Monday, December 31, 2007

(Another) Best Of 2007 List

Happy New Year to you all. For Christmas my lady came through big time with the new 80GB iPod, so for the past week I have been downloading all my cd’s to my laptop. Doing so allowed me think about some of the great music that came out this year. Below is a short list of the seven albums (and a couple live shows) that rarely left my stereo, and will probably get high rotation on my iPod for a long time to come.

Photo of The National by Sonya Kolowrat
The National- “Boxer”
While not as rocking as 2005’s “Alligator”, this album does show the darker side of The National. Best listened to after midnight, and even better if listened to after midnight and behind the wheel of a car on a deserted highway.

Wilco- “Sky Blue Sky”
What can I say about Wilco’s most recent that hasn’t been said already? Some describe this album as one that grows on you, but I was hooked the first time I heard it. ‘Impossible Germany’ is easily one of the best songs of the year. Nels Cline’s guitar adds the missing layer, and Jeff Tweedy, clean and sober, is at the top of his game right now, surrounding himself with some of the best musicians in the industry. Next to “Being There” and “YHF”, this is my favorite Wilco album. And yes, I bought it at Starbuck’s.

Dinosaur Jr.- “Beyond”
Is it 1989 again? Original trio reunites for one of this year’s most fuzzed out, rocking albums.

Spoon- “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga”
‘Underdog’ is arguably my favorite tune of the year. This is one of Spoon's best (though it’s tough to beat “Gimme Fiction”), complete with trumpets and offbeat hand claps. Britt's vocals are unbelievably effective, simple and direct song writing.

Arcade Fire- “Neon Bible”
This album made the #1 spot in many people’s end of year lists, and for good reason. “Neon Bible” is a sonic piece of music that sounds absolutely massive. 80’s synth pop, church organs, string arrangements, and some of the best lyrics of the year.

Various Artists- “Jonny Greenwood Is The Controller”
Jonny Greenwood (guitarist of Radiohead) put together this outstanding compilation of old school reggae tracks straight from the Trojan records vaults. I have always considered myself a fan of reggae and dub, but this is the album that made me a believer. After I received this last summer, I went on a binge of nothing but dub for about six weeks. Highlights include classic tracks from Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Delroy Wilson, Gregory Issacs, The Heptones, Desmond Dekker, Junior Byles, Johnny Clarke, Jahlights. Scientist & Jammy & and the Roots Radics. Hell, it’s all good, especially if you are a fan of classic dub. And you know you are.

Thurston Moore- “Trees Outside the Academy”
Someone described this as Thurston’s “Nebraska”, so I was expecting something a little more acoustic and less produced, but it is still some good catchy rock with nice use of strings thrown in.

Austin City Limits Music Festival- September
Three days of music, sweat, bikes, Tex-Mex, and Jack Daniels, with the best group of people you could imagine. Highlights included seeing Yo La Tengo, Blonde Redhead, Wilco, Steve Earle and Spoon.

TV On The Radio @ Avalon, Boston- March
Next to all the music at ACL, this was one of the best live shows of the year for me. For this show TVOTR were in full-on rage mode, with doses of punk, funk, jazz, soul, and world music thrown in. None of the power of the music was lost, if anything it was more organic and massive. It amazed me how they were able to create the same vibe live as on their albums, without all the samples and loops. Mind blowing.

Monday, December 17, 2007

That's The Way, Patriot!

Man. Power.

I know it's just a beer ad, but I love the message. No lycra clad racer riding a $3000 ti bike, just some guy who looks like your next door neighbor, flannel shirt and an old single speed. Just wish it was for a better beer. If more people left the car at home for errands that were less than two miles, it would do wonders. Plus, who doesn't love riding a bike in the snow?

"That's the way, patriot. Let the OPECs keep their gasoline. We'll just tap into a far more efficient energy source."

Listening to: Lucero- Tennesee

Friday, December 07, 2007

Craig Finn @ Boston College

Craig Finn (BC class of '93) of The Hold Steady, came back to Boston College in September to talk about Minneapolis's early music scene, rock shows in Boston, germs, writing, redemption, and generally the life of being a touring musician.

Listen to the interview here.

