Blog Archives

OK, this time it’s true (no, really): Polyphonic Spree album coming in August, not May. Also, tour dates!

The Polyphonic Spree

Hey, remember how we told you awhile back that The Polyphonic Spree would be releasing their new album, Yes, It’s True, in May? And hey, notice how it’s not May anymore? Well, turns out Spree frontman Tim DeLaughter may have been a little overly optimistic about when he could deliver his chamber-pop army’s next opus. But hey, “overly optimistic” sort of describes DeLaughter’s entire M.O., so we’ll let it slide.

Anyway, the new no-really-we-mean-it-this-time release date for Yes, It’s True is August 6th, so look for a review of it in these virtual pages sometime around that date—or as soon as Jake and I can tear ourselves away from the blissful euphoria of the Spree’s latest superhappyawesometime sound bath.

In other Spree news, the band is on tour as we speak, and we highly recommend checking them out. Revisit our review of their holiday show (complete with lots of shaky Instagram pics) for a sample of positive-vibe onslaught that awaits you at a Spree concert. They might not have Santa Claus with them this time around, but you never know.

The Polyphonic Spree 2013 Tour Dates:

6/28 — Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theater
6/29 — Kansas City, KS @ Kanrocksas
7/01 — Chicago, IL @ Park West
7/02 — Muskegon, MI @ Coast West Music Festival
7/05 — Philadelphia, PA @ Theater of The Living Arts
7/06 — Washington, DC @ Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
7/08 — Allston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
7/09 — Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
7/10 — New York, NY @ The Bowery Ballroom
7/26 — Ansan, South Korea @ Ansan Valley Rock Festival in South Korea
7/27 — Byron Bay, Australia @ Splendour In The Grass
8/04 — Dorset, UK @ Camp Bestival
8/09 — Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater
8/11 — Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
8/12 — Salt Lake City, UT @ The State Room
8/15 — Seattle, WA @ Neumos
8/16 — Vancouver, BC @ Venue Nightclub
8/17 — Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
8/19 — San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel
8/20 — Santa Ana, CA @ Observatory
8/22 — Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey
8/23 — San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
8/26 — Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress
8/27 — Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
8/29 — Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s
9/07 — Isle of Wight, UK @ Bestival

About these ads

It’s true: New Polyphonic Spree Album “Yes, It’s True” coming this May

polyphonicspree-yesitstrue2

Remember, kids: All good things come to those who Kickstart. Because we kicked down 15 bones to the Polyphonic Spree for their Kickstarter campaign, we get to hear the album we helped to fund before the general public does. They even just sent us an advance download of two tracks! Really, they’re giving more to us than we ever did to them. We feel all warm and fuzzy about it.

We’re not sure when exactly we’ll receive our very own CD copy (old school!) of Yes, It’s True, but the masses get to hear it on May 28. Sometime after that, we’ll all finally get to see the Polyphonic Spree concert film Kickstarter helped fund, too. Basically, 2013 is gonna be The Year of the Spree.

The Yes, It’s True tracklist is below. They sent us a copy of album opener “You Don’t Know Me” and while we can’t share it here (cuz that would be cheating*), we can tell you it’s trippy and anthemic and a shade or two darker than we’ve come to expect from the Spree. In other words, it’s awesome. They also sent us a non-album track called “You Plus Me” that we’re sorely tempted to post so we can put to rest once and for all any lingering debate over whether Tim DeLaughter’s merry band of Texas hippies is really all that “weird.” But we’ll resist. Put it this way: It’s basically nine minutes of abstract whooshes and reverb-soaked horns and kind of sounds like this one time at band camp when I tried to simultaneously huff nitrous and play “When the Saints Go Marching In.” (Kidding! I was never in band camp.)

1) You Don’t Know Me
2) Popular By Design
3) Hold Yourself Up
4) Carefully Try
5) You’re Golden
6) Heart Talk
7) Blurry Up The Lines
8) Let Them Be
9) Raise Your Head
10) What Would You Do?
11) Battlefield

*Turns out you can listen to it on Consequence of Sound. No cheating required!

Weird Live Review: The Polyphonic Spree

PolySpree0

This and other non-Instagrammed photos by Tom Domingues

Is there any band on the planet better-suited to putting on a Christmas concert than The Polyphonic Spree? Do I even have to answer that? This is a band that, even in non-Christmas mode, radiates so much joy to the world that they practically levitate off the stage. Slap a few Santa hats on them, and the joy is so intense you could probably weaponize it and have the entire nation of North Korea doing the “Gangnam Style” dance in the streets. So it’s about time that they finally released a Christmas album, Holidaydream, and took their semi-legendary annual Holiday Extravaganza concert on the road.

