I was lucky enough to catch a Modest Mouse show in Chicago last year that featured the opening act of Mason Jennings. It was probably the best show that I’ve seen Modest Mouse play to date and having Jennings open up the night was the perfect precursor.

About 6 months ago the frontman of Modest Mouse, Isaac Brock, started his own record label under the supervision of Epic Records. Naming his label Glacial Pace, the first act that he signed was Mason Jennings. Straight from the lisp slinging mouth of Brock:

I’m going to answer some simple questions that I am sure are going to come up about my initial interest in Mason Jennings. How do I know they’re going to come up? It already did, I was given a list of questions and I’ll do my damndest to relay the information without sounding like a guy answering a list of questions.

Like most scenarios which involve hearing a band for the first time, I heard about Mason in February 2005 from someone whose taste I trust and was passionate about his music and excited enough to play it for other people in hopes that they’d share the excitement with them. In this case I heard it from Naheed Simjee, who currently co-runs Glacial Pace with me. She had described Mason’s music to me as best as possible, but descriptions aren’t easy and fall short when it comes to music (this is one of the reasons I’ve long since abandoned reading reviews to make decisions on buying records). After a few attempts to find, and I apologize but I’m shit when it comes to remembering titles, but it was the one that has the songs “Nothing” and “Godless” on it, a record that she felt was the definitive Mason Jennings c.d. We downloaded some of the songs, and before I get any shit for it, don’t worry, I paid for the songs I downloaded. I was completely blown away with Mason’s unashamed and incredibly sincere voice and lyrics. I can be a real shit head critic when it comes to music so I have to tell you how nice it felt to instantly want to compliment instead of criticize the music. Eventually I bought all his albums and shortly after I was on tour with Modest Mouse and decided while on the road that I would ask Mason and his band to play some of the tour with us. Despite the lack of advance notice, they were able to meet up for some shows. At about the same time I was touring with Mason, some Epic folks were speaking with me about starting my own label. It’s pretty easy to fill in the blanks of the steps between being granted the label and signing an artist whose music I love, so I’ll spare you the boring details.

Fast forward to September 2005. I just heard some of the new songs Mason is recording in Minnesota for Glacial Pace and am thinking that even if this was the only thing that Glacial Pace released, how I am just so goddamned proud to play a part in the release of this record. I hope that every time a record comes out on Glacial Pace I feel this good about it.

No speculations, no expectations

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[MP3] Mason JenningsIf You Need A Reason
[MP3] Mason JenningsJesus Are You Real (This song is brilliant.)

Jennings’ major label jump has been extremely successful. His music hasn’t been overproduced and sounds just as real and intimate as his past works. Brock’s ear for good music has a 2/2 track record so far, seeing how he was also responsible for getting breakout band Wolf Parade signed to Sub Pop.

Wanna be an awesome/well respected musical act? Make sure to open for Modest Mouse at some point – Jennings and Wolf Parade did. C’mon, all the cool kids are doing it!

There are a lot of albums releasing now and/or soon that I am pretty stoked about. This won’t be the last post you’ll see about new albums by some of my favorite artists. Now, I know “with great power comes great responsibility!” The main responsibility of a blog is to get the new music/bands out there, right? Every now and again I like posting about some of the established artists I (thoroughly) enjoy, especially when they have new material.

I like The Format a lot. They’ve had a ton of time between a debut LP and their sophomore release, Dog Problems. From what I’ve heard they’ve become pretty keen on the idea of adding more instruments and vocals to their songs. There isn’t a trumpet anywhere to be found on Interventions & Lullabies, but now they’re making appearances all over the album. Along with flutes, acordions, violins, and xylophones. Frankly, I’m just fine with that. Also, pay attention to all the backing vocals and emphasis on piano melodies (all new to The Format sound).

[MP3] The FormatTime Bomb
[MP3] The FormatDog Problems

Does “Time Bomb” have a sort of Queen feel at all?! The beginning had me thinking of the hierarchy of vocal melodies. If you like these two tracks or the acoustic ones, be sure to head over here where you can get the album right now! You shoudl feel special since it’s not slated for release until July 11. I did, when I downloaded it.

There are just so many covers out there.. I have to post a few of them today. Plus it’s been raining for the past week, which just screams “post covers Nathaniel!” in this demonic yet sexy voice. Who knew that Kentucky had a monsoon season? Regardless, I’m sensing a theme of: solo artist covering amazing bands.

