Dec 312009

1. Bad Veins, “Gold and Warm”
2. Them Crooked Vultures, “Caligulove”
3. The Avett Brothers, “Kick Drum Heart”
4. A.A. Bondy, “I Can See the Pines Are Dancing”
5. Monsters Of Folk, “The Sandman, the Brakeman and Me”
6. Silversun Pickups, “Catch & Release”
7. Morrissey, “Something Is Squeezing My Skull”
8. Franz Ferdinand, “Ulysses”
9. Wilco, “Country Disappeared”
10. A.A. Bondy, “Oh the Vampyre”
11. Third Eye Blind, “Bonfire”
12. Jarvis Cocker, “I Never Said I Was Deep”
13. Neko Case, “This Tornado Loves You”
14. Silversun Pickups, “It’s Nice To Know You Work Alone”
15. The Dead Weather, “Hang You From The Heavens”
16. Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, “Air Mattress”
17. Wilco, “Bull Black Nova”
18. Neko Case, “Magpie To The Morning”
19. Molly Lewis, “Poker Face (Lady GaGa cover)”

This was an incredibly hard year to narrow down to just one album. Also, this was the first year that I have had more than one artist with more than one track on my “Best Of” mix. (I’ve been doing these since 2005 so they predate the blog by a few years.)

Any songs not on my mix that are on your person Best Of list? Any songs I included that should be relegated without comment to the dustbin of musical history? As always, commentary and recrimination can be directed through the comments section.

Feb 262009

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Hey folks, sorry about the total lack of a column this week.  I was gone to Seattle for part of the weekend and didn’t get home until the wee small hours of Tuesday morning.  However!  All is not lost.

See, I was in Seattle for a Dropkick Murphys show.  Watch this space in the next couple of days for a review of said show.

In the meantime, here’s the music video for Morrissey’s latest single, “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris”, which is pretty cool:

I mean, Morrissey AND random puppies? Can’t get much better than that.

Feb 172009

Tuesday Playlist for 2008.2.17

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Intro: This week’s column may be a bit monotonic since the music part of my brain is completely stuffed full of a potent combination of Power+Light and Sasquatch! Festival excitement.  That being said, I’ll probably also mention the new Morrissey album, though only in passing.

But enough of the preview…

Listening: So, I got the new Morrissey album, Years of Refusal in .mp3 download format.  (Which, BTW, is on sale today at Amazon.com for just $4.  Helluva deal, that.)  It came out a day later than the CD, so I only just got it today and haven’t had much of a chance to listen to it yet.  What I’ve heard, though, I like a great deal.

Other than that, I’ve still been totally digging on Power+Light.  It’s embarrassing how addicted I am to it.  I listen to music about eight to ten hours a day, and for the past two weeks not a day has gone by where half of that time or more is devoted to that EP.  It’s crazy good.  If you haven’t heard it yet, PLEASE go give it a listen.

Oh, and I also grabbed the new M. Ward album today, but I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet.

Upcoming: As mentioned above, Morrissey and M Ward have new albums out today.  In the next few weeks, look forward to new material from JJ Cale, Hatebreed, U2, and Neko Case.  (Random aside: the Neko Case, Middle Cyclone, sports some of my favorite album art in a long time.)

Thinking: 1.) In bands whose name is [Definite Article] [Noun], should the definite article be capitalized?  Should it be (e.g.) the Rakes or The Rakes?

2.) Sasquatch Festival!  As I’ll expound below, the lineup’s been announced and I am crazy stoked.  I’ve already started plotting with my good friend and long-time Sasquatch ally Mike, and the concensus is that this year’s festival is going to be a month’s worth of awesome crammed into a 3-day weekend.

News: The Sasquatch! Festival lineup has been announced!  Or at least according to the super-awesome unofficial Sasquatch Festival blog.  The main Sasquatch site for 2009 isn’t up yet, but I imagine it will be within the next day or two.  I’m extremely stoked about the fact that this year will see the return of Nine Inch Nails, The Decemberists, TV on the Radio, Calexico, and others.  Among the fresh new faces that I’m happy to see are A. A. Bondy, Silversun Pickups, Gogol Bordello, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

It should be noted that every place carrying the lineup also carries the wording “…and more to come” or equivalent, so there’s strong potential for even more awesome.  (Rumors abound that Sasquatch veterans Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins might added to the lineup.)