The first stop of the Holiday Extravaganza (Holivaganza?) tour was right here in Los Angeles this past Thursday night. Held at the usually dark and clubby Henry Fonda Theatre, it was a kid-friendly affair with unconventional opening acts (a magician, a children’s book author), people in Santa suits and giant snowman and reindeer costumes running around the crowd, printed programs with song lyrics, and a decidedly non-rock concert vibe. One friend of mine brought her seven-year-old daughter, who was happily tear-assing around the venue with another little girl with blinky lights on her shoes. At one point I spotted Spree frontman Tim DeLaughter in the audience, chillaxing and enjoying himself as much as everyone else. It was like being at a church social that just happened to have a full bar with six beers on tap.

The Spree played an early, holiday-themed set for the families and kids; then, after a couple of other musical acts (YouTube-famous folkie Gustafer Yellowgold and the punk-rock-meets-Blue-Man-Group racket of Street Drum Corps), they returned for an extended “rock set” that included old Spree standards like “Soldier Girl” and “Light & Day/Reach for the Sun.” Both sets featured balloon drops, confetti cannons, and loads of rowdy singing along—along maybe not as much singing along as DeLaughter was hoping for when he invited a bunch of the kids up on stage and launched into “Feliz Navidad.” Turns out most little kids whose parents have dragged them to a Polyphonic Spree concert don’t know the words to “Feliz Navidad.” Note to Tim: Try “Jingle Bells” next time. That’s every seven-year-old’s “Sweet Caroline.”

To the Spree’s credit, they didn’t stick to the obvious, feelgood Yuletide classics. Yes, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” and “Joy to the World” were practically meant to be played by an 18-piece rock orchestra, and they were suitably grandiose and exuberant. But an eerie, slightly atonal version of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” was also one of the highlights of the holiday set, as was the “Town Meeting Song” from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I also loved that they turned “Silent Night” into a harp solo so beautiful, it actually made you forget that “Silent Night” is one of the dreariest, most dirge-like Christmas carols of all time.

The latest incarnation of the Spree has been stripped down to a comparatively lean 18 members—or so my program tells me. Actually, I only counted 17 people onstage, but maybe the second guitarist was out sick or something. Even minus a French horn or two, they still managed to pump out quite the wall of sound.

The highlight of any Spree set, for me, is their electrifying cover of Nirvana’s “Lithium,” and the version on this tour, accompanied by a pink balloon drop, does not disappoint.

The only part of the show that was even better than “Lithium”? The milk and cookies they handed everyone in the lobby on their way out. Can all bands start doing this now, please?

The Polyphonic Spree Holiday Extravaganza is only playing four more cities: Chicago (Dec. 11th), Philadelphia (Dec. 14th), New York (Dec. 15th) and Dallas (Dec. 22nd). If you’re lucky enough to live in one of those places, go. What else are you gonna see this time of year? Mannheim Steamroller?

PolySpree1 Poly4-6 PolySpree2 PolySpree3 PolySpree4 PolySpree5 PolySpree6 PolySpree7 Poly4-5

Weirdify Playlist 12: Whack Christmas

Whack Christmas

It’s been way too long since we did a new Weirdify playlist, but there’s no better occasion for getting into the back into the swing of things than Christmas. You either love holiday music or you hate it—and if you’re like us, your opinion on the subject probably swings wildly between those two extremes depending on what they’re playing while you’re picking up your Zoloft at CVS. (Please, baby Jesus, no more Mariah Carey.)

Fortunately, there are approximately five gazillion metric fuck-tons of holiday and Christmas-themed recordings to choose from, and many—most, even—don’t involve Grandmas getting run over by reindeers or old classics getting run over by the melisma of former American Idol contestants.

So with our patron saint, Frank Zappa*, as our guide, we dove into Spotify with all the shopping-cart-filling zeal of a Black Friday shopper at Wal-Mart to bring you our final Spotify mix of 2012: “Whack Christmas.” It’s what we’re dreaming of. Soon, it’s what you’ll be dreaming of, too. Especially when you get to “Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey.” That shit is catchy!

