Sunday, December 30, 2012

Good Stuff 2012

So here it is, the obligatory "year in review".  I don't have the typical "best of" list for you or any of that crap.  Instead, I thought I'd recap the live shows that we saw this year (since those are always highlights) and then tell you some of the stuff I loved the most this year.  That's it, short and sweet.  Well, probably more sweet than short, I've never been known for my brevity.

We saw four live shows this year.  I know that's not very many for a lot of people, but for me it was a huge increase.  Hopefully 2013 has even more shows in store for us!  (We already have tickets to see Matchbox Twenty in February, so that's a good start)  In February we saw Matt Nathanson at Headliners Music Hall in Louisville, KY.  Rachel Platten opened for him and it was a great show (as always).  It was far and away my favorite show of the year because we met Aaron Tap after the show.  I was totally star struck and probably didn't say anything intelligent to him, but he was very friendly nonetheless and it was totally cool to be in his presence.  Maybe someday I'll run into him again and be able to string more than 2 words together in a row, that would be cool. 

In June my sister and I sold merch for the aforementioned Rachel Platten when she came back and played Headliners as a headliner.  Madi Diaz opened for her and they really put on a great show.  So good in fact that our next show was a week later when we went to see Madi open for Harper Blynn at zBar in Louisville.  She is so great that we just went to see her. We both had to work the next day so we only stayed for one song of Harper Blynn's set. 

Our final show of the year was Dr. Dog at Marathon Music Works in Nashville.  The openers for this one shall remain nameless to protect the sucky, but I cannot say enough about Dr. Dog live.  They are absolutely amazing and I loved every second of it.  Which leads me one of my great loves of 2012 - Dr. Dog.  If you're not familiar with this band, I suggest you get that way.  I have 4 of their albums so far and I have yet to hear them make a sound I don't love. 

I've also been very into Paula Kelley's work this year.  I can't get enough of her vocals and all of her arrangements are genius.  Every time I listen to anything by her I hear something new and wonderful in it.  And it's not only the music, her lyrics are so intelligent and crafty - seriously, what's not to love about this woman?  On a related note, I've also been totally obsessed with Betty Goo (which, admittedly makes me kind of sad since they're not active anymore).  Betty Goo was fronted by the multi-talented Aaron Tap and they are just awesome.  I love the quirkiness of them and I love that it feels like 90's rock (which it is) but with so much more soul and brains.

I've also come to really love Simon and Garfunkel this year.   Yes, I'm aware that I'm about 40 years late to that party, but better late than never, right?  They are just so amazing, there is a reason their music has stood the test of time.  Another band wagon I'm a little late to is Carbon Leaf.  Their music is so good, so heartfelt, and they seem like such nice guys.  I highly recommend you give them a listen.

A measurable amount of 2012 was spent in record stores.  I've been collecting vinyl this year and there are few things I like more than leisurely browsing through racks of old vinyl.  Our local record store (Joe's Records) is my favorite in the area, but it was blown out of the water when I visited Grimey's in Nashville, TN.  However, Joe's is 10 minutes from my house and Grimey's is 3 1/2 hours away, so I'm pretty sure Joe's will get the majority of my business. 

Finally, my absolute favorite musical thing of 2012 is Ryan Schmidt's White Horse - EP.  It was released January 10, 2012 (the day before my birthday, coincidentally) and I've been listening to it all year.  I just love it.  It's raw and emotional and stripped down - just wonderful.  I get the feeling that we're not going to get another record from Ryan that sounds like this one and that's okay.  I'm just glad to have this one.  I like that so far all of his records sound different, you can hear him feeling his way around and finding his voice.  It's such a fun journey to listen to.

Here's a few more artists who's work I've loved in 2012 that you shouldn't miss:
- The New Complainers
- Jesse Macht
- Boy Wonder
- The Black Keys
- Violent Femmes
- Plants and Animals
- Rooftop Suicide Club (this one may be tough to find, but totally worth it if you can get it)

Okay guys, that's it for me for 2012.  This year had a little bit of everything - some fun, some hard times, some great music, some total crap, some awesome experiences and some low-key peaceful days.  Overall it's been a totally decent year.  I hope 2013 is even better for all of us. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's the most wonderful time of the year!  And by that I mean the holidays - because this is the time of year when I'm forced to shop, which I have a general distaste for.  What's wonderful about that, you ask?  Because to ease the sting of shopping in a mall, I see no other option than to sprinkle the day with visits to local record stores!  So I'm here to share with you my haul so far this holiday season.

