Mar 252009

Delays Delays

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Sorry no column last night.  Thought I’d get a chance to bash it together, but due to getting back from a trip EARLY yesterday morning, it just wasn’t happening.

In recompense, here’s “The Rake’s Song”,  the single from the new Decemberists album, The Hazards of Love:

Mar 172009

Intro: So I upgraded to the latest WordPress and forgot that, every time I do, it totally borks my sidebar.  It’s fixed, so the Meta menu is back above the catagories where it belongs.  No long, annoying scrolling to get down there to find it.

Listening: This past week I’ve been listening to a random assortment of stuff I picked up but didn’t have the chance to listen to, Pandora, and the radio.  (Did you know they’re still transmitting MUSIC on FM?  ‘Cause it came as a bit of a shock to me.)  The latest A. C. Newman album (Get Guilty) is good, but it’s not as interesting or as consistently brilliant as The Slow Wonder.  It’s a bit more conservative and, while fun, I think it suffers for that by feeling a bit homogeneous.  If you’re already an A. C. Newman fan, then by all means grab a copy.  If you’re not, then start on The Slow Wonder.

Pandora’s recently introduced me to a few new artists that I’m kind of stoked about, including Magneta Lane.  I’ve only heard a few of their tunes, so I can’t really say anything about their work as a whole, but just listen to this song “Broken Plates”.

Is that not incredibly groovy?

Upcoming: Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Satic-X this week. The Rakes, The Decemberists, Pete Doherty, and KMFDM next week.  I take back what I said last week, March has redeemed itself.

Thinking: So this whole “American Idol” thing is happening again.  I have to admit, I’ve never really watched much of it, mainly because I don’t watch a whole lot of TV.  My roommate’s into it, though, and I just tonight watched the first few minutes of it.  A beautiful blonde did a very decent rendition of “I Go Walking After Midnight”.  Perhaps I should check out more of it?  Are the contestants usually pretty talented, or did I just get lucky and see the one who was?

This article pissed me right the hell off.  Not because of who it included, but because of who it left out: Stiff Little Fingers.  They didn’t have much of the Celtic vibe to them, but they were punk as fuck and, unlike many of the bands on that list, SLF were actually, you know, Irish.

News: It’s official – the Stone Roses will be reuniting for a tour!  Tom Waits to appear in post-apocalyptic Western!  Jack White’s in yet another band!  Billy Corgan is still a pompous douchebag!  All is right in the music world.

(In all seriousness, though, go to that link to Jack White’s new band, The Dead Weather.  Now listen to “Hang You From the Heavens”.  That, my friends, is some damned fine rock and roll.)

Song of the Week: To make up for their slight in the above-linked list, here are Stiff Little Fingers circa-1978, playing “Suspect Device” live on Ulster TV.

Mar 142009

Too Cool Not to Share

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Guitar greats Chet Atkins and Les Paul doing “Birth of the Blues”:

Mar 112009

Intro: I really don’t have anything to say here, other than that I came home today to find my cat cuddled up to my headphones, which were blaring Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia on repeat.

Listening: So if you haven’t already gotten it, go grab the new Neko Case album, Middle Cyclone.  Now it may take you several hours to get that first song of repeat (lord knows it took me at least that long), but the whole album is downright phenomenal.  Take for, instance, “People Got A Lot of Nerve”, which lurches into motion and then gallops along with catchy guitar licks and cathartic lyrics.

And then there’s that brilliant opening track, “This Tornado Loves You”.  Catchy vocal hooks and incisive, powerful lyrics (“Their broken necks will line this ditch until you stop it.”) form a strong core to the tune. Galloping drum beats and soaring melodies polish it off into a truly brilliant track.

And it’s a perfect opener, since the whole album is full of exactly this sort of rolling, pacey drum lines supporting catchy melodies.  “This Tornado Loves You” sets the musical paces for the whole album.  Of course, as with previous albums, the aesthetic focuses mostly on Case’s expressive voice which ranges broadly from pensive to roaring, and the album profits greatly from that.

Truly a great album which further establishes Neko Case as one of the best vocalists and songwriters in music today.

Upcoming: So the rest of this month doesn’t look too impressive release-wise from where I’m sitting.  I’m really excited about the new Decemberists album (I’m a bit behind on their singles series, but am stoked about their new LP).  And new Rakes and KMFDM albums, which is kind of cool.  Other than that, well, you tell me.  Is there anything else in March to get excited about?

