2008 releases artists artists to watch for in 2008 artists to watch for in 2009 digital downloads guitar music

Friday Music Roundup – Motel Motel, Hotel Lights and Capital Road

As another week draws to a close, and I head down the coast (and offline) for the weekend, I thought I would throw up a quick music roundup of those songs that have been spinning incessantly on my iTunes this week. So here you go…

Motel Motel – Mexico

Motel Motel
Motel Motel… these guys deserve to be bigger.

Listen to Motel Motel, even if only once, and you know that these guys are on the cusp of indie-hugeness (no, that’s not a real word. So sue me).
Having only formed in 2006, this band from Brooklyn sounds far more accomplished than you would expect from a two-year old outfit. There’s swaggering rock there, but also sweltering and dusty americana. Basically, everything that makes me fall in love with music.

The song featured below, “Mexico“, exemplifies that love. While Motel Motel’s new album, “New Denver” ranges from bar-room rock to frantic jangly guitars (see the track “Mountains”), this tune “Mexico” (which originally appeared on their “Old York” EP) is stripped down, dirt-covered folk at its best. It’s a shot of Jack Daniels and well worn denim. Take a listen, and you’ll see what I mean.

With one of the catchiest choruses I’ve heard this side on “The Alternate Routes”, “Mexico” is right up there as a contender for my favourite song of 2008.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Motel Motel – Mexico

Hotel Lights – Firecracker People

Hotel Lights
Hotel Lights aka Darren Jessee

The day that Ben Folds Five broke up was a sad day indeed. After all, Ben Folds has most definitely released some great solo stuff since, there’s no argument about that; but let’s be honest here… most of that solo stuff has… well, sounded like Ben Folds Five anyway, hasn’t it? So it kinda made the break-up a bit of a moot point, to me anyway. Really, all that seemed to come out of it was that Darren Jessee, the drummer and sometime songwriter of Ben Folds Five seemed to slip into obscurity.
That was, until I heard his new project, Hotel Lights.

Hotel Lights is a bit more introspective than your average Ben Folds Five stuff was… but Jessee’s trademark touch in his songwriting is unmistakable, and hearkens back to that previous band at its best. This single, “Firecracker People”, is the title track of Darren’s new album, and it’s a great tune. Here’s hoping to more like this from Hotel Lights.

Listen: Hotel Lights – Firecracker People

Capital Road – Little Child

Capital Road
Capital Road (image credit: Shelby Grubbs)

So after my Pete Francis Live Music Friday post, an email hit my inbox telling me that I should check out some tunes from Capital Road, as I may like their music. And you know what? I really do.

Now, my love for Dispatch is no secret. One of my favourite bands of all time, Dispatch will always have a soft spot in my heart. And when they broke up, I thought I would never hear music such as their’s again. And then came along Capital Road.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s early days yet in our relationship, and I’m not saying that Capital Road can fill Dispatch’s shoes, by any means; the guys still have a lot of maturing, as a band, to do before we get to that stage. But I definitely feel something there, an ember that might become a flame.

Fact is though, that the fact that these boys sound exactly like Dispatch (and I’m not kidding here, close your eyes and you could picture yourself listening to early Dispatch) is going to be a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing, in the fact that they’ll find a ready-made audience, in old Dispatch fans like me, that are desperate to hear anything that reminds us of Pete, Chad and Brad. But it’s also a curse, in that they’re going to have to be careful not to fall into that trap forever; otherwise they might become something of a tribute band, and I can sense that there’s so much more to offer from Capital Road, so I really hope that they’re cognisant of that fact.

The song below, “Little Child”, is taken from their “It’s All Gravy” EP,  which is out now. I’ll be watching these guys with interest.

Listen: Capital Road – Little Child

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Thank jeebus… The new album from The Verve actually sounds pretty good.

The Verve - Forth


You know, oftentimes when band’s reform, they simply rest on their laurels and end up reliving their glory days, touring and touring on old material.
Not The Verve though. The Verve have put themselves out there, and recently released their new album, entitled “Forth“. And damned if I’m not enjoying this one.