The Heat Is On: Speedys #44 Hot Sauce

Flavor. A few weeks back I ordered a couple of bottles of 2drunk2shift's homemade habanero hot sauce, and let me tell you, this stuff delivers. Tonight I tried it on some mini beef tacos I made for dinner, and the combination of carrots, habaneros, red peppers, and peaches (!) made for some swell eats (and it made the Harpoon Dark Ale go down even easier). Like a little Friday night party in my mouth. If you are lucky, you might find some of this hotness in your stocking.

Get yours by emailing Jimmy @

Listening to: Elton John- Madman Across The Water

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Lou Reed's Tales of New York

Photo: Reuters

"Does anyone really need a billion dollar rocket
does anyone need a $60,000 car
Does anyone need another President
or the sins of Swaggart parts 6, 7, 8, and 9, ah
Does anyone need another politician
caught with his pants down money sticking in his hole
Does anyone need another racist preacher
spittin' in the wind can only do you harm, wow"
-- Lou Reed, “Strawman”

I’ve been a big fan of the Velvet Underground since college, but it has only been the past few years that I’ve really got into Lou Reed’s solo stuff, seems I can’t get enough of it lately. Tonight I was listening to his 1989 album, “New York”, which is a collection of stories from Reed’s beloved city before Rudy G. cleaned it up. It paints a picture of what New York was like in the ‘80’s; gritty tales of sex, drugs, crime, AIDS, death, racism, romance, and poverty wrapped up in some of the best rock of it’s time. This album, though lyrically a bit dated today, still holds it’s own.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Just A Friendly Reminder That Mother Nature Can Still Kick Your Ass

"My girlfriend and I went on a picnic. I don't know how she did it, but she got poison oak on the brain. When it itched, the only way she could scratch it was to think about sandpaper." --Stephen Wright

One of my first blog posts ever was about a run-in I had with poison ivy. I have been lucky that I have gone almost three years since being afflicted, but my luck ran out a couple of weeks ago when I must have touched some while cutting down a few dead trees on my property. Below is a picture of what my forearm looks like now, 12 days after first noticing the small blisters.

I was lucky this time, check out this guy, or even worse, this one. I remained diligent in keeping the infected area clean and dry, and the rash remained fairly localized. I have had it enough now that the first time I feel anything I bust out the Fels-Naptha brown soap and go to town on it. The lye in the soap seems to dry out the poison ivy oils, and keeps it from spreading. I have been doing this 2-3 times a day for the last 12 days. Some people find vinegar compresses or rubbing alcohol helps, and I know one person who said it feels better if you pee on it. My brother-in-law once had it so bad on his ankle, he poured gas on his foot and lit it on fire. I wouldn't recommend this. What did work for me was running hot water over the infected area, which in some strange way, felt really, really good. Like crack cocaine good. From what I've read the hot water allows all the histimine that is building up in your system to become released. Histimine is what causes the itch. It is only a temporary relief but it does last up to 8 hours or until the histimine builds back up.

Listening to: Alejandro Escovedo- Bourbonitus Blues

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Who Didn't See a UFO in the Early '80s?

I am about as nonpolitical as they come these days, and this here blog is by no means meant to be political in nature, but this is too good to pass up. In her new book (which I swear I didn't read), Shirley McClaine states that more than 25 years ago presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich saw a UFO while at her Washington state home. Kucinich was asked by MSNBC moderator Tim Russert recently, "did you see a UFO?" Kucinich replies, "I did,...” before stressing that it was unidentified and reminding the audience that former president Jimmy Carter also saw a UFO. "It's unidentified. I saw something,'' he said. "Also, you have to keep in mind that more- that Jimmy Carter saw a UFO- and also that more people in this country have seen UFOs than, I think, approve of George Bush's presidency.''

Does that make Kucinich a crackpot? Not in my opinion. The term UFO is so generic, it can be anything from a meteor to a weather balloon, and besides, Kucinich has a lot of wild ideas that he has said out loud, but the fact that he claims that he saw something in the sky that he could not identify does not make him crazy. At least he's honest. What’s crazy is Kucinich admitted knowing Shirley McClaine. Not that he has a chance of getting close to the White House, but I’m still surprised the Republicans haven't jumped on this, the only thing I can think of is if my memory serves me right, Ronald Reagan made a similar claim back in the day.