Giddy up, giddy up, let’s go! (That’s Christmas-speak for, “Launch your Spotify player.” Or use the embedded player below. Cuz Spotify finally lets you do that now.)

*There’s no Frank Zappa on Spotify and, to the best of our knowledge, he never recorded any Christmas music. But if one of you Frank-ophiles out there cares to correct us, we’ll happily link to whatever Santa-related sonic mayhem he may have concocted.

Some notes on your listening experience:

1. Capital Kings, “Carol of the Bells.” You didn’t think we’d ease you into this mix gently, did you? Fuck no. You’re gonna start with a dubstep version of the most melodramatic Christmas carol of all time. When the bass drop hits, try crushing a carton of eggnog on your forehead. You’re feelin’ it now, bro!

2. Ronnie James Dio, Tommy Iommi, Rudy Sarzo, Simon Wright, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” This is from an album called We Wish You a Metal Xmas…and a Headbanging New Year! Need we say more? R.I.P., Holy Diver. (P.S. There might be another track from this album later in the mix. But you’ll just have to stick around to find out.)

3. Wesley Willis, “Merry Christmas.” I bet Wesley Willis gave great Christmas gifts. Or at least great Christmas head butts. We like this holiday a lot, too, Wesley!

4. Johnny MacRae, “Here Comes Fatty Claus.” You can find this on a delightful collection—sadly, not available on Spotify—called A John Waters Christmas. It kinda does for Christmas what Pink Flamingos did for overweight transvestites.

5. Randall Reed with the Forerunners, “The Peppermint Stick Man.” This unintentionally (we hope) child molestery Xmas original is from another worthy compilation called The American Song-Poem Christmas, a collection of amateur one-off singles recorded by would-be singer-songwriters and (we presume) very, very depressed session musicians. Here’s a tip for all you aspiring writers of children’s songs: Never use the word “erect” in a lyric.

6. Bob Dylan, “Here Comes Santa Claus.” Did you know Dylan released a Christmas album a few years back? It’s true. He also apparently smoked a carton of unfiltered Camels right before the recording sessions.

7. Afroman, “Police Blow My Wad.” This early ’00s novelty rapper took all the royalties from his one and only hit, “Because I Got High,” and blew them on a holiday album called A Colt 45 Christmas. And weed. Probably mostly on weed. This one is set to the tune of “Feliz Navidad”…get it? No? Smoke a bowl first and it’s hilarious. Trust us.

8. Elf-Elf and Dok-Im, “My Christmas Bells (Elf Vocal).” This might be Jake’s favorite rap song ever. Mashed potatoes!

9. The Jingle Punx, “It’s What I Got in My Sack.” Is there any better cure for too much shitty Christmas music than some good old-fashioned snot-punk? Also, he said “sack.” Heh-heh.

10. The Vandals, “I Don’t Believe in Santa Claus.” Next time someone asks you, “Hey, what’d you get me for Christmas?”…just play them this song. Unless you actually got them something. In that case…you know what? Play it anyway. ‘Cuz The Vandals rule.

11. Nerf Herder, “I’ve Got a Boner for Christmas.” Who needs “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” when we’ve got this romantic Yuletide ditty to keep us warm? Did you know “stocking” rhymes with “cock in”? Well, it doesn’t, really, but who cares? Let’s all get laid for Christmas!

12. Edmund Welles, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” Think of this as a little post-punk palette cleanser, courtesy of our favorite all-bass clarinet ensemble. Not weird, per se, but gosh-darned purty.

13. Tiny Tim, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Another track from A John Waters Christmas, starring the world’s greatest ukulele-strumming, falsetto-voiced, late-night TV cult hero. This old Christmas chestnut takes on new life when it’s sung by someone who sounds like he’s gargling with angels’ tears.

14. British Summer Time Ends, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” As we point out frequently on this blog: The ’80s were a weird decade. This track appears on a random 1987 compilation called Joyeux Noel that features John Zorn and a bunch of other bands we’d never heard of, including these British Summer Time Ends guys. We tried Googling them for like two hours and all we could come up with was this. If anyone knows more about them, share, please! ‘Cause this version of “I Saw Mommy” is pretty great.