This, the band’s fourth album, is a return to their more psychedelic sounding tunes… with Ashcroft meandering through a swirling world of coloured clouds, and guitarist Nick McCabe laying down some serious aural layers… a wall of sounds that envelops you.
I’m going to be bluntly honest; it’s not going to appease all their fans (and particularly not the “Bittersweet Symphony” crowd), but nor is it supposed to. It’s a brave reappearance from a band that refuse to rest on nostalgia.

And it’s great.

The Verve have kindly created a widget for us music bloggers to embed, so check it out below.

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Joseph Arthur – Temporary People

Joseph Arthur
Joseph Arthur (self-portrait)

Once upon a time, Joseph Arthur was one of my favourite artists, right up there with Ryan Adams. But then, something happened. I don’t know what it was, and I’m not pointing any fingers here… after all, it might just have been the case that we were growing apart. People do that, you know, and it sucks when it happens… but it does. It’s not anyone’s fault. It just is.
So Joseph and I parted ways… although I always eagerly awaited new releases from him, hoping that something, anything would rekindle that feeling that we once had.

But releases after releases came, and nothing connected.

That is, until I finally heard the “Temporary People” single today. It’s the first thing I’ve heard from Joseph Arthur that I’ve liked in… well, a long time. And damn. What a way to come back man.
Pull up a chair, let’s crack open a beer like old times. Good to have you back.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Joseph Arthur – Temporary People

“Temporary People”, Joseph Arthur’s seventh full-length studio album (and second with backing band The Lonely Astronauts) is slated for release September 30. Guess who’ll get a copy?

2008 releases artists artists to watch for in 2009 digital downloads guitar music music videos

Stop the presses. aKING is South Africa’s next big thing.

… And yes, I know exactly what a huge statement that is to make. But I’m making it anyway. Only a band that excited me this much could have brought me out of my semi-hiding on this blog. I heard them, and I simply had to get out a post straight away.
God, I’ve missed that feeling.


South African Band aKING


 So, here’s the deal, in a nutshell. I noticed that an old buddy of mine, Dave Macmillan, was proclaiming his love for a band that I hadn’t even heard about, called aKING. Now, those who have read this blog for quite a while might remember Dave Mac’s name; that’s because I mentioned him in my list of “30 South African Bands you NEED to hear!” post, back last year. So, when someone like Dave is impressed by a South African band, you might say that I pay attention. And I’m stoked that I did.

Turns out that I did actually know aKING somewhat; two of their members are from a South African band that I had some major respect for back when I was living there, called Fokofpolisiekar. Fokofpolisiekar were, always, uncompromising musicians… as could be discerned from their choice in band name. Fokofpolisiekar“, in Afrikaans, literally translates to “Fuckoffpolicecar. So it’s really no surprise that Hunter Kennedy and Jaco Venter, both Fokofpolisiekar members, have another band that shares this uncompromising position on music. Having joined with friends Laudo Liebenberg and Hennie van Halen, the creative culmination that is aKING is, quite simply, inspiring.
The music is a fusion of and classic rock, riddled with wry (in fact, often downright cycnical) observations, that somehow still remains positive.

Earlier this year, the band released their debut album “Dutch Courage”, and it’s some of the most exciting stuff I’ve heard out of South Africa in ages. My love for South African music is, of course, no secret… but apart from a select few bands, in the last year, I’ve become increasingly worried about the musical output that I’ve heard from SA. And that’s not to say that it’s bad, by any means… but there’s this homogenisation that seems to be spreading through the bands starting out there, and that worried me. aKING might just be the band to change all that. Their music’s certainly marketable, and there’s no pretension about that; these guys are out to be heard, and they know what they have to do to achieve that. Even the tune “Guilty as Sin”, one of their most mainstream songs (and yes, it is mainstream), has a bridge that simply comes out of nowhere. Seriously… wait until that 2:00 minute mark. You’ll see what I mean.

But it’s singles such as “Safe As Houses”, that are shining lights, proof that they have no fear to step outside what is comfortably heard in SA. Watch the music video below…

I’m seriously hoping for great things from these guys… they deserve it.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: aKING – Safe as Houses
Listen: aKING – Shine Your Light
Listen: aKING – Guilty as Sin

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Death Cab for Cutie, live at the Tivoli in Brisbane

Unfortunately, and in keeping with the general lack of time around these parts lately, this post might need to be a bit short. But on Friday night, I saw one of my top 5 shows that I’ve ever seen at the Tivoli… Death Cab for Cutie. And what a set it was.

