Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Shins - Sleeping Lessons Music Video

So Wincing the Night Away was supposed to be my follow up to Teddy Thompson's Separate Ways wayyyyy back in January, but as you can probably tell, the Shins really keep tabs on my personal playlist...

In response, I've made the attempt to get Jack the Rabbit involved in the Shins by lending him Chutes Too Narrow. This CD is the baseline for making truly involving music and they have just released their 4th(!) single off of Wincing... called "Sleeping Lessons."

This video, directed by an NYU student, is absolutely fantastic and you should all really enjoy the relationships between the band'll really enjoy when I make my post on "Le Blogotheque" but until then, pretend you're a random tourist in Paris and you happen upon the Shins playing along the sidewalk...

I can't explain more...just enjoy this great video for now, and then understand after my "Le Blogotheque"'ll all make sense then...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Serenade Me With Rocks, Love

I bought Josh Ritter's latest work. I had bought his last album, The Animal Years, last year after an experience with the song Wolves. I thought that it was a really great album, and one that surprised me by growing on me with time.

His latest album, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, arrived a few days ago in the mail, courtesy of the lovely folks over at Amazon. I was instantly taken by the arrogant title and album art. I cracked it open and threw it on in my car. As soon as the first words hit (deep in the belly of the whale I found her / down with the deep blue jail around her) I knew I was in for something special. There is something very loose and free about the music. Opening up the CD booklet, I started skimming the lyrics before even listening to the respective songs. To steal an image from Bob Dylan, the words were pouring off the page like they were written in my soul. The poetry of the lyrics was apparent even before hearing them put to music. Even from a quick skimming.

Art should transcend its physical limitations. Music should be more than words and chords and notes. It should be emotion realized. It is for this reason that Madame George can move me so thoroughly despite the fact that I don't know what it is about.

Before I wax too complimentary of this album, let me ground myself. I realize that this is a pop album. It's fun. The songs are catchy and whimsical. Yet, when I first listened to this album I was completely caught up in it. I think Mr. Ritter captured a moment, an emotional spectrum that, though fun, is such an impressive feat to accomplish that it merits the strongest words of praise. And there is depth and pathos and struggle laced throughout the work that should not be overlooked.

I called Little Gun up and said something stupid about the first listen to the album being like someone throwing on Born to Run in 1975. I have since retracted this statement because Born to Run is a tight 8 track album while this is a little scruffier. Maybe it's more like a first listen to Highway 61 Revisited in 1965.

The Temptation of Adam is the standout song in this collection. In it, Josh writes:

Then one night you found me in my army issued cot and you told me of your flash of inspiration
You said fusion was the broken heart that's lonely's only thought
And all night long you drove me wild with your equations

Explaining fusion, the key (I believe) to the most dangerous weapon yet conceived of, in such a human way is remarkable. And somehow it makes sense that even at the most basic, molecular level of the universe, the desire for and frustration due to love is present.

This is a beautiful work. I'm not even going to post a track -- you need to own this entire album.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Speaking of Irish Singers

How do we feel about Fionn Reagan? The 20 year old Irish newcomer was featured in the latest Paste Magazine sampler (once again, I hope everyone who reads this blog also reads paste magazine…buy one copy and you won’t look back) with a song called “Put a Penny in the Slot.” Intrigued, I read some rave reviews (four stars in The Independent; nominated for the Nationwide Mercury Prize; for the record, I have no idea what that is), and ended up picking up his debut album The End of History. And I think it’s a pretty solid album as well.

In a word I would describe the album as pretty. There are some real nice melodies and some beautiful finger-picking (almost like a not-so-dark sounding Jose Gonzales). All the tunes are pretty laid-back (I think I only picked up a drum beat on one track “Black Water Child”…a very good tune coincidentally). The subdued tunes, combined with Reagan’s young age and often times quite poetic songwriting has earned him many comparisons to Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst. Lyrically, however, I don’t think Reagan is quite as skilled as Oberst; he’s a little more abstract, and not always focused on lyrics that rhyme, which can, at times, lead to incoherent rambling (this comes to fruition on a song called “Hey Rabbit,” which sounds like it could be a track by Flight of the Conchords). But even at these points I still find the songs charming. Reagan’s songs are definitely more optimistic than Oberst, and Reagan’s voice is not filled with teenage angst, which is a definite positive.

The best track on the album is, indeed, the aforementioned “Put a Penny in the Slot,” with a nod to “Snowy Atlas Mountains,” which depends more on beautiful instrumentation than Reagan’s wordsmithing. In the end, if you enjoy the mellow sounds in the like of a Bright Eyes or even a Damien Rice, I’m guessing you’ll dig Fionn Reagan. (Sidenote: I believe he's from the coastal town of Bray, Ireland, just outside of Dublin...which, if you've been there, will give him a leg up in your book)

Here's a music video (kind of) for "Put a Penny in the Slot."

