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July 12, 2006

Guest Blogging

I was asked to guest blog at The Bubble Death, a music blog based in San Diego. I don't know the protocol about such an endeavor, and was tempted to just shamelessly post Re-Ree songs, but instead I dug deep into my collection and posted a kick ass song by a kick ass band. So go here to check out what I picked.

June 29, 2006

Get Yer Radiohead Downloads

Both nights of Radiohead's Sold Out San Diego shows are now available for download. Check out Monday and Tuesday. Click each song for an MP3.

Or download the zip of Monday's show here. Zip of Tuesday's show here.

Evidently the Tuesday crowd had their off in the distance visual trump our Monday firework show, when a crazy rocket test launch that Boeing did culminated in an awesome trail and explosion off on the horizon.

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Here's Fake Plastic Trees from Tuesday:

June 21, 2006

The Ricky Gervais Show

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The last thing I can remember ignoring, when it was as guarantee a home run for me as conceivably possible, was The Life Aquatic. Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums are two movies that I absolutely love, (Bottle Rocket, ehhhh), but for some reason I didn't make it to the theater to see The Life Aquatic and ended up watching it at home months after it came out. In the exact same style is The Ricky Gervais show, his downloadable podcast radio show. I remember hearing that this came out like 8 months ago, and was even given the emphatic "It's hilarious" guarantee by a friend about two months ago. Somehow, it completely did not manifest itself as a priority until yesterday, when I read an interview with Ricky Gervais in Stop Smiling magazine and decided to check the podcast out.

Holy god. I spent all day yesterday looking around, hoping that if anyone at work happened to see one of the many uncontrollable laughing outbursts I was having, that they would notice the headphones and infer that I was listening to something funny. The low point came during an episode of Monkey News (more on that below) towards the end of the day, when I heard something funny while sipping water, attempted to suppress a spit take, and ended up almost choking as the water went down the wrong pipe. The Ricky Gervais show: funny enough to almost kill you, or at least get you fired for spitting water all over expensive equipment.

Anyone who has seen The Office, and Extras needs no introduction to Ricky Gervais, or co-host Steven Merchant for that matter, the man who played the agent on Extras and Gareth's pal The Oggmonster on The Office. But the central character of these podcasts is the third man, Karl Pilkington, who has already amassed a vast internet following, as well as rumors about whether or not he is real. The show centers around Gervais and Merchant asking him questions, or prompting him to tell a story, which they then dissect and dispute, even as he is still telling the story. They analyze how Karl's mind works, and the effect is to reinforce why the absurd nonsense, coming out of the calmest, most qualude-ed up sounding guy you can imagine, is so absurd. They make him answer reader emails, read from his diary, (Sample entry: "Had a drink in bar...Everyone sat and watched one of the local cats lick its bollox.") and of course, Monkey News, where Karl delivers a ridiculous lengthy story about monkeys in the news that Gervais scoffs at.

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Karl Pilkington


At least two dozen times per episode, Gervais lets loose with the high pitched girlish laugh that you heard on the office when David Brent was seen helping to pull off an obese co-workers pants in front of the camera. The laugh is so contagious that I nearly caused us to drive off the road on the way home today, even though I wasn't even driving, and the joke that Ricky Gervais was laughing at was because Karl Pilkington got a piece of mail addressed to "Mr. Dilkington." Even as Ricky Gervais was laughing and shrieking, "I don't know why that's so funny!" I found myself laughing so hard that I almost started hitting myself over the head with a mallet, like the wolf in those old Tex Avery Cartoons.

So there are 18 half hour podcasts so far...That's 9 hours of hilarity. It's a guarantee people, a can't miss. You will love it. I put up one of the podcasts from the first series for download, it features one of the better monkey news segments, and I don't remember what else. The first 12 episodes cost $4.95 and the last 6 cost 6$.95, all at Audible.com. Don't sleep on it like I did. They are the funniest things you will hear all year. In a world of tepid comedic entertainment, where romantic comedies like "Wedding Crashers" can pass for edgy, offensive comedy, Ricky Gervais' humor makes me laugh the way I did when I saw Eddie Murphy "Delerious" for the first time. This is the only time I'll implore you to not behave like me - download these podcasts without further delay.


Download an episode of The RIcky Gervais Show

June 08, 2006

The Art of the Reprise

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The Art Of The Reprise


There are many thing that makes the experience of listening to whole albums great. There's the cover art, the liner notes, the continuity, the ability to not know a songs name, but to know when it comes along. There are segues, intros, hidden tracks...and there are reprises. Reprises are truly an audacious move when you think about it. Nothing reveals a band as having some sort of hidden artistic agenda quite like a reprise. "Here you go," a reprise seems to say. "You bought our album, you're listening to it all the way through and for some reason, now you've just come to a song that we've decided to repeat in a varied fashion for a shorter amount of time than it took the first time through. Why? You figure it out."

Though they may be audacious and at times inexplicable, the reprise can also be a nice touch, lending a great deal to the continuity of the album and making you realize that you're listening to real musicians who put some effort and thought into their music. Or in the case of Oasis, they no doubt just got blown out of their gourds and decided to hire a orchestra one day.

So here are a collection of reprises, from varied artists and eras. I've tried to rate them on how effective I think it is as a reprise. It's a unique and esoteric criteria to judge something by, since I'm not really even sure what it means myself. But let's give it a shot:

The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
5.jpg A reprise that has found its way onto a mix CD of mine at some point in time, a feat that the original song cannot claim. i think that this song defines what a reprise should be. Contains enough elements from the original, but stands on its own, thus giving it a reason to exist. In the Beatles case, I think that the reprise is better than the original. It may be their second most rocked out song of all time, with killer fuzzy guitar licks throughout. And when they slip the "One and only" into the middle of "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" the effect is sublime.


Sufjan Stevens - A Short Reprise for Mary Todd, Who Went Insane, But for Very Good Reasons
1.5.jpg There's nothing particularly wrong with this brief stretch of music. It just doesn't need to exist. It's mostly a continuation of the previous track "Jacksonville" on the Illinois album. Jacksonville flows into this song, making "Mary Todd" more of a coda, and I feel like they should have just been made one song. It also loses points for not identifying which song it is reprising. But it's not offensive to listen to in any way. Unlike...

Nick Cave - O'Malley's Bar (Reprise)
0.jpg Let's list the litany of things wrong with this reprise. First of all, it is not a song. It is disjointed sound fragments. It has nothing to do with the song it is reprising, which is a nifty 14 minute long story about an intense bar murder. It doesn't even appear on the same album, but rather on a b-side collection. It is very unpleasant as far as sound collages go, and is why scraping the bottom of the barrel for material to release for artists is never a good idea.


Konono #1 - Kule Kule (Reprise)
5.jpg Innocuous enough, but since i can't understand the words and all the music by Konono #1 sounds the same to me, its value as a reprise is lost on me.

Dr. John - Familiar Reality (Reprise)
5.jpg This gets points for being the album closer. It also gets points for revisiting the major theme of one of the albums best songs, as the lady singers wail the title over and over again towards the end of the song. It gets points for being in the right spot, the last song, (even though whether a reprise belongs in the last or second to last spot is a debatable topic.) It also gets points for pioneering the "artist doesn't even appear on the song" method of reprises, adding to their mystique. It's just not that exciting of a song overall though.

The Beastles - Root Down (Reprise)
5.jpg This song, from DJ BC's first Beastles masup compliation is great. Sampling from the above mentioned greatest reprise of all time and layering it over one of my favorite Beastie Boys raps is a nice touch. Super bonus points becuase it is the strategicly placed last track on the compilation.


Pearl Jam - Wasted (Reprise)
3.5.jpg This reprise is far sparser than the song it reprises. It's just Eddie Vedder singing as a church style organ plays behind him. The effect is quite nice, it puts a neat spin on the rocking album opener. But if you reprise the album opener, I feel like it should come as the last track on the album, and three more songs follow this cut.

Oasis - All Around The World (Reprise)
5.jpg The second ever reprise that I've put on a mix CD. This closes out Oasis' "Be Here Now" album, and is a orchestral reprise of the already excessive nine minute "All Around The World." Reprises are an excessive format themselves, so when the reprise kicks in a song after the original, it finishes off the album in ultra excessive fashion. It is also a good antidote if you're tired of hearing All Around the World in the cell phone commercial or whatever it is in now.

David Bowie - Sweet Thing (Reprise)
1.5.jpg David Bowie figures to be someone who would have done his share of reprises in his day, but this one is not one of his finest. It comes in the middle of the album, reprises a song that didn't need reprising, fades off into oblivion without any epic-ness, comes one song after the original, and is just not a very pleasant song to listen to.

Soundgarden - Full On (Reprise)
5.jpg This is the last song on Soundgardens early "Louder than Love" album. They try to go out in epic classic reprise fashion here, as a chorus wails "Full On" over and over again for the duration, with Chris Cornell joining in himself with a few more lyrics, but mostly "Full On." It gradually descends towards the end into guitar feedback. If you only heard this song, you might think that they were up to something on the album a bit deeper than songs like "Big Dumb Sex."

Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins - Happy (Reprise)
5.jpg Airy and echoey, this reprise could conceivably work its way onto a mix somewhere. It reminds me sort of the Beach Boys Smile session outtake "You're Welcome." Jenny Lewis sings the phrase over and over again with just a wood block accompaniment until it fades away, thus ending her album

Rufus Wainwright - Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk (Reprise)
5.jpg This reprise of the first song on the Poses album is really more of a remix. It features a drum machine and some different music and studio effects, but is still the same basic song. Since the original version is the first song on the album, this seems like more of a bonus track than a reprise, but it's still an alright song.

Os Mutantes - Panis Et Circences (Reprise)
5.jpg This song utilizes the same technique as many of the above reprises: repeated phrasing, extended fades, semi-epic sounding orchestration. It also closes out the album as a reprise of the first track, making it a nice bookend effect. I like this song, but probably wouldn't stick it on a mix CD.

Son Volt - World Waits For You (Reprise)
5.jpg This sort of suffers from the coda-effect that I mentioned in the Sufjan Stevens song. Just seems more of an extension of the song that precedes it than a true reprise. I guess in my mind, a reprise means returning to something after you've left it for a while, not just continuing it onto another track. It's got a cool epic sounding countrified guitar solo, and repeated lyrics, but I'd like it better if it wasn't just a coda.

Ween - She Wanted To Leave (Reprise)
5.jpg Ween gets points for this song because they were the only ones brash enough to use the ironic technique of reprising a song that was not on the album. And it's a pretty cool song too. Bonus points for the last sound effect, which reminds me of the dramatic episode ending sound from "Lost."

Sublime - What I Got (Reprise)
5.jpg This one is tough. It's not really a reprise, this version of the song got played on the radio just as much as the original. It's more of a bonus track in this respect. But I think it's a much better version of the song, and the fact that I didn't know today that I'd been listening to a reprise all those years ago made me like it better. Do I contradict myself? Very well then..

Queen - Flash's Theme (Reprise)

5.jpg Queen gets points for putting a reprise on a soundtrack album, it shows a degree of commitment and aristry involved in a project that other bands might simply have tossed off. The song unfortunately sounds like a movie preview because of all the film clips, and isn't very enjoyable to listen to. I do like the way it ends, but would have preferred an entire song to build up to that moment.

Outkast - Player's Ball (Reprise)
5.jpg Anybody unsure about Outkast's staying power back when their first album came out should have taken note of this reprise at the end of the album. Rap albums are known (unfortunately) for their intros and outros, but reprising an earlier song is a feat that is attempted much less frequently. Ironically, this reprise has it's own spoken intro at the beginning of it, and it is the last song on the album, so it embodies the coveted intro-reprise-outro trifecta that so few have attempted, and even fewer have achieved.


The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) (Alt. Version)
2.5.jpg This comes from the Anthology Vol. 2 album. The fact that there is an Alternative Version of a reprise is close to being mind blowing. The music on this version is a bit rawer, but every bit as cool as the album version. Unfortunately the singing is a bit sloppier, and the key "One and only lonely" line is omitted, rendering it an interesting yet forgettable footnote in the reprise canon.


Well that was fun! If I left anything out or if you have any suggestions please let me know. If I get enough reprises suggested that I missed, who knows? We could have another entry "The Art of the Reprise (Reprise)"

June 03, 2006

Download Theme Time

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Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour continues to be a weekly entertaining listen. Though the Baseball theme in week four was rather week, too many novelty songs, not enough Steve Goodman, it is always fun to see what he pulls out of his bag. Hearing what newer songs he chooses to play every week are interesting as well. They're pretty infrequent, since as Dylan said on the Coffee show "There are more old songs than new songs out there," but when he puts on a Blur tune, as he did this week with "Coffee & TV" you always have to wonder where he came across it. Next weeks theme is Jail, which should be interesting. My friend Andrew rightly wonders what's going to happen by the time the third season rolls around and Dylan is stuck with themes like "Corn," "Potatoes" and "Blue Jeans."

For those of you without XM, Patrick at White Man's Stew has set up a page with downloads of all five programs so far. They're available in MP3s of the whole show, or broken down into segments. Go check them out here.

May 31, 2006

Some Songs

Why are you inside reading blogs? Enjoy the evenings with a mini soundtrack before the gloom returns!

-Little John and the Merry Men - The Phony King of England
-The greatest song from a Disney movie, period.

-Grateful Dead - Sugar Magnolia
-The longest version I have on my computer. Without the ending breakdown, this song is a shell of itself.

-The New Pornographers - The Bleeding Heart Show
-For when you get tired of Sing Me Spanish Techno (which is impossible)

-Bruce Springsteen - Bishop Danced
-An incredible one of a kind song. I'd be interested to know if anybody has covered it...

-Lee Michaels - Heighty Hi
-Upon recommendation from my dad

That was easy, and surprisingly fun. Let's hope it wasn't habit forming.

May 24, 2006

Tom Waits Storytellers: At Long Last, The Songs

A month or two ago I posted just the stories from Tom Waits' VH1 Storytellers episode. People dug them, and demanded the songs. I completely forgot about it until today, when somebody posted a comment and I remembered that I still had yet to post the songs. So here they are!

The storytellers episode is great: the song performances are top notch from an artist that rarely performs live, and as I said before, the stories are just as entertaining on their own. They kind of remind me of the SNL "Neil Diamond Storytellers" sketch starring Will Ferrell - a fantastical story, featuring unbelievable situations and ridiculous characters that launches into a seemingly unrelated song that could have in theory been any song in the artists repertoire. That video is below, actual videos of Waits' Storytellers performance and the story MP3s can still be found here.

If you want the whole show, download a zip file here.