15. Lou Monte, “Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey.” This 1960 novelty song regularly shows up on “Worst Christmas Songs Ever” lists. Which we think is pretty unfair, actually. When shit like our next song is still in circulation…

16. Bobby Boris Pickett, “Monster’s Holiday.” To be fair, it must have sucked being Bobby Boris Pickett. That dude was doomed to forever rehash his one and only hit. Still, can you imagine if today’s acts released Christmas-themed cash grabs this shameless? Oh, wait, they do. Don’t worry, we won’t taint this mix with any of that Bieber shit. We’ve got a much cooler child pop star…

17. Gayla Peevey, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” Little Gayla Peevey was only 10 years old when she recorded this novelty hit in 1953. By 18, she was a Lindsay Lohan-like coke whore running over valets outside Hollywood’s sleaziest nightclubs. Kidding! Actually, she changed her name to Jamie Horton and released a song called “Robot Man.” Beat that, Miley Cyrus.

18. RuPaul, “Santa Baby.” A drag queen singing a seduction song to Jolly Saint Nick? Sure, why the hell not? Much like RuPaul’s Drag Race (seriously, how is that thing on its fifth season?), it wears out its welcome pretty quickly, but hey, that’s what the skip button is for.

19. The Superions, “Crummy Christmas Tree.” So long as we’re in camp mode, let’s throw in a track by B-52′s frontman Fred Schneider’s Xmas-themed side project. If that sad tree from the Charlie Brown Christmas specials could sing…it would sound exactly like Fred Schneider. Who knew?

20. The Avalanches, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” There’s a whole, massive subgenre of surf-rock/beach-themed Christmas music, most of which is, frankly, kinda lame. But this instrumental version of the date-rapiest of holiday standards is kinda groovy, isn’t it?

21. The Klezmonauts, “Joy to the World.” Hey, all you “War on Christmas” conspiracy theorists, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: Most Jews actually love Christmas. Not the Jesusy, away-in-a-manger stuff so much. But Santa, the presents, the tree, the eggnog—they’re totally down. Neil Diamond didn’t record A Cherry Cherry Christmas because his Christian overlords at Columbia Records were holding a gun to his head. We’re sure the same holds true for The Klezmonauts, who recorded an entire album of klezmer-styled holiday standards under the obvious but genius title of Oy to the World. It’s like a delicious Hanukkah latke topped with figgy pudding instead of apple sauce.

22. Family Force 5, “Little Drummer Boy.” We interrupt this mix for a little Christian crunk rock. There’s actually an entire album of this shit, The Family Force 5 Christmas Pageant. But because we love you so much, we’re only gonna share with you this, the shortest track on the record. You’re welcome.

23. Soul Saints Orchestra, “Santa’s Got a Bag of Soul.” Let’s get the horrible sound of crunk rock out of our ears with a little funky ’70s soul, shall we? This is from an outstanding collection of rare-groove Christmas records called In the Christmas Groove. And we really can’t play it without playing the man it’s obviously cribbing from…

24. James Brown, “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto.” This isn’t even really the Godfather of Soul’s weirdest Christmas track…but we’re including it anyway, because it’s awesome.

25. Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, “Jingle Bells.” A reader named Trey suggested we check out Bela Fleck’s Jingle All the Way album. “Not the weirdest but definitely different,” he said. And honestly, we were skeptical—but then we stumbled across this banjo-and-throat-singing version of “Jingle Bells” and we were like, “Holy shit, Trey. You are a master of understatement.”

26. Alice Cooper, Billy Sheehan, John 5, Vinny Appice, “Santa Claus (Claws) Is Coming to Town.” OK, fine, we’ll throw in another track from We Wish You a Metal Xmas. Even though you’ve all been very naughty. We’ve got a list, too, y’know.

27. Psychostick, “Jingle Bell Metal.” You didn’t think we’d get through this whole mix without throwing in at least one metalcore freakout, did you? You know us better than that.

28. Insane Clown Posse, “Red Christmas.” Or an ICP song. There’s also gotta be an ICP song. Whether you like it or not. And we know that secretly, you kinda like it. It’s okay, we do, too. “I’m dreaming of a dead Christmas…”

29. Doctor Octoroc, “Have Yourself a Little Final Fantasy.” From the album 8-Bit Jesus. ‘Nuff said.

30. DEVO, “Merry Something to You.” When a Yuletide comes along, you must whip it. We spent about an hour throwing DEVO puns around and that was the best we could come up with. Sorry.

31. Heather Noel, “Santa Came on a Nuclear Missile.” We went back to the The American Song-Poem Christmas well for this bizarre little Cold War-era artifact. Ah, those were the days.