Stranded in Austin, and not minding at all

First of all, the title of this post was just going to be Stranded in Austin, but then I put the last part in because now it sounds like the title of a Willie Nelson song. Moving on...

So the reason I haven’t posted lately (I’m addressing my fan base here…put base on the end of it…fan base) is because I’m back in Texas, where there are plenty of wild boars to come by, but few sources of wireless internet. Luckily, however, I have made contacts with a gentleman who seems to run a wireless company out of his van, and I will be getting internet within days…although apparently it cuts out whenever there’s a cloud in the sky or the wind blows…so we’ll see how that goes.

In other news, when I was driving down here, I was just about to hit Austin when I received reports of flash flood warnings in San Antonio. So, rather than put my 1998 Toyota Sienna mini-van to the test, I decided to crash in Austin for the night. Upon checking into my room, I decided to take advantage of the free wireless feature (a luxury for me) at the Days Inn, to see if there was any live music going on. Naturally, I first checked Bob Schneider’s website, figuring he was probably playing in some dude’s basement somewhere in Austin. I wasn’t far off. He was playing at some bar on the outskirts of town in something known as “Bob Schneider’s Bluegrass Massacre.” I didn’t attend for a few reasons. First, I wasn’t sure if he was hosting the event or actually playing in it. Second, I think that Bob is getting bored in Austin, and maybe is experimenting too much with different styles of music that I don’t necessarily want to check out (for instance, last week his myspace claimed that he was an italian pop artist...however, it now seems there are some new tunes on his myspace). And third, the last time I saw Bob Schneider I tried to buy him a shot at The Nutty Brown and he turned me down…I’m sure he remembers it too, and it’s gonna be awkward the next time I see him.

So, with Bob out, I checked out the website of another Austin resident, Matt the Electrician. Little D and I saw Matt the Electrician open for Bob Schneider at the Nutty Brown in Austin in May, and he really is pretty great. He’s got a kind of raspy voice, but smooth…like a rich man’s John Mayer. Anyways, he writes some catchy tunes. Moral of the story is that he indeed was playing in Austin that night as well (and every other night of the week). On this night he was playing at a local coffee shop near UT’s north campus in some mini strip-mall known as “the Triangle.” He was playing there with another local musician, Southpaw, and I swear that I was the only one there who did not know one of the two guys personally. It was like I was at my high school buddy’s open mic night...only it wasn't my buddy at was Matt the Electrician. Real weird. But still a lot of fun. They were taking advantage of the relaxed vibe by taking turns playing the tuba and singing falsetto harmonies. Highlight of the night by far was when they closed with their rendition of Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag.” Genius.

Moral of the story is that if that night was any sign of things to come, it’s gonna be a good year of music in Tejas.

Listen to My Dog...also note in his influences are: Taj Mahal, and Jesse Harris (of Norah Jones fame). Well played.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

These Guys Can Sing

The best singers are Irish. Here are the three best. I would listen to these guys sing the phonebook.


Van Morrison sings songs that come from some sort of a deep place I'm not even sure I have. He's also crazy; which is very helpful in being a rock musician. I think that Astral Weeks is the greatest album of all time.

I'm not sure that any song hits home harder than Madame George does when Van starts wailing "and you know you gotta go / on that train from dublin up to sandy row / throwing pennies at the bridges down below / and the rain hail sleet and snow / say goodbye to madame george / dry your eyes for madame george." Madame George is not a song that I understand.

Van Morrison also has a really bad attitude. Check out this song I told Little Gun about a long time ago. Little Gun told me it wasn't on iTunes, so you know this shit is underground.


I love The Pogues. They are absurd. They have one song that a fair amount of people know. It's called Fairytale of New York. It's a killer song. It's a duet and in the end the woman accuses the guy, saying "I could have been took my dreams from me, when I first found you." The guy's response is chillingly beautiful. "I took them with me, babe, I put them with my own, can't make it all alone, I built my dreams around you." She musta been smitten.

Want to know what Shane said about that song when asked? "It's a beautiful song; I wish I could remember writing it." And now we've hit the nerve on The Pogues. Shane, the real spirit of the crew, always pushed it a little too far. His lifestyle was more over the top than I can relate here. Look it up if you're interested. I think he was drinking beer by age 4 and had his first whiskey at age 7, at which point he had a conversation with a goose. Or something.

I dare you to understand any lyrics to this song without looking them up. I dare you not to love this song once you do.

showing us the maximum potential of the human heart

I'm not going to waste my time. Either you get it that this guys is transcendent or you don't. And if you don't then the maxium potential of YOUR heart is...less than.

One of my favorite readers sweet jane reminded me of this little gem the other day. It's a cover of the Leonard Cohen song Hallelujah. This is another song I don't quite get. Somehow it compares the story of David (the king) and Bathsheeba with a contemporary relationship. I would read a 90 page essay on this song if it was available.