1. Tango Til They're Sore
2. Hang Down Your Head
3. Ol' 55
4. Strange Weather
5. Hold On
6. Picture In A Frame
7. I Can't Wait To Get Off Work
8. House Where Nobody Lives
9. Get Behind The Mule
10. Chocolate Jesus
11. What's He Building In There
12. A Little Rain
13. Downtown Train
14. Black Wings
15. Jesus Gonna Be Here
16. Jersey Girl
17. Chocolate Jesus (Alt.)
18. Tango Til They're Sore (Alt.)
19. Hang Down Your Head (Alt.)

May 22, 2006

Two Songs That Remind Me of Three Muppets

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I heard Humble Pie's cover of "Honky Tonk Woman" on XM today today. Then I heard it like seven more times, each time louder than the next. It rules. Humble Pie, for those of you who were as unaware as I was before today, was a band that included Peter Frampton, among other people, and also Steve Marriott, the former singer of the Small Faces. Their cover of Honky Tonk Woman just blows the original out of the water. The singer can wail, the guitarist alternates between the riff and shredding solos, and the drummer...The drummer is just insane. Just bashing the shit out of the drums for the entire song, letting up for maybe 15 seconds tops, and then going right back into just drumming like nothing I've ever heard before. He somhow plays the crash cymbal on like every beat while still managing to pretty much solo the rest of the song. There's no way that you could hear this song and not instantly imagine Animal, the drummer for Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem Band on The Muppets playing the drums while shackled to his kit. Tremendous.

It's probably also important to note that the song has been covered by Joe Cocker, The Meters, The Pogues, The Black Crowes and The Rolling Stones themselves, and despite many impressive versions by an equally impressive lineup, no version can touch the Humble Pie one. Lest you think Humble Pie is some kind of one trick wonder, I present to you Thirty Days In The Hole. My friend Richard rightly insists that there is no way that this song should have not been included on "The Spaghetti Incident". As someone who has argued that every song would sound better sung by Axl Rose, I have to agree that it would have been perfect. What an Injustice. Ironically, Guns N' Roses has also played Honky Tonk Woman live, and I can't seem to track it down...After "Thirty Days In The Hole" they could just as easily be a two hit wonder. I haven't heard anything else. If there's other good Humble Pie out there, let me know.


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After getting the mental pictures of Animal bashing the drums in my head, I found it impossible not to spend the rest of the day thinking about the Muppets. I realized that there was another song that I've always associated with a specific duo of Muppets. And though it may not be as good a song, and have nowhere near the energy or repeat listening value of Humble Pie's "Honky Tonk Woman", I challenge you to listen to Simon and Garfunkel's "Old Friends" and deny that that picture of Waldorf and Statler sitting on that park bench will be forever etched in your mind whenever you hear the song again. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the Muppets did some sort of music video for that song where those two "Old Friends" were "Sitting on a park bench like bookends" because otherwise, it's just an astonishing way to bring that song to life.

Any other songs out there that make Muppets spring to mind?


Humble Pie - Greatest Hits Live

Simon & Garfunkel - Bookends

Guns N' Roses - The Spaghetti Incident

May 21, 2006

Guns N' Roses @ The Hammerstein Ballroom 5-15-06

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Axl Rose - Still Reassuring, Even Underwater


Guns N' Roses just played four sold out shows in New York. Though they won't be coming this way anytime soon, I think it is reassuring to know that they are out there. Knowing that Axl and the band are performing somewhere in the world gives me the same feeling as every time I glance down at the bottom of my firefox window and see the picture of Abe Vigoda, indicating that he is still alive.

The MP3s that have surfaced of the show are not the best quality, but I've posted the new songs from the show on the fifteenth below, just in case you've missed them so far. Also, Sebastian Bach of Skid Row joined Axl to sing My Michelle, Dizzy Reed got a chance to shine playing a piano solo of The Beatles "Something" and each guitarist got to indulge in song length "Eruption" style guitar solos. Brooklyn Vegan has some terrific photos of the show on the 12th. This one is my favorite. Halfway unbuttoned leather jacket and sunglasses at night indoors underneath a projected stained glass window. God, it's like looking into a mirror...

UPDATE: Links have been removed, sorry!

1. Welcome To The Jungle
2. It's So Easy
3. Mr. Brownstone
4. Live And Let Die
5. Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal Guitar Solo
6. Knockin' On Heaven's Door
7. Better
8. Robin Finck Guitar Solo
9. Sweet Child O' Mine
10. Something (Piano Solo)
11. The Blues
12. Out ta Get Me
13. Richard Fortus & Robin Finck Guitar Solo
14. Rocket Queen
15. My Michelle w/Sebastion Bach
16. Madagascar
17. You Could Be Mine
18. November Rain
19. I.R.S.
20. Richard Fortus Guitar Solo
21. Nighttrain

Encore:
22. Patience
23. Chinese Democracy
24. Robin Finck Guitar Solo
25. Paradise City

May 17, 2006

The Hits Keep On Coming - Fifty On Their Heels

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UPDATE: I've posted the Street Scene lineup, with MP3 links, here.

You know the feeling you get as you sit in an airport waiting for you flight to take off when you have a connecting flight you have to make? You're there an hour early, sitting in the terminal waiting. You notice the airplane hasn't arrived yet. No matter, you've still got plenty of time. As long as you take off no less than an hour late, you'll still be fine for your connection. But it gradually become a battle between optimism and reality, and as the clock starts ticking down, you come to the grim realization ten minutes before your deadline that the plane's not coming, you're going to miss your connection, and your vacation is ruined.

Well that's what this past week has been like watching the Street Scene rumors trickle in. The latest, collected nicely for us at the UT's Liner Notes, indicate that She Wants Revenge, My Chemical Romance, Yellowcard and possibly Tool are added to the lineup. The possibility of pulling off an event to rival Lollapalooza that same August weekend appears to have evaporated almost laughably quickly, and as the clock ticks down towards the Monday lineup annoucement, one can only hope that whoever is piloting the Street Scene plane pulls off some Chuck Yeager style heroics to bring the bird in safely. What is most unsettling about the whole thing is not the lack fo indie buzz bands, or major headliners, but rather that the Street Scene seems completely focused in the absolute nadir of shitty genres: the emo/punk bands.

The problem with these bands, none of which I have ever listened to and could not name a song or album by, is that they forgot something about the very basics of punk. Though the Sex Pistols were angry, and the Ramones could only play three chords, both of these bands were essentially pop music gone horribly awry. If you take away the sneering vocals, some of the distortion and slow it all down a wee bit, you've got a sixties pop song. Maybe take out the abortion and glue sniffing subject matter, but anyways. Bands like The Clash would further expound upon the inherent poppiness in early punk music, creating songs that build, segue, flow, you know, songs that behave like Beatles songs. I remember in 8th grade when Green Day came out with Dookie, and all the magazines talked about was the "return of punk." I was confused then, and only now realize that what they meant was the return of punk that you can actually listen to. Nobody's saying you have to puss out to make a pop-esque punk album. But at some point in time, I imagine that artists get a bit tired of playing unpleasant music, and decide that more ambitious goals (the long rumored fourth chord!) are worth a shot.

So as an antidote for the shitty punk/emo that the Street Scene is offering up, I present to you San Diego's own Fifty On Their Heels. Listening to these guys the past couple days has really made me aware of the fact that a record does't have to go by at 120 mph and be shoved down your throat to be punk. The singer has a voice that you'll feel like you've heard many times before, sort of snotty, faux British. But where the band really shines is the music, which manages to never sound the same, and even accomplishes the ultimate punk coup of incorporating different musical passages and even different instruments into the same song. You know how on American Idiot, Green Day had a couple nine minute song "suites" that sounded like 6 different songs put together? Well my favorite song on the album, Occupation, pulls off a similar trick in just three and a half minutes. I hear traces of Rancid in the beginning, and Sex Pistols in the vocals, with a Strokes kind of guitar lick for the chorus and a Clash style breakdown all before it builds to an utterly triumphant, cut off too brief finale.

The guys sound like they're having fun. Which is important. But more important, they sound like the kind of band that you could have fun going to see. Fortunately for you, they're playing two shows in San Diego in June, and will be playing lots more all summer long. Check out the myspace page for dates, a few more streaming songs as well as info on where to get their new CD. San Diego has been on a roll with local bands lately. It's too bad that the major summer festival looks headed in the opposite direction.

Dowload MP3 of Fifty On Their Heels - Occupation
http://www.myspace.com/fiftyontheirheels
June 13th @ The Casbah

May 08, 2006

Didn't Get Radiohead Tickets? There There...

ticketmaster no tickets


So both of the Radiohead shows sold out very quickly on Saturday. I managed to get four tickets to Monday's concert, and have noticed that tickets are already being offered up for outrageous (at least double the actual cost) prices on Craigslist and ebay. The internet definitely gives anybody the advantage of being able to quickly and easily buy tickets for any show in America and be selling them minutes later. For recent concerts I've bought tickets for, this and Bruce Springsteen, the internet seemed like the only way to possibly obtain tickets, and evidently it was a seconds-different crapsoot since everyone was pretty much doing it at the same time.

So did anybody else get lucky? Anybody know how many tickets were for sale each night?

Whether you made it or you didn't, everyone can enjoy the below recording of Radiohead playing in Copenhagen just a few days ago on May 6th. It can either get you pumped for the show, psyched enough to shell out the dough to a scalper, or maybe even push you towards sour grapes "all those new songs aren't any good anyways" mode.


A zip file of the MP3s is available at http://www.megaupload.com/?d=CN0GDYYB

Lost Albums: Should Be or Not Should Be?

Q: What is "Hail, and Farewell Gothenburg?"
A: The sequel to Sweden, never released.

That's always been an intriguing little exchange from the FAQ on the Mountain Goats website. Ah, the fabled "Lost album." There is no better way to get peoples minds a-racing and anticipations dreadfully out of wack. I still remember reading a Beatles biography in ninth grade where the author breathlessly wrote about some vaulted tapes that only he had ever heard, but that were so mind blowingly great that the reader, the simple 15 year old wanting to learn about the Beatles, could not even look at them, lest he wind up like the nazi's upon opening the ark of covenant, and that would be if he was lucky.

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Who Cares?


Of course, those tapes turned up on the Anthology series, and later on Let It Be...Naked and nobody gave a damn. Distinguishing between similar sounding takes of a song and deciding which one is "Best" (which is never the released one that you've heard) is a passion enjoyed solely by the joyless elitists. Admitedly, sometimes a reworking of a song can completely change the animal. Bob Dylan's Idiot Wind has three distinct versions, all which change and enhance different emotions. Idiot Wind on Blood On The Tracks is not the same song as the tremendous rocked out Idiot Wind performed live on Hard Rain. The more quiet, reserved, organ tinged version of Idiot Wind from the vaulted Blood On The Tracks NY Sessions pushes the lyrical venom that was so apparent in the live version to the back, leaving mainly the singers pain audible, and is the rare vaulted material that truly is a completely different song. But usually you just get something where the band tried one take where they did "La's" instead of "Na's" on Hey Jude.

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Look at this watch...You won't believe what this thing can do...


Of course, an entire unreleased album is a very different situation. Though they just as rarely ever live up to the hype, they are often more satisfying and a more complete vision than the hours of outtakes and alternative versions that even the most pedestrian bands accumulate. Recently, the above Mountain Goats album, Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg recently surfaced on the internet. It had long been rumored to only exist on a single cassette tape, if at all. Evidently, it inspires a good deal of emotion and devotion (a little E & D never hurt anybody) in Mountain Goats fans. Somebody posted it at this SendSpace site. For a casual fan, I think it's hard to tell what distinguishes it from other early Mountain Goats recordings, but the song "Crane" stood out to me as a highlight during the first listen. The band is coming to the Casbah on June 15th, and have recently released a new EP.

And as one long lost album finally surfaces, another one prepares hints that it may do so soon, as Axl Rose announced today. It's hard to say what the best strategy would be for Axl regarding Chinese Democracy. As more and more people come of age musically that have never lived in a world where Guns n Roses has existed as a band, the possibility of them becoming a cross-generational punchline grows greater and greater. I would advise him to shelve everything for two more decades, just to avoid the awkward middle aged stage that claims all men except maybe Jack Nicholson, and emerge when he's in his "Cool old guy" stage, where its considered positive if you get really fat. As far as the new album goes, I think that the best Axl is going to get from people will be the damning faint praise of "It's not as bad as you'd think."

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But in the back of my mind will always be this article that Kurt Loder wrote in January, 2001 after the new lineup had played Rock In Rio. I was a sophomore in college, with the above poster of Rose on my bedroom wall, and when I read lines such as:


"a tribe of burly security guards began sweeping away un-credentialed idlers with a snarling insistence rarely seen since the heyday of such preshow prima donnas as Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.

played with a passion and precision that's unlikely to be matched in any other quarter anytime soon.

he remains one of the great can't-take-your-eyes-off-him rock stars, twirling back and forth across the stage...pausing only to lean back and emit a proverbial banshee wail"

I wanted to believe. Loder ended by tell us to "pray for a tour." Now it appears we may get yet another one from the new lineup (I was at the last tour show in Philly, where Axl cancelled and the fans rioted. I left quickly.) I pray more that Axl is able to make one last contribution to the rock canon before he packs it in. A contribution, not a footnote.

May 04, 2006

Bad Sinatra Vol. 1

frank_sinatra.jpg
Bad Sinatra - Get it?

Frank Sinatra has more than one box set of recordings that consists of over a dozen CDs. This is a staggering amount of recordings, even for one of America's most beloved entertainers. The duration of his career would be similar to Michael Jordan pressing on for eight more seasons with the Wizards, or a desperate Ray Manzarek trying to dig up Jim Morrison's body and attaching strings to it to perform a reunion tour Weekend At Bernie's style. Some things just go on for too long, or are so sprawling and prolific, that there are bound to be some missteps.

So to capitalize on this, every time my iTunes shuffle hits up on a particularly lousy Sinatra song, of which there are far too many as it is on my computer, I've been dragging it over to a Bad Sinatra playlist. It is ever growing, and I'm always amazed to see some of the territory he thought it natural or necessary to venture into. Disco, Cartoon songs, Neil Diamond...But as bad as it all is, a lot of it has its own unique charm, and that's what makes it worth sharing. So stay tuned for future installments, but check out these for now:

-Until The Real Thing Comes Along : This was the first one on my playlist. Upon listening to it again just now I thought I might have made a mistake , but in the last minute or so, Mr. Sinatra makes a reference to a 80s pop culture icon (Hint: It is Mr. T) that just vaults it into the realm of "rewind...oh my god, that's what I thought he said!"

-The Coffee Song : Sinatra rhymes Tomato with Potato. Date her with Perculator. He sings "They put coffee in the coffee" and "Coffee pickles well outsell the dill". As obviously slapped together quickly by Sinatra, and apparantly Dr. Seuss' retarted stepson, as "The Coffee Song" is, the band still manages to bring it, breaking for an extended solo passage, and Sinatra sings with highly caffeinated enthusiasm. This is "Good" bad.

-Bein' Green : This is "Bad" bad. Unlistenable. And yes, it's that Bein' Green song.