Listening to: Josh Ritter- The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Is the Home Stereo Dead?

Though I listen to and purchase much of my music in a digital format, it seems I am one of the few people who does not own an iPod. I’ve been tempted plenty, but I rarely drive to work anymore, and at home I either listen to music on my computer, or on my stereo. No real need for a mobile player, not yet at least. Seems like everyone I meet has one of those iPod docking stations in their homes. Doesn’t anyone listen to CD’s anymore? My home stereo is a quality Yamaha component system that I bought my final year in Oregon, and even though it takes up way too much space, I can’t give it up. I simply love my disc-changer, and am always in search of the perfect 5 CD combination to play on random. For you iPod users, think of it as the ultimate playlist that you could listen to over and over again. I have had the following 5 CD’s in rotation for the past three days, and no matter what time of day it is, they are the perfect background music. I really believe these tunes are aptly suited for doing chores around the house to hosting a chill dinner party.

Calexico- Feast of Wire
My Morning Jacket- It Still Moves
David Lindley & Hani Naser- Live in Tokyo
Calexico/Iron & Wine- In the Reins
Josh Rouse- Nashville

I was doing some painting this past weekend, and these tunes kept me going all afternoon, but they served me just as well while cooking dinner tonight.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Austin City Limits Music Fest- Day 3

Note: I intended to capture all kinds of pictures while in Austin but, unfortunately, left my camera back at home. What follows is mostly the photography of CHW and some from the ACL website. The words are mine, except for the ones I stole.

Good Morning Austin! Today is the day we have all been waiting for, as there are so many bands playing that we want to see, and some of them playing at the same time. I am going to go make some eggs and coffee and power up for the day. I will post more tonight when we return...

...just got back from a long Day 3. Up early and out the door, we arrived at the park just as Yo La Tengo were starting up. You could hear them as we locked the bikes up, and we all had that look on our faces like we knew we were in for something. Yo La Tengo is a band that I have listened to quite a bit, but I didn’t know what to expect live. This was one of the best shows of the weekend for me, if not the best. They even did a fantastic cover of The Beach Boy’s “Little Honda”. Huge sound from this threesome.

Next up was The National, whose album The Boxer has been getting much play on my player lately. Along with Blonde Redhead, The National brought the weekend’s best power-pop.

Decided to check out STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector Nine) at the last minute, but we still made it for the last 30 minutes of their set. Instrumental, electronica that would sound great in a dark lounge, or my basement. Nice change from all the rock.

Still reeling from the Yo La Tengo show, I knew I needed to chill for awhile before the double climax of My Morning Jacket and Wilco. We did listen to some of Ian Ball (lead singer of Gomez) and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, but I also walked around by myself for some time and just took in all the sights.

After regrouping with my mates, we hit the beer garden and decided to try and get a good spot for My Morning Jacket . When we arrived at the stage, it was already packed and we still had 30 minutes before the boys from Kentucky hit the stage. We spent the time watching the group of high school students in from of us smoke enormous amounts of weed, and then they proceeded to zone out, oblivious that MMJ were about to rock our world. I hope they didn’t get trampled when the masses exited, because it didn’t look they were going anywhere soon.

MMJ came out wearing swim trunks, swimmies, masks, snorkels, etc. Sticking with the tropical theme, they even had hula girls carrying pineapples. Very cool. Andrew Bird joined the band for two songs, and then disappeared offstage, probably to hang with Drew Barrymore, who was reported to be in the park. At this point our group split up, and three of us decided to try and catch the last 40 minutes of Wilco. Like gazelles we wound our way across the park and actually got pretty darn close to the stage. Jeff Tweedy, clean and sober, is at the top of his game right now, and he has surrounded himself with some of the best musicians in the industry. Nels Cline is a wizard on the guitar, and Tweedy seemed positive and happy. Glad we caught this one. They closed with “Casino Queen” and “Outtasite (Outta Mind)”, classic.

On our way back to meet with the rest of the gang we watched part of Ghostland Observatory, a band I don’t know much about. The sun was just starting to go down, and so were the temperatures. Cool light show, and it looked like the audience closest to the stage were at a rave. From where I stood up on the hill all I could see were bodies bobbing up and down to the music. Someone told me that they heard there were 60 thousand people in the park today. That is almost twice the size of the town I live in.