The first 10 times I heard this version of the song I hated it. The next 10 I was confused. Now I think I get what he's trying to do. But I still don't understand this song.

The world is a wild, confusing place. The only sure bet is that the Irish do it best. Whatever it is.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Format - Live at Webster Hall Aug 21, 2007

Last night Little Dynamite and I went to see The Format at Webster Hall. This was a great situation because:
A) It's right next door to The Pourhouse, our favorite watering hole
B) It's owned by the same people as The Pourhouse, which is also Lil Dynamo's semi-employer so we got in for free (only to immediately burn that $17 boon on numerous $7 bud light bottles that they pour into a cup to try to trick you into thinking you're drinking a draft beer).
C) It was a Tuesday, which was probably what pushed me over the edge to going. I mean honestly - who goes to see The Format on a Tuesday?

I'll tell you who goes to see The Format on a Tuesday. High schoolers. I did not expect, but in hindsight should not have been surprised, to find that The Format has a very young fan base. On a positive note though, this is a fan base who LOVES their band. The floor, and Dynamo will attest to this, was bouncing like a trampoline. It was a great effect, but in all seriousness they should get someone in there to check the floor for structural deficencies.

So, the crowd was totally digging it and the band was great. They have a great catalogue and they have great live energy. The band basically consists of:
- The lead singer who is some sort of borderline emo Mick Jagger / lead singer of The Hives dude who has one sweet move which is flipping the mic up into the air and snagging it out of the air with a slapping alternate hand. It's also important to note he is a major pansy.
- Some kind of Warren Zevon / Neil Young guy (directly above) who is usually in jeopardy of jerking a body part into a microphone stand or a fellow band member. He was my favorite because he is clearly (attempting to be) a man of mystery.
- A Matisyahu like guy who plays an acoustic guitar or keyboard. This guy will kill somebody in the near future; he's terrifyingly emotionless.
- A few other guys who are pretty run-of-the-mill.
(Note: We decided last night that all talented bands are made up of main bandmembers from some other place, like Minneapolis or Copenhagen. However, these people have come to New York to find a drummer and bass player. This is why all bands are based out of NY.)

I'm not going to focus on the concert too much. I think you can probably get the idea. Great atmosphere and music that I really enjoy.

Set list (courtesy, as always, of Little Dynamite cell phone storage):
1) If Work Permits
2) The Compromise
3) Tie the Rope
4) Oceans (pick this tune up - the one that has stuck in my head; I've been whistling it all day)
5) Snails
6) Tune Out
7) Wait, Wait, Wait
8) I'm Ready I Am
9) Janet
10) On Your Porch
11) Inches and Falling
12) Dog Problems
13) She Doesn't Get It

So, by the end of the concert I was saying to Dynamo that "I like these guys, but I don't respect them." Then I ate crow.

The band wrapped up their set and took off. The place was raucous and I knew they were coming back. Which they did. What transpired still knocks me out.

They got arrogant. They came out and started it out slow, as Dynamite insisted you have to on an encore. Then they hit Time Bomb, one of my faves. AND DIDN'T STOP. So they did Cause A Scene. AND DIDN'T STOP. The lead singer (I should look up his name but I'm not that legit) asked the crowd for a little help. He needed us to sing "Laa laa la la, la la la". I looked over at Dynamo and said "are they really going to do this?" AND THEY DID. They closed with Caravan, the Van Morrison song that may be my second favorite song of all time. And they nailed it. The only problem was the crowd didn't get it. The crowd was all about The Format but they just didn't have the musical background to know what they were experiencing. So Dynamite and Jack the Rabbit doublehandedly lifted the crowd onto our shoulders and rode the concert out belting out the "la la"s and pumping fists. They alienated their entire crowd (minus us and some awesome dude in the back) to finish strong. And I left the venue both liking AND respecting those dudes. Damn, what a finish

14) Matches
15) Time Bomb
16) The First Single (Cause A Scene)
17) Caravan
*as a special treat download this great cover of Caravan by another bunch of dudes (best part is the "shake it Vin, shake it." by the way i really wish i was a rock star.

In closing, great show. Goddamn I love an arrogant band.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

We Get It; Little Dynamite is a prolific poster...and other notes from around the horn

First off - much respect to Little Dyanamite. All of us who had written him off as washed up and burned out are elated to have him back in action. And unlike Ryan Adams circa Cold Roses, he is prolific in a 100% quality way. Thank god. Now it looks like it may be time to put Little Gun on the side of the chocolate milk carton.

Also - let me please extend my gracious acceptance of your apology regarding Afro Celt Sound System. Don't doubt the dogma of JtR again.

Two related points:

1) speaking of Ryan Adams the arrogant bastard who put out what may have been one of the greatest 25 albums of the last 50 years (Cold Roses) - then mixed in another 12 garbage tracks to make sure he did not achieve this mark: here is a great article Little Dynamite found a while back that never made it to a post. go ahead and sign up to view it; it's free (cheapskate).