-Mrs. Robinson : You can just imagine Frank going into the studio, angry at these disrespectful rock and rollers for climbing the charts without regard for how to actually sing a song, thinking "I'm gonna show them how to sing a song." And then emerging from this recording session thinking he had done just that, while his cronies slapped him on the back and said "You done it Frank, these kids'll never last." You can also imagine the failed inventor, sitting at home alone and miserable hearing this song and deciding that a fantastic product called "Karaoke" needed to be unleashed upon the world.

And just becuase it obviously isn't all bad, here's one of the best: The Most Beautiful Girl In The World.

May 02, 2006

Two SD Bands With Sweet Guitar Solos

Not enough local bands email me to tell me about their shows or MP3s, and I'll be damned if I dip my toe into the uncharted waters of venturing out to venues completely blind. We've all been there, usually when you move to a new town, or start school somewhere. One new friend convinces you to just head out to a club where an unknown band is playing, or go see a movie that you never even knew existed. In an effort to prove your open mindedness to this free spirit, you go along, and by the end of the worst two hours of your life you are fairly sure that you never want to speak to that person again, but iyou know with absolute certainty if you ever hear the phrase "going in blind" again in your life, you will render the person saying it unable to participate in an activity in any other manner than that for the rest of their life. (If you couldn't tell, I recently got burned going into something blind. It was a movie, and it was called Brick. You know how ignorant people look at a Jackson Pollock painting and say 'My five year old could have done that?' Well your average ninth grader absolutely could make a better movie than Brick. Never in my life have I regretted not chosing to go see Phat Girlz more.)

firethorn.jpg


Fortunately, here I am to recommend to local bands to everyone, and just in time for some kick ass shows. First up is Firethorn, who played at the Tiki's local showcase last week, which I missed, but also are playing at Blind Melon's tomorrow with Vintage Honey. Firethorn I guess you could say are rooted in punk, but obviously they're not so far into the realm of punk where I would not be mentioning them on this website. In the way that Nirvana was punk, in terms of heavy power chords, and frayed vocals, that's how Firethorn is punk. Not shouting indistinguishably and generally making everyone miserable around them. Both Reflecting Pond and Make Me Cry on their myspace page capture this kind of spirit, and both feature promient guitar solos that hopefully wail even harder at Blind Melons.


roadnoise.jpg


Next is Road Noise. I met the guy front and center in this picture on National High Five Day, and as soon as I found out he was in a rockabilly punk band, I knew it couldn't miss. This was before I even saw him in the White Suit and cowboy hat. Road Noise has four songs from their demo up on the internet, and while the recording mix isn't the best I've ever heard, I think that the energy that the band undoubtedly has in a live performance is adequately conveyed through the singers voice and the spot on extended guitar solos. They will assuredly deliver the goods when they rock the Parkway Bar in La Mesa on May 13th. My favorite song is Daddy's Drunk, but three more are available online as well, BEG, Rumble Town and Three On A Tree.


http://www.myspace.com/Firethornrock
http://www.road-noise.com
http://www.myspace.com/roadnoisemusic

April 29, 2006

Seeger Sessions Band Live In Asbury Park

seeger sessions band


We woke up this morning and snagged two tickets to the Springsteen Seeger Sessions show at the Greek in LA on June 6th. It's been said that the tickets for these concerts have been selling out so fast that they actually reverse the flow of time even without the aid of a flux capacitor, so I feel pretty lucky. I thought that the bootleg of the Jazz Fest show that the band plays tomorrow was going to be one hell of a sought after bootleg, and I still think it would be, but I didn't anticipate bootlegs from the Asbury Park "Rehearsal" shows turning up before it happend. Well they have, and in the spirit of having bought by far the most expensive concert ticket I ever have in my life, (expensive than even some airplane tickets now that I think about it), I want to share the MP3s from the concert the band played on April 26th.

The band sounds great, the arrangements are long and heavy on solo's, and it just reinforces the fact that this is going to be a tremendouse concert to attend. It looks like he's tossing some traditional songs that weren't on the album into the mix, as well as playing a few Bruce originals. Two of Nebraska's more upbeat songs, Johnny 99 and Open All Night are on both sets, as well as Cadillac Ranch, which is an awesome song. The songs sound radically different than you've ever heard them before, and it takes some getting used to, but in the long run I can definitely support the old timey style arrangements. Bonus points also go to the needlessy vulgar set closer, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeeze. Hearing Bruce swear like that is kind of like that movie where Julie Andrews went topless: out of character, but awesome.

Check it out for yourself:

1. Long Black Veil
2. O Mary Don't You Weep
3. John Henry
4. Johnny 99
5. Eyes On The Prize
6. Adam Raised A Cain
7. Old Dan Tucker
8. Cadillac Ranch
9. My Oklahoma Home
10. Mrs. McGrath
11. How Can A Man Stand Such Times
12. Jacob's Ladder
13. We Shall Overcome
14. Open All Night
15. Pay Me My Money Down
16. If I Should Fall Behind
17. Buffalo Gals
18. You Can Look (But You'd Better Not Touch)
19. Daring Young Man On The Flying Trapeeze

April 28, 2006

Arcade Fire Live At The Casbah 1/17/05

coachella dvd

I watched the Coachella DVD that my parents were kind enough to send me for a birthday present last night. It's an interesting DVD. There are plenty of good artists, the Flaming Lips and Bright Eyes deliver notable performances, but on the whole it feels like a wierd movie whose existence I have trouble justifying. It is culled from multiple years at the festival, so it sort of waters down the "We were there!" appeal of single event concert movies. The artists are also incredibly diverse, meaning some of them are very bad, and with artists such as Radiohead lurking later in the movie, Bjork and Fisher Spooner probably didn't get my full attention (they were skipped within ten seconds.) I am even more surprised because this movie also had a theatrical release, which seems hubristic and arrogant or the producers. Coachella has just never seemed like that notable of an event. Looking at a festivals lineup should make you lament the fact that there's no way in hell you could justify traveling to Europe or Tennesee for it, not make you think, "Man, if someone gave me free tickets to that, I wonder what the traffic would be like up to Indio..." (seriously, for what? Tool? Depeche Mode? Matisyahu? Madonna? Common? James Blunt? Bloc Party? The only good thing about festivals this big is that the overlap would mean you would have to miss some of these acts. Only slightly worse is thinking that Street Scene pretty much can't possibly be as good as Coachella.)

But nevertheless, the DVD did have a cool purpose, and that was to re-spring the Arcade Fire on an unsuspecting me. Their sunset performance of "Rebellion (Lies)" was definitely one of the highlights, and it confirmed that the band has been the rarest kind of hype transcender, the kind where when you hear one of their songs out of the blue months after you stopped listening to them daily, you remember how good they sounded at the peak of your fan-ship and want to listen to them all over again. That's pretty much everything I want from a band: for them to be good enough to listen and love them until you can't take it anymore, and then you hear them for the first time in five months and start it all over again.

Arcade Fire at Coachella
The Arcade Fire at Coachella

The Arcade Fire played at the Casbah last January, and it was the kind of show where the tickets were 10 dollars, our friends in New York had seen them, and the hype was inescapable. I bought the tickets and sort of forgot about the commitment, and a few days before the concert I still hadn't given the record the proper pre show listens. Then, at some point in time, "Wake Up" played at just the right time, and I realized that this was absolutely going to be the show opener, and that there was no way the show wasn't going to be awesome. This was an accurate assesment, and as the band left the stage I found myself thinking that this was the rare kind of show where if they announced that they were going to play it all over again, from start to finish, I would probably have stayed. Then they played the encore and I seriously thought about changing my answer. After the ridiculously intense closer of Neighborhood #3 -> Rebellion (Lies), they encored with two songs that the singer's wife sung, or warbled, complete with interpretive dance antics out of an SNL sketch. I seriously didn't know if I could have taken the double dose of "Haiti" and "In The Back Seat" even for all the "Wake Up"'s in the world. But oh well. Here's the show, enjoy it, and think about how much awesomer it would have been to see them at the Casbah the next time they come to play like the UCSD arena or some other awful spacious venue.

1. Intro
2. Wake Up
3. Neighborhood #2 (Laika)
4. No Cars Go
5. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
6. Crown Of Love
7. Cars and Telephones
8. Born On A Train (Magnetic Fields Cover)
9. Une Annee Sans Lemiere
10. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
11. Rebellion (Lies)
12. Encore Break
13. Haiti
14. In The Back Seat

And PS, if you know the girl in the front row of Coachella who sobbed like a baby in the video after Conor Oberst sang "Lua" please slap her for me.

April 24, 2006

Join The Kite Flying Society

Bruce.jpg

David Lizerbram sent me the above picture. It's of his bedroom. It's probably unnecessary to say that getting emailed a picture of some dude's bedroom doesn't happen that often, and I pretty much discourage the practice across the board. But this was a special case. David had noticed that Bruce Springsteen was included on the National High Five Day soundtrack CD, and expressed his happiness with that to me in an email. I wrote him back, telling a few Bruce Springsteen related stories of my own, (they involve The Rising, high volume, and the destruction of a friends property.) Then David sent me that picture.

There's a few key things that I like about it. One, it's pretty much the only thing on the wall. You can see a fair amount of wall on either side, and there's nary a "The Kiss" poster or a "Lifeguard May Be Used as a Flotation Device" in sight. So he's not a man to decorate his apartment, but he puts his sparing efforts to good use. Secondly is the speed with which he sent me the picture. It arrived in my email a mere 12 minutes after my Bruce Springsteen stories were sent. This means that he read my email, found his camera, snapped the pic, loaded it up, debated about whether to really send it to a stranger, and decided to go for it, all very quickly. Thirdly, I like the fact that David Lizerbram is the bassist for a sweet band from San Diego called the Kite Flying Society.

KFS.jpg
Kite Flying Society

Did you wonder where that was going? Well if you made it here, you'll be a better person for it. From the songs that I've heard, the Kite Flying Society makes music akin to those happy popsters in the Apples In Stereo. Lots of spacey background harmonies on the oohs and the aahs, some handclaps, and eclectic instrumentation that includes organ, guitar and a quite prominent glockenspiel. The songs are incredibly catchy, and stay soft without being wussy. Like, they have enough going on and are fun enough that you'd want to turn them up loud, but they would sound just as good through your headphones while you're walking around the zoo.

David was kind enough to send me two songs to let you all download. 6000 Shipwrecks has the best backgound harmonies and is the more uptempo of the two, plus it includes the rarely attempted background harmony solo, whereas Love & Seagulls is more of a slower, bouncier track with a melody very similar to Daydream Believer by the Monkees, but just enough to reel you in before switching it up on you.

I'm pretty sure the band is named after Max Fisher's sparsely attended club from Rushmore, and I think that the tone of the songs would be akin to the aural equivilent of Wes Anderson fare. Rushmore is my favorite movie and Anderson can do no wrong by me, so I think that this is one band that I'm going to recommend and keep an eye out, as they are currently recording their debut album. They are also playing a few shows at the Casbah, one on June 20th, and Ain't No Cure, a Cure covers benefit show on April 30th.

Check out their myspace page for two more streaming songs: http://www.myspace.com/KFSMusic

MP3s:
6000 Shipwrecks
Love & Seagulls

April 19, 2006

Thursday, April 20th Is the Fifth Annual National High Five Day

Jimmy_Carter_Hi5.jpg


Two songs will do you well to listen to today: Thursday by The Features and The Rising. Go ahead, download blindly, you know you want to.

One concert will do you well to attend today: Blind Melon's in PB at 9:30.

Best National High Five Day t-shirt wins some cold hard cash. Check the myspace blog for details and post your picture there.

After Thursday, things will hopefully calm down around here, and I can get back to posting more regularly and thoroughly. Until then, keep the high fives coming.

www.nationalhighfiveday.com

April 18, 2006

Before There Was National High Five Day, You Only Had God

high five hands

The grandest National High Five Day tradition of them all: The Soundtrack mix CD. Finding the perfect set of songs to deliver your high fives to complete strangers to is a difficult task. Songs must sound good played in perfect weather, and turned up loud, but must also stand the test of time and not be the kind of thing you are embarassed about in a years time. Hence, you will find no Gnarls Barkley "Crazy" on this years mix. This years mix was also unique because we put out the call for original works from artists or bands, songs they truly felt exemplified the themes on NH5D. Responses ranged greatly in quality. In fact, the entire time that I've had this blog, I've refrained from really exhibiting a large part of my personality, the hyper critical, dismissive side that really truly hates a lot of the music that is out there. Keeping this part of me in check while listening to some of the songs that opportunistic musicians sent in, (always with the assurance that this song would be "perfect" for NH5D) was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

And yet, i pushed through it, and came up with a damn good mix. Only six artists here that you've probably never heard of, but I'd like to thank all of them for submitting their fine songs to our cause. I hope you enjoy the mix as well, and that it plays loudly as you exchange high fives on Thursday, April 20th.

Rhapsody has done us the service of setting up this years National High Five Day soundtrack as a playlist that you can listen to for free. We're talking entire songs, with no software to install, it was very nice of them. Of course they don't have the original songs that we got sent, so you can download all of those songs below, and click here to listen to the Rhapsody playlist of the rest of the bands.

Thanks again to the six bands that sent in original works: The Bo Dukes, Wynn Walent, Pablo, Jay Mankind, David Shultz and Yeah Someday

Sly & The Family Stone - Everyday People
The Bo Dukes - All My Fives Are High
Flaming Lips - Turn It On
Wynn Walent - Paramedic
The Replacements - Bastards Of Young
Lou Reed - Andy's Chest
Pablo - Loser Crew
Jamie Lidell - Multiply
Jay Mankind - East Village Strollin'
Bruce Springsteen - Badlands
Bob Dylan - Tell Me, Momma
David Shultz - Tones
John Lennon - Whatever Gets You Thru The Night
Paul Westerberg - Mr. Rabbit
Yeah Someday - Give Me Five
Flaming Lips - Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
Andrew Bird - Fake Palindromes
Bright Eyes - Road To Joy
Wolf Parade - I'll Believe In Anything
Elvis Presley - If I Can Dream
The Hold Steady - How a Resurrection Really Feels


In other exciting news:

-The Official National High Five Day concert (San Diego edition) is still taking place at 9:30 at Blind Melon's in PB! The bands we have lined up are The Bo Dukes (see above) and Shaka Buku. We'll be hanging out at my place right nearby beforehand, so if you're in the area, drop me a line beforehand and we can maybe chill beforehand and play this soundtrack really loud.

-Have you noticed the banners on the side of the page for Permanent Tanooki? It's my webcomic, resuming a comic that I wrote and my friend Cason Moore drew for three years in college. New comics every Monday and Thursday, check it out!

-We had a winner in the 4/20 giveaway, it was the guy who wrote about Little Feat. I hope to do more contests again soon.