 My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges (vinyl)
I saw this record at Joe's some time ago and picked it up and carried it around and pondered over the price tag and put it back.  We danced around like that for a while.  Somehow I had managed to never really hear anything by MMJ and I couldn't decide if I wanted to spring for the vinyl or just get a $10 download from iTunes.  So I put my quandary out there on twitter and received instant feedback.  Mostly in the form of "seriously, you even have to ask?" and mostly from one Dylan over at MoreThanAFeeling (trust me, you can trust his opinion) and Mr. Aaron Tap.  At that point, it was pretty much a no-brainer.
 
If you haven't heard this record, you really should.  I can't say that it's my favorite record of all time or anything, but it is pretty amazing.  The vinyl version is 2 LPs and includes a CD.  I'm not sure I've ever heard an album that covers this much ground.  I spend the entire time totally fascinated with Jim James' mind. 
 

 Divine Fits - A Thing Called Divine Fits (vinyl)
 
I picked this one up on a whim.  I had heard good things about Divine Fits and they're opening for The Black Keys in Las Vegas December 30 & 31, so I was intrigued.  There is a bit more synth on this one than I'm used to, but I dig it.  I haven't listened to it enough to get too in depth, but so far so good.  I also absolutely adore the cover art.  It looks like a photograph but (upon reading the liner notes) I discovered it's actually a painting (you can tell once you know) and it's just stunning.  I plan to look up the artist and see what else he's done.
 

 AC/DC - Black Ice
The Goo Goo Dolls - Dizzy Up the Girl
Cage the Elephant - Cage the Elephant
 
I found these in various used CD racks around town.  The new AC/DC album sounds pretty much like every other AC/DC album ever made which is just fine with me.  I love them, I've loved them forever.  "Shook Me All Night Long" was the first song I ever knew all the words to (which believe me, raised a few eyebrows on the school bus when I was a kid) so their music is pretty ingrained in me.  Some of my favorite memories from high school have this band playing in the background.  Good stuff.
 
As far as I'm concerned, The Goo Goo Dolls aren't a whole lot different than a lot of other bands that were around in the late 90's, but there are a couple songs on Dizzy Up the Girl that I happen to adore.  Namely "Slide" and "Black Balloon".  Still, I've never owned the album before, so when I saw it in the $1.99 box at a local head shop, I scooped it right up.  I haven't had a chance to listen to the whole thing yet; I hope I'm not disappointed when I do.
 
At some point somewhere I heard about this band Cage the Elephant.  I heard how unique their sound is and how everyone should be listening to them.  I added them to my "want" list and didn't give it much more thought.  Well I came across this CD for some absurdly low price so I grabbed it. On the way home I popped it in a lo and behold I already knew them!  Anyone who had listened to the radio in the last 5 years has surely heard "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked".  If not, do it.  Now.
 
 Matt Nathanson - Some Mad Hope
Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
Dr. Dog - Takers and Leavers (EP)
The Black Keys - Chulahoma
 
These last four came to me during a trip to Grimey's in Nashville, TN.  Pretty much the best record store east of the Mississippi.  I ended up in Nashville for 3 days for a work thing and since it was the Monday - Wednesday after Thanksgiving, nobody I knew was over here playing so I spent the one free night I had at a record store (big shock, I know).  Grimey's is a crappy looking place in a questionable neighborhood that's hard to get into.  It's hard to park and a bit challenging to find the entrance (it's on the back of the building, upstairs - downstairs is a music venue called The Basement) but once you do, it's absolute heaven.  They have everything imaginable packed into a fairly tiny space.  There so much vinyl I almost OD'd on it.  I loved it.  I wish I was there right now. 
 
Anyway, I picked up Matt Nathanson's Some Mad Hope which is a truly beautiful album.  I already have it on iTunes but I wanted a physical copy too.  So now I have one.  I also got Wilco's Sky Blue Sky because, once again, I've heard good things about them.  I haven't listened to it yet, but when I do, I'll let you know.  I got a couple EP's, Dr. Dog's Takers and Leavers and The Black Keys' Chulahoma.  Both are really good and really good examples of the bands' work. 
 
Two girls I work with went to Grimey's with me and after we left there we stopped at Panera and got dinner.  We went back to the hotel and went our separate ways.  It was early, maybe 7:30pm or so and I happily snuggled into bed with my half turkey sandwich and half a greek salad and a diet coke and spent the evening talking to my husband on the phone and reading liner notes.  I got to unwrap the plastic from the cases (because even a lot of the used ones at Grimey's are wrapped) and inspect the album art and read lyrics and the names of producers and musicians and engineers.  I read every single "thank you" (and even found Aaron Tap and Paula Kelley lurking in there on Some Mad Hope) and date and city and it was wonderful.  They kept me company while I was away from home alone in a hotel room (for the first time ever, I might add) and just reinforced the importance of physical copies of music.  All that album art is put together for a reason - it's there to complete the experience of the album.  I think we owe it to the artists to go on the journey.
 