2) i'll be seeing The Format with none other than Dynamite himself tonight. here's a great track off of their most recent album Dog Problems. this one was track 1 of my seminal summer mix '07. believe in it.


Brace yourself.

Springsteen announces the other day that he'll release his first album with the E Street Band in five years on Oct. 2, 2007. For those of you who packed it in after The Ghost of Tom Joad; be forewarned - The Rising was an incredible album. I expect nothing less of this. Bruce seems to be painfully aware of his music these days, and I can't imagine him putting out anything less than magical (get it?). Plus, in my opinion he comes close to suffering from Billy Joel Syndrome - or, the inability to release bad music. The opposite of this is, obviously, Ryan Adams Syndrome.
In fact, while we're on the subject, my favorite 6 Springsteen album (excluding Born to Run, which is on a different plane of existence) are his first 3 (Greetings from Asbury Park New Jersey, The Wild the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, Darkness of the Edge of Town) and his last 3 (The Rising, Devils and Dust, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions Band). I guess I like folksy Bruce more than rocker Bruce. Sorry I don't work in a Ford factory in 1972 and have a mustache like Daryl Oates (I mean John Hall).

This is the last track he released with the E Street Band (that's right, the final track of The Rising). Remember the landscape post-9/11 and tell me this guy isn't the G.O.A.T. The amazing thing is that he wrote this pre-9/11 (about his homeland Asbury Park, NJ) which pretty much makes him a prophet. Mark the calender for Oct. 2.

Bob Schneider - Live at the Knitting Factory, NYC 7/13/07

Again? Another Bob Schneider post? You're damn right it's another Bob Schneider post. I'm going to hammer this into your head until you become as big of a fan as I am or I'll die trying.

Fine, that was a little too over dramatic, but you get the picture.

I almost forgot that Bob was playing here in NYC until the week of the concert. You may remember a few performances that I saw with Little Gun in the great state of Texas not too long ago, as well as one I've alluded to with Jack the Rabbit in September of '06 at the Knitting Factory (surprise post coming when you least expect it). Well I've got big news - they both missed out. This last concert may have been the premiere BSchneids show. I will say that the '06 concert has a possible leg up due to the fact that Bob played requests from the audience in an intimate solo acoustic show, but this last show was unbelievable.

Playing with his full band in one of my most beloved small venues in NYC, Bob rocked out with old favorites and new classics to a well-versed and attentive audience.

There were so many great things that happened on this night that I'll really focus on one:

He opened with my all-time favorite song - "The King of the World."

Now I know I've ranted on and on about how "Oklahoma" is my newest song of choice, and for good reason, but "The King of the World" has always been my favorite. A 10 minute story of "big dreams" and "smoke filled bars," I've played "The King of the World" in the best and the worst of times. And every time, I've always felt better by the end of it.

I didn't know that Bob played this live due to the length of the song and I basically have always told myself to never expect it, but when I first heard those acoustic picks to start off the show, I started getting jittery. Could it be? Well it was and I almost jumped out of the bar. While different live, as I should've known, it was just extraordinary. With respect to our Top 25 Most Played lists, "The King of the World" was my number one for a long time with well over 50 plays, which should say something for a 10+ minute epic.

Bob Schneider - (studio version)
*The King of the World.mp3

I almost don't know what else to say for the rest of the night because the whole night took off like a rocket after the first song. Favorites abounded and a few songs stood out for me but I'll leave the experience up to you.

If anyone knows the name of the song at the end of Mudhouse (which loses a bit of its intensity/awesomeness when not seen live), I'd be much appreciated. I heard it in Austin with Little Gun to close out the night at Saxon Pub, but I still don't have a name for it. Same goes for the second to last track.

And seriously, enjoy the final song - a double song of the classic "Assknocker" right into a jump-up-and-down version of "Sex Machine" that went at least another 5 minutes longer than the recording allowed.

Rock on Bob. Rock on.

Bob Schneider - Live at the Knitting Factory 7/13/07
  1. The King of the World
  2. Bullets
  3. Game Plan
  4. Piggyback
  5. Rollin'
  6. Big Blue Sea
  7. A Long Way to Get
  8. It's Not the End of Everything--Mix It Up
  9. Boom Box
  10. Cheaper--The Californian--Everything I Have Don't Mean Nothing to Me Now
  1. I Don't Know For Sure
  2. Tarantula
  3. Getting Better--Ready Let's Roll
  4. Cap'n Kirk
  5. Mudhouse--Unknown
  6. Unkown
  7. Assknocker--Sex Machine

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Ultimate Summer Boating Mix (Lake Minnetonka Edition)

I've recently been getting the impression that my parents don't love me. Or they love my younger brothers more - one of the two.