An Horse
An Horse kicked off the night…

The night was started off by Brisbane band, An Horse, who I’m surprised that I hadn’t heard before. Suffice to say, this duo (Kate Cooper and Damon Cox) opened up the night in cracking form, and the crowd was very receptive to them. Although their music often comes across as a sheer wall of sound, after a while the intricacies of their tunes begins to dawn on you. And, just a personal observation here, but Damon was possibly one of the tightest drummers I’ve ever seen perform at The Tivoli. No shit.
Anyway, the main takeaway from these guys show? If you get a chance to see them play live, grab it with both hands. It was impressive to say the least.
I’ve included one of their tunes below, as a taster… their cracking tune, “Warm Hands“, which drew some major applause from the audience. You can tell from this track why these guys have opened for such bands as Tegan and Sara, and… of course… Death Cab.

Listen: An Horse – Warm Hands

Death Cab for Cutie at the Tivoli in Brisbane
Death Cab came onto the stage to thunderous applause…

When Death Cab for Cutie came on the stage, at around 9.30pm, the atmosphere was electric. The Tiv was pumping, and, on a side note, was containing easily the most amount of “OC fanbois and girls” that I’ve ever seen in one single point. The place was a literal sea of Seths and Summers.
Finally, the lights dimmed, and Gibbard et al entered the stage… and launched into, what else… but Bixby Canyon Bridge. From the first note, you could tell that the show was going to be special. Chris Walla was simply incendiary from the get-go, and Ben was bubbling with energy.
Thanks to Gary taking along his new camera, we actually have quite a bit of footage from the night, and I’ve included the “Bixby Canyon Bridge” performance below.

Death Cab for Cutie opening the night at the Tivoli, with “Bixby Canyon Bridge”

Despite some early teething problems with the sound levels (as can be seen at times in the above video), Death Cab were the ever-consummate professionals, giving everything in their performance… and soon the problems were sorted out.

Death Cab for Cutie at the Tivoli in Brisbane
Death Cab wowing the crowd at the Tiv…

I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that – although this tour was ostensibly in support of their “Narrow Stairs” release – the set list that night consisted of songs from a number of their past releases, and wasn’t too heavily focused on their latest album. I have to admit, I blissed out a bit at one point (as I am wont to do at gigs), so instead of a breakdown of each song’s performance, here’s the band’s set-list from the night (with the track’s album included in parenthesis):

Death Cab for Cutie, live at the Tivoli in Brisbane, 22 August 2008 Setlist

1. Bixby Canyon Bridge (Narrow Stairs)
2. The New Year (Transatlanticism)
3. Why You’d Want to Live Here (The Photo Album)
4. Crooked Teeth (Plans)
5. Long Division (Narrow Stairs)
6. Grapevine Fires (Narrow Stairs)
7. A Movie Script Ending (The Photo Album)
8. Company Calls (We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes)
9. Title Track (We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes)
10. Soul Meets Body (Plans)
11. I Will Follow You Into the Dark (Plans)
12. I Will Possess Your Heart (Narrow Stairs)
13. Cath… (Narrow Stairs)
14. No Sunlight (Narrow Stairs)
15. Sound Of Settling (Transatlanticism)
16. Marching Bands of Manhattan (Plans)


17. Your Bruise (Something About Airplanes)
18. Title and Registration (Transatlanticism)
19. 405 (We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes version)
20. Your Heart is an Empty Room (Plans)
21. Transatlanticism (Transatlanticism)

Highlights of the night, for me? Well, apart from the cop-out answer of “Everything!”, I’d have to say that I went into the night hoping to hear 3 songs; “Cath…“, “I Will Follow You Into The Dark“, and “405“… and each of those songs were simply amazing. Particularly the tender “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”, which was dedicated to opening band “An Horse”, and had the entire crowd singing along with each and every syllable.

Death Cab for Cutie performing “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” live at the Tivoli.

Following that? The closing number of “Transatlanticism”. To be honest, it’s never been one of my favourite tunes, but the performance that night was simply electric. The energy and passion of the band was, quite simply, astounding. When Ben started plaintively crying “I need you so much closer!“, there truly was a feeling that something special was happening there that night… and we were carried away in a wave of emotion, riding Death Cab’s anger, pain, love and passion all in one movement. It’s a song that I’ll remember for a while, of that I have no doubt. Here it is, below.