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dr. Dog - Marathon Music Works - Nashville - 11/17/2012

 
So yesterday (Saturday, November 17, 2012) my husband and I headed back down to Nashville to see Dr. Dog at Marathon Music Works.  I had heard amazing things about seeing Dr. Dog live (mostly from Justin of The New Complainers, - scroll down, you'll see it).  But it seems to be a general opinion among their fans that their live show is mind blowing, so I bought the tickets months ago and have really been looking forward to it.
 
The first thing I noticed among the small crowd that had gathered by the time the first openers were to take the stage was that they were very young.  Lots of black X's on their hands.  Also, there were lots of skinny jeans and beards (big, full beards) - both features on the same guy more often than not.  Suffice to say not the same crowd I'm used to seeing at the shows I've been to. 
 
The first opener came out 15 minutes late - and that's pretty much the nicest thing I have to say about them.  The second one made us wait 20 minutes while they dicked around with who-knows-what on stage and when they finally started playing, the mix was horrible.  We couldn't hear a word the lead singer said when he talked much less when he was singing and the volume was literally so low I had trouble hearing them over the completely disinterested audience who were all talking among themselves at that point. 
 
At this point, I admit, I was losing faith.  The crowd clearly found themselves too cool to be interested in anything, or affected by anything.  They just stood around in their little groups, many of their backs to the stage, talking and drinking their huge cans of Guinness and PBR.  I was so not among my people it wasn't even funny.  I was thoroughly irritated by all the waiting around we were doing and what was, so far, a less than inspiring show.  I wondered how these 6 unassuming guys could ever make up all the ground that had been lost by the time they finally took the stage at almost 10:30...
 
 
All I can say is - holy shit.  To begin with, they opened with my favorite song of theirs, "That Old Black Hole" and it was huge and commanding and wonderful.  While the noise the openers made just bounced off the crowd and dissipated in the air around us, the opening chords of "That Old Black Hole" penetrated our brains, grabbed our attention and had us bobbing in unison and singing along instantly.  I immediately felt at one with this group of the people that I otherwise had very little in common with.  They drew us together and never let us go until they released us into the world with "Jackie Wants a Black Eye" - a PERFECT closer.
 
Here's the set list:
 
That Old Black Hole*
Hang On*
Vampire
The Breeze
These Days
Stranger
Heavy Light
Shadow People
How Long Must I Wait?
Do the Trick
The Rabbit, The Bat and The Reindeer
Shame, Shame
Lonesome*
 
Encore:
From*
Die Die Die*
Jackie Wants a Black Eye*
 
*the ones with stars are in the correct order for sure, the rest of them are questionable
- also, my Dr. Dog collection is only 4 albums (Be The Void; Shame, Shame; We All Belong; Fate and 1 EP Wild Race) they played a few more songs that I wasn't familiar with, so I couldn't list them here
 
They played for a solid 2 hours (maybe a bit more) without a single break.  They talked to us a bit, but didn't even do that too much, they pretty much let the music do the talking.  These guys are just amazing.  Their harmonies are so fucking good they're almost disturbing.  When Toby and Scott sing individually they sound completely different, but when they sing together it's like a single multi-dimensional voice.  How is that possible??  And the sound the band creates is so huge it just permeates your entire body and becomes so tangible you can just float along on top of it - no gravity needed.  Amazing. (yes, I'm aware I've said "amazing" too much, but trust me - it was!!)
 
I've been to some really great shows lately and this one definitely ranks high on that list.  A few highlights were "The Old Black Hole" which I love anyway and was just awesome live.  There are a ton of lyrics in that song and singing them along with Scott was too fun.  Also "Vampire" - I couldn't believe they played this one, I was so stoked.  And Toby really gets into it (of course, he really gets into all of them) but this one is powerful and emotional and wonderful.  "Lonesome" and "Shadow People" were fun live and of course the Dr. Dog classic "Die Die Die" was incredible.  Simply put, it was all just mind blowing and I can't wait to see them again.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Who Do You Let In Your Bedroom?