Met up the other two in our group, and about 40 thousand others all trying to get a spot for Bob Dylan. Maybe I was just tired, but I had a feeling that Dylan wasn’t going to be worth sticking around for, and I was right. We tried to listen to a few songs, but from the opening bars of "Rainy Day Woman" I could tell his voice was shot, so we threw in the towel and made our way back to the bikes, caught the end of the Red Sox/Yankees game at a local sports bar, and ate way too many wings.

Lots of bikes on the road tonight, and on our way back to the house we witnessed a guy getting hit by a truck. I heard it first and thought it was two cars, that is until I saw the bike flying across the roadway about 30 yards ahead of me. Turns out the kid was okay, he was cut up pretty bad, but it could have been much, much, worse. I feel sorry for the driver as well. Shitty way to end such a great three days.

Tomorrow I am back on a plane to Boston. It’s been a hell of a weekend with some of the best guys you could imagine, but we all must get back to family, work, and life. Austin has won me over, and there is no doubt I will be back in the future.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Austin City Limits Music Fest- Day 2

After last night, I needed a down day to recuperate. We didn’t get to the park until almost 3:00pm and headed over to the stage where Steve Earle was to play. Seeing Steve Earle was one of the few acts that I told myself I would not miss this year. I have been a big fan of his music since high school when Guitar Town came out and I was immediately sold on his brand of story telling. He can play the Texas singer role, but he also has that punk ethos and can really rock out with his band. This time around he played an acoustic set, and for much of the show it was just him and his guitars, except for when he was joined onstage for a few songs with his wife, Alison Moorer. Never being one to settle, Earle had a DJ backing him on some songs, which worked for the most part. Should be interesting to hear how it sounds on his new album. Part of me wished he had played with a full band, but seeing this legend was still the best part of the day for me.

After Steve Earle, we jetted over to catch Andrew Bird, another artist I really wanted to see live. I was expecting a mellow show from this violin player and his band, but I was pleasantly surprised by a sound so unique and original I don’t even know how to describe it. He would loop tracks from his violin and guitar and layer them on top of the drums and bass from his bandmates. He also had a spinning gramophone machine that looked like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Very cool sound, and an artist I will definitely keep up with from now on.

After riding back to the house, we caught a ride to La Rena for some outstanding Tex-Mex and margaritas, then headed over to the Flamingo Cantina on 6th Street to listen to the sweet roots sounds of The Meditations. Turns out there are a lot of rastafarians in Texas.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Austin City Limits Music Fest- Day 1

Saying it was hot today would not be doing the heat justice, by the time we left our rental house we were all completely swimming in our own sweat.

We got to Zilker Park about half way into Jesse Malin’s set on the AT&T stage. This was a great way to start the festival for me, Malin and his band definitely brought the rock and got me in the mood for what was to come. We then headed over to catch the traditional bluegrass sounds of the Del McCoury Band. Watching them play in their wool suits made me even hotter so we left after a few songs and caught the end of the Heartless Bastards. Didn’t know anything about them until today, but count me as a fan now.

Next up was Pete Yorn, who I had heard good things about, but I really couldn’t get into his brand of rock. A few songs into Yorn’s set we look behind us and notice this huge plume of black smoke and flames coming from the tree line. Someone joked that it must be Willie Nelson’s tour bus, but I could tell something serious was going down. For a brief moment I though we might have to evacuate the park, because the flames were getting larger and the smoke was filling the air. Pete Yorn stopped playing and some ACL staffer came on stage and urged people to back away from the fire (no shit!) so the fire department could get through. Five minutes later they had the fire under control and Yorn was back to his show. We learned later that a propane tank had caught fire which ignited the trees. Hope no one was injured.

One of the bands I really wanted to check out today was Blonde Redhead, and they did not let me down in the least, just three musicians who created a wall of sound filled with insane guitar loops and heavy percussion. This will probably be one of my highlights of the weekend. After Blond Redhead we decided to check out Joss Stone. Now I will say that when I first heard Joss two or three years ago I was really impressed, I dig the retro soul thing that she does, but her live show didn’t do much for me. Sure, she is easy on the eyes, and she can definitely sing, but I have to wonder if so many people would be into her if she didn’t look the way she does. Another disappoint for me was M.I.A. I was expecting some crazy hip-hop/world music from her, but all we got were what seemed like the same beats and some ranting. At the end of her show she invited her entourage of family and friends up on stage for a dance party, that must have been pretty cool for those folks.