Death Cab closing the night at the Tiv with a killer performance of “Transatlanticism”

Anyway… sorry there isn’t more detail in this post, but the problem with seeing a show on Friday, and then not posting until Monday due to being away from the computer is that you forget the small details. All that is left is that overwhelming, all-consuming feeling that you witnessed something special that night, and that – no matter how hard you try – you won’t be able to communicate just how it felt to someone else, unless they’d been there.

Yeah. That pretty much sums it up quite nicely, actually.

2008 releases artists digital downloads guitar music videos

Drips and Drabs…

Here’s me, not one post earlier, saying that things were going to be quite around here for the next week or two. Yet here I am, putting up a second post today! Truth is, I’ve had an unexpected opening in my schedule, and with a spare hour before my next meeting now, I thought I might as well quickly give a round-up of odds and ends… in case they slip my mind in the coming weeks. So, here you go:

Elvis Perkins in Dearland – Weeping Pilgrim

Elvis PerkinsI only recently was exposed to this song, “Weeping Pilgrim” from Elvis Perkins, which will appear on the forthcoming “Help Me To Sing” compilation album.
What do you need to know about it? Not much… save for the fact that it’s a cracking tune of longing and struggle, that is everything music should be. Seriously. There’s an indomnitable spirit to this song that simply cannot be beaten down. Listen to this and love it.

Listen: Elvis Perkins in Dearland – Weeping Pilgrims

Speaking of Elvis Perkins, I only recently stumbled across a Black Cab Session that featured him, so here it is…




Nate from “The Format” Returns With A New Tune

FunOne of the most popular posts on this blog – not in terms of comments, because… well… there are none – but in terms of pageviews, is my past post about The Format breaking up. ‘Twas a sad day indeed when the talented duo called it quits… but it seems Nate Reuss couldn’t stay away too long, and has popped up again on my radar in a new outfit, simply entitled “fun. In their inaugeral Myspace post, Nate wrote:

The day after The Format had broken up, I already knew that I couldn’t just call it quits. I wasn’t ready to give up music. I had a handful of songs that I was convinced were the best songs I’d written and I don’t think that I would have been able to live with myself if I had just left them to evaporate somewhere in the back of my mind. I don’t even think I had told my mother of the band’s demise before I made the two phone calls that set the amazing events of the past few months in motion.

And with that, he was back. The band currently have a demo up on their Myspace page, called “Benson Hedges” and it’s… well, it’s pretty cool. It’s great to hear Nate’s distinctive voice again, and – most importantly – it sounds like he’s really having fun again.

Listen: fun – Benson Hedges (demo)


Preview of Okkervil River’s new “The Stand Ins” release

Okkervil RiverYou know, I freaking love Jagjaguwar. Any time a label understands the new world that is internet music and engages music bloggers, it gives me the warm fuzzies all over. Jagjaguwar are offering up “Lost Coastlines” – a track from Okkervil River‘s forthcoming “The Stand Ins” album – for free download, which I’ve linked to below.
I have to say, the album was actually leaked a while ago, prior to mastering, and I heard a few tunes from it… and it’s absolutely kicks ass. It’s exactly what we need from Okkervil River, and this track demonstrates why.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Okkervil River – Lost Coastlines



More random links

— Related to the Okkervil River tune above, Dave over at Rawkblog posted possibly one of the best music posts I’ve read all year revolving around Okkervil River’s new release. It’s sheer honesty, and it validates why I’ve had him in my reader for a while. Read it here.

— One of the most prolific music bloggers I know, Matt over at has finally hopped onto the twitter bandwagon. If you’re into that sort of thing, you can follow him here. (Speaking of which, you can also follow me here… if you’re interested).


Ok, seriously, that will be it for a while now. You all play nice now… and, until next time… Be lucky.

2002 releases 2005 releases 2008 releases artists concerts digital downloads guitar music

Jason Mraz, live at the Tivoli in Brisbane

It’s been a while, I know… but hey, as some would say, “Shit got real“, you know? And, unfortunately, blogging has had to take a second seat lately. Hopefully, this won’t be the case for too much longer… but for the next week, at least, things will continue to be pretty quiet around here.
That said, I had to make an exception and put up a quick post today to let you know that last night, I managed to catch a cracking set from Jason Mraz, live at the Tivoli in Brisbane.