I first came to this realization when I moved away for college. Not more than 2 months later, they decide that they're going to buy a hot tub. Sweet. It's not like I had been begging for something like that in high school when all I wanted to do after football was to soak in a hot tub of jets. Not too useful to me now, is it?

Ok, so they bought a hot tub. Big whoop. But the next year, my dad goes and buys a boat. Now being from the glorious state of Minnesota, life revolves around the lakes - summer and winter. However, access to Lake Minnetonka on a beautiful summer day is about the greatest thing there is. Good thing they waited until after I left to get this.

Now it's fantastic to be able to go home on breaks to see the fam and use the new toys, but where the heck were these when I could've used them regularly?! So now, like this year, I'm relegated to one afternoon a summer spent lounging in heaven while my favorite tracks play on through my iTrip.

Yet with each trip out onto the boat, I've come to the truth that I listen to the same songs over and over again when I'm on the lake. When I'm not home, a few songs will always remind me of the incredible time spent out on Lake Minnetonka on the most perfect days of the year.

Most songs are featured in certain orders, because that's what tended to play when starting the boat (with the cd changer starting before my ipod) to cruising the lake to anchoring off Big Island or Robinson's Bay to pulling back into Wayzata Bay.

The easiest track on this mix for me is the opener: "Diane" by Guster. I had bought Guster's Keep It Together just before the summer started that we got the boat and this was the first track on the CD. It would start up as the engines started, the opening bass lines humming along with the low rumble of growling motors. Its chill lyrics, soft harmonies, and guitar strumming keep this one at the forefront of my mix. The entire Keep It Together CD is a good one to listen to on the boat, but the opening track is the winner for this particular post.

As we pulled out of the docks and the no-wake area, it's time to throttle up with G. Love & Special Sauce's "Dreamin.'" Driving along at a higher speed and cranking this song up brings a smile across my face every time. A master of my personal summer anthems, G. Love features prominently on any trip out on the boat and for good reason.

By the time we hit our destination, it's time for some relaxing, tanning, beer, chips, and sandwiches if we thought ahead.

"Come With Me Tonight" by Bob Schneider tends to start about now followed by Blue Merle's "Burning in the Sun." This Coldplay-esque tune chimes in with a little gusto but a lot of the summer feel necessary to crack this mix.

Now's the time to put on the suntan lotion, find an empty spot on the boat and half-sleep to the rest of the tracks with a cold Summit in your hand. I've realized that this post would be enormous if I continue to write about each song as I've already written too much for the number of songs on here...just try to imagine the greatest day of your life as you lie out under the sun with a bathtub-warm lake at your disposal, a cooler of ice cold Minnesota beer, and these songs serenading you along the way.

I will, however, speak for two seconds about the last three songs on the mix. They are the ones that remind me of pulling back into the dock at night after a wonderful day of boating. I tend to leave the boat's battery on while I clean it out and put up the cover which takes a little while after a full day.

The Format's "Snails" (the acoustic version) is my happiest song of all time. For some reason, I'm always happiest when I hear it no matter where I am. It brings a huge smile to my face and I tend to listen to it as I pull up to Wayzata Bay with its downtown lights glowing so softly. As I make it into the docks, Semisonic's "Gone to the Movies" is my favorite choice to transition into finishing off the night. Dan Wilson's Minnesotan voice as well as the perfect acoustic guitar fit nicely as the I pull the boat into its slot.

And finally, another Minnesota legend, Mason Jennings finishes off the night with his song "The Light, Pt. 2" as the cover goes up and the coolers are passed up onto the dock. You can't help but drive home happy after a day like this. I'm definitely missing home right about now, but this mix helps ease those thoughts...

I've split this mix up into 2 convenient 'cds' as my mix was meant for iPod use originally. I recommend that this mix be played exclusively on Lake Minnetonka, but if you can't make it there, play through it when you can at least appreciate the atmosphere (aka - a great bbq on the deck, a long distance road trip, or another lake outing of your choice).

*Available for a limited time only*

Little Dynamite's Ultimate Summer Boating Mix (Lake Minnetonka Edition)