Last up for our first day was Spoon. I am a fairly recent convert of this Austin band, only owning the album Gimme Fiction and a few tracks I downloaded from their new one. You could tell that they have many local fans who turned out so see one of Austin’s finest. It was a great way to end the day at the same stage we started at.

After riding our bikes back to the house for some much needed air conditioning and cold beers, we went down to 6th Street to see Stephen Marley at Emo’s. Zap Mama was just finishing up her set when we arrived, so we headed to the back patio for a few more drinks, thinking Marley would be up soon. After a short break Zap Mama returned to the stage and played almost another full set. We then found a good spot on the floor close to the stage and watched Marley’s band set up. After a lengthy sound check the band looked ready, but Stephen was no where to be found. Now it is common knowledge that reggae bands are known to be on “rasta time”, but waiting for almost and hour and a half got real old. The crowd shared our feelings, the tension in this hot club was almost as thick as the ganja smoke that hung heavy in the air. At 1:15am Stephen did emerge and all was quickly forgiven. He played a mixture of his own tunes and songs from his father, and for that hour I could almost imagine what it must have been like to have witnessed Bob Marley in the 70’s. Stephen not only looks like his father, but he sounds just like him as well, glad we waited it out because it was so well worth it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mullen Hall Playground

With two kids under 5, I spend a good deal of time at local playgrounds, especially during the summer. I've been meaning to post something about this playground for quite some time, but I wanted to wait until I had decent pictures. Built last Spring, the Mullen Hall Playground has a science/nautical theme, including friction slides, a DNA ladder, boats, and a replica of a lighthouse. The community raised the cash and it was constructed in just 7 days, built completely by local volunteers. Up to 300 people a day turned out to help. I volunteered one night and helped to finish the "Tot Lot" (for kids 2-5). It was amazing to watch the transformation of this massive project, I've never seen anything like it. As far as I know, it is the largest playground in Massachusetts. My two little ones love it.

Part of the "Tot Lot" that I helped to build.

Listening to: Joe Strummer & The Mescalaros- Global A Go-Go

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Magnolia Electric Co.- Upcoming Box Set and Fall 2007 American Tour Dates

I've seen Magnolia Electric Co. live a few times, and in my opinion, Jason Molina is one of the best songwriters going today. He flies under the radar but puts on one of the best live shows I have ever seen. Really looking forward to the boxset and catching the band when they pass through Boston. They will also be playing in Austin when we are there for the ACL Festival, I may just have to forgo the festival for the night. Here is what the MEC website has to say about the boxset and upcoming fall tour:

magnolia electric co. will release their most ambitious work to date later this summer. on august 7th, secretly canadian will issue a 4xcd, 1xdvd deluxe box set entitled ’sojourner’. it includes all of the projects discussed over the past year and then some. ‘nashville moon’, recorded with steve albini in 2005. ‘the black ram’, recorded by david lowery with all sorts of guest musicians including andrew bird. the ’sun session’ ep, recorded at the legendary memphis studio in one day. and of course, the mysterious ’shohola’, recorded at home by jason molina. but that’s just the stuff you might have heard about. there’s also a dvd including the film ‘the road becomes what you leave’ by todd chandler and tim sutton that follows the band as they trek across the prairie provinces of canada. the amazing set is rounded out by deluxe packaging including a medallion and postcards, all housed in a wooden box.

In support of the upcoming ’sojourner’ release, magnolia electric co. will hit the road in late august for a nearly two month north american tour.