Those of you who have read this blog for a while will recall that this is the 2nd time this year that I’ve seen Jason play at the Tiv… see my past post here: Mr A to the Z and Friends… at the Tivoli.
This show was slightly different, in that instead of just being Jason, Toca, Ian and Mike, this tour saw Jason Mraz bring his his entire band with him; including the three-piece horn section (the Grooveline Horns), which I was greatly excited about.

The night was opened by Melanie Horsnell. Now, I have to admit, I haven’t heard Melanie play before, but I was really impressed with her set. She has this really vulnerable, emotive voice, that sucks you right in.

Melanie Horsnell
Melanie Horsnell, live at the Tivoli

 (Side note: yes, that was taken with my now-legendary crappy phone camera. The good news is, I managed to get some better quality pics from my wonderful sister, so those following in this post are hers. Ignore the date and time-stamps on her pics though… those are incorrect on her camera)

Melanie played a great set, and was well-received by the crowd. Her new album, “Complicated Sweetheart”, will be available from September 6, and it just might be one that I check out. If you’re after folk blended with 60s pop, then you probably should too.

Listen: Melanie Horsnell – I Just Want Some Love

At around 9.30, Jason Mraz took the Tivoli stage, and the excitement was palpable… not least of which from my sister (hi Cara!), who hadn’t seen Jason perform live before.
There was definitely a party mood in the Tiv last night; so, in contrast to the last time I saw Jason play – which included many of his slower numbers – last night was almost solely made up of upbeat, party numbers… and the crowd responded in kind.

Tivoli packed to the rafters
The Tivoli, packed to the rafters to see Jason Mraz perform live.

Jason Mraz, with the full band in tow, came out and opened the set with the prerequisite “Remedy“, and the crowd absolutely exploded. Combining “The Remedy” with a medley of “Wonderwall“, the crowd was jiving from the get-go. Quickly following on from that opening number, the band launched directly into “Make It Mine“, the opening track from Jason’s “We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things” album – the album they were promoting on this tour –  and I’ve got to say… although I’ve been undecided about this song in the past, seeing it live absolutely put those concerns to bed for me… it was a killer tune, that really loosened up the crowd.

Jason Mraz and full band

Following on from “Make It Mine“, Jason kept the energy high will the tune, “Live High; one of my favourite tracks off the new album, and one that I highlighted back in this past post: “Mr A – Z… yes I’m excited“. I’d highly suggest that you check that post out, if only for the killer La Blogotheque video of Jason performing “Live High” live.
After “Live High“, it was time for “Only Human“… and it was particularly during this track that it him me again (as it always does, when I watch Jason live)… the guy has one of the most powerful live voices that I’ve ever heard. It can be soft, tender, or hard-hitting… but whatever it is, it never loses that purity and clarity that Jason is so well known for.

Also – and anyone who was there last night, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong here… because I did kind of “bliss out” on the music at points, and I might have this wrong here – but at one point, the Grooveline Horns came out into the crowd, under the cover of darkness, and I think it was during “Only Human”. Suddenly, the spotlights came on, and there were the three of them, spread out around the Tivoli, amongst the crowd… and I can’t tell you what a great moment it was. As with most Jason Mraz shows… it really made you feel a part of the action; as if this was a collaborative effort, where everyone was involved.

Grooveline Horns in the crowd
Grooveline Horns in the crowd

After “Only Human”, the rest of the band headed off the stage, and Jason and Toca did a stripped-down version of “A Beautiful Mess“… and it was simply beautiful. Melanie then was called back on stage, for Jason and her to perform”Lucky“… and she excelled herself as a makeshift Colbie Callait.

Jason And Melanie
Jason and Melanie perform “Lucky”

Following on from that, things were picked right back up with “If It Kills Me“, which had all the couples in front of us swooning and swaying with much love… Jason would have been proud.