  1. Guster - Diane
  2. G. Love & Special Sauce - Dreamin'
  3. Bob Schneider - Come With Me Tonight
  4. Blue Merle - Burning in the Sun
  5. Dave Matthews - So Damn Lucky
  6. James Taylor - October Road
  7. Jason Mraz - Sleep All Day
  8. Teddy Thompson - I Should Get Up
  9. John Mayer - Back to You
  10. Kalai - One Life
  11. Kinetix - What the Day's For
  12. Jack Johnson - Belle
  13. Led Zeppelin - Since I've Been Loving You
  14. Mason Jennings - Living in the Moment
  15. Citizen Cope - Bullet and a Target
  16. Jimmy Eat World - Your House
  17. Counting Crows - Mrs. Potter's Lullaby
  18. DeVotchKa - How It Ends
  19. Donavon Frankenreiter - Free
  20. Modest Mouse - Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset
  21. G. Love & Special Sauce - Lay Down the Law
  1. Eric Clapton - Circus
  2. Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine
  3. The Big Wu - Precious Hands
  4. Death Cab for Cutie - Soul Meets Body
  5. The Lemonheads - The Outdoor Type
  6. Ryan Adams - New York, New York
  7. Bedouin Soundclash - When the Night Feels My Song
  8. Ben Kweller - Wasted and Ready
  9. Van Morrison - Into the Mystic
  10. Ray LaMontagne - Trouble
  11. Sublime - Doin' Time
  12. Chingon - Malaguena Salerosa
  13. Bob Schneider - Gold in the Sunset
  14. The Ike Reilly Assasination - The Boat Song (We're Getting Loaded)
  15. Jack Johnson - Upside Down
  16. The Postal Service - Clark Gable
  17. Frank Sinatra - Summer Wind
  18. The Format - Snails (acoustic)
  19. Semisonic - Gone to the Movies
  20. Mason Jennings - The Light, Pt. 2

Feist - Town Hall, NYC 6/11/07

It's official. I'm in love with Leslie Feist.

Yes this post is extremely late. Yes I know I probably don't have a chance with her. But let me at least get this off my chest before I collapse.

This show was incredible. From the opening note to the euphoria that I experienced as she walked off the stage, I was enamored with Feist. There's something incredibly sexy about a woman who can rock as hard on the guitar as she did, but sing so smoothly.

She played everything I wanted to hear except for "Secret Heart" and that's saying something considering I wanted to hear everything off of her latest two albums Let It Die and The Reminder, respectively. If I hadn't been there to believe it, I would've called myself a liar, but her voice is even sweeter and more beautiful in person. The entire show was entrancing and she really knows how to engage an audience with even the softest of tunes.

I happened to have gotten 4th row seats for Town Hall, which was my first time there, but I felt like overall, it was an intimate venue. Feist felt comfortable enough to invite up a random audience member to whistle bird calls with her as she recorded a background tune for a song. Awesome.

One of the highlights of the evening was when she called out former bandmate in Broken Social Scene, Kevin Drew. It was a great moment as he played piano while Feist sang a memorable version of his "Lover's Spit." While that was the only song Drew came out for, it was a well received cameo performance.

I used to have the setlist in my cell phone, but I erased it for a Bob Schneider concert (bad move...I ended up buying the Scheider concert on CD and having it available anyways). Highlighted songs from the night included "The Water," "My Moon My Man," "1234," and "Mushaboom." I think the sleeper for best song of the night may go to "Sea Lion Woman" however.

Overall, an extremely fun night and a two-thumbs-up performance by one of my favorite artists.

Feist -
*My Moon My Man.mp3

Broken Social Scene -
*Lover's Spit.mp3

Teddy Thompson - Separate Ways

So you don't know who Teddy Thompson is? Shame on you.

Technically, shame on me, but I'll explain why. Teddy Thompson was supposed to be my first album review when we started this blog way back in '06, but I slacked off *gasp*.

Well here it is, finally, only one album too late. You see, Teddy has just released his newest CD Upfront and Down Low, an album of legendary country covers that departs wildly from his phenomenal 2006 release, Separate Ways.

I don't want to spoil anything for you, but Mr. Thompson was an enormous surprise find for me. He was the opening act for Mason Jennings when I saw him back home for my brother's birthday last summer. All stores were closed by the time I got home from the concert, but I woke up the next day and bought Teddy's album first thing.


It's been one of my absolute favorite purchases at the indie level. Thompson, an Englishman via New York, has catchy, but sincere melodies in his verses. He takes you into his confidence as he confesses his personal desires as well as his tongue-in-cheek experiences as a musician.
I want to be a huge star/who hangs out in hotel bars./I want to wake up at noon/in somebody else's room./I want to shine so bright it hurts...

I want to be high strung./Make people wonder what they've done./No one will talk back/cuz they'll never know when I might snap./I want to shine so bright it hurts...
-"Shine So Bright"
I know I recommend for people to buy just about every artist I write about, but you seriously need to get into Teddy now. He's already showing his range with his newest release so you should probably claim him as your own before he blows up.

Teddy Thompson -
Shine So Bright.mp3

Teddy Thompson -
I Should Get Up.mp3

Official Apology to Jack the Rabbit

This is the only time you'll ever get this...

I'm officially sorry to have doubted your arrogance on Afro Celt Sound System. I immediately purchased the album on iTunes and have not looked back. This music is right up my alley and I am a big proponent of random world music. I just purchased a double cd by a new-flamenco Spanish group that has been out of print since 2002. A post will be forthcoming...