Thinking: 1.) So I’ve been thinking lately of getting another record player to replace my old one that gave up the ghost last year.  I’ve got some LPs already and am inordinately fond of vinyl as a musical medium.  Any suggestions from the audience for a simple, no-frills record player that I could run through a stereo amp?

2.) So since I got addicted to Power+Light (which I’m still listening to at least once a day) I’ve been interested in Kristin Hersh’s CASH Music project.  These days it’s rare to see the words “music” and “non-profit” used in the same breath, and it’s almost a bit suspicious when you do see them.  It’s hard not to look at a project like CASH and think “huh, okay, so what’s in it for YOU?”

But CASH seems to be genuine in their simple desire to, as their website says, “[improve] the music experience for artists and listeners alike.”  And that’s pretty cool.  It’s rare these days that musicians take time to simply work on the craft and artistry of making music instead of on the craft of selling music.  I have to say: I’m very much a fan.

News: There’s no part of this All Tomorrow’s Parties concert film idea that I don’t like.  M.I.A may or may not have named her child “Ickitt”.  Apparently Tom Morrello has started yet another band.

Song of the Week: Here’s Neko Case’s “This Tornado Loves You”, off of Middle Cyclone.  Ha!  Now I won’t be the only person with this tune on permapeat!

Mar 052009

Intro: Sorry for missing last week and being late this week.  Blame me if you must, but I blame a particular East-Coast customer (which shall remain nameless) which spent a couple weeks waking me up early and keeping me at the office late. . . . Also Guitar Hero III, to which I’ve recently become fiercly re-addicted.

Listening: So the new M. Ward album is crazy good.  Especially “Epistemology” and “Stars of Leo”, which have been on permanent repeat (from here forward to be termed “permapeat” because it amuses me) for the better part of a week.  It’s the same sort of understated, bluesy folk that I loved on Transfiguration of Vincent.  I would say that this latest album, Hold Time, plays up the religious things and takes a corresponding musical swing towards a vaguely gospel sound, which actually work quite well.  (For this, see especially “Epistemology”.)

Other than that, I’ve been listening to my Dropkick Murphys albums.  The show I went to Saturday kick-started my old love of the Murphys something fierce, and Sing Loud, Sing Proud! and The Meanest of Times have spent quite a bit of time in my CD player since then.  I will say, I think Sing Loud… is by far my favorite of their albums.  It’s consistent without being homogenous and it’s unrelentingly energetic and fun.

Upcoming: New Neko Case album out today, which I’ve just now purchased.  I’m pretty stoked about it.  I’m a huge fan of Neko Case, and I’m excited to see how Middle Cyclone lives up to the awesome precendent set by Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.

Next week must be “Talent Deficiency Awareness Week”, as there are new releases from Kelly Clarkson, Chris Cornell, and New Found Glory.

Thinking: 1.) It occurs to me that the New Pornographers are probably the best modern example of a Reverse Supergroup.  They’re basically a musical pipebomb of awesome that’s given us solo work from Neko Case, AC Newman, and Dan Bejar.  Not to mention the various collaborations its members have been involved in.

2.) Oh man the Dropkick Murphys show was so good!  Those guys really know how to work a crowd.  They had amazing energy and charisma and were musically brilliant.  They played a good selection of newer and older material, with a few covers thrown in for good measure.  (Of special note was their awesome version of the Kingston Trio’s “MTA”.)

I will say, though, that the highlight of the show was Ken Casey singing “Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced” while trying to navigate a huge throng of adoring female fans that had been brought up on stage.  To his credit he did a great job with it despite (because of?) getting jumped several times during the tune.

The openers I was less impressed with.  The first opener, Civet, were a competent hardcore band, but technical difficulties, lack of stage presence, and fairly unimaginative tunes made their 40-minute set feel like it was about 20-minutes too long.

H2O had more going for them.  They owned the stage a lot more, were more energetic and actually had a sound that was distinguishably their own.

3.) The new Showbox venue is really nice.  Plenty of space, good acoustics, and a well-positioned stage.  The bar (to which I retired a few times to rehydrate) has a limited view and muffled accoustics due to a separating wall, but the main floor is awesome.

News: Comb your mullet and wax your Camaro, Faith No More are getting back together!  Win Butler of Arcade Fire and Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips are having a bit of a pissing match.  I’d go on, but I think that last sentence just ODed me on ego for the week.

Song of the Week: Here’s the title track and debut single off Hold Time, by M. Ward:

Not my favorite track off the album, but still pretty damned awesome.  Also, kudos to Merge Records for allowing embedding on their official YouTube channel!