After that, the band performed a birthday jam for all of those celebrating birthdays that night. It might be 2 weeks early, but Happy Birthday Cara!
The crowd was again called on to participate, with orchestrated dancing during the “impossible-not-to-groove-to” tune, “The Dynamo of Volition”. Seeing everyone putting their hands up, and giving high-fives and high-tens in unison… it was a great moment, and one that you would be hard-pressed to find at many other gigs apart from a Mraz night. As Jason said:

“Don’t let your mind stop you from having fun.You know, you might have been at home, trying to figure out what to wear tonight. If you’re a girl, you might have tried on five pairs of shoes. And you come here, thinking you’re going to tear it up! But as soon as you walk in suddenly you think… be cool.
Don’t. Don’t let your mind tell you what to do. Just have fun, in the now. Don’t worry about what other people think. Besides, it’s dark, you don’t even know these other people. So I want to see those hands in the air!”

And everyone certainly responded… the place was, as one… heaving. And it was awesome.

High 5 all round
The crowd at the Tivoli, waving theirhands in the air like they just didn’t care.

Following on from that, the band launched into the song which probably recieved the loudest roar of the night, “I’m Yours“.
Again, love was flowing in the Tiv last night, that was for sure. Mraz and Co. then segued directly into the Bob Marley classic, “Three Little Birds“, and then finally ended off the set with the cracking tune, “Butterfly“.

Except, of course, that wasn’t the end. If I was slightly disappointed by the lack of older material during the show, the obligatory encore more than compensated in that department.
Opening the encore with the opening track from the “Mr. A-Z” album, “Life is Wonderful“, this could perhaps have been my favourite performance of the night… which is strange, as it’s by far my favourite tune from Jason’s albums.
Following in the “older tunes” vein, the band then launched into “No Stopping Us“, from the “Waiting for My Rocket to Come” album.
And the song to close the entire night? What else? What could be more perfect than “Geek In The Pink“… nothing, that’s what.


And that sums up what the entire night was. Perfection.
Thanks again to Jason Mraz and his Superband for allowing us to be a part of it.

Listen: Jason Mraz – Geek In The Pink

2005 releases 2008 releases artists artists to watch for in 2009 digital downloads guitar music Under The Radar

High On Stress… Under The Radar.

Under The Radar is a column inspired by material sent in by the readers of Burgo’s Blog, alerting me to music that I may not have otherwise heard. If you’d like to let me know about some of your favourite tunes that I may not know about, then drop a line to the email address listed on the “About” page.


In the course of doing this gig (and by “doing” I mean “writing”, and by “gig” I mean “blog”), I come across a lot of new music, and a large percentage of that is via suggestions that come in from my readers… whether it’s an email, or a comment left here or there, the readers of this blog have turned me on to some great tunes.
As I’ve said before – in fact, in my last “Under the Radar” post – some of the suggestions are… well, ok. Some are good. Some are great. And some are special.
One of those special ones recently landed in my inbox, and inspired me to bring the “Under the Radar” category back out of the closet. A gold nugget of a band called “High On Stress”.


High On Stress - Under The Radar…


When I first heard “High On Stress”, a smile spread across my face within the first few seconds of the song starting. There’s this undeniable influence from The Replacements in their tunes, and a Paul Westerberg-like croon always reminds me of better days. Honestly, the songs I heard off their 2005 “Moonlight Girls” album sounded to me like it should have been placed on the “Can’t Hardly Wait” soundtrack, alongside Westerberg and Co. and Matthew Sweet… with a little of Uncle Tupelo thrown in for good measure. A more innocent time, for me at least; when anything was possible, and music was the frikkin’ saviour of the world.
In other words… it was extremely good times.

After spinning the disc a few times, I decided to ask lead vocalist/songwriter Nick Leet some questions, to find out more about the band. So, here you go…


Nick, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. So, first things first… I’ve been listening to “Moonlight Girls” on some pretty serious rotation for the last few days, and I’m absolutely loving it. Obviously, I’m hearing a pretty strong “Replacements” rock influence in your tunes, some Soul Asylum, and there’s also some newer tinges ala Whiskeytown in there. Do you think you could talk a little about the band’s influences, and what sort of role those influences played in the formation of the band?

Nick:  Thanks Matt.  I really appreciate that.  All of the bands you listed are influences.  We wear them on our sleeve I guess you could say.  We all are into a lot of different music but because of that I don’t think we sound like a cheap knockoff of anyone but more-so hopefully a buffet of goodness.

Burgo: Minneapolis – your current base – has always had a pretty strong music scene. Did that make it harder or easier to get your name out there?