-Read more about some of the artists on the mix that I've written about before: David Shultz, The Bo Dukes, The Hold Steady, Bob Dylan, The Flaming Lips

highfiveshadow.jpg


April 13, 2006

Hey Hey, It's Michael Nesmith!!

Michael Nesmith

If you ask me what the first concert I ever went to was, the answer you will get is Green Day, Dookie Tour '94. I have the t shirt. But it's not entirely true. Before that I attended a Billy Joel/Elton John extravaganza with my parents, (yes, they played Piano Man) and WAY before that I saw The Monkees at Wolf Trap when I was like in second grade. Yes, The Monkees for some reason played a big part in my childhood, and nothing makes me happier than to see that members of The Monkees are still kind of revered non-ironically in our modern society.

This Wired interview with Michael Nesmith (the one with the hat) popped up in my Gmail news feeds today, and is very interesting. Nesmith is famously the Monkee who objected the most to the role the band was forced into by the nameless, faceless executives of either television or the music biz. He wanted the band to take advantage of their popularity and write their own songs and play their own music on the records. Post-Monkees, he has gone on to produce one of the greatest movies of all time, "Repo Man", and generally kick back and savor his reputation as The Monkee Who Kept It Real.

Nesmith's desire to inject authenticity into the Monkees in my mind makes him sort of a tragic figure. One can't help but listen to him sing "Listen To The Band" and hear a voice that truly yearned to and deserved to be heard. The plea of the song, (a song that evidently meant enough to Nesmith to name one of his Greatest Hits compilations after it), takes on added significance, at least to yours truly, when heard inthe context of Nesmith's conflicted position as a talented musician in a band universally accepted as a joke. Videos of the band interacting with Johnny Cash and Frank Zappa as well as projects such as the Monkees bizarre psychedelic movie Head , wherein the band plays one scene as flakes of dandruffs in someones head, also serve to show the promise the group truly had that for the most part, remained unseized.

Nesmith evidently remains active in the music and arts scene. I will review his new album, "Rays" as soon as I can. Until then, check out the Monkees MP3s and videos I have below. The videos are of "What Am I Doin' Hangin' Round," Nesmith's hat wearin', heart rendin' country ballad, and "Goin' Down," my dad's favorite Monkees song, that is sung by Mickey Dolenz, builds like "Keep The Customer Satisfied" and has a video that trully must be seen to be believed. After that, download the MP3 of "Goin' Down" so you can show your friends how much ass the Monkees indeed kicked, and finally, the MP3 of "Listen to the Band", for you to put on repeat as you finish your last three beers of the evening.


What Am I Doin' Hangin' Round


Goin' Down

MP3s:

The Monkees - Goin' Down
The Monkees - Listen To The Band

Monkees Season One DVDs
Monkees Greatest Hits
Monkees Head DVD

April 10, 2006

Gilly Leads The Way

gillyleads.jpg
Gilly Leads

I've never been to Lestat's in Normal Heights, and usually I like to spend my birthday at a favorite restaurant/booze dispensary. However, I think that come April 23rd this year, I will have to make an exception and travel to Lestat's to check out Gilly Leads. He's an artist from Los Angeles who you've probably never heard of, but who you shouldn't miss the opportunity to check out in a week's time. I find it difficult not to hear shades of David Bowie in the two songs by Leads that I've heard, not so much in his voice, but in the style of music. Fire Escape has lurching, piano driven march verses that give way to the more plaintive, melodic chorus. People Know is more energetic and features some cool harmonizing the likes of which TV On the Radio recently recruited Bowie for for their latest single "Providence." Of course, whether or not I would be making these comparisons if I didn't know that Mike Garson, who played on keys on all of Bowie's great albums was part of Gilly Lead's band, but that power of suggestion...it's a damn strong power.

Leads plays at Lestat's on Sunday, April 23rd with The Bo Dukes and The Shambles

Check out some MP3s:

-Fire Escape
-People Know

April 07, 2006

Bob Dylan at the Supper Club

dylan supper club

Here's another CD that was provided to me by my friend Andrew. It's the weekend, I'm going up to LA, and I'm feeling lazy, so I'll just relay to you what he told me without checking it's authenticity. This is evidently a show that Dylan recorded that was supposed to an MTV Unplugged. However, the suits, as they tend to do, wanted a show more packed with the hits. So he recorded a new show, that was released as the underwhelming official MTV Unplugged album and DVD. Thus, the discerning baby boomers who bought the MTV Unplugged album got their much needed new versions of "The Times They Are-A Changin'" and "All Along The Watchtower" but never got a chance to hear rockin' live performances of tradtional fare such as "Ragged and Dirty" or "Jack A Roe" or hear "Tight Connection to My Heart" stripped of its generic 80s production values and realize what a great song was buried somewhere within the Empire Burlesque album. So download, and realize that even before Dylan's Time Out Of Mind comeback, he was still "back." We just didn't know it yet because we were too busy not listening to the MTV Unplugged album.

MP3s:

1. Ragged And Dirty
2. Lay Lady Lay
3. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
4. Queen Jane Approximately
5. Jack-A-Roe
6. One Too Many Mornings
7. I Want You
8. Ring Them Bells
9. My Back Pages
10. Forever Young
11. Tight Connection To My Heart
12. Weeping Willow
13. Delia

Bob Dylan homepage (On tour soon!) and Bob's Boots, and excellent Dylan bootleg resource.

April 06, 2006

A Starting Point for the Burgeoning Grateful Dead Fan

Steal Your Face

Making a decision to "get into" the Grateful Dead is one of the more daunting tasks a music fan can undertake. This is the case for several different reasons. First of all there's the whole associated culture, which contains many repellent aspects, among them fashion, dancing and use of the word "heady." Also, many fans of traditional rock and roll, used to the 3 to 5 minute song length comfort zone, find it harder to embrace the improvisational (read: longer) nature of the music. Finally, the sheer volume of live Grateful Dead material available makes finding appealing recordings an odds against crap shoot that discourages many likely fans. It's also worth mentioning that for as legendary and as popular as they are, they're never mentioned in the discussions of greatest bands of all time by those with the power to make those declarations. This is probably the reason that I had at least two Eric Clapton CDs in my collection before any Grateful Dead.

Dancing Bears
Don't let these guys keep you from listening to this band


All of the above at one point in time applied to me, but through a gradual process, I've learned to love the Dead. The culture thing was the easiest for me to overcome. Fifteen years ago, when the Dead were still touring, it might have been necessary to interact with the stereotypical hippies at concerts, or while seeking out the best bootlegs. The internet has put an end to this era, with many high quality recordings (both recording and performance quality) available for free on line, at the Internet Live Music Archive among other sources. Secondly, like many people who assume they know what the Grateful Dead's music sounds like prior to listening to it, it is quite dissimilar to the other "jam bands" you may have already heard and loathed. They played just as many covers of traditional and classic rock tunes as they did their own originals. Big River, El Paso, Dancin' In The Streets all our songs that you've heard other artists sing that turn up in Dead sets frequently enough for you to forget the original recorded version. And the original material is outstanding on its own. The songs are classics, with very few veering off into pointless, artsy, yawn-inducing territory, (but beware of anything called Feedback, Space, Drums or Dark Star.)

As far as the question of where to begin is concerned, I'll point you in the right direction. Begin like I did, with the "Cornell Show", that took place on May 8th, 1977. Sort of like the Europe '72 cd, it contains a great mix of great quality versions of everything that makes a Grateful Dead concert what it is. It has defining Dead staples that never appeared on a studio album such as "Estimated Prophet" and "Jack Straw." It also has it's share of covers of traditional and Americana songs, as well as some of the Dead's finest songs that you've heard on Classic Rock radio, like St. Stephen and Scarlet Begonias. As good as the studio version of St. Stephen you've heard on Skeletons in the Closet may be, there's nothing quite like hearing the song performed ferociously live, leading into little jam called "Not Fade Away" before erupting back out of the chaos that song descends into for one last triumphant chorus. Try fitting all that into one "Seven Song Super Set."

Download this show and just let it come up occasionally on shuffle. It'l work its way into your soul.

MP3s below:

1. Minglewood Blues
2. Loser
3. El Paso
4. They Love Each Other
5. Jack Straw
6. Deal
7. Lazy Lightning -> Supplication
8. Brown Eyed Woman
9. Mama Tried
10. Row Jimmy
11. Dancin' In The Streets
12. Take A Step Back/Tuning
13. Scarlet Begonias -> Fire On The Mountain
14. Estimated Prophet
15. Tuning/Dead Air
16. Saint Stephen
17. Not Fade Away
18. Saint Stephen
19. Morning Dew
20. Saturday Night

April 04, 2006

The Beat of Soweto Proves to Indeed Be Indestructible

Soweto

Everyone should have a friend with musical tastes like my friend Andrew. By no means is his collection or tastes all encompassing, nor would I feel right calling it random. I think it would be right to call it unconstrained by era, fidelity or language. Through various phases, he has cajoled me into listening to reggae, The Grateful Dead, and hissy, tinny recordings of musicians from six decades ago. Some of it has stuck, namely the Dead, some of the genres of reggae were not so lucky (thank god.) But seeing that he has sent me cds, occasionaly just identified by a single word, is always an interesting experience. When seven or so albums turned up the other day, I knew that something worth writing about would come of it.

Indeed it has. The CD labeled "Soweto" has turned out to be The Indestructible Beat of Soweto, a compilation of South African artists that was released in the mid 80s. According to Andrew, this CD is "What Paul Simon wishes that Graceland had sounded like." Heavy words. I'm a big fan of Paul Simon, and don't think Graceland bashing is territory to enter into lightly. However, I was aware that Simon's usage of South African musicians on a good number of the tracks for the 1987 album was controversial at the time. Since I was six when the album came out, I was oblivious to the controversy, and only vaguely aware that I liked the song about the guy called Al. I don't care to learn about the controversy, nor do I think i would be the one to definitively explain it. If Paul Simon exploited the explosive political climate in South Africa in 1987 to generate publicity for his record, this "hype" has been forgotten by now as the record has proven that it stands the test of time on its own musical merits.

What does sort of irk me is this sentence from the Amazon.com description of The Indestructible Beat of Soweto.


Before Paul Simon, Sting, and Peter Gabriel started their explorations and exploitations of African music, this stunning set of music was already out there showing the world how it was done in South Africa's townships.

Now when you lump Paul Simon in with that "illustrious" crowd, it sort of makes you do a re-evaluation of things. Both of these guys have used South African sounds? Sting of I Used To Be Cool Once fame? The same Peter Gabriel last seen trying to get the entire Olympic village to never listen to "Imagine" again? Are there people out there, snarky people who probably call the album "Dis-Graceland" (like they were the first one to think of that), who think of Paul Simon as one of those types of musicians?

graceland.jpg
Graceland - Still OK by me


My musical taste is not very subject to revisionist history. As a big Graceland fan, hearing The Indestructible Beat of Soweto compilation makes me feel a bit like I did when I learned that Dr. Dre had pretty much lifted all of the music for "Ain't Nuthin' But A G Thang" directly out of someone elses song. It's disappointing at first, but then I feel glad that I didn't know the music was lifted from somewhere before I heard the derivative work. Had I heard the original first, I might never have been able to appreciate the derivative/homage work, and then I would be deprived of the memories and associations I had with that work. And who knows if I would have been open to listening to these African musicians singing in a strange language, making wierd vocal inflections, and using bizarre instruments to create a joyous mix of acapella, bluegrass and zydeco had not Paul Simon eased me into it when I was six years old?

Mahlathini
Mahlathini

Well the answer to that is probably that I would have still appreciated the music on the Soweto compilation. It's about as infectious good time sunny day music as you can get. The instantly recognizable harmonies of Ladysmith Black Mambazo are of course represented on this compilation, but you also get a wide more variety of artists that you've never heard of. Standing out instantly is the unique "Groaning" voice of Mahlathini. Deep, gravelly and unlike many things you've heard before, this guy sounds like he would be the kind of guy that would sing part of a song and retreat to the side of the stage, but you'd be unable to take your eyes off him for fear that you'd miss him do something awesome. You've also got the fiddle playing of Moses Mchunu, which wouldn't sound out of place on a Cajun Zydeco record. I had always assumed that Simon incorporated disparate elements of South African music and Creole on his record. Now I realize that this South African sound just had many more elements to it than just what you could identify as South African on the surface. Also standing out is Johnson Mkhalali's Joyce No. 2, incorporating squeezebox, bass and stacatto guitar all so familiar sounding that even the most ardent Simon supporters couldn't help but feel that he pulled a fast one on them.

This album is far from under the radar. It was evidently named Album of the Year by the Village Voice in 1987, but I would be surprised if it had sold 1/50th the copies that Graceland had. Well now is your chance to check it out for yourself. I don't see how you could lose with this baby. If you like the music of Graceland, you'll love this album. If you're a hipster who wants to bemoan Graceland's obvious accomplishments in favor of something more esoteric at parties, this is perfect. If your tastes fall somewhere in the middle, in that foreign realm that we simply call "fans of good music," you win as well. Highly recommended.

Buy it at Amazon: The Indestructible Beat of Soweto

MP3 samples: I Have Made Up My Mind - Mahlathini, Nezintombi & Zomgoashiyo
Joyce No. 2 - Johnson Mkhalali

April 03, 2006

Alta Voz - Overlooked No Longer

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For some reason, I skipped over Alta Voz when summarizing the CityBeat's Local Music issue last week. Well actually I know the reason, it's because there was a Death Cab for Cutie comparison in the first sentence. But looking back, it compares it to the effect-less era of Death Cab for Cutie, which I've never actually heard, and it follows it up with a solid Bends-era Radiohead comparison. So it's probably worth venturing a listen towards, especially since they are playing the Casbah for the first time tonight as part of the Rookie Card Telethon/Bakesale/Rummage Sale/Comeback Show, which sounds like a pretty entertaining affair, featuring several other bands, breakdancers, burlesque, and free cd's with your paid admission, which is only $5.

The CityBeat review described the sound as "desperately sullen" which I guess is pretty accurate. I don't know how much the Bends-era Radiohead comment I agree with. People seem to forget that The Bends wasn't just some mopey record. Songs like "The Bends" actualy reached hieghts of rocking that few bands have made sound as authentic within recent memory. I prefer my tunes to have a big more energy, more of that awesome three note guitar solo from the end of "The Bends", but if there's one particular time and place to show off just how much you rock, it sounds like it would have to be the Casbah tonight.

Alta Voz Myspace site

MP3s:

Double Our Efforts
Twilight In The Colosseum
Smile Like A Minus Sign
The Cutting Shape Of Fate

March 31, 2006

Baseball Season Will Be Starting Soon

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"Baseball season will be starting soon" begins Going to Tennessee by The Mountain Goats. Fortunately, the next line "But we have no baseball team here" need not apply to us here in San Diego, nor any longer to my family back in Virginia. One might think that with the latest news about Barry Bonds, steroids, and the web of lies, deception and cover-ups concerning those topics, that it would be impossible to retain the same child-like excitement I once had regarding America's pastime. One would be very, very wrong.

