postcard explaining that a rat ate the silk screen they used to print the covers and that’s why it took so long to get here. I must say that the personal check (complete with cell phone number and address) was a first. This CD was totally worth the 2 month wait though.


Jordan O’ Jordan is Jordan Smith and just exactly as much banjo as you can shake a stick at. He is originally from Waverly, OH but now lives in Seattle. His music is simple; most songs with just him and banjo or guitar, although there are a few with female vocals and strings and piano. His lyrics cover everything from failed relationships to fashion and there are a healthy number of waltzes on this CD.  Here are a couple tracks, and there are a few more on his myspace.


[mp3] Jordan O’ Jordan-An Old Foundry Fable

[mp3] Jordan O’ Jordan-By Balloon or Sinking Ship


Myspace | Buy Not Style Nor Season Nor Hard-Handed Lesson


Headlights Thursday April 5, 2007

Filed under: misc. good non-local music,Spring! — Kayla @ 6:05 pm


I continue to be amazed by my good luck with openers at the shows I go to. I’ve only had 1 really bad opener and a whole slew of really good ones. Headlights are one of the best of the best. They opened for Page France at the Crocodile Cafe last week and I enjoyed them as much and maybe a little bit more than Page France (don’t get me wrong, Page France is still in my top ten favorite bands, but they just didn’t have to stage presence that Headlights did).

Anyway, Headlights are from Champaign Illinois and were all originally members of another band, Absinthe Blind. They have been together since 2004 and have 1 LP and 3 EPs out, the first of which was entirely recorded in a farmhouse they have converted into a studio. Their first LP, Kill Them With Kindness, was released in 2006 (and then followed by an insane 161 tour dates) and is full of sunny, female-fronted pop music that is perfect for this time of year. They have an amazingly dense sound for being a three-piece; there are strings, glockenspiel, and even accordion on several tracks along with the usual drums, guitar, bass, and piano. They also have really pretty cover art, and we all know how much I like pretty cover art. This is music that will make even the dreariest of days seem like the sun is shining and the cherry trees are blooming.

[mp3] Headlights-TV

[mp3] Headlights-Put Us Back Together

Official Site | Myspace | Buy Kill Them With Kindness

I would just like to state for the record that it reached 70 degrees today in Tacoma, and it didn’t rain, not even a little bit. This combined with the Headlights CD coming in the mail kind of made me want to frolic around campus in some sort of ridiculous frilly dress, but I restrained myself and just opened all the windows in my room instead.


The Entire Opperation Of Waltz Tuesday April 3, 2007

Filed under: mix — Kayla @ 7:33 pm


Edit: I totally got 2nd place in this contest. This is only the second time in my life that I have won something. The first time was the Oreo Stacking Contest at the Ridgecrest, CA Kmart when I was 10. This is decidedly more glamorous….

There is a mix CD contest sponsored by the campus newspaper going on right now and so today instead of doing my stats project I made a mix CD. I have this playlist on my itunes that is all waltzes; whenever I come across a waltz (or more generally something in 3/4) I stick it in there. So, I figured I would put that playlist to use and make a mix CD of all waltzes. It was kind of surprising how different they all sound despite being in the same time signature. Here is the tracklist:

1. My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist-Tarkio (this is also a Decemberists song. Tarkio is Colin Meloy’s college band from Montana. I put this one on here because I bought the Decemberists versions on itunes and their copy protections prevent you from converting things to mp3)

2. Hills-Thao Nguyen

3. Waltz #2 (Xo)-Elliott Smith

4. Castle-Time-Chris Garneau

5. Clyde In New Orleans-Norfolk & Western

6. Plans Get Complex-All-Time Quarterback (aka Ben Gibbard of Death Cab in 1999. See also: the funniest music video ever made. Ben Gibbard is a very, very bad actor)

7. Lips and Dollars-Cataldo

8. Weird-Menomena

9. Bird On a Wire-Rogue Wave

10. Marvelous Things-Eisley

11. My Mathematical Mind-Spoon

[zip] The Entire Opperation of Waltz Mix

Sorry, not individual direct links this time because that would take obsecene amounts of bandwidth. The cover art is in there too so it can even be pretty in your itunes. Enjoy!