[MP3] Ray LaMontageCrazy
We all know that the Gnarls Barkley song is awesome, but so is this cover. I like Ray so much that he could probably have just hummed the words to this song and I would’ve loved it. We’ve posted this song once before a month or so back, and I still can’t get enough of one of my favorite artists going “crazy”. (No pun?!)

[MP3] Ben FoldsShe Don’t Use Jelly
This is quite simply regarded as the first “official hit” for The Flaming Lips. Whether you agree or not, this is probably one of the best songs they’ve ever made. Sure, The Lips’ catalogue of great music is rather extensive but this song was amazing the first time I heard it and remains just as amazing today. Ben Folds does a damn good job on this one.

[MP3] Mark KozelekSpace Travel Is Boring
Not many covers of Modest Mouse floating around, so Kozelek (aka Sun Kil Moon) decided to make an entire album full of them. There are some gems and there are some he flat out butchers, this is one of the gems. No doubt. I would love to see someone like Devendra Banhart cover Modest Mouse.

Hey. The sun is coming out! See, posting covers can control the weather!


Look out all of you exclamation point using bands, Bitter:Sweet are storming onto the scene to show everyone how cool the colon can be.

When I first heard this L.A. based band, I immediately thought sexy. It’s the type of sexy that you may hear in a James Bond film – playing during the opening credits of the movie. Lead singer Shana Halligan’s voice is swooning, soft, and nearly haunting at times. Their debut album came out at the beginning of April and is starting to pop up on various charts and websites, of course having a gig at Bumbershoot can’t hurt. Although they’re a two-person band, the whole album packs a punch of assorted musical styles, ranging from turntables and violins to trumpets and harps. Nothing like a two-person band that can expand to ten! Needless to say, their unique sound adds up to a musical experience that captivates you with it’s originality.

[MP3] Bitter:SweetThe Mating Game
[MP3] Bitter:SweetDirty Laundry

They just did a set on Morning Becomes Eclectic too, so be sure to check it out. They play a ton of their songs.

[STREAM] Bitter:SweetKCRW: Morning Becomes Eclectic

Their name has to come from Splenda, or something. You know, if you put the right amount of artificial sweetener in your tea (or whatever) it tastes amazing. However, put too much in and it’ll leave a horribly bitter taste in your mouth. Definitely what I’d name my band after, let me tell ya. As always, their MySpace is loaded with more songs and all the Bitter:Sweet information you need. Plus they have a nifty E-Card!

With Bonnaroo exactly a month away, many are preparing their trek to the small city of Manchester, TN. A city that makes a large portion of their annual revenue(s) from the 3-day festival. This will be my second year in attendance and is shaping up to be a memorable one. With 5 weeks separating today and Bonnaroo, I’ll be shelling out a new band per week that you may/may not know about. Maybe you’ll have (yet) another band to see when its all said and done..Who knows? Oh! And if you’re looking for some company at a festival this Summer, see who is going where and hang out with some bloggers!

Most six-piece bands have one of either two paths to travel down: really talented or really awful. Fortunately, Australian band The Cat Empire manage to take the path less traveled. The path fully loaded with talent.

These guys are “kind of a big deal” in Australia, selling out countless shows and racking up accolades ranging from a double platinum debut record to 9 Aria (Aussie version of Grammys) nominations. Their sound is pretty damn unique and will make for an interesting live show. Despite my own reservations for the vocals in their songs, the music they put behind it is great. A jazz/funk/reggae/rock combination that could make the masses dance. They tour the world for 9 months out of the year – so I’m gonna bet they know a few things about making crowds wanna dance.

[MP3] The Cat EmpireHello Hello
Hand claps? Hip hop? Trumpets? This song combines all of the previously mentioned elements and creates a catchy single that you’d find playing at a pool party in Mid-July. Does anyone else notice that Hebrew-like accent?

[MP3] The Cat EmpireSol y Sombra
What starts out as a nice piano melody turns into a seemingly authentic Hispanic song…Minus the whole fact they’re from Australia. The sombrero conscious song hits it’s stride mid-way through the song with a jazz infused piano solo followed up by a brass bit that you would expect to see at Jennifer Lopez’s and Marc Antony’s wedding reception.

[MP3] The Cat EmpireDays Like These
By the time I heard this song, I began to realize how weird/awesome it was going to be watch these guys perform live. Watching them each play their respective instruments would make a decent enough show, let alone watching an Aussie spit out raps from down under.

They recorded their latest CD in Havana, Cuba. So, if you’re thinking that they’re environment plays any impact on their sound, you’re probably thinking correctly. Check out their site for more information and then head over to Bonnaroo’s site for all the last minute news.