As I would imagine is evident, I listen to music pretty much all the time.  Or at least every chance I get.  For instance, today while I was re-grouting our kitchen floor I listened to Rooftop Suicide Club's Always Like This (Which I came to own recently as the result of one person's awesomeness and generosity.  How I deserve to be on the receiving end of that, I'm still not exactly sure, but I totally dig it.) and Betty Goo's Superchthonic and Gooicide. Then to cap off a busy day we sat on the back porch with a big old glass of spiced apple wine and listened to Paula Kelley's Nothing/Everything.  No event is too small to have a soundtrack. 

Speaking of Nothing/Everything, it is a beautiful record and you really should own it.  I mean, if you like awesome things, of course.  It is dimensional and fun and sad and, I think, is perfectly complimented by her earlier release The Trouble With Success or How You Fit Into the World.  Honestly though, you just can't go wrong with anything The Divine PK has written, it's all...well...divine. 

But that's not what I'm here to ramble about (all evidence to the contrary). My second favorite thing in the world to soundtrack is going to sleep (the first is driving, so settle down pervs).  I know that sounds weird but I don't go to sleep like normal people.  My Husband, for instance, falls into bed and is generally asleep within mere moments.  I, on the other hand, will stare at the ceiling (or into the darkness) for half an hour at least, sometimes a couple hours before the Sandman comes to visit.  It's my own charming version of insomnia.  I like to see the silver lining though and the fact is, my lack of sleep affords me a great opportunity to listen to some of my favorite songs in a near perfect setting.  In my headphones, in the dark, with little else to distract me.

There is a certain openness of the soul that happens as I lay in the dark waiting for sleep.  A kind of vulnerability that just cannot be attained when I'm dressed for the day ready to face the world.  I mean, when I'm there, makeup scrubbed off, hair down, contacts out, jewelry off, there are no defenses, no mask, no bullshit.  Just me and the sounds pouring into my ears.  So naturally I choose my nighttime songs carefully.  I can't just put my iPod on shuffle and risk some kind of crap happening to my impressionable ears. 

Most nights, this is the time I want to listen to the stuff that really gets in.  I want to hear the arrangements with the most dimension, the lyrics that really hit home, sometimes even the songs that cause big cathartic tears to slip out of the corners of my eyes.  To that end, here's my most recently sleepy time play list:

1. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" - Simon and Garfunkel
2. "Relapse" - Betty Goo (This is one of those with a lyric that is so ouchie that I'm pretty sure I'm hearing it wrong, but I swear he says "so take my hand, Jeanne, smooth my hair and show me that I'm loved and you really, really care".  Jeanne was my mom's name and that line, wrapped up in that song, kills.)
3. "Hate Me" - Blue October (I'm pretty sure this song is not really very good, but something about it just slays me)
4. "Long December" - Counting Crows
5. "Someday" - Dr. Dog
6. "Lost Horizons" - Gin Blossoms
7. 'Sunday Morning Coming Down' - Johnny Cash (this song makes me cry every single time, I can't really explain it)
8. "Heavy Heart" - Madi Diaz
9. "All We Are" - Matt Nathanson (I love this song and it takes me back to the end of the concert in Nashville which was an absolutely perfect night, so now it's doubly perfect)
10. "Farther Down" - Neon Trees
11. "Thinkin Bout You" - Pat Monahan
12. "Night Racer" - Paula Kelley
13. "Heavy" - Train (far and away my favorite Train song, it's so wonderful and bluesy, I wish they'd go in this direction again, even just for a song or two here and there)
14. "Remark" - Rachel Platten
15. "Night the Bells Rang" - Ryan Schmidt
16. "Then I'll Be Smiling" - Matt Nathanson
17. "Who Wants to Live Forever" - Queen
18. "Disarm" - Smashing Pumpkins
19. "Perfect Blue Buildings" - Counting Crows
20. "The Boxer" - Simon and Garfunkel

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dr. Dog - Be the Void

EDIT: Obviously I intended this to be a full album review like others I've written. I was going to go into detail about the songs and how the band went back to their home studio and self-produced this one after a departure from their usual formula on Shame, Shame and all that. But I started writing it before I had wrapped my mind around the album and, then I got distracted and when I finally came back to finish it, after reading it, I think it's pretty complete just the way it is. So here you go...