Nick:  Minneapolis is a great place to be in a rock band.  There are so many cool bands here.  Many people that I know only buy local CDs because they feel like they get what they need from what they see around town.  I think in some aspects it makes it harder to get noticed because there ARE so many great bands but on the other hand everyone is so accepting and excited for new music that you can’t beat it.  I would highly recommend checking out MPLS bands like Romantica, the Hard Left, the Red Flags and Six Mile Grove.
(Ed’s note: Actually, check out my past post about Romantica here)

Burgo: Related to that, after listening to the scathing “Minot”, it’s pretty clear that you’re originally from North Dakota, right? How did you guys all meet up in Minneapolis?

Nick Indeed I am.  Ha.  Some things about it I have begun to appreciate but mostly it was pretty stifling to play music in that town unless you were playing punk rock or in a cover band.  Let’s just put it this way, I wouldn’t go back.  I met Mark through a “band wanted” sign I posted.  Jim was a co-worker and songwriter friend of mine and Chad is originally from Minot as well.


High on Stress
High on Stress are: Nick Leet, Mark Devaraj, Jim Soule & Chad Wheeling
(Image credit: Steve Cohen)


Burgo: One of the reasons I really enjoy listening to High On Stress is the way that you guys obviously value lyrics that make you think, that actually say something (in particular, the wry “Gold Star” gets me). Are there any authors/other sources that you draw inspiration from when it comes to getting the lyrics down?

Nick:  My favorite lyricist is Blake Schwartzenbach.  He was the singer and guitarist of Jawbreaker and Jets to Brazil.  He’s currently not making music which is very sad.  The dude could make simple words sound like a goldmine.  As far as sources, my inspirations stem back to whatever is going on with me.  Some advice I got awhile back is to “write what you know.”  If you do that people can relate to it and in the process I can get it out of my system as well.  Everyone wins…unless you think we suck.

Burgo: So most of what I’ve heard so far is based on your 2005 release, “Moonlight Girls“, but I’ve also heard the single entitled “Cop Light Parade“… the title track from your upcoming album, due out in September I believe? So let’s move on to that… first off, “Cop Light Parade” is a cracking tune, and it bodes well for the release. Care to tell us a bit more about the album? Has it been wrapped already, what should we expect?

Nick:  The album is in the can and will be released into the abyss on September 2nd.  We’ve worked really hard on this record and feel it’s a step forward from “Moonlight Girls.”  There are a few more guitar solos (without going on a wankfest) and some really great harmonies from bassist, Jim Soule.  If you liked “Moonlight Girls” you will probably like “Cop Light Parade” as well.

Burgo: “Cop Light Parade” seems to have some major Whiskeytown influences in it… that sweeping chorus, in particular, recalls hints of Whiskeytown’s “Crazy About You” for me. Did Adams et al. play a part in the formation of the record?

Nick I’m a fan of the music of Ryan Adams.  Sometimes his antics overshadow what he is trying to do which I think hampers him in a lot of ways.  His self promotional machine I think is detrimental to his career.  With that said, we like his songs but we really weren’t thinking “let’s write a Whiskeytown sounding song.”  We’ll take it though.  :)

Burgo: Finally, want to pimp any of your upcoming shows?

Nick September 5th at the Fine Line in Minneapolis we are having our CD release show for “Cop Light Parade.”  We’ve got a great line-up.  Romantica (Top 100 albums of 2007 – Paste Magazine), the Snaps (featuring members of the Flamin’ Ohs – Mn Rock Hall of Famers) and Slim Dunlap (former guitarist of the Replacements)

(Ed’s note: With a line up like that, you’d be pretty brain dead not to head across to the Fine Line on September 5th for High On Stress’s CD release. Check out their calender item for more info about the night, but whatever you do… get there)


I’ve included three “High On Stress” songs below. The first two are taken from their 2005 release,  “Moonlight Girls; the brilliant “You Have Conversations With Jesus“, and – perhaps my favourite – “Gold Star“. The third, and final tune, is the title track from their upcoming album, “Cop Light Parade“. If I wasn’t slightly disadvantaged by way of being based in Australia, I’d definitely try and check these guys out live… and you should too.

Listen. Love. Support.


Listen: High On Stress – You Have Conversations With Jesus
Listen: High On Stress – Gold Star
Listen: High On Stress – Cop Light Parade