I find it even easier these days to romanticize the game of baseball, in spite of its glaring flaws. The fact of the matter is that there will always be dozens of memories I will have of the game that I reminsice about fondly, beer in hand, before Barry Bonds, the strike of '94 or DC Councilwoman Linda Cropp come to mind. Among these include:

-Skipping school to see the Orioles opening day at the height of my childhood baseball fandom in 1989 with my dad and grandfather, where we sat in the bleachers and sang "Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Goodbye" as a brawling drunken couple was escorted from the stands
-Watching the Red Sox's 2004 World Series run, where a roar of the crowd across the street at Nick's signified that something great was about to happen on my five second delayed cable

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-Every phone call I made during the course of last seasons ill fated "Mets vs Nationals" bet.
-The first time I ever heard that bell tolling in the 9th as an entire stadium of Padres fans rose to their feet
-Remembering where I was and who I was with when Cal broke the streak, Luis Gonzalez beat the Yankees and McGwire hit 62
-The time that several friends bet heavily on "watch" mode on RBI Baseball, where the computer proceeded to play out an extra innings contest so dramatic that the next door neighbors had to come over to see what all the shouting was about
-Performing James Earl Jones' "Baseball Speech" from Field of Dreams with full band accompaniment at a concert last December
-Attending my first Nats game in the nation's capital on the Fourth of July last year and thinking "Yeah, this feels right"

And fortunately, for us romanticizers, baseball has more and better music associated with it than any other sport. For those of you who remain skeptical about the inherent goodness of the upcoming season, I've prepared a short 9 inning program for you to get yourself pumped. It starts slow, and saves the big guns for the end. We'll begin below:

Continue reading "Baseball Season Will Be Starting Soon" »

March 30, 2006

Marc Ribot - You May Not Have Heard Of Him, But You've Probably Heard Him

If you're a fan of Tom Waits' weird stuff, like Rain Dogs, Frank's Wild Years and his latest Real Gone, check out the above video. It's of two songs from a date in Amsterdam on the Real Gone tour. Take note of what is going on musically when Waits isn't singing. The drumbeat just sort of lurches on at the same pace, the bass isn't really a factor, but that guitarist...It wasn't until I watched this bootleg concert that I realized how much of Tom Waits' signature sound comes from the efforts of his guitarist Marc Ribot. It's sort of like a rapper working with a favorite producer, in the sense that the Rakim may be fine on his own, but if you ever wonder why he never achieved the heights of his first few albums again, you may want to take a closer look at the less heralded Eric B.

Now that I've pointed out how integral and distinct Ribot's work is on Waits' records, every time you hear a solo or distinctive guitar riff, it's going to stand out, kind of like how you never noticed the arrow in the FedEx logo until someone pointed it out to you. You can thank me for that later. For now, you ought to check out the large body of solo work that Ribot has amassed with various projects. In addition to playing with other artists as diverse as Solomon Burke, Elvis Costello, Medeski, Martin & Wood and Harry Shearer(?) he has released several very interesting solo albums that I didn't know about until yesterday.

Muy divertido!


My favorite, and infinitely the most listenable to the non-fan of crazy avant garde music, of all of his solo works are the two albums he recorded with the Los Cubanos Postizos. Translated as The Prosthetic Cubans, (rivaled maybe only by Keith Richards and the X-pensive Winos as the greatest backing band name in history), they interpret traditional Cuban music Ribot-style. So imagine that sharp, metallic guitar snaking its way across shuffling Latin rhythms in the kind of marriage so unholy that of course it ends up working. Anyone who all of a sudden realized two paragraphs ago that a big part of what they like about Tom Waits is the work of his guitarist would be advised to check these two albums out today.


MP3: Baile Baile Baile from Muy Divertido! his second album with the Prosthetic Cubans.
The first was simply titled The Prosthetic Cubans.

Video of the group performing courtesy of archive.org

March 29, 2006

Entry #85: Where It Becomes My Mission To Make Sure You Hear David Shultz

As mentioned below, my recent trip to NYC ended with a frustrated me being forced to listen to a CD by an unknown artist until my friend saw fit to borrow a roomates computer that my ipod could plug into. In a strange twist of fate, I got to the point where I actually didn't want the CD we were listening to to end. Had the circumstances surrounding my being in that apartment been different, had I not been beaten down by a weekend in the big city, or had I possessed a CD of the band I wanted to listen to rather than the ipod, I may have been more willing to take action and dickishly play what I wanted to right off the bat. As it stood, I sort of sat there while my friend brought me ginger ale and peanuts, and took in the music of David Shultz.

David Shultz Self Titled Album

I don't know much about the man, nor do I ever expect to. From his tour dates, I suspect he lives in New York, but he plays on Friday at Coupe De Ville's, (widely renowned as the worst bar at UVA, and paradoxically one of the few that endorses live music), so there may be a UVA connection as well. I think that his music is best summed up by a line from his album closer "Of All The Things": "I recognize the familiar sound / It's like a song I've heard a thousand times before / or maybe I've never heard it at all." I think that his music is like 1,000 other things done right.

Imagine your typical guy with a guitar, but take away the baseball cap and make him sound genuine. Put a little bit of whiskey in his voice. Kick the tempo up every now to keep things rockin'. Don't mention the ladies by name, they already know who they are. And most importantly, make sure that the guitar and harmonica sound mournful enough that when you realize that the song is making you sad, you suddenly understand that it's because you're not sure if anyone else you know is ever gonna hear this guy's songs.

I realized that right about song 3, and by the time the record was almost over, the thought of other people not hearing these songs I had heard had become a devastating proposition. Fortunately, I am a man of action who is going to do his best to make damn sure that these songs don't go unheard by you, the discerning reader of a stranger's blog. So here's what I suggest that you do: Check out these two songs, check out Shultz's myspace site and then, (this is the big step), register for a free trial at eMusic and use some of your 50 free downloads to get the rest of his CD. eMusiccan do no wrong by me. Their free trial is a cancel anytime, no strings attached policy, they're gotten rave write ups from Rolling Stone, and every other music blog you will read will endorse them whole heartedly. Best of all, within five minutes you can be downloading Dave Shultz's self titled album, plus My Morning Jacket, The Meat Puppets, The Arcade Fire, etc.

David Shultz Myspace

MP3: The Flaws & Tones

March 28, 2006

The Raconteurs Live MP3s and Videos!

Shaky video of early Raconteurs gigs have turned up on YouTube. Above is a cover of David Bowie's "It Ain't Easy" which is awesome. The video is right around D+ quality though, so it is fortunate that better quality MP3s of another show have also turned up, and are posted at Tea With Tufty. After listening to just the Bowie cover and the set opener, I have far more faith in the band. In fact, I even feel bad for doubting that Jack White would participate in something non-awesome. Below is a video for "Steady As She Goes", the single which made me uneasy.

Lastly is a Charlie Rose interview with Jack and Meg, where he discusses Hipsters in candid terms. I always think it is silly to see the term "hipster" used in a legitimate context, such as a PBS interview or a New York Times article, and this is no exception. What Jack White says, that had not crossed my mind before, is that the the fickle "looking for the next big thing" nature of hipsters moving from band to band at breakneck pace does not simply cause there to be fewer "classic" bands that stand the test of time, but that this is more of an intentional maneuver, because hipsters don't want to be associated with anything that is old and uncool. It's not that they got former forgotten buzz bands wrong, it's that they never wanted to be right: just cool. It's always strange to hear bonafide wealthy rock stars talking about things like this, but you have to figure he has more experience with it than most other people, so as before, I'm inclined to agree with the man.

As a final note, if you are ever looking for MP3s or reviews of recently played concerts, try using blog search engines such as Technorati. Whereas the big dogs such as Google and Yahoo can be unpredictable with their update schedules, sometimes taking days, blogs tell Technorati when they update, allowing them to be right on top of the latest postings. That's how I found these MP3s, a process which would have been more difficult and frustrating at Google.

New The Vision Of A Dying World Song

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I emailed the guys in The Vision Of A Dying World a few times the past week, and I like to imagine that the guy in the band reading my emails is the guy in the bottom right corner of the above photo, and that he reads the emails with the exact facial expression he has in the picture. Anyways, they have a new banjo driven song that rules that I thought people would want to hear.

The Vision Of A Dying World - Beaver King

Soundtrack to My New York Trip

Usually my vacations end up having a song that is readily identifiable with the experience of the trip. Sometimes it's because of chance, like the trip to New Orleans in 2003 when In Da Club was as inescapable as Golddigger was last year, sometimes it's because of wilfull repetition, like the trip to New Orleans in 2000 when I forced everyone to come into a UNC dorm room at 2 AM to download and listen to Kid Rock's "Only God Knows Why" for the tenth time on the trip. This trip had a more natural flow to the soundtracking progress, with a decent mix of old favorites and songs that I didn't realize how awesome they were until they came on at just the right moment. Without further ado:


youre no good shirt

Click to check out my shirt

1. Bob Dylan - She's No Good : I needed to make a costume for this trip for the concert I would be playing in. I thought that writing a song lyrics on a plain white t-shirt would be a good idea; the trick was picking the right song. My first thought was Dylan's "It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding," then i considered the Hold Steady's "How A Resurrection Really Feels," but while I was worrying that these two songs might not be perfect, the first song on Dylan's first album came on. A half hour and a sore hand later, I had my t-shirt.

wynn walent

2. Wynn Walent - The Well Is Always Dry : This was the third song I considered, but didn't know if Wynn would want his music used in such a fashion. Despite the concerns that he may or may not have had, it was intended as nothing other than a heartfelt tribute to my favorite song of his.

3. Grateful Dead - Brokedown Palace : Long trips are ideal spots for getting a chance to listen to all the new music I get, but I find it tough lately to listen to anything other than the Grateful Dead while travelling. I listened to this 1972 Dick's Picks Vol 11 version of Brokedown Palace several times on the flight out and on the flight back, and the fact that I didn't get into a vicious argument with someone who might have disputed it's status as the best song of all time (at least for this week) is a miracle.

4. Brian Eno - 1/1 : When the Dead proved unable to lull me to sleep on my comfortable airplane seat tray, I turned to this song, which is really cool and reminds me of song 2 on Kid A.

5. Blue Oyster Cult - Career of Evil : Evidently my band subconsciously ripped off the riff from this BOC song for our song "Mr. Brown", but I think it is slightly different enough that it just makes both songs even cooler.

6. The Beatles - I've Just Seen A Face : After driving through the wasteland that was Route 1 and the NJ turnpike, we waited in a line 45 minutes long to go through the Lincoln Tunnel. This song playing as we finally got to drive through made the whole experience slightly worth it.

Rockaway Beach

7. The Ramones - Rockaway Beach : I flew into JFK which is evidently right by Rockaway Beach. We listened to this as we cruised up the West Side Highway on the way to our gig. One of my favorite things about going to NYC the first few times I did were seeing all the places that people like the Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest and Wu-Tang rapped about. I would have preferred that the squalor of Rockaway Beach had remained forever obscured by this glorifying song.

8. Re-Ree - Let's Get Radical : So Re-Ree is my band, (It's a joke), and this is a song that we rehearsed but didn't get to perform at the concert we played. I tried to get the singer to do onstage push ups during an instrumental break of this song, like Yellowman did when we saw him in concert one time like five years ago

9. The Faces - Ooh La La - This came on someones stereo the last night we were in town. I was going to call my brother and just let the song play (for no real reason) but I learned then that I didn't have his phone number.

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10. David Shultz - The Flaws : The next day, (feeling wonderful after the kind of night where I have ideas like calling my brother and playing a Faces song), I went over to my friends and tried to finally get him to listen to the Hold Steady, which I had evidently been talking about all damn weekend to whomever would listen. He refused to borrow the roomates computer until the CD by David Shultz finished playing. Normally that would make me hate whatever artist was on, but as it turns out, I really, really like this guy and downloaded his CD from eMusic yesterday.

11. The Hold Steady : How A Resurrection Really Feels : Then I finally got a chance to play this and of course it was an awesome way to cap off an awesome weekend.

Links:

David Shultz, Wynn Walent, Re-Ree, Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead, Brian Eno, Blue Oyster Cult, Beatles, Ramones, Faces, Hold Steady

March 22, 2006

2 Songs On Repeat for the Next Five Days

Only In New York!

During one particularly boozed up car ride back from the the chaos of Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras to our hotel a few years ago, "Born to Run" happened to come up on random. Needless to say, mayhem ensued: "Born to Run" sounded like the greatest song anyone had ever heard, and my friend Dave proclaimed that we would listen to "Born to Run" on repeat for the entire 14 hour trip back to Virginia.

This was obviously an idiotic idea, but the thought of actually forcing a repeated soundtrack upon yourself during a trip is one I still like to joke about. So I present to you my theoretical 2 song soundtrack for my trip to New York this weekend, designed to play on repeat for maximum maddening effect:

1. Notorious BIG & Frank Sinatra - Juicy (New York, New York Remix)
2. Andrew WK - I Love NYC

Just imagining listening to that for the 700th time while sitting in crowded JFK airport waiting for the plane back to SD to board feeling as tired and as lousy as I know I will feel makes me shudder.

Since there won't be any updates until next week, here are a list of things that you may have missed if you just started reading this site recently. It's going on two months, so I figured a short recap may be in order:

-Some crazy Norwegian Neutral Milk Hotel fans met on the internet and recorded a collective cover album of In The Aeroplane Over The Sea.
-Holiday & The Adventure Pop Collective put on a really fun show and are at the Whistle Stop on Friday the 24th
-The greatest freestyle rap of all time
-I've interviewed The Bloody Hollies and the Electric Waste Band
-Jack White got irritated one day and it made me wonder if I was wrong for not loving all the music that everyone else appears to. My conclusion was that of course I am not.
-And lastly, the National High Five Day Soundtrack project

Thanks for reading!

March 21, 2006

The Vision Of A Dying World

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The Vision Of A Dying World

Back in like 8th grade, my mom was kind of fanatical about the music I was allowed to listen to. She attended meetings at my middle school put on by Tipper Gore's PMRC where they would show videos of Ice-T's "Cop Killa" and The Geto Boyz, and come home very distressed about what she had seen, as if purchasing those cd's were the next logical step for a young boy interested in Nirvana and Pearl Jam. I remember going through a friends packaging of "Vitalogy" and crossing out the profanity with a pen, then crossing out other random words to make it look like it was done that way on purpose. My mom even balked at Nirvana Unplugged because of the song title of "Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam." Little did she suspect that that song was not the upside down cross, goats head black metal anthem she no doubt envisioned, but a simple little ballad whose heaviest instrument was the accordion that even she could conceivably end up liking.