Tickets will be sold in the tiered pricing scheme of previous years, with cheap (~$155) 3-day passes going on sale the weekend of the 28th and prices going up from there.  It should be noted that these cheapest tickets will be on sale for ONE WEEKEND ONLY.  So if you want to save at least $40 on three days of Sasquatch awesomeness, then I strongly encourage you to get them then.

If anyone’s planning to attend and wants to meet up, drop me a line in comments.

Song of the Week: One of the many Josh Ritter songs I discovered a few weeks ago during my binge was this off of his album The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter.  It’s called “Mind’s Eye” and I think it’s crazy awesome.

Feb 102009

Tuesday Playlist for 2009.2.10

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Intro: I have a lot of fawning and squeeing to do this week, so let’s just get right to it.

Listening: So my entire playlist for the past week has pretty much been 50 Foot Wave’s Power+Light EP and the new Franz Ferdinand album.  The Franz Ferdinand album, well, I want to love it, but so far it’s felt like listening to either of the Scottish rockers’ first two albums: really good at times, yes.  And even what’s not excellent is at least fun, well-crafted, twee-ish rock.  But, see, I’m having a hard time really falling in love with it, because I have a hard time listening to it all the way through at the moment.

That’s largely because I have a hard time going an hour without listening to Power+Light.  I seriously think I need an intervention.  It’s brilliant.  I think it’s the best thing that 50 Foot Wave have done.  It’s grunge-y, noisy rock music not just done right, but done sublimely.  It’s 26 minutes of well-structured, energetic cacophony.

And the icy on this dark, fuzzy cake of rock awesome?  The band is streaming the whole thing right now, for free.  Go click on that link.  Now.  Go do it.  Listen.  This is what Noise Rock should sound like.  Kristin Hersh’s caterwaul vocals, Victor Laurence’s haunting cello, Bernard Georges’ thundering bass, and Rob Ahlers’ drum work (at times clockwork-precise and at others blistering and messy) combine to make a truly epic and truly genius piece of work.  It’s music like this that made me stop rating things on a zero-to-ten scale.  Because this is an eleven with a bullet and a bag of broken glass and a guitar cabinet with pencils jammed in it, Link-Wray-style.  Which I guess is my way of saying that it defies rating, but suffice it to say: it’s good.

Seriously, folks: Go. Listen.

I may have more thoughts about Franz Ferdinand next week, if Power+Light sees fit to release me for long enough to listen to it.  We’ll see.

Upcoming: Well, there’s that new Moz album coming out next week, which is cool.  For those of you who like your band names unecessarily long and emo, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead are coming out with a new album next week.  M. Ward and Architecture in Helsinki will also be coming out with albums next Tuesday, which excites me.

Beyond that, it looks like it’ll be March before anything else intriguing comes out.  The first week in March will see new material from Neko Case and U2.

Thinking: So, I’ve been thinking a lot about the CDs lately.  I almost never buy CDs anymore.  Only if an album really grabs me or I want to give one as a gift do I buy a CD.  Instead, all my music gets purchased through various digital music retailers (mostly Amazon.)  And until recently, I’ve been pretty sure that CDs would go the way of casettes (as opposed to the way of LPs, which are still around and still being pressed by contemporary artists.)  But it occurs to me that there will probably always be SOME market for nicely-packaged, physical instantiations of a particular album.

One reason for this is one I mentioned above: gifts.  While it’s all good and well to give a person an iTunes gift card, but it’s a more powerful gesture to lay in their hands an album that you want them to hear and to have.  And let’s face it, my hand-writing sucks and my home-made copies of albums always look tacky (even when I try to do them up fancy, which is rare.)  I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

Another reason is an analogous one to what’s kept LPs around so long: collectors.  Many people like having a physical record of their music collection.  True-fans will definitely pay more for limited-run tokens of their favorite band, and will shell out extra money for well-designed, well-made physical media.  A perfect example of this is Trent Reznor’s success with Ghosts I-IV.  Some of it was available for free (9 of 36 tracks) by digital download.  The whole album was available for download cheap ($5).  On CDs for a little more ($10).  A deluxe edition with a DVD, CDs, downloads, and some other extras was available for about what a good box set costs ($75).  And then there was the limited run of 2500 Ultra-Deluxe edition packages which sold for $300 each.  Those Ultra-Deluxe editions sold out.  $300 x 2500 = $750,000.

Collectors will pay more for nice physical goods.

So now that I’ve done some thinking, I think it will, at the very least, be a long while before we see the end of CDs.  And when we do it won’t be because the Internet music revolution killed them, but because we’ve found a better form of physical music media.

