I know everyone has been asking about it, so I just wanted to finally release this photo I snapped from when we had a few of the Presidents over to our practice space, The Hideout. So here it is:
It was a pretty fun day, although we did spend quite a bit of time explaining our digital cameras to Taft and Lincoln. They were fascinated. What a couple of dorks! JFK, however, was far more interested in trying to get Smitty to play “Bulls On Parade” about 4 million times in a row. And of course, LBJ, as exemplified here, was just oozing creepiness all day. He kept asking to try on Jeff’s pants. He said he liked “the way the crotch looked”. Despite their flaws, the Presidents were a blast to chill with, and I hope we can have them over again some time soon. And as soon as we finish editing it, we’ll put out the video of all of us jamming on “No Woman, No Cry”. You wouldn’t believe Taft’s Bob Marley impression – uncanny.
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out our new EP, Presidential Lovefest.
The Van Burens’ second EP Presidential Lovefest is available in its entirety here on this website right now! Listen with our media player to the right; click the album title to head over to our Band Camp page where you can buy it name-your-price. The band is pretty psyched about the album; we worked long and hard on it, as we’re proud of the result. Let us know what you think! Leave a comment or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter (@thevanburens). The Van Burens are currently hunkered down finishing up our Kickstarter prizes, planning an April tour, and considering our next recording project. Wow! Give a listen to Presidential Lovefest and hit us up!
The Van Burens are kicking off our Presidential Lovefest EP release tour at Wonder Bar in Allston tomorrow night, followed by shows at Scores in Keene, NH (Thursday). The Dutch Treat in Franconia, NH (Friday) and Penuche’s in Concord, NH (Saturday). We will be debuting our second EP (listen to the sneak preview tracks here!) with a kickoff party unlike any other; we will play the Presidential Lovefest tracks live along with a super-fun set of Van Buren favorites. We’ve been locked in rehearsals with our horn section and lighting crew getting our act together, and the VBs guarantee this party will be insanely festive ‘n’ funky. The band will be joined by the Goods at Wonder Bar; our set starts at 9. Click here for the Boston FB event, click here for the tour FB. The Van Burens are very excited about the tour and proud of our new album, and we can’t wait for you all to hear it. Come party!
The Van Burens are wicked psyched; we’re only a week away from the release of our second EP, Presidential Lovefest. The new album is a culmination of four years writing, performing, and recording a fun, colorful set of tunes that capture the Van Burens’ buoyant live energy as well as our meticulous attention to every audio detail. There are groovin’ beats, sweet licks, tasty harmonies, catchy hooks, and surprises galore; and the vibrant album art by Caleb Williamson brings to life our EPs’ theme of a Presidential bash featuring all of history’s greatest Party-Animals-in-Chief. Click Caleb’s scene at the top of the page to get info and the FB event for our Presidential Lovefest tour of love; we’ll be at Wonder Bar in Allston on Wednesday 2.12.14 followed by three nights across the Granite State.
The Van Burens are very proud of our new record and we want every human on Earth to hear it (and animals too, both domesticated and wild). BONUS: What’s this, you can listen to two tracks from Presidential Lovefest right now? Simply click here to visit our BandCamp site, where you can hear “Trick Dick” and “Reagan.” Put on your boogie shoes! We hope you like it, and can’t wait for you to hear the rest. Make sure to look for the full EP next week and join us on the Presidential Lovefest tour!
A few months back on this blog, we discussed the unique place of Radiohead in the world of modern rock; they are one of a few bands of such musical power and respect that the highbrow genres of classical and jazz have taken to covering the band’s songs. Radiohead tunes usually feature interesting chord progressions, unusual arrangements, dark cryptic lyrics, and the singular melodic sense of singer Thom Yorke; theirs is music is of great depth, perfect for exploration by musicians of all styles and backgrounds. The Van Burens’ new friend DJ cRAIG mITCHELL turned us on to a great Radiohead tribute album that he was spinning before our show at Red Square in Burlington this weekend, and we listened to the whole thing on the ride home. Check out some of these great tracks from Exit Music: Songs with Radio Heads, each with a different take that speaks to the universality of the band’s music.
You gotta hand it to the Thin White Duke: the dude knows how to write a tune. The Van Burens have a blast covering David Bowie’s classic “Let’s Dance”; it’s an awesome mix of hypnotic, driving funk and Bowie’s British folk rock crooner roots. Like many great Bowie songs, “Let’s Dance” shows off both sides of Bowie’s complex vocal character: his cool, detached baritone voice (sometimes the title lyric sounds liked a bored suggestion); and his emotional tenor (other times the title lyric is an impassioned call to arms). Bowie’s ability to inhabit different personae goes hand-in-hand with his songs, which are often musically adventurous mini-operas of tender, quiet moments and bombastic climaxes.
Van Buren five-star approved band The Bad Plus brings out the drama of Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” from their album Prog. Listen for the ever-rising, never-ending melody of the Bowie tune, first played by the upright bass amidst a deafening quiet before the piano picks it up and improvises, then builds on it to an insane crescendo.
Bowie’s ability to write a lengthy, progressive melody is found in “The Man Who Sold the World” here covered by an unplugged Nirvana, bringing the perfect disaffected, high-strung-but-sedated energy.
The Wes Anderson movie “The Life Aquatic” featured Bill Murray in a little red hat wresting with sharks, Somali pirates, and middle age as well as Brazilian singer/songwriter Seu Jorge popping up in scenes, playing acoustic, Portuguese covers of Bowie tunes. His take on “Space Oddity” is to my ear a tribute to Bowie’s progressive storytelling: even in an unfamiliar language the feeling comes across.