32. William Hung, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Among the many reasons American Idol sucks worse than ever these days, there’s this: That show has never produced another would-be contestant as delightfully terrible as William James Hung Hing Cheong. If it was nothing but tone-deaf wannabes with humorous foreign accents, we’d watch that shit all the time.

33. Eban Schletter, “Carol of the Bells.” When he’s not composing music for shows like Spongebob Squarepants, Eban Schletter records bizarre concept albums like Cosmic Christmas, which has something to do with a satellite that brings the spirit of Christmas to alien civilizations, but is mostly just an excuse for him to do theremin-and-analog-synth covers of old holiday warhorses like “Carol of the Bells.” Cosmic, man!

34. Angry Snowmans, “Drinkin’ Rum & Egg Nog.” A reader named David really wanted us to feature these guys. So here you go, David! Just remember to drink responsibly: After your fifth rum & eggnog, switch to brandy & eggnog.

35. MDC, “Black Christmas.” A little holiday nihilism, courtesy of the Bay Area punk band known alternately as Millions of Dead Cops or Multi-Death Corporation. On second thought, David, go ahead and drink yourself into oblivion. Damn, we’re all depressed now. But hey, I bet I know what would cheer us up…

36. Jingle Cats, “White Christmas.” Nope, that really didn’t help at all. Let’s try something else…

37. Sparks, “Thank God It’s Not Christmas.” Ah, much better. This is the venerable art-pop duo Sparks in full ’70s glam-rock mode. We’re not even sure what it really has to do with Christmas, but it’s just a great song.

38. The Polyphonic Spree, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Tim DeLaughter’s orchestral rock ensemble in full-on psych-rock mode, from their new Christmas collection, Holidaydream. If more Christmas carols were this creepy and minor-key, the holiday music at the mall might actually be bearable.

39. The Flaming Lips, “A Change at Christmas (Say It Isn’t So).” This isn’t really the Lips at their weirdest. But it’s certainly Wayne Coyne at his most awkwardly sincere. You’re not just a dreamer, Wayne. We believe it can all change! Even here at Weird Band HQ, we’re not above a little peace-on-earth sentimentality. In fact, after all the shitty Top 40 versions of “Frosty the Snowman” have faded, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

40. Barnes & Barnes, “I Had Sex With Santa.” Well, that and a few cheap laughs. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!

Polyphonic Spree bring a little holiday cheer to Leno

Photo: Steve Wrubel

Photo: Steve Wrubel

[Update: Video of the Spree's performance has been added to the end of this post. Scroll for the gold, people!]

Look, we know Jay Leno is the Grinch who stole The Tonight Show. But suck it up, Conan fans, and watch late-night television’s most lantern-jawed host just this once, because he’s got a special treat for you, in the form of a red-and-white robe bedecked orchestral pop ensemble churning out what will no doubt be the most euphoric rendition of “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” since the John and Yoko original.

Yes, the Polyphonic Spree are out promoting their new holiday album, Holidaydream, available now wherever fine Yuletide soundtracks are sold. They’re also doing a very limited December tour, which we’ll be covering later this week. The press release for the tour promises a holiday-themed variety show extravaganza that may or may not feature such delights as zoo animals and “tap-dancing grannies.” (No, really, the press release actually says “tap-dancing grannies.”) So stay tuned for our report and grainy Instagram photos, campers! This should be a fun one.

In the meantime, here are some Spree December tour dates:

Dec. 6 – Fonda Theater, Los Angeles, CA
Dec. 8 – Slim’s, San Francisco, CA
Dec. 11 – Logan Square Auditorium, Chicago, IL
Dec. 14 – Trocadero Theatre, Philadelphia, PA
Dec. 15 – Webster Hall, New York, NY
Dec. 22 – Lakewood Theater, Dallas, TX

And here’s a sample of Holidaydream: a lovely animated video for “Let It Snow,” one of 13 videos the band is rolling out Advent Calendar-style on their website. And yes, for once, we’re calling something “lovely” in a totally sincere and non-ironic way. Well done, Spree.

Update: The Spree’s Tonight Show performance is now available via Hulu and embedded below. It’s not quite as over-the-top as we were hoping for—they’ve stripped down to a comparatively lean 18 members—but it still puts us in the Christmas spirit way better than knocking over old ladies to get to the discount racks at JCPenney.

Look who’s on Kickstarter now: The Polyphonic Spree

Let’s make it rain for the Spree!