News: Right, well no lineup yet, but at least we have a date for the lineup announcement.  Courtesy of the Sasquatch Music Festival blog:

“Memorial Day Weekend | May 23, 24, 25, 2009
The Gorge | Quincy, WA

Line-up to be announced Tuesday, February 17”

So, you can probably guess what next week’s column will be all about: squeeing over the Sasquatch lineup.

In other news there, uh, really wasn’t much other news, other than the Rihanna allegedly getting abused by her thug of a boyfriend.  Not a fan of her music, but still, here’s wishing her a speedy recovery.

Song of the Week: At the risk of sounding sycophantic or redundant, 50 Foot Wave, Power+LightGo Listen.

Feb 042009

Intro: Well, we’re back after last week’s bout of suckitude.  Sorry about that, folks.  I’ll try to be better about updating in the future.  Now if I can only get around to actually updating that other blog of mine.  Oh well, on to the column!

Listening: In addition to my recent Josh Ritter addiction, I’ve also rekindled my obsession with 50 Foot Wave.  It’s probably no secret by now that I’m a fan of both crunchy, noisy rock music and of Kristin Hersh, so the Hersh-fronted power trio is pretty much right up my alley.  Songs like “Animal” off their Free Music EP or “Clara Bow” off of Golden Ocean pretty much hit all of my “get on up and dance” buttons.  Which makes it just a little awkward that I’ve been listening to 50 Foot Wave at work.

I’ve also recently acquired the new Franz Ferdinand album (Tonight: Franz Ferdinand), but haven’t had much of a chance to listen to it yet.

Upcoming: Honestly, I’m having kind of a hard time getting excited about anything coming up, other than the new Morrissey album which is out on the 16th.  But, if Moz’s fop-rocking ways aren’t quite your thing, or if the middle-aged Mancunian minstrel isn’t enough for you, then there’s also albums out today from The Fray, The Young Dubliners, and The Von Bondies.

Coming up in the next few weeks are releases from Dan Auerbach and Ben Lee.

Thinking: My most frequent music-related thought these past couple weeks has been some variation on “where the hell’s the lineup for Sasquatch?!”  Seriously, waiting until February to announce their lineup?  It’s almost as if they know I’m going to buy a ticket no matter who they get to play . . .  Of course, the rumor is that John Vanderslice will be playing this year, which (if true) is reason enough for me to go.  One of the best shows I’ve been to in my life was John Vanderslice at the Detour here in Spokane.  It was a cozy little venue and he gave a great show.  I ambushed him after the show to do the classic sycophantic fan schtick and, being the patient man that he is, he introduced himself and hung out to chat for a few minutes.  I was totally being That Guy, and yet he was not only patient enough to talk to me, he seemed genuinely interested in meeting me and in talking about his music and his tour.

Basically John Vanderslice is not only an amazing musician, but also a total class act as a person, as well.  A rumor of him playing at Sasquatch is definitely a Good Thing.

Other rumors regarding the line up are pretty thin on the ground, but the unofficial Sasquatch Festival Blog is probably the best place for them.

News: Speaking of Music Festivals, it looks like the lineup for Bonnaroo has been announced, as has the lineup for Coachella.  Some awesome stuff in both sets, but it looks like Bonnaroo is playing hard for the “Best Festival Lineup of the Season” award. I mean, c’mon, the Boss, The Decemberists, Andrew Bird, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Wilco, Nine Inch Nails, David Byrne, Elvis Costello, Niko Case, Brett Dennen, A. A. Bondy, . . .  I would go on, but I think I damn near ODed on awesome just from that fraction of the list alone.  Shit, anyone want to head out to Tennessee in June?

In much sadder news, 50 years ago, the music died.  A small aircraft carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa.  There were no survivors.  All three were fantastic musicians and rock pioneers.  Here’s a recording of Buddy Holly (with the Crickets) with their first big hit, “That’ll Be the Day”:

Resquiescant in pace.

Song of the Week: Here’s a great recording of 50 Foot Wave performing “Your Ghost”, originally made famous by Kristin Hersh in her solo days.

Jan 072009

Okay, sorry there wasn’t a column last night.  I meant to write one, but then didn’t get home until late and passed out before I could even think about it.

So to make up for me and my lame excuses, here’s Morrissey’s new single, “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris”:

*N. B.: the single isn’t actually supposed to be out until early next month, and Moz’s label has been yanking down Youtube videos as fast as they can.  If this one gets pulled, as well, either do a search on YouTube or head on over to Morrissey’s myspace to hear it.