And of course, there’s this incredibly Bowie-esque Bowie tribute:
And then, again, the was the time Ricky Gervais’ “Extras” character met Ziggy Stardust himself in the VIP lounge and Bowie wrote a great song about him.
Come rock out ‘n’ get your dance on at the best venue in Massachusetts’ best music town when the Van Burens bring their (our) signature funk (music) to Bishop’s Lounge in Northampton. Bishop’s is a sharp, sleek, hip bar/club/venue perfect for energetic live music, and the Van Burens will no doubt “bring it” this soon-to-be-fine Saturday evening. Click the link for the FB event and more info, and keep your ears tuned for the Van Burens’ second EP due out Presidents’ Day/Valentine’s Day Weekend.
Our forthcoming album is out of mixing and into mastering (huuuuge step) and we can’t wait for you all to hear it. Not to toot the collective VB horn, but the EP sounds awesome: toot, toot. We will be taking the fresh tracks (and our horn section and light show) on a tour around New England that very P-Day/V-Day Weekend, and we hope you all come out to celebrate our first official recording in four (!) years (click the fantastic Caleb Williamson banner at the top of the page for more info). It’s been a long time brewing, but totally worth it. Here’s the VB reaction when the album finally comes out:
But we won’t let it go to our heads:
People of Maine! And elsewhere! Catch the Van Burens live this weekend when we return to Vacationland (that is, the state of Maine) for a couple of super-fun gigs. We’ll be back at the Mad Hatter in beautiful Bar Harbor on Friday night, then rock the casbah at Sugarloaf’s The Rack BBQ on Saturday. Click the links for the FB events and more info.
Also! Mark your calendars: the VBs’ second album is coming out Presidents’ Day Weekend! It sounds really good! We will be touring around New England in support of the disc, with shows in Boston (2.12), Keene (2.13), Franconia (2.14), and Concord (2.15). Keep your eyes and ears tuned for more details on our upcoming album release and tour.
P.S. : If any folk out there appreciate some good Maine-townie-themed- humor and don’t mind very, very naughty language and subject matter (NSFW), the VBs recommend “Temp Tales”
Merry Christmas, everyone! All month long this blog has been celebrating holiday music; we’ve discussed the the Worst Christmas songs (more than once), the oldest Christmas songs, the raciest Christmas songs, the funniest Christmas songs, the best Christmas album, and today we get to the grand finale: the best Christmas songs ever. Period. (Obviously, this is an incredibly subjective list based entirely on my own opinions; leave a comment if you agree or think I’m a holly jolly moron!)
My favorite Christmas tune is “O Holy Night”; it’s a tender spiritual ballad that builds into a bombastic cosmic celebration, kind of like “Stairway to Heaven” without the satanist black magic. It’s a little cheesy, but what’s Christmas without a little cheese? Here’s Andy Williams with a classic version.
“The Christmas Song” written by the Velvet Fog Mel Torme is one of the smoothest, jazziest Christmas songs. It has awesome lyrics (“kids from one to ninety-two”) and a brilliant melody that’s both surprising and completely natural. The Nat King Cole version of this tune can’t be topped:
Not many people recognize the song title “Angels We Have Heard On High” but it is one of the most famous and beautiful melodies of the season. The melisma (read: singing a lot of notes on a few syllables) on the word “Gloria” is goosebump-inducing. Here’s a great version from Irish boys choir Libera. This is what the VBs would sound like if we never hit puberty.
Some folks find the “Chipmunks Christmas Song” annoying, with it’s super-squeaky vocals and novelty song approach. But I find it charming. It’s maybe the most realistic Christmas song from the point of view of children: the Chipmunks are all about presents, and if they have to be nice to get presents, they are willing to make that sacrifice, but only for so long. Again, the melody is very catchy and well-crafted; the high point on “me, I want a hula hoop” is impossible not to sing along with.
Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas Song Video from 80′s Chipmunks Entertainment on Vimeo.
Not quite part of the Christmas song canon, John Denver’s “A Baby Just Like You” hits notes of joy and pathos that define the holiday. It’s a perfect, balanced, gem-like tune with a killer hook that Johnny (in his mom glasses) waits to unleash in this Muppets’ Christmas special.
The Van Burens have been digging into some great holiday songs on long December van rides. And while everyone has their own personal favorite Christmas tunes, for a start-to-finish holiday album, the VBs turn to the Vince Guaraldi trio’s 1965 classicA Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. Cool and tasty, like a candy-cane wearing sunglasses, Guaraldi’s tunes re-imagine the sound of Christmas; his jazzy chords and ultra-laid-back groove permeate the holiday with Charlie Brown’s existential detachment.
The playing from Jerry Granelli on drums and Fred Marshall on bass is a clinic on groovy “less-is-more,” and Granelli’s brushwork on the snare drum seems to suggest the sound of winter. The Peanuts theme “Linus and Lucy” is a fun, bouncy progressive cool-jazz opus played by an awesome band; it’s a legendary holiday toe-tapper.
Guaraldi’s tune “Christmas Time in Here” has become a beloved standard, with many cover versions, but the original is still tops. Maybe better than any Christmas song, this one finds the bittersweet in the holiday, again matching Charlie Brown’s ever-present ennui.
“Skating” and “Christmas is Coming” are both perfect funky tone-paintings. In “Skating,” the floating harmonies in the piano combine with the loping brushes to create the effect of gliding on ice; “Christmas is Coming” uses an anxious bass drone, eager chords, and an up-tempo beat to describe the childlike anticipation of the holiday.