San Diego's own The Vision Of A Dying World work in the same manner: scary sounding band name that seems to not really apply to the music. And they've got an accordion. The Vision Of A Dying World performs acoustic songs that have been compared to the music of Iron and Wine, mainly because of the reserved vocals and accoustic nature of the music. I hear the comparison, but you have to imagine Iron and Wine with a banjo mixed with a few Sea Shanties, an sometimes prominent percussion section, plus the occasional kind of group vocals that you've heard before on the Grateful Dead's "Ripple" and of course the accordion.

The sum is, of course, much greater than its parts, so check out the posted MP3s here (my favorite is "Travis Wayne" which features the Grateful Dead "Ripple" effect), on the bands myspace site, and on purevolume, which I've never heard of but where you can download a few more MP3s. The band is currently playing a few shows up in Redlands but then heading back to San Diego, where you can catch them on April 6th at Dream Street in Ocean Beach. Many thanks to Troy Johnson from CityBeat for pointing out the band to me.

MP3s:
-Travis Wayne
-Barges
-Sisters

CD available for purchase at CDbaby.

Tom Waits' Stories


Downtown Train


House Where Nobody Lives

It says a lot about a performer when their stage banter can be just as entertaining as the songs they perform. Since anyone who may be interested in listening to Tom Waits' stage banter is undoubtedly already familiar with the man's entire catalogue, I thought I would just upload the stories he tells in between songs from his VH1 Storyteller's session. I have a DVD of selected portions of this performance as well, but had trouble getting the videos from DVD to computer, so you just get the above two.

The stories are at many times nonsensical, all are likely to be lies, and at time it seems like you could swap the stories between songs and still have them make just as much sense. Still, they are all vaugely hypnotic to listen to, and definitely confirm my suspicion that Waits would be the best guy to sidle up next to in an empty bar and have him tell you his life story, or, since that never happens, the world's best bad uncle, who your mom always worries about what he's talking to you about when he's down at your end of the table on Thanksgiving.

I supose if enough people want to listen to these, I could put up the songs too, but for now check out the stories. Highlights include "Hold On" where Waits provides legal counsel for an 8 year old boy, "Ol' 55" detailing his friend Larry Beezer's exploits driving backwards on the Pasadena freeway (I think everybody needs a friend named Larry Beezer. From now on all my stories about Greg Harrell-Edge will be about Larry Beezer), and "I Can't Wait To Get Off Work And See My Baby" which is about Napoleone's Pizza House in National City, and a legendary kitchen worker who I'd like to think actually existed.

1. Tango Til They're Sore Story
2. Hang Down Your Head Story
3. Ol' 55 Story
4. Strange Weather Story
5. Hold On Story
6. Picture In A Frame Story
7. I Can't Wait To Get Off Work Story
8. House Where Nobody Lives Story
9. Get Behind The Mule Story
10. Chocolate Jesus Story
11. What's He Building In There Story
12. A Little Rain Story
13. Downtown Train Story
14. Jesus Gonna Be Here Story
15. Jersey Girl Story

Live Band of Horses MP3s

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Here is a good quality recording of a concert that Band of Horses played earlier in the month at Neumo's in Seattle. I still stand by my assertation that these guys could put on a great show. Live I think that the singers voice sounds a bit like a mix between My Morning Jacket's Jim James mixed with the more nasal aspects of the Flaming Lips Wayne Coyne. That makes their choice of the cover song to include on this set, Otis Redding's "Chained and Bound" all the more interesting. Still, on the songs that build in epic fashion, the band has a great deal of energy. Even on the songs that keep quiet the whole time, like St. Augustine, seem to have the promise that they could break out into rockin' at any moment. When they don't, I'm not sure whether to be disappointed or not. Anyways, check out the live tracks and make up your own mind, then buy their record, "Everything All the Time"

1. Intro
2. Monsters
3. Snow Song
4. The Great Salt Lake
5. No One
6. Biding Time Is A) Boat Row
7. Wicked Gil
8. Our Swords
9. Part One
10. The Funeral (Cut Short)
11. Chained And Bound
12. Encore Break
13. St. Augustine
14. The Funeral

March 20, 2006

Band of Horses

Band of Horses
Band of Horses

The internet has definitely changed the way that I read reviews. In the past, it might be necessary to read the review to get a feel for whether you might like a band. Nowadays, if you hear buzz that a band might be up your alley, you can in all likelihood be listening to one of their songs within seconds, through official websites, MP3 blogs or other channels. The review in many cases serves as a simple stimulus, to provoke you to check something out, and then maybe a guide to peruse after you've obtained the music to see if what you think ends up being in line with the reviewer.

At least that's how I work. So when I see a stimulus as glaring as a coveted Pitchfork "Best New Music" review, and a summary of the review that wastes only six words before comparing the band to My Morning Jacket, I decide to check out the band: in this case the tempting musicians go by the name Band of Horses.

I definitely think that these guys could be for real. This music sounds great turned up loud, and many songs build towards awesome climaxes featuring crashing cymbals and kick ass guitar work. The My Morning Jacket comparison that drew me in initially is pretty accurate, definitely in terms of the singers voice. It is a high pitched spacey one, and sort of detached from the music going on around it. Definitely the kind of band where you are 80% certain that the live show would blow you away, as long as the focused on the rockin' portion of the album.

Band of horses - Everything All The Time

So check out the first two songs that caught my eye. Both of these songs contain the previously mentioned elements that make them awesome, and are featured on the bands CD Everything All The Time. "The Great Salt Lake" is absolutely worth a listen, and these two different versions of "The Funeral" make me realize that i would most likely not go very far as a record producer. Listen to the The Funeral - Demo Version, then the The Funeral - Album Version. Obviously the same song, but the album version much more epic and awesome. I would have been fine to leave the great demo version alone, pack up and save some dough on studio time. I, ladies and gentlemen, am an idiot.

One final note, that I debated including for a long time. I decided to go for it. I promise to you, the reader, that on this blog, you will never ever read a record review that includes the following string of words: "In the year between my father's diagnosis with cancer and his death...."

One Month Until National High Five Day

That's right. There is one month left until National High Five Day. That's one month left for your band to send us an MP3 to feature on our soundtrack, and one month left to make travel plans to either NYC or San Diego to see either of the two official concerts.

The Bo Dukes

In case you're the type who needs a bit of convincing before making huge travel trips to see a band you've never heard about play a concert in celebration of a holiday made up by a guy you've never met, I offer up the following excellent MP3s from The Bo Dukes, who will play at Blind Melon's in Pacific Beach in honor of the holiday.

1. Save The Day
2. Hash
3. Hey Carolyn
4. Take It As Sign

Phil Plays Bob

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There are several Dylan By Lesh compilations floating around the internet, mostly comprised of songs that Lesh has played on Phil and Friends tours over the past decade or so. The second time I ever saw Dylan was one summer in High School and Phil and Friends was the opening act. With this tour, around the summer of 2000, in mind, and the high number of Dylan covers that Lesh has played, it makes me kind of doubtful about what I read in this months Blender magazine:


"In February 1989, he again joined the Dead onstage in Inglewood, California, and was so enthused that the following day he called their office and asked to become a full-time band member. According to Bob Weir, most of the band was keen, but one member - probably bassist Phil Lesh - voted against Zimmy."

Far be it from me to demand exacting historical music details from a magazine published by the guy who make Maxim, but this seems unnecessarily vague. Dylan joining the dead will long be one of rock's greatest, "what if" moments, and until Dylan releases his own reverse tribute, we will have to settle for the legions of Dead playing Dylan material available. We have Dylan and the Dead live performances (more of which exist than just the official live album), the offical Dead compilation "Postcards of the Hanging", to the recently released Garcia Plays Dylan, and the previously mentioned Phil and Friends compliations.

The Phil and Friends discs contain about half and half Dylan covers and Dead/traditional songs. I've posted my favorite disc of Volume 2 of the compilation. These are songs that come from the late nineties period of Phil and Friends, (except for When I Paint My Masterpiece, which comes from '94s first ever Phil and Friends show.

Continue reading "Phil Plays Bob" »

March 17, 2006

Some Pogues Music To Drink To In Honor Of St. Patties Day


The Pogues play "Body Of An American on Saturday Night Live

It's easy to be cynical about St. Patrick's day, especially if you're on the sober end of a drunken buffoon vomiting green beer all over you. I think it's best to embrace the holiday for what it is, hopefully get out to see a good band (The Scotch Greens at the Liars Club at 7:30 anyone?) and kick back some Guinni. If Guinni is not the plural for Guinness, it should be.

If you can't make it out to see any music and just need a soundtrack for your somber drinking at home alone, then the Pogues should suffice. The band has reunited and is playing sold out shows on East Coast for the next few days, and since they won't be coming out here, I've put together a selection of live Pogues recordings and a few oddities for you. Because of Shane MacGowan's appearances in the above video, or even worse in the Alex Cox movie "Straight To Hell", he gets the reputation that he was sort of the ODB of Irish folk punk, always teetering on the verge of collapse, prevented from implosion by a competent group of musicians. I personally find the guys voice comforting, and find the musical achievements of the band a testament that he actually has something going on in terms of musical talent. And if that's not the case (very likely) the music still sounds great turned up loud. Anyways, here are some MP3s:

-The above SNL performance of Body Of An American
-Live cove of Rod Stewart's Maggie May
-Live performance of Big City
-Interesting "Old West Mix" of If I Should Fall From The Grace Of God
-Live performance, appropriately enough on Christmas, of The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn
-Classic Irish Pub song The Wild Rover
-Live performance of Sally MacLennae

And just to show you that it's probably a good thing that Shane and the Pogues patched things up, here is a cover of "Cracklin' Rosie" by Shane's project after he left the Pogues, Shane MacGowan and the Popes.

March 16, 2006

Giving the People What They Want - Tapes 'n Tapes Live from SXSW

Making the Friday Charts may have been a mistake. People turn up looking to actually download the albums of the artists I mention and no doubt go away feeling cheated and hating my blog. Sorry, but most of those artists I have minimal interest in even listening to, let alone providing people with MP3s of. However since a ton of traffic seems to be coming from those search results, I've decided to give back a little something to that particular group of traffic.

Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon

The top artist that people come through looking for is Tapes n' Tapes, which could be a sign that their music truly does rise above the hype. I will personally have to give it another listen, nothing grabbed me about it the first time. But nevertheless, here is my gift to all of those Tapes 'n Tapes fans. The band performed a live set on the radio for KEXP down at SXSW yesterday and I got the MP3s. It's a short set, only four real songs, but a chance to get a taste of the band. If you're not familiar with the band read this interview with them over at *Sixeyes while the performance is downloading. MP3s below:

1. Intro
2. Just Drums
3. Manitoba
4. Interview
5. Insistor
6. Cowbell
7. Outro

March 15, 2006

In Honor of the NCAA Tournament: One Shining Moment

The NCAA Tournament is undoubtedly the greatest sporting event in the country. The first two days are rivaled only by the Super Bowl for the televised event that can pin you to the couch for the longest and in the gambling department, but I give the Tournament the edge because, unlike the Super Bowl, you are guaranteed to have drama at some point in time.

Unlike the Super Bowl, the games remain the central attraction of the NCAA Tournament, except for one small exception: One Shining Moment, which plays as the background music to an end of tournament highlight real that CBS ends coverage of the championship game with. Love by many, no doubt loathed by an equal amount, One Shining Moment one of my favorite parts of the tournament. It never fails to send a few chills up my spine, especially since I remember an obscene amount of the highlights, teams and players they show.

The song is pretty much songwriter David Barrett's meal ticket. Though performed in later years by Luther Vandross and Teddy Pendergrast, Barrett has himself opened for Art Garfunkle. The lyrics to the song are the stuff of Successories posters and the music is a step up from John Tesh territory, but I still love it. Fun Fact: Evidently One Shining Moment is a package deal with a piano Prelude called "Golden Street" which typically plays as the players on the winning team finish cutting down the nets. This is the part that everybody impatiently tolerates, waiting for the real part of the song to kick in. Sort of like this lengthy intro before I give you the good stuff after the jump...

Continue reading "In Honor of the NCAA Tournament: One Shining Moment" »

Live Hold Steady from SXSW 2005 - Rock and Roll Before The Internet

Everybody seems to be going to South by Southwest down in Austin this weekend. It sounds pretty awesome in terms of the sheer hugeness of it, but everybody seems primed to identify the acts that are going to blow everyone away and become the next big thing. One can only imagine the pressure that would be on an act when SXSW seems to be one of the major tastemaking events of the year, the NFL combine of the music world perhaps. I prefer to let others scope the bands, make the claims, and then sift through the hype myself. If I discover or am still listening to an act a year later, then that's a sign to me that the hype was for real.

The Hold Steady's Craig Finn at the Casbah in San Diego

So in honor of the fact that The Hold Steady have gotten more play in the past two months in my house than all of 2005, I decided to post their 2005 SXSW performance for everyone to listen to. I'm upset that recordings of the show they played at the Casbah in February hasn't turned up online, especialy since it featured several additional songs, some of them new, but what can you do. The band's popularity had obviously increased greatly by the time they got to San Diego. The first thing you notice is that the audience doesn't shout along to the opening notes of Hornets! Hornets! Songs that now seem classic just months later are introduced as New, since Separation Sunday was still two months from coming out. Stevie Nix in particular is said to be "A song about Rock and Roll Before the Internet" which would be a great title for a music blog. Despite the unfamiliarity of the audience, the band still brings it, and the recording is pretty solid. If you can't make it to the event this week, I suggest you download the MP3s, open a beer, and sit back and smugly listen with the knowledge that you'll be able to pilfer the best live recordings in just a few days time.

1. Intro
2. Hornets! Hornets!
3. Hostile Mass
4. Your Little Hoodrat Friend
5. Stevie Nix
6. Don't Let Me Explode
7. Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night
8. Positive Jam
9. Killer Parties

Robert Walter's Super Heavy Organ - B3 There or B3 Square

Robert Walter

This Thursday, Robert Walter brings his new Super Heavy Organ project to Winstons. Robert is without a doubt one of the finest bringers of the funk there is today, and the man makes the coolest facial expressions you'll see as he coaxes the sounds out of his Hammond B3 organ. In addition to being one of the founding members of the Greyboy All Stars and his previous excellent work with the 20th Congress, Robert is also a San Diego native capping off the elusive trifecta of reasons you should go see him:

1. Brings the funk.
2. Cool facial expressions while performing.
3. From San Diego

In all honesty, it will be the coolest show you get a chance to see all week. Those of you who are only familiar with the Greyboy All Stars should prepare yourself for a less jazzy, more funky style show, as the previously mentioned Super Heavy Organ plays a much more prominent role. There are still large elements of jazz, the just as prominent saxophone and occasional wind instrument, but the band truly brings it home when they have all cylinders blazing on the funk. It's the kind of show where on the live recordings, you can hear the audience yelling in approval when some really awesome music is happening onstage. The 20th Congress was actually the first band that focused on instrumental improvisation that I ever saw back in college where i wasn't looking at my watch the entire time, so if you're wary of instrumental bands that feature extended soloing, be assured that these guys were able to convert one who was staunchly in that camp just a few years ago.