This Kickstarter thing is getting outta hand. Every time we turn around, another Weird List alumnus is passing the cyber-hat, looking to crowd-fund their latest folly. We’re not made of money, people!

But you know what? Fuck it. We should spend every nickel we earn from those stupid WordPress ads on our site to kick down some cash to artists like Anklepants, Christeene and Mission Man, because without them, this blog wouldn’t exist. So count us in for all your crazy Kickstarter campaigns, you broke-ass weirdos! And yes, that includes you, Polyphonic Spree. I just pledged 12 bucks and became backer #613. You’re welcome.

For those of y’all too lazy to watch the full video or read the breakdowns on the Spree’s elaborate and ambitious Kickstarter pledge drive, here’s the skinny: After laying pretty low for most of the past five years, Tim DeLaughter’s merry band of symphonic rock lunatics is gearing up to return with a vengeance in 2013. They plan to release a live album, a new studio album, a live concert/documentary DVD, and tour the globe—all with their usual contingent of 20-plus robe-wearing singers and violinists and piccolo players and whoever else they can cram onto their gigantic tour bus. Y’know, the usual Spree stuff.

Estimated cost: $100,000. Which sounds like a lot of money, I know. But if you think about it, that only comes out to like, four grand per Spreeling. Or to put it another way, about what Ashton Kutcher makes every two minutes on Two and a Half Men. So I’d say the Spree are keeping things downright frugal.

It’s also worth noting, since nearly everything that’s ever been written about Kickstarter seems to miss this point: The hundred G’s ain’t charity, folks. Everyone who pledges at least $10 gets something tangible in return, whether it’s a CD copy of the new studio album (which I’m getting for my $12 pledge), a digital “full meal deal” that includes downloads of both albums and the concert doc (for a very reasonable $35) or a “surprise handmade gift” from a member of the band (for a roll-the-dice $100—could be a doll made of pipe cleaners, could be a framed piece of art you’ll bequeath to your grandkids). So stop calling Kickstarter pledges “donations,” for fuck’s sake. The under $5 contributions could be described that way, but everyone else is paying in advance for a future service, just like you do when you buy concert tickets. Why so many people miss this crucial aspect of the Kickstarter economy (as when otherwise sensible media outlets refer to Amanda Palmer as a “Kickstarter millionaire”—like she fucking pocketed every penny from Kickstarter and paid for her albums and merchandise and touring expenses with elf farts) is beyond me.

Sorry…I’ll climb down off my soapbox now and just mention one last thing: The Polyphonic Spree also have a totally non-crowd-funded holiday album coming out. It’s called Holidaydream and you can read more about it (and pre-order a copy, if you’re so inclined) here. When do these guys sleep?

I’ll leave you with the rough-cut intro to that Spree concert doc DVD. Tim DeLaughter hearts you! Even if you don’t send him money. But probably more if you do.

More Polyphonic Spree tour dates

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

At long last, symphonic pop-rockers the Polyphonic Spree are returning to the West Coast! And it makes me smile.

Fresh off a handful of Midwest and Southern dates, Tim DeLaughter and his merry band of berobed cult members recently announced the West Coast leg of their You + Me tour, the band’s first in four years. Here in L.A., they’ll be playing the historic El Rey Theatre, where I have fond memories of jumping around like a lunatic to their cover of Nirvana’s “Lithium” the last time they played here. Ah, good times.

Here are the full dates:

March 29 — Phoenix, AZ — The Crescent Ballroom
March 30 — Tucson, AZ — Rialto Theatre
April 1 — San Diego, CA — House Of Blues
April 2 — Los Angeles, CA — El Rey Theatre
April 3 — San Francisco, CA — Great American Music Hall
April 5 — Portland, OR — Wonder Ballroom
April 6 — Seattle, WA — Neumos
April 7 — Vancouver, BC — Venue
April 10 — Denver, CO — Bluebird Theater

New Fumes, a new band from former Spree member Daniel Huffman, opens all dates.

We should also mention that the band just announced a winner in their fan-made video contest: Ben Rowe, whose trippy collage-animation clip for “What Would You Do?” took home top honors. We’re not sure what Rowe actually wins, apart from glory and a warm, fuzzy feeling, but maybe that’s enough.

Polyphonic Spree tour dates: Return of the 21-member Fragile Army

(photo: Patrick Cone)

Has it really been four years since the Polyphonic Spree last unleashed their joyful noise upon the indie-rock masses? No wonder we’ve been in a bit of a funk since 2008. We thought it was just the economy, but it turns out we’ve been deprived of our recommended dosage of euphoric, quasi-religious orchestral rock.