I don't know where to begin. For one, the idea of blending African and Celtic music is beyond me. However, it works in a great way and as I sit here writing, I'm almost mesmerized by its sound. I have this weird thing for certain types of Celtic music and this, in its own odd way, fits the bill for me. Sometimes the album dives into a bit too much of dance/house for me, but when the Celtic portions come through, they explode.

So there you have it. Jack the Rabbit comes through brilliantly and this will no doubt encourage him in his future postings.

God help us.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Arrogance? Or Genius?

I recently posted my iPod's Top 25 Most Played list. Dark Moon, High Tide by Afro Celt Sound System was my #1 most played track. And I promptly received the following responses from my co-bloggers:
Little Dynamite: "your #1 song is by a group called 'Afro Celt Sound System''re so arrogant.."
Little Gun: "I agree with Little D...I think the reason that it took your top 25 so long before coming out was because you had to play that "Afro Celt Sound System" song on repeat to gain it the top spot...arrogance"
I'd like to address these comments head on.
My first thought was to just post the song and let the music speak for itself. But if it's accusations of arrogance I am trying to combat, and arrogant response like that will not do. So, let me try to show you where I'm living.
First off - two confessions:
1. I only got an iPod about a month ago. Before then, I had been operating with a Dell DJ for about 4 years. I did confess to Little Gun that I was "rigging" my Top 25 List since I had a brand new iPod with no baggage. To be clear, all I meant by this was that I was not listening to my entire library on full shuffle. This was to prevent some horrible accident such as, through a glitch in mathematical randomization, the song The Special by Hot Action Cop sneaking its way into my Top 25 to destroy my blogging credibility, which is currently rivaled only by Cherry Ghost.
2. I do admit that I bought the Afro Celt Sound System album Volume 1: Sound Magic purely out of arrogance. I saw it on the World section shelf at a Best Buy a few years ago and grabbed it without knowing anything about what secrets it might hold. Greatest blind purchase of my life.
Get in. Now that you've downloaded the song, let me tell you why it has a league leading 11 plays (edging Oklahoma by a single play). Put it on. Now picture this. I was sitting out on a second level deck on my cottage, all alone, the other evening. The sky was alive with heat lightning so frequent and intense that I was truly concerned that nearby New York City was being annihilated by nuclear weapons and it was only a matter of time before the radiation got to the Connecticut border. What better tune to listen to as one watches this beautiful world end. So I played it on repeat 3 or 4 times, until I was convinced that the danger of decimation had passed.

Since then, the song has frequently been added to On The Go playlists because I really enjoy it. I think it's a song about the maximum potential of the human heart; but that's the wonderful thing about it - it could have a different message to everyone it reaches.
Please post apologies/retractions.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jack the Rabbit: 25 Most Played

Here's the list.

1. Dark Moon, High Tide - Afro Celt Sound System

2. Oklahoma (live) - Bob Schneider

3. The Temptation of Adam - Josh Ritter

4. Corpus Christi Carol - Jeff Buckley

5. Brainy - The National

6. Start A War - The National

7. Me and Mr. Jones - Amy Winehouse

8. Love Is A Losing Game - Amy Winehouse

9. Tears Dry On Their Own - Amy Winehouse

10. Razz - Kings of Leon

11. Squalor Victoria - The National

12. Go Back Home to Harlem - The Rosewood Thieves

13. Elusive - Scott Matthews

14. Caledonia Mission - The Band

15. Valentine's Day - Bruce Springsteen

16. I Shall Be Released (live) - Jeff Tweedy

17. Quiet Town - Josh Rouse

18. Green Gloves - The National

19. Guest Room - The National

20. Oh My Sweet Carolina - Ryan Adams

21. Call Me On Your Way Back Home - Ryan Adams

22. Put It On Me - Ben Harper

23. Original of the Species - U2

24. Yahweh - U2

25. Northern Muse (Solid Ground) - Van Morrison

I have the best taste in music on the KTTU Blog.
Quick talking points:
1. Much as I hate to admit it, Little Gun was right...The National is my new favorite band. Although I must say, it took me a while to "get it." Start A War and Brainy were the tracks that precipitated the break through. Thanks, Little Gun.
2. The newest Josh Ritter album has all the makings of being the greatest, most arrogant(ly titled) album of 2007. The Temptation of Adam is the greatest song written since I Shall Be Released, which probably makes it the best song in the last 40 years. Believe it. Listen. I dare you.
3. Amy Winehouse album is actually pretty good. See if you can hang with me for this: Tears Dry On Their Own should have been a Fleetwood Mac song, that Amy Winehouse covered. If that was the case, Amy Winehouse's version would have become the definitive version. Got it? Anyway, great tune.
4. Respect to Jeff Buckley for putting out a (pop) album in AD 1994 in which one of the tracks begins with: He bear her up, he bear her down. He bear her unto an orchard ground. And in that orchard there was a hold, and it was hangèd with purple and gold. And in that hold, there was a bed, and it was hangèd with gold so red. Lay-oh-o-lay, lay-oh-o-lay; the falcon hath bourne my maid away...