The best thing about seeing artists such as Robert Walter is that you can get a little taste of what you're in for beforehand. There is a 20th Congress show online that was actually recorded at Winstons several years ago, but I'm posting this Super Heavy Organ show, since that is the line up that is coming through tomorrow. Give these tunes a listen, and then go check out the band tomorrow.

1. Maple Plank
2. El Cuervo
3. Inside Straight
4. 34 Small
5. Parts & Holes
6. Corry's Snail and Slug Death
7. Hardware->
8. 2% Body Fat
9. Kickin' Up Dust
10. Little Miss Lover
11. Blues for J

March 14, 2006

Check Out The Hype Machine

The Hype Machine is an interesting and very well done way of finding new music. The sheer amount of music blogs on the internet can make navigating to all the worthwile ones a daunting task, and can make finding the rare gems in an undiscovered blog near impossible. The Hype Machine attempts to make this problem easier by scouring music blogs for posted or linked MP3s, and then posting links and information about these MP3s. By then dozens of MP3s that get posted on any given day, you can instantly download the ones that sound appealing, and click through to the blog entry for further information. You can also use the Hype Machines reports about MP3s as podcasts. That means that you can set up iTunes to automatically download the posted MP3s from any of the blogs they represent, (or the entire site, which would be quite the eclectic mix of music.)

This features would make the Hype Machine valuable enough on its own, but they add in another interesting touch that makes it a great way to discover new music when you are sick of listening to your own collection. The Hype Machine features its own radio, based on the MP3 feeds of the websites it scours. You can listen through Windows Media, Winamp, Real Player or the sites own stand alone flash player. The flash player provides an nice interface, and the music streams quickly with links to the original blog posting and the artist info on amazon.com. All in all, I highly recommend the website as a great new way to scour the ever expanding world of music blogs and the abundant resources they provide.

The Hype Machine's address is: http://hype.non-standard.net/
San Diego Serenade can be found on The Hype Machine at http://hype.non-standard.net/list/650
If you'd like to automatically download any MP3s I post, in iTunes click "Advanced" then "Subscribe to Podcast" then enter this address: http://hype.non-standard.net/playlist/blog/650/rss/1/feed.xml

March 13, 2006

The Velvet Undergound's Squeeze

squeeze.jpg

There are few things more frustrating or enticing than the knowledge that some people are able to listen to music that you cannot. The music fan that has obtained access to vaulted materials, or a pre-released copy of an album, or maybe just an rare piece of vinyl that you aren't willing to shell out the excessive ebay prices for can be one of the most obnoxious people you will ever encounter. You know why, of course. Whatever they have heard and you have not is undoubtedly the artist in questions "greatest work" or a "lost classic" or "superior in every way to the version they released...you know, the version that you listen to." The internet has lessened the divide between the lost classic elitist and regular Joes a bit. Brian Wilson's Smile, for example was far easier for a casual fan to research and track down on various website than it would have been a decade ago when it circulated on patched together mix tapes. Smile, of course, was also one of the rare lost works where the elitists opinion was right.

I think it is time to extend the debate to the masses on another album that many people are unable to listen to: The Velvet Underground's "Squeeze." Squeeze is the infamous "last" Velvet Underground album, released after all original members save for Doug Yule had gone their separate ways. It is long out of print, and was available only on vinyl, copies of which sell for around 40 to 60 dollars on ebay. This super rare status of the album by one of the most name-droppable bands of all time makes me positive that there is at least one person out there who have assumed the contratian position that Squeeze is the Velvet Underground's greatest work.

If there are indeed people out there who believe this, it should be noted right off the bat that they are wrong. However, I feel like the album is not an outright disgrace. Towards the end of the Velvet Undergrounds career, their sound shifted immensely as members other than Lou Reed or John Cale got involved. I think this is a good thing, as the world needs more "Sweet Janes" and "Rock and Rolls" and less "The Gifts." The album Loaded features several prominent songs where Doug Yule sings, and much of Squeeze sounds like it could have come from the same sessions that produced Loaded's "Lonesome Cowboy Bill" or "New Age."

So Yule obviously had the "generic late era Velvet Undergound" sound thing down, all the way to the backing Lou Reed style vocals on songs like "Caroline" and "Friends." But if you look at the credits for Loaded, the wrting is still all Lou Reed, (he shares credit on only one song.) Yule could write a catchy sounding tune, but songs such as the Rock and Roll/Sweet Jane sequel creatively titled "Jack & Jane" and the idiocy of "Dopey Joe" demonstrate his struggles with lyrics. Taken as a whole album, the mediocrity of the album can be a bit underwhelming, but if these songs had been included on the Peel Slowly and See box set, or the deluxe edition of Loaded, I bet that few people would be able to identify them as outliers.

But I think that the debate deserves to be a bit more widespread than just what I think. Last.fm statistics show that between 60 and 120 people have listened to the songs from Squeeze. Compare that to the more than 20,000 people who have listened to other VU songs such as "Heroin," "I'm Waiting For The Man" or even "Sunday Morning." That's why I have put this zip file of the MP3s from Squeeze up on the site. I believe they are a vinyl rip, but the quality is acceptable, and I don't believe that you'll be able to find a better digital copy. So download, take a listen to what Doug Yule hath wrought and once you've heard for yourself, head on down to the record store and tell that ultra-hip clerk that you're finally calling his bullshit.

March 06, 2006

I Saw The Beach Boys on Home Improvement This Weekend and Other Disturbing News

full house forever.jpg

It's true. Whatever channel shows reruns of Home Improvement was on when I turned on my TV on Friday night, and Tim Allen was talking over the fence to the Beach Boys. Evidently one of them was related to his neighbor Wilson, or a similar preposterous occurrence. Tim was trying to get them to sing songs, but hiliariously kep asking for songs they didn't actually perform, like "Surf City" or "Little Old Lady from Pasadena." Finally, the Beach Boys did acapella renditions of Little Deuce Coupe and Surfer Girl.

Apparently this episode is called "The Karate Kid Returns." As any fan of other popular ABC sitcoms knows, the Beach Boys were also semi-regulars on Full House, appearing in three episodes: Captain Video: Part 1, Our Very First Telethon and Beach Boy BIngo. What many people may not know is that the spirit of the Beach Boys was present in several other Full House episodes. The song "Forever" which Jesse & The Rippers record a music video for and sings to Aunt Becky at their wedding, is actually a Beach Boys song from the early 70s. It was written by Dennis Wilson, Brian's brother, appeared on the 1970 album "Sunflower" and when you strip away the Full House association, it's really not that bad. In fact, it's quite easy to imagine a couple having it be "their song," only to have Full House come along and ruin it for them by forever associating it with John Stamos in the public's eye. To his credit, Stamos appears to be a genuine fan paying tribute to the song, since he has played drums for the group on tour off and on since Dennis Wilson's death.

Of course, many people consider this iteration of the Beach Boys to be a great insult to the legacy and memory of the group. One will notice an absence of Brian Wilson in most of these activities and instead a great deal of Mike Love. The short story behind this is that Love opposed the more creative direction that Wilson began to want to explore with albums such as Pet Sounds and Smile. He didn't to mess with the winning formula of songs about surfing, girls, cars and fun in the summertime, (often quite hot.) Brian Wilson then began to suffer all types of psychological problems and physical addictions, leaving Love free to fraternize with the Tanner family all he wanted.

Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson

As for Pet Sounds and Smile, I think that they more than live up to their reputation. Before Wilson released Smile, it was discussed in a manner of mystery and reverence that, with Wilson's official 2004 release, is now relegated to more esoteric corners of internet. One of the more interesting books about the "Lost album" era of Smilke was the book "Glimpses" by Lewis Shiner. It's a work of fiction about a man who suddenly is able to hear the great lost albums of Rock and Roll. It spends a bit too much time away from the music and focusing on the character's personal life, but the musical sections are very interesting. Probably the most interesting artifact of this era was the Project Smile CD. Pieced together by fans of the the unreleased Smile based on demos, rumors, books, and journals, the CD is an amazing tribute to the album, and a great example of the kind of devotion it inspired in people. It allows you to browse different versions of songs, assemble the album in an order and tracklisting of your choosing, and even browse different cover art and images from the Smile era. When I got the CD, the project was still operating on a mail order distribution system, but it appears that they've now got with the times and are offering the CD via bittorrent, which I've linked to here.

It's important not to let all of the hype regarding the genius of Brian Wilson, or the scorn regarding the direction Mike Love took the group in detract from the music. Smile and Pet Sounds are wonderful, but the early stuff about Cars and Chicks is about as close to perfect Pop music as you can get. I find that I'm able to appreciate both sides of the Beach Boys, as long as they are balanced. So after I saw them serenading Tim Allen this weekend, I was happy to find this posting of lost rehearsal sessions from 1967 on An Aquarium Drunkard, a great music blog. Hearing people record takes as good as the posted one of God Only Knows live in the studio is a revelatory experience for any music fan, and enough to make you forget all three Full House appearances.

And just becuase it's silly to pretend like all can be forgiven towards Mike Love, listen to the posted version of "Heroes and Villains" where Love trashes the song's performance on the charts during the intro. The man really just didn't get it...

Project Smile CD torrent file available here, and highly recommended.

March 02, 2006

Concert Tomorrow by Singer Who Once Met Fred Savage!

young Jenny Lewis Album Cover.jpg

The Union-Tribune interviews Jenny Lewis, who performs with the Watson Twins at the San Diego Women's Club in Hillcrest on Friday night. Times like these are instances where you can truly see the advantage of an online reporting platform vs. print. If you had just picked up the paper and read the article, you would never know that you had the capability of downloading all but one of the albums songs from Lewis' record label's website and listening to them while you read the article! Unfortunately, the one song missing is probably the most famous track on the album, the cover of the Travelling Wilbury's "Handle With Care" so I stuck it on the radio.blog on the front page for now. My opinion is that it the album is ok, but the cover song is awesome, although Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie's voice is an obvious weak link. If they replaced him with My Morning Jacket's Jim James, (who has toured with the other two guests, Conor Oberst and M. Ward), then we'd really have something.

Just a few more points of interest. One, is that if you go to www.jennylewis.com and click over to links, you find a link for not one, not two, but three seperate myspace pages. Rilo Kiley myspace, Watson Twins myspace and Jenny Lewis With Watson Twins myspace. Secondly, Lewis was the co-star of The Wizard, Fred Savage's epic late 80s hour and a half Nintendo ad, most famous for unveilling Super Mario Bros. 3. X-entertainment has full coverage of the movie, as well as the following video clip where in order to stop a criminal from getting away, Ms. Lewis shrieks "He touched my breast!" to get the attention of the casino floor. So that's probably a lot worse than any embarassing home video of you that your parents ever showed to your friends, and Jenny Lewis turned out alright.

March 01, 2006

The La-La-La Mix

Seeing this mix of songs with Nonsense Syllables on You Ain't No Picasso reminded me of my girlfriend's longstanding project of making a mix of only the parts of songs that use La-La-La as lyrics, (No Fa. No Da. Just La.) We have a permanent iTunes playlist called "lalala" and everytime something pops up on random, it gets dragged over. To my surprise, she actually created a first draft of the mix a few months ago, and the above post has inspired me to post it for everybody. If you can identify all the songs...well then I guess you just know your La's.

Download the MP3 here.

February 28, 2006

Wish You Were In New Orleans?

Mardi Gras Mambo!

Despite everything that has happened in New Orleans recently, Mardi Gras appears to still be going strong. Having spent four consecutive years a few years back attending the festivities, you understand that being out and about in Mardi Gras is the kind of thing that affects all five of your senses. Unlike San Diego, as mentioned in the previous post, New Orleans may hold the record for the most self referential, New Orleans glorifying songs. Thus, the day won't be complete until you've listened to a never ending loop of the following four songs that is playing everywhere you walk and in every restaurant, bar or place of business you enter:

1. Mardi Gras Mambo
2. Iko Iko
3. They All Ask'd For You
4. Mardi Gras in New Orleans

I sat at a blackjack table at the Harrah's New Orleans one time while they played some sort of "Now That's What I Call Music" hits package. I debated aloud asking the pit boss to switch it over to the Mardi Gras Mambo mix, since the Backstreet Boys weren't really capturing the spirit of the city, but the dealer pleaded with me not to. Evidently if you live and work in the city, the above four songs are pretty much the equivilent of having a never ending car alarm blaring wherever you go. But one day out of the year, they'll be the perfect background music for you Mardi Gras Party. I've put them in my Radio Blog, to the right, along with a few other choices, for your listening pleasure.

Those of you who might want some more diversity in your aural replication of New Orleans would do well to check out Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box Of New Orleans. It's a four CD box assembled by Chuck Taggart, who runs the Gumbo Pages, a exhaustive source of New Orleans Culture, Music and Food. For our Mardi Gras party tonight, we're cooking up some of Chuck's recommended recipes from different restaurants and chefs around town, and our musical selections will draw largely from the above box set. So pretty much our evening is in one man's hands, and I really hope he knows what he's doing.

Lastly, I found this unique little live Tom Waits medley in my collection, and decided to post it today in honor of the city and the holiday. It's perfect for this years celebration of Mardi Gras: Booze soaked and raspy, a little somber to start out, but impossible to keep the good times down. Three songs, that all flow together, so get them all as a package deal.

Download MP3s below:
1. Tom Waits - I Wish I Was In New Orleans
2. Tom Waits - When The Saints Go Marching In
3. Tom Waits - Since I Fell For You / New Orleans Reprise

And after this, no Tom Waits for at least a week.

February 27, 2006

Disappointed by the Bob Dylan Musical? Download the Real Thing!

Bob Dylan Live at Brixton Academy
Bob Dylan performs at Brixton Academy in London on November 21st, 2005

With the controversial "Bob Dylan Musical" causing San Diego residents to debate the artistic staus of Bob Dylan, I thought I would provide some evidence that Dylan the contemporary entertainer is still relevant and rockin'. I present to you the show that Bob Dylan played in London at Brixton Academy on November 21st, 2005. This bootleg has gotten some press recently, it was even reviewed in Rolling Stone. It is notable for a couple reasons. First of all, guitarist Link Wray had just died two weeks earlier, and Dylan paid tribute by opening the show with a rendition of his famous instrumental "Rumble." Secondly, he decides to treat the Brits to a shortened version of "London Calling," which obviously brings the house down. And Thirdly, he plays the Basement Tapes song "Million Dollar Bash" for the first time live. As I mentioned in the previous post, I consider Dylan to be very self aware of how the public perceives him, so let the debating of his intentions here begin It is nice to see these rarities popping up once in a while, because I've seen several Dylan concerts on the "Never Ending Tour" that he's been on for several years now, and while he is in good form, the setlists are kind of predictable. Every show ends with the less exciting every time you hear it"Like a Rolling Stone," "All Along The Watchtower" combo. His stage intro for every show, however, set to Copland's "Rodeo" is the best in the business.