Well, finally, Tim DeLaughter is bringing the latest incarnation of his chamber-pop cult back on the road. The 2012 edition of the Spree features 21 members and a few new tunes, including the trippy “Bullseye.” There’s a nifty promotional video for the tour up now on the band’s website. Full tour dates below. So far they’re only playing Texas, Oklahoma and the Southeast, but they promise more dates soon. (Come back to LA, guys!)

Polyphonic Spree tour dates

Feb 6 — Tulsa, OK — The Marquee

Feb 7 — Norman, OK — Opolis

Feb 8 — Little Rock, AR — Rev Room

Feb 10 — Atlanta, GA — Centerstage

Feb 11 — Tallahassee, FL — The Moon

Feb 12 — Birmingham, AL — The Bottletree

Feb 13 — New Orleans, LA — House Of Blues

Feb 14 — Houston, TX — Fitzgerald’s

Feb 15 — Austin, TX — La Zona Rosa

Feb 16 — Dallas, TX — Sons of Hermann Hall

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

The Polyphonic Spree


Good news in our inbox this week: The Polyphonic Spree are back! It’s been four years since we last heard from the world’s largest, most cult-like symphonic indie rock band and frankly, we’ve missed them. Well, I have. Jake thinks they sound like a bad combination of the Flaming Lips and Hair—to which I say,  how could any combination of those two things possibly be bad?

By now the Spree’s backstory is familiar to most: Started in Dallas in 2000 by lead singer Tim DeLaughter and his wife, Julie Doyle (who never gets any credit, but should—she manages the band, sings in the choir and co-writes much of their material with DeLaughter), the Polyphonic Spree rose from the ashes of DeLaughter’s previous band, Tripping Daisy, which broke up following the drug-related death of their guitarist, Wes Berggren. DeLaughter fell into a deep depression following his friend’s death, but worked his way out of that dark period in part by crafting the Spree’s euphoric, celebratory sound. He and Doyle also wanted to make something more epic and orchestral than a typical indie rock act—and to get the sound they wanted, the band’s membership eventually swelled to over 20 people. Then, as a final touch, DeLaughter decided to have everyone don white robes like some kind of hippie church choir.

These days, lots of bands do the whole cram-lotsa-people-onstage and have them run around playing cellos and glockenspiels and other instruments you don’t normally associate with a rock act. But the Spree stand out for a couple reasons. For one, they were really the first band in the modern era to do this sort of thing. Arcade Fire, Beirut, Edward Sharpe—none of them existed back in 2002 when the Polyphonic Spree released their first album, The Beginning Stages of…. Secondly, it’s hard to name another band, symphonic or otherwise, with an ouevre as specific as the Spree’s. Pretty much every track on their first two albums sounded like a cross between “Let the Sun Shine In” and the last three minutes of “Hey Jude.”

The Spree did go a bit darker for their third album, The Fragile Army—and they donned matching black, military-style uniforms for the promo photos and tour—but even that one ended with a feel-good rave-up called “The Championship.” Well, technically it was called “Section 32 (The Championship),” because all of their songs are “sections” of a complete, larger work.

(By the way, since we’re talking about the Spree in terms of their weirdness, I should also mention that one of their songs, “Section 10 (A Long Day),” is just 36 minutes of looped, processed vocal tones, like Philip Glass after one too many shroom caps. So there’s that.)

We’re still not sure what DeLaughter and company have in store for their next album, but they just released the album’s first single. Sort of. The song, “Bullseye,” is only available as part of an iPad app, which also features an interactive, animated video. You can see/hear a preview of the app and the song on the Polyphonic Spree website. Jake and I aren’t cool enough to own iPads yet, so if anyone downloads the app, please give us a report. It’ll set you back a mere $1.99.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with my all-time favorite Polyphonic Spree moment. Needless to say, this is one of those bands that really has to be seen live to be fully appreciated—the sheer, overwhelming sonic assault of all those voices and instruments bashing away at DeLaughter’s happy-happy anthems is like a tent revival for hipsters. But as great as some of those anthems are, none of them tops the Spree’s insanely awesome cover of Nirvana’s “Lithium.” Kurt Cobain would have approved—yes, even the bit with the harp.

Links:

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 176 other followers