Oct 102008

Friday Five

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Well, I’m off to see The Mathematicians at the Empyrean.  But before I scamper off . . .

Five Covers That I Like More Than the Original:

The Killers, “Why Don’t You Find Out for Yourself?” (Morrissey cover)

Nirvana, “The Man Who Sold the World” (David Bowie cover)

Johnny Cash, “Hurt” (Nine Inch Nails cover)

Jimi Hendrix, “All Along the Watchtower” (Bob Dylan cover)

The Cure, “Creep” (Radiohead cover)

Apr 202008

I’ve been listening to the Killers cover of this tune (thanks to the wonderful Ms. Ann) all day today. So here’s the original. Morrissey doing “Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself” originally off of Vauxhall and I:

May 142007

Headliner: Morrissey
Opener(s): Kristeen Young
Venue: The Big Easy, Spokane, Washington
Date: 2007.5.5

Ann and I had the good fortune to score tickets to the Spokane stop on Morrissey’s 2007 U.S. Tour. (Hat tip to Ann for procuring them.) And, after we figured out there’d been a venue change, we arrived at the Big Easy significantly early. It was originally going to be in the INB Performing Arts Center, but got moved to the Big Easy which, for as decidedly mediocre of a venue as the Big Easy is, was an excellent decision, since the INB is a concert hall, with nothing but fixed seating, meaning no pit. I am adamantly pro-pit and pro-crowd when it comes to shows, so I, for one, was pleased with the venue change. (The one downside: expecting nose-bleed INB seats, I didn’t bring my camera, so alas there shall be no Morrissey pic goodness with this review.)

The opener, Kristeen Young, was an accomplished keyboardist and vocalist with an agile voice that could go from pleasant to peel-the-paint-off-walls shrill in a second. Unfortunately she did the shrill thing a little too often and a little too well. She was far overshadowed, however, by her drummer, “Baby” Jeff White. White is the kind of drummer who renews my faith in the drum kit as an instrument. It’s too easy to get used to hearing drumming that is “perfect” in the “uninteresting, but rhythmically correct” sense of the word. White’s drumming, on the other hand, was absolutely enthralling. Aside from his impeccable rhythmic sense, he had a perfect sense of musical timing, always ready with exactly the right fill. But more impressive was just the raw, visceral energy of his unpatterned, engaging style.

After a set break of full of vintage stock footage projected on the wall and piped over the sound system, Morrissey’s intro tape started and ran for a few minutes before Morrissey and his band took the stage to a thunderous crowd to kick off a set which was energetic, engaging, a thoroughly classic. He played a good deal of Ringleader of the Tormentors material (“I Will See You in Far Off Places”, “You Have Killed Me”, “Life is a Pigsty”, “In the Future When All’s Well”), but also some classic material (“Every Day is Like Sunday”, “First of the Gang to Die”). It’s amazing to see an artist who’s been doing live shows long enough to have really gotten it down as an art form. Morrissey long ago committed to the role of the sad sex symbol and it works equally well for him on stage now at 50 as it ever has. The man’s stage presence is energetic, sexually charged, and largely self-effacing. He bantered easily, finding a very hapy medium between dragging monologues and laconic silence (*in his smooth, Mancunian accent*: “Oh yeah, we’re from Wichita. . . Wih-chi-taw”).

Morrissey’s voice is as even and mournful as ever and his stage presence is, in a word, captivating. He is, without a doubt, the only pudgy, pale, 50-something singer today who can so enthrall an audience as to elicit wild cheers from most of the audience when he rips his shirt off suggestively. And while this may say more of the fan base than of the artist, it does speak to the rapport he build with the crowd. The level of energy on-stage and off was amazing and far more than I’d expected. Normally when one thinks Morrissey one does not think packed, surging crowds and near-mosh pit, but that’s exactly what it was. Morrissey, for his part, didn’t just sing his tunes, but truly committed to them, contorting and strutting across the stage while lending to each the power of his expressive Tenor.

From a musical stand point of view, the set was perfect, not in the boring “didn’t hear any mistakes,” album-flawless way, but in the energetic, sad-to-hear-the-song-end way. His backing band are talented and energetic, with none of them being a primadonna (that is, after all, Morrissey’s job).

This was one of the best live shows I’ve seen in a long time. Morrissey’s stage experience, energy, tremendous backing band, and unflagging sense of morose, self-effacing flare made for a great live experience. I highly recommend seeing the man in concert if a chance presents itself. And despite my heel-dragging in getting this posted, you still have a number of opportunities this year. If you can, do.