These little wrinkles that Dylan tosses in, along with above average recording quality for an audience mix, and the tight form his band demonstrates makes this show definitely worth a listen. When all is said and done, this Never Ending Tour stage of Dylan's career will dominate a sizeable portion of his timeline as a performer. Since he's been on the tour, he's released two of his finest albums, opened up to Martin Scorcese's camera, penned his autobiography and shows no signs of slowing down.

Plus, as an added bonus, if you download and burn this show, the kind people on the internet have done you the favor of designing TWO separate album art sleeves for you to adorn your jewel cases with. Now get busy downloading, and hope that Twyla Tharp doesn't find out about this show and include Million Dollar Bash (Kanye Remix) in her production of "The Times They Are A-Changin' 2: Still A-Changin'"

Download MP3s and album art below:

Disc 1:
1. Introduction
2. Rumble / Maggie's Farm
3. The Times They Are A-Changin'
4. Million Dollar Bash
5. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
6. Moonlight
7. Down Along The Cove
8. Boots Of Spanish Leather
9. Cold Irons Bound
10. Mr. Tambourine Man
11. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
12. Visions Of Johanna

Disc 2:
1. Honest With Me
2. Waiting For You
3. Highway 61 Revisited
4. London Calling
5. Like A Rolling Stone
6. All Along The Watchtower

Album Art 1 - JPG
Album Art 2 - JPG

February 23, 2006

Bob Marley Was Here

In honor of the last ever "Bob Marley Day" reggae fest, (the promoters were forced to drop the artist's name from the festival for legal reasons), here are MP3s of a San Diego concert by the real deal. It is hard for people my age to imagine the time when Bob Marley was a living and breathing performer touring America. His image has for so long graced dorm room walls that he's sort of forever rendered a still image. But he did tour, and played San Diego a couple times. These MP3s are from a show at the Civic Theatre on May 25th, 1976. Bob Marley would have turned 61 this month, and it is interesting to imagine his role as an elder statesman of music. We can only hope two things: One, that he would not be recording albums "featuring" guest stars on every track, and Two, that the big Snoop Dogg does make it to that age. Because Snoop will be an awesome old guy.

Download the MP3s below. Be sure to check out the funky, sleazy organ that creeps into the "Everything is gonna be alright" part of No Woman No Cry. It's a nice little change to a song you've no doubt heard countless times.

1. Trench Town Rock
2. Burnin' And Lootin'
3. Them Belly Full
4. Rebel Music
5. I Shot The Sheriff
6. Want More
7. No Woman No Cry
8. Lively Up Yourself
9. Roots, Rock, Reggae
10. Rat Race
11. Positive Vibration
12. Get Up Stand Up
13. No More Trouble
14. War -> No More Trouble

February 22, 2006

We Conned Buffalo Out Of Their Best Band

The Bloody Hollies - If Footmen Tire You.jpg

Buffalo, NY has had its fair share of negative things happen to it as a city. The Bills best football player happened to be one OJ Simpson, there was that stretch of four consecutive Super Bowl losses, and that movie that Vincent Gallo made. If there is any justice, Buffalo will also one day be known as the city that let The Bloody Hollies move to San Diego. It could be there own personal curse of the Bambino.

The Bloody Hollies have wound up in San Diego after relocating from Buffalo. They have a new album out now called 'If Footmen Tire You..." and from listening to the MP3s on their website, there can be no way that their concerts would not be one of the best experiences you'll ever have in a San Diego music venue. Their songs that I've heard contain every element necessary for a kick ass rock song: a singer whose vocal chords occasionally veer dangerously close to shredding themselves, a varied and energetic set of riffs that give way to a wailing guitar solo at exactly the right time, and that setting on your guitar that sounds juuuuuust below the level of distortion that mainstream radio stations want to play.

I hear traces of The Hives in the songs energy and style, but more spontaneous and with none of the studio polish that took the danger out of The Hives music. Fortunately, there are a 18 MP3s on their website under the "Listen" section. My favorites include "Swing", which features the best unexpected harmonica solo since Outkast's "Rosa Parks", "Downtown Revolver", and a live version of "Cut It Loose."

The official website is www.bloodyhollies.com. The band are currently planning more shows in San Diego after returning from a European tour.

In The Aeroplane Oslo The Sea

They Love Neutral Milk Hotel in Norway!

I stumbled across this interesting tribute album a few weeks ago, and thought it worth sharing. It's a collection of Norwegian musicians who all participated in the message boards at www.vg.no, which are definitely not in English. Evidently, they all shared a love of Neutral Milk Hotel's In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, and instead of doing what the rest of the album's fans did, (start a music blog,) they each recorded one of the tracks and pieced together a tribute album, appropriately called "Each Song A Little More Than We Could Dare To Try".

This is not a standard tribute piece, like the abomination to Sly Stone this years Grammy's. Artis of the caliber of Korn, Carlos Santana and Norah Jones are nowhere to be found. Instead, you've got a bunch of unknown Norwegians interpretting the songs in various different styles. Some are obviously using higher fidelity recording setups than the others, you've got male and female singers, and a few of the songs with words are now rendered into instrumentals.

Many people may balk at this idea, but I think it's a really interesting little piece of outsider art. The songs obviously aren't intended as replacements for the originals, and I'm sure that these Norwegians probably didn't think I would ever be posting their MP3s half the world away. What these versions really do for me is illustrate the overall strength of Jeff Mangum's original work. That songs with such simple structure and such dense subject matter could prove themselves enjoyable when interpretted by such a diverse crew of obscure musicians, it really speaks to the songs greatness. The songs that I believe work best here are "The King of Carrot Flowers, pt.1" by Motor Kiss, which features an awesome mid-song guitar solo, and a quieter, more reserved duet of "Holland, 1945" by Spilk/Mortasam. You also get "Communist Daughter" by Skeletal Basketball Shoe, which, while not an improvement on the original, is a fantastic name for a band. It reads like one of those shirts in Thailand where they apparently stick English words together just because they like the look of them.

Download the MP3s below. It's defintely worth a shot for any fan of the original:

1. Motor Kiss - The King Of Carrot Flowers pt 1
2. Orgone Accumulator - The King Of Carrot Flowers pt 2-3
3. Apples & Milk - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
4. Subsqueeze - Two-Headed Boy
5. Jørund Almås/ Mr Kronskij - The Fool
6. Spilk / Mortasam - Holland, 1945
7. Skeletal Basketball Shoe - Communist Daughter
8. Proskirt Massiva - Oh Comely
9. Rockette - Ghost
10. Rockette - Untitled
11. Captain Democracy - Two-Headed Boy pt 2

February 21, 2006

Approximate the Sensation of Knowing Me Thru Last.fm

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"I never thought he'd be able to recreate the experience of actually knowing him, but this is pretty close." - Jerry Seinfeld, regarding Kramer's "Peterman Reality Tours"

For the longest time, one of my bigger regrets has been that it is, like Jerry remarks above, difficult for me to emulate the experience of actually knowing me for those that I've never crossed paths with. But now, thanks to the fantastic techology over at last.fm it is now possible to approximate the equivalent of having my music collection on shuffle in your home or office whenever you want!

Last.fm is a website that tracks what you are listening to on your computer. Listening to an expansive collection of music on shuffle has long been a favored activity of mine. 90% of any given day in college was spent this way, and probably about 33% now. You can pick any particular song that they have already, and once you get started you can skip the ones you dislike. So far the experience has been quite akin to my collection on random, although it hasn't played any of my artists that I've listened to the most: the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan or Tom Waits. I'm still curious about how they determine what plays on your particualr radio station, but everything I've heard so far actually is stuff that I've played on my computer. Artist, song and album names and album art are all included in the standalone player, which requires a small download. Registration with last.fm is also required to listen, although you don't have to participate in their music tracking program. Thousands of other radio stations besides mine are available, based on other peoples playlists, or customized by you entering an artist or song that you like.

Sign up for last.fm here
Download the music player here
And finally, my personal user page and radio stream

February 16, 2006

Podbop - Get MP3s of Bands Coming to Town

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Podbop is a new service that combines a listing of concerts coming to a particular city with a database of legal MP3s from artist and label websites, so that you can navigate to your city's page and sample tunes from artists who will be in town soon. At first it sounded to me like something that is seems too complicated and generalized to really work, but its actuall very promising. The listing of concerts coming to any given city is disparate enough that there can't be anybody interested in having every MP3 downloaded for them automatically, but if you're using iTunes, the podcasted songs are kept separate from the rest of your collection and are easy to browse through. The regular listing of events and MP3s for your city is also handy tool. Bookmarking the San Diego page and clicking over to it to sample the latest artist that you've heard is coming to town is easy enough for most people to manage.

The site is still growing, but I'd say it is definitely worth keeping an eye on. The listing of San Diego concerts and MP3s can be found at: http://podbop.org/cities/us/ca/san_diego/

If you'd like to try the Podcast, which will download the MP3s for you automatically, then open up iTunes, open up Podcasts (underneath your main "Library" icon on the left side, and drag this little symbol into the main iTunes window:

February 13, 2006

Who Is Allen Hamlette?

The music world contains many enigmatic figures whose talent, motivations and inspiration are intriguing to the general populace. Wondering how Jeff Mangum could produce a work of such great power as "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea," or what exactly was going on inside Brian Wilson's head as he composed Smile back in the sixties are simply two of the mysteries that the average music fan wonders about on a routine basis. To me, however, there is no figure more enigmatic, no greater diamond in the rough talent-wise than former Virginia Tech student Allen Hamlette.

Allen was first called to my attention by a friend who had received an MP3 from his friend who attended Virginia Tech. It was a freestyle rap by a friend of his from high school, and it became the stuff of legends amongst my friends at the University of Virginia. The rap was set crudely recorded, obviously done in a crowded dorm room over a cd playing Biggie's "Hypnotize", but it was incredibly clever, vulgar, and contained enough slang and references that were then incorporated into our own culture of inside jokes. "Crazy Vocabulation," "I Got Two Nuts" and "Pat's Room" (where the recording evidently took place) were just a few of these catch phrases. A second, shorter freestyle was released, and while it could never hope to capture the lightning in a bottle of the first rap, it was reassuring that Allen was still putting his talent to use.

Now over five years have passed since the first freestyle was recorded, and despite my best efforts, I have been unable to find anything but the most basic and uninteresting information about Allen Hamlette. All I have been able to track down on the internet is that he once received the "Most Spirited" award for the Robinson High School marching band. Based on the freestyle, one can also conclude that he lived in or nearby the "Slusher Wing" dormitory in Virginia tech, pictured below:

The Infamous Slusher Wing Building A Slusher Wing Dorm Room - Possibly Pat's Room?

Slusher Wing Dorm & A Slusher Wing Dorm Room, Possibly Pat's

Unfortunately, after these two items, the trail quickly goes cold. So I put this plea out there to anyone who may know what Allen Hamlette is up to today: Send whatever information you have my way. An email address, a photo, any other recordings you might have. The man has talent, and it ought not to be the sort of thing that people only realize once it is too late.

Below are links to the two freestyles. The first, longer one, was evidently recorded on 10/29/99 and the second one a year later, on 10/02/00. I have also attempted a rudimentary remix that I created using the lyrics of the first freestyle with the beat to Jesus Walks by Kanye West. If anyone else is interested in composing their own remix of either freestyle, I would be eager to see the results of what someone with more talented mixing skill could do to Allen Hamlette's work.

All songs are in MP3 form, right click to save: First Freestyle, Second Freestyle and Jesus Walks Remix.

February 10, 2006

Friday Charts

I think that an interesting way to judge interest in music would be to view a list of the most seeded and requested albums. I'll be observing a popular file sharing site and reporting on what the most popular downloaded albums are, as well as some of the most popular requests for music that has yet to be released. This will be a good way to keep a pulse on how anticipated a record is among a music-loving & tech savvy audience, a method of tracking interest in an artist that is sure to be different from the Billboard charts.

Most Seeded Albums
(These are the albums that the most people are sharing, as good an indication of any of an albums popularity.)


1. Granddaddy - Just Like The Fambly Cat
2. Secret Machines - Ten Silver Drops
3. The Strokes - First Impressions of Earth
4. Calexico - Garden Ruin
5. Jack Johnson & Friends - Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies from the Film Curious George
6. Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
7. Dilated Peoples - 20/20
8. Aceyalone and RJD2 - Magnificent City
9. The Appleseed Cast - Peregrine
10. The Concretes - In Color

Some interesting things to observe about this way of ranking an albums popularity. First of all, Albums that have just become available obviously have the most interest in them, and frequently will experience an initial surge in popularity because of the novelty of its availability. This is why it is surprising to see the Strokes album, available for over a month and a half holding its high ranking. The album is arguably the most mainstream rock on the list, which could explain its longevity. For me, the two surprises were the 9 and 10 slots, which both feature bands I am unfamiliar with and will have to investigate, although initialy looking into the bands, The Concretes may be more my cup of tea than the Appleseed Cast. The entire chart, which lacks any of the Top Selling albums as defined by Billboard, is a good barometer of what a specific subset of the internet is listening to right now.

Click for a rundown of some of the most anticipated albums which have not been released yet...

Continue reading "Friday Charts" »

February 08, 2006

Live Music Archive

One of the greatest tools available at anyones disposal on the internet, regardless of user level, is the Internet Archive's Live Music Archive. This contains tens of thousands of live concerts by bands both famous and almost famous. Just searching for "San Diego" reveals a diverse list including a two day Grateful Dead performance at the Sports Arena in 93, Jack Johnson performing at Street Scene 2004, and Tenacious D show from last year's ComiCon.

Quality can vary tremendously, but comments are usually present to indicate the good and the bad about each post. The concerts come in all different formats as well, and can be downloaded song by song or as a ZIP file of the whole show. I am still hoping that a recording of the My Morning Jacket concert at the House of Blues on 11/8/05 surfaces on the archive.org site or elsewhere.

Mashup Mania

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Bootie is a San Francisco based collective of DJs who specialize in Mashups. They have released a Best of 2005 compilation that is available for download here. As with any of these Mashups, it works best when you're familiar with all of the source material, and some aren't exactly the most convincing partners, beat and speed-wise. But the compilation does include the work of DJ Earworm, whose "Nobody Takes Your Freedom For Granted" mashup of the Scissor Sisters, George Michael, Aretha Franklin and The Beatles is one of the top played tracks on my computer. The cd, which plays as one continuous mix, is available as a zip file, but it downloads by default as "BestofBootie.zip" which could be embarassing in many ways if downloaded and forgotten about.

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