8/23 - Bloomington, IN - Bluebird
8/24 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
8/25 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry
8/26 - Omaha, NE - Waiting Room
8/27 - Kansas City, MO - Grand Emporium
8/28 - Denver, CO - Bluebird Theatre
8/29 - Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge
8/31 - Vancouver, BC - Richard’s On Richards (early show)
9/01 - Seattle, WA - Bumbershoot Festival
9/02 - Portland, OR - Someday Lounge
9/04 - Arcata, CA - Muddy’s Hot Cup
9/05 - San Francisco, CA - Bottom Of The Hill
9/06 - Los Angeles, CA - Echo
9/07 - Pioneer Town, CA - Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneer Town Palace
9/08 - Pioneer Town, CA - Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneer Town Palace (Jason Molina solo)
9/09 - San Diego, CA - Casbah
9/10 - Phoenix, AZ - Modified Arts
9/11 - Tuscon, AZ - Club Congress
9/13 - Austin, TX - Emo’s
9/14 - Oklahoma City, OK - Conservatory
9/15 - Denton, TX - Rubber Gloves
9/16 - Houston, TX - Rudyard’s Pub
9/17 - New Orleans, LA - Howlin’ Wolf
9/18 - Memphis, TN - Hi Tone
9/19 - Jackson, MS - Hal & Mal’s
9/20 - Birmingham, AL - The Bottle Tree
9/21 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl
9/22 - Athens, GA - 40 Watt Club
9/23 - Columbia, SC - Columbia Music Festival Association Space
9/24 - Mount Pleasant, SC - Village Tavern
9/25 - Carrboro, NC - Cat’s Cradle
9/26 - Charlottesville, VA - Satellite Ballroom
9/27 - Washington, DC - Black Cat
9/28 - Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church
9/29 - New York, NY - The Blender Theatre at Gramercy
9/30 - Portland, ME - Space Gallery
10/1 - Cambride, MA - Middle East
10/2 - Northampton, MA - Iron Horse
10/3 - Montreal, QC - Pop Montreal at La Sala Rossa
10/4 - Ottawa, ON - Zaphod Beeblebrox
10/5 - Toronto, ON - Lee’s Palace
10/6 - Detroit, MI - Magic Stick

Check out the footage of "What Comes After The Blues" below. Good stuff.

Magnolia Electric Co.- "What Comes After The Blues"

Monday, July 16, 2007

Happy Campers

I haven't slept in a tent since we backpacked in Montana back in 2001, but that changed this past weekend when we headed to Maine. We stayed outside of Freeport at the Recompence Campground with five other couples and our collective 12 kids. Those of you with children know that trying to camp with 12 kids, all under the age of 6, could be a recipe for complete disaster, but all of us were pleasantly surprised how well the kids did. There were a few melt downs, but the great thing about our group of friends is that our kids see each other often and we all have similar parenting styles, so it is easy to manage. Now this was hardly roughing it by any means, it was strictly car camping, but with so many little ones it was perfect. The campground was very family friendly; big field for the kids to run around in, walking distance to a farm, and ocean views. We spent a morning at the farm, checking out the baby lambs and chickens, then spent the afternoon exploring the tide pools and swimming in Casco Bay. After the kids crashed we hung around the campfire and enjoyed the stars. I haven't seen stars like that in a long, long time. It was great to hang with so many friends and their families. Next year we will definitely bring the bikes and there is talk of staying a few more nights.

Listening to: The Flaming Lips- The Soft Bulletin

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Pub Names

A buddy and I were recently discussing possible names for pubs, and we decided that if we owned a drinking establishment in Dallas, Texas we would definitely call it "The Grassy Knoll Pub".

Got any good names?

Listening to: Wilco- Sky Blue Sky

Monday, May 14, 2007

ACL Music Festival

Some mates and I are heading to Texas in September for the Austin City Limits Music Festival. It is shaping up to be a fine weekend of music, brews, and BBQ. After many internet rumors the lineup was announced last week...