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Day in a Lolla

Last Saturday, me and my steady gal (Maggie) checked out Lollapalooza. We only bought the one day pass because we'll be seeing a lot of the bands at Austin City Limits (the best festival in all the land) and wanted to save some scratch. Why Saturday though? Quite simply, The Hold Steady played on Saturday; but we'll get to that later. Here's a rundown.

I'm From Barcelona played at 12:30 and we caught the end of that show, which is unfortunate. What transpired was 40-50 Swedish (not actually from Barcelona...I was confused too) folk running around on stage in brightly colored clothing, animal suits, or both. I was visibly shaken.

Pete Yorn was on at 1:30. We got their early to get close to the stage because Maggie's in love with him, which is unfortunate for me. The set was solid, but I couldn't completely enjoy it for aforementioned reasons. By the way, I'm convinced that if Pete Yorn took off his sunglasses he'd look like a weasel. That was uncalled for. Also, Lance Armstrong was on the side of the stage for the show, and Pete Yorn's keyboardist may be Elvis Costello...thought you should know. Here's the set-list (Recorded by Little Dynamite Cell Phone Method)

Pete Yorn at Lolla:
1. June
2. Already Is
3. Ask Yourself
4. Life on a Chain
5. Splendid Isolation
6. Just Another
7. The Man
8. Closet
9. Policies
10. On Your Side
11. Murray
12. Young Folks (Peter Bjorn and John cover...neat suprise)
13. Strange Condition
14. New Track...sorry

The Cold War Kids were next show we checked out. The show was packed. We had to sit under a tree, and we couldn't see the stage. However, the show was phenomenal. I liked every song. Bought the album when I got home. Soaring vocals (provided by Nathan Willet), strong back beats, bluesy guitars, sloppy piano for a fantastic product. Plus they're obsessed with Tom Waits, which has to be a good thing. I also heard that they had a poet open for them on tour. Myspace them. Do it.

Which brings us to The Hold Steady. They played for one hour, and in that one hour provided one of the top five shows I've ever seen. The Hold Steady is pure joy on stage. No one could ever accuse these guys of taking themselves too seriously; they are having the time of their lives up there. Keyboardist Franz Nicolay waved to the crowed and jumped up and down beaming in anticipation for the show. Frontman Craig Finn came out giddy as well, adorned in a Ron Gardenhire jersey (for those of you that are not from Minnesota like Craig Finn or Little Dynamite, Gardenhire is the Twins manager...and Finn was wearing his cool is that). And the smiles continued throughout the show. After songs, Finn would scream jokes across stage at bassist Galen Polivka and lead guitarist Tad Kubler. Between lyrics, Finn would move to the front of the stage, away from the mic, and yell at the crowd, as if he was having a conversation with us, further explaining the lyrics to the song. As Kubler's six-string wailed out a solo, Finn would dance the type of dance you do when you think no one's watching.

The set was fantastic. They played 7 tracks from Boys and Girls in America (Stuck Between Stations, Chips Ahoy, Hot Soft Light, Party Pit, You Can Make Him Like You, South Town Girls, Massive Nights) but also dipped into their earlier catalogue, which I'm not too familiar with, but desire to become familiar with. The audience of mainly males aged 20 to 35 was jumping up and down the whole show, screaming lyrics back at Finn. The band patted each other's back, swigged Bud Selects, and laughed. At the conclusion of the show, Finn told the crowd that they started playing as an excuse to get together and drink beer once a week. He told us how much joy there was up on stage, as if we couldn't see it, and thanked us for sharing in it. It was, of course, my pleasure.

Post-script: I bought a Hold Steady t-shirt that has the first names of the band members listed down the front...and that's it.

Pictures of the show to follow.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

My Top 25 Most Played

I'll start by saying that my list is reset every time I update my iTunes, so this list is very new and very album biased since I tend to listen to albums at work almost exclusively...with that in mind, here goes:

1) The Shins - Australia
2) Bob Schneider - Oklahoma
3) The Shins - Pam Berry
4) Ryan Adams - New York, New York
5) The Shins - Sleeping Lessons
6) The Shins - Phantom Limb
7) Feist - Past in Present
8) The National - All the Wine
9) The National - Abel
10) The National - Mr. November
11) The Shins - Sea Legs
12) The Shins - Red Rabbits
13) Teddy Thompson - I Should Get Up
14) Feist - 1234
15) M. Ward - Post-War
16) M. Ward - Chinese Translation
17) M. Ward - Eyes on the Prize
18) M. Ward - Magic Trick
19) M. Ward - Neptune's Net
20) M. Ward - Rollercoaster
21) M. Ward - Today's Undertaking
22) The National - Baby We'll Be Fine
23) The National - The Geese of Beverly Road
24) Ray LaMontagne - Three More Days
25) The Slip - Children of December