Bob Dylan & His Band
* Björk * The White Stripes * The Killers * Wilco * Arcade Fire * Muse * My Morning Jacket * Queens of the Stone Age * Bloc Party * Arctic Monkeys * Gotan Project * Joss Stone * Damien Rice * Robert Earl Keen * Lucinda Williams * Spoon * Blue October * Indigo Girls * The Decemberists * Paolo Nutini * Regina Spektor * Amy Winehouse * Crowded House * Steve Earle * Ziggy Marley * Stephen Marley * Kaiser Chiefs * LCD Soundsystem * DeVotchKa * Augustana * Amos Lee * M.I.A. * Ben Kweller * Clap Your Hands Say Yeah * Andrew Bird * Béla Fleck & The Flecktones * Ghostland Observatory * Cross Canadian Ragweed * Reverend Horton Heat * Pete Yorn * Butch Walker * Peter Bjorn and John * STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector Nine) * Yo La Tengo * Joseph Arthur & The Lonely Astronauts * Rodrigo y Gabriela * Zap Mama * Blonde Redhead * Eli Young Band * Aterciopelados * Heartless Bastards * Raul Malo * James Hunter * Mighty Clouds of Joy * Del McCoury Band * Preservation Hall Jazz Band * Andy Palacio & the Garifuna Collective * Asleep at the Wheel * Ryan Shaw * Will Hoge * The National * Beau Soleil * Midlake * Grace Potter and the Nocturnals * Railroad Earth * Dax Riggs * Sound Team * The Legendary Soul Stirrers * Charlie Musselwhite * JJ Grey & Mofro * Young Love * The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker * Ian Ball * The Little Ones * Manchester Orchestra * Patterson Hood * Billy Joe Shaver * Fionn Regan * Big Sam's Funky Nation * John Ralston * The Broken West* Rose Hill Drive * Brandon Rhyder * Ocote Soul Sounds * Sara Hickman * Willy Mason * Jon Dee Graham * The Paul Green School of Rock All-Stars * Kevin Devine * Nicole Atkins & The Sea * The Ike Reilly Assassination * Greyhounds * Guy Forsyth * Adam Hood * Cary Ann Hearst & The Gun Street Girls * The Jones Family Singers * The Gospel Silvertones * The Shields of Faith * Sylvia St. James * Jeffrey Steele * Amy Cook * Trent Summar & the New Row Mob * Back Door Slam * Mario Matteoli * Kara Grainger * One Mississippi * Kevin McKinney * Jennifer Nicely * Sahara Smith * The New Soul Invaders * The Wonderful Harmonizers * Loretta Williams Gurnell * Amy Loftus * Amy LaVere * The Steps * We Go To 11 * The Sippy Cups * Daddy A Go Go * Farmer Jason * Q Brothers * Jambo * The Bummkinn Band *
The Jellydots

Listening to: Steve Earle- El Corazon

Monday, March 26, 2007

Punk Love, and How I Got My Mojo Back

I stumbled across the book Punk Love, by Susie J. Horgan, at my local book store recently, and I highly recommend taking a look at it. This book documents the early ‘80’s Washington, DC, hardcore scene through photos taken by the author, and includes writing from Henry Rollins and Ian MacKaye. I was drawn to this book because I have always loved the above photo (shot by Horgan) from Minor Threat’s first album. Horgan’s photographs of early DC bands such as Minor Threat and Black Flag truly capture the DIY ethos and intensity that defined these incredible bands. The cool thing about these photos is that Horgan was not an outsider journalist trying to capture the image of the music for some magazine, she was a friend of the musicians and had access to their lives (she met Henry Rollins when he hired her to work with him at a Georgetown Haagen-Dazs ice cream shop).

The author and her photos are hitting the road this spring. Check it out.

April 5:
Gallery exhibit & presentation @ Powell's bookstore in Portland, OR

May 4:
Book signing @ Artifacts 20th Century in Northampton, MA.

In other news, I am back to riding my bike to work, and am slowly starting to feel healthier and stronger again. The cold and wet winter weather forced me into a six week hiatus. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I started riding again. I scored a new 44 tooth titanium chainring from my local bike shop for $20, so now I’m not spinning as much as with the old one. This new gear ratio of 44/18 seems ideal for our relatively flat riding around here.

Listening to: M. Ward- Post-War

Sunday, March 04, 2007

TV On The Radio @ The Avalon, Boston

Wow, has it really been almost two months since I've posted anything here? No excuses, been busy working and hanging with the family. Just too tired at the end of the day to post anything.

Moving on. It's been about 48 hours since T. and I saw TV On The Radio at the Avalon, and I'm still coming back down to Earth. Mind blowing. I was first drawn to this band through Tunde Adebimpe's lyrics and vocals, but I have the hardest time trying to explain TVOTR’s sound to people; is it art rock, electronic, post-punk? Their music is in a category all of it’s own. Friday night TVOTR were in full-on rage mode, with doses of punk, funk, jazz, soul, and world music thrown in. Less produced than their albums, yes, but none of the power of the music was lost when played live, if anything it was more powerful. It amazed me how they were able to create the same vibe live as on their albums, without all the samples and loops. Definitely more organic and raw. The five members of TVOTR seemed totally focused and in the moment, and you got the sense that they could have played all night (and they probably would have if the Avalon didn't transform into a trendy nightclub at 11:00). These guys really enjoy the shit out of making music, and you can tell they enjoy one another. From my perspective, Dave Sitek, with his fuzzed out guitar playing and wind chimes, seemed to be the leader of this machine (I know he does production duties on their albums). He would play with his back to the crowd, inches from his amp, producing some of the craziest feedback I have ever heard. Other times he would drop his guitar and play percussion alongside drummer Jaleel Bunton. I couldn’t keep my eyes off Sitek and Kyp Malone’s guitar playing, but it was Bunton, and bass player, Gerard Smith, who kept everything tied together. Those two are a force not to be messed with. Smith’s style is very laid back, he would seemingly disappear at times, but his heavy bass lines or keyboards were always present. The horns were provided by four local college students, whom the band had met the night before in Providence and invited them to play the show with them. These four horn players definately knew their shit, and were able to keep up with the band, so it only added to the richness of the night. Sometimes you go to a concert, have a few drinks, enjoy the music, then go home. The music may be great, but the next day you move on with your life. Not so this time around. Seeing TV On The Radio is like reading a good book, you have to digest it, and if you do, it will inspire you.

Check out this Video of ‘Wolf Like Me’ from Letterman, I love Dave’s reaction at the end of the song.

"TVOTR!!! That's all you're lookin' for!"-- Dave Letterman

Monday, January 08, 2007

Bike Love

Came across this quote tonight from Travis Culley's book "The Immortal Class":

"What these people don't know is that the bicycle is more than a sport and more than a job. The bicycle is a revolution, an assault on civilian territory, intent upon taking, from the ground up, responsibility for the shape of our cities. It is a mutiny, challenging the ever-one-way street. The bicycle is a philosophy, a way of life, and I am using it like a hammer to change the world and to redeem our war-torn cities."

Listening to: Sun Kil Moon- Tiny Cities

Monday, January 01, 2007

Best of 2006 (better late than never)

Happy New Year to you all. We rang in the New Year with five other couples and our collective twelve kids. My how things have changed in the past five years!

The other morning I was riding to work and my mind began to wander, the way it only can when you are pedaling away mindlessly. I began to think about all the great music that came out in 2006, much of it still on my mental shopping list, but below is a short list of some of my favorite albums that made their way into my collection this past year. Sure there were others-- Sonic Youth’s “Rather Ripped” comes to mind, but I haven’t purchased it yet. I have also included a few concerts that made 2006 tough to beat.

TV On The Radio- “Return to Cookie Mountain”
This album probably gets more play than anything else I bought last year. I have the hardest time describing TVOTR to people who haven’t heard of them, but I think the Aquarium Drunkard said it best when he stated that this record “makes you want to blow shit up”. An eleven song revolution.

Josh Ritter- “The Animal Years”
Track for track, some of my favorite songs of the year. Ritter's lyrics are pure poetry.

Built to Spill- “You in Reverse”
‘Just a Habit’ just may have been the greatest song of 2006. I am always curious which songs radio stations will choose for their first song of the New Year. This year our local independent station played Ben Harper’s 'Better Way'; good tune, but if I worked at a radio station I would have played ‘Just a Habit’.

Destroyer- “Destroyer’s Rubies”
Saw Dan Bejar open for Magnolia Electric Co. last April, great show. This album took a few spins for it to grow on me, but it truly deserves to be at the top of so many end of the year lists.

Los Lobos- “The Town and The City”
Classic Los Lobos sound. This one reminds me of “Kiko”, one of my all time favorite albums.

I blogged about these concerts in the past year, all great shows. You should have been there with me.
Josh Ritter/Hem- April 28 @ The Narrows Center (Fall River, MA)
Barn Burning (Acoustic Show) - August 22 @ Julian's (Providence, RI)
Bob Dylan- August 24 @ McCoy Stadium (Pawtucket, RI)
Jason Molina & MEC - March 27 @ The Middle East Club (Cambridge, MA)