Album: Be the Void
Artist: Dr. Dog
Release: 2012


Some time ago Matt Nathanson mentioned Dr. Dog's album Shame, Shame as one of his "morning records".  I added it to the list of things I'd like to have but didn't give it much more thought.  At the time, I wasn't familiar with Dr. Dog.  So one day I came across Be the Void at Joe's Records.  It's kind of uncommon these days for me to buy an album I've never heard (especially on vinyl) but I decided to go for it.  Luckily for me, it came with a copy on CD too so I can literally listen to this record on any format I want to, anywhere I want to. Any time I want to. And I do, pretty much all the time. It has been my go-to record for a while now. It's so quirky, so unusual, so fucking perfect.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Long Time, No Post

To say that I've been stuck in a musical rut lately would be a gross understatement.  I struggled with it at first; I wanted to write about new things and listen to new things.  After a while I realized that I was awash in so much new music that I wasn't really hearing anything, I was just grazing over it and moving on.  So much so that I lost the words to even tell you about the things I was listening to.  For instance I've had a draft of a review of Dr. Dog's Be the Void hanging around since April because I just can't seem to articulate it.  (Of course, that might be the record and not me causing that one.)

But now, I'm cool with it.  I'm really enjoying the albums that I've had in my collection for a while.  I'm really listening to them, getting inside them, consuming them and letting them consume me.  I'm letting them age like fine wines, like they should.  So much work, so much blood, sweat and tears go into making an album that it's not fair for us to spin it a few times, learn a few lyrics, and move on.  I'm listening to the same songs in their full on album form, mixed up in different play lists, and sometimes just on repeat.  However it sounds best at the time, but regardless, I'm not sweating looking for new stuff right now.

And, as it usually works, as soon as I chilled my new music search, a shit ton of new music has fallen into my lap.  As I mentioned previously (I think I posted about it already) Train released California 37.  That album is growing on me and steadily weaving its way into several play lists.  Now, Matchbox Twenty has released their first studio album in 10 years, North.  Well, technically the release date is tomorrow (September 4) but you can get it off iTunes already.  The first single "She's So Mean" is pretty good although they were a bit heavy handed on the autotune for me.  I love Rob Thomas' voice and I'd prefer to hear it a bit less adulterated.  I'll listen to the rest of the album tomorrow and see what I think.  Regardless, I've been waiting many, many years to see them live so I'm hoping to catch them on the North tour. 

In addition, ourvinyl.com released the September edition of Back of the Rack today.  I just downloaded that too and will be partaking of it in the weeks to come.  If you're interested in finding some new artists you can find the details of this month's Back of the Rack artists here

There is also word around the interwebs that Ryan Schmidt is working on his next album (!!) and Aaron Tap and Paula Kelley are back at work at Quail Top on something that will, without a doubt, be wonderful.  So that's exciting stuff.  Also, The New Complainers (formly the multi-syllabic Jon Palmer and The New Complainers) have some new tunes ready for us with a new album being released in October.  They have promised 3 new songs in the very new future and I, for one, cannot wait to hear what they've been up to.  You can find out more about them here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fun Stuff

Some fun stuff has gone down recently.  Last week, my sister and I went back to Headliners Music Hall in Louisville (the site of the Aaron Tap meeting) and sold merch at Rachel Platten's show.  While there, we had the privilege of meeting Rachel, Craig Meyer (drums), and Madi Diaz who was opening for Rachel on her 53 Steps Tour.  Simply put, the show was amazing.  This two ladies are just so incredibly talented and have such beautiful voices.  Add to that how sweet they are when you meet them and there's no way you can't love them. 

I wrote up a little something-something about that night and it was posted on ourvinyl.com which was another cool thing that happened.  If you haven't seen it, you can read all about it here.  I took the pictures that are featured in the article myself that night.  Here are a couple more that weren't included.

Stein Stoess - Louisville native who opened the show

 Madi's merch case - truly full of tiny lights!!

 Madi Diaz - it's so hard to get a stage picture without someone's mouth open!

 Craig Meyer - drummin' it up! He was mostly blocked from my view by keyboard stuffs

Rachel and Madi right after singing Robyn's "Dancing by Myself"

Here is a little bit (literally just a minute) of Rachel and Madi singing "Dancing by Myself".  Of course now I wish I had the whole song, but it was so beautiful, so goosebump-inducing that I was way more interested in just listening to them sing it than I was recording it at the time.

As an added bonus, after Rachel's tour ended, Madi Diaz stayed on the road in support of Harper Blynn and returned to Louisville less than a week later!  They played a little bar called Zanzibar (or zBar) last night.  Because she is so freaking good and my husband hadn't seen her yet, he took me to the show last night.  As soon as her set was over he turned to me and said, "Okay, why hasn't she blown up?" to which I replied, "Because people are fucking stupid and they don't know what's good."  Seriously though, her voice is so good live that it's just ridiculous.  He is still talking about it today.

I had planned to buy an actual physical copy of her CD (can you imagine??) and have it signed, but her mom and some people she knew were at the show and when she had a free minute, she was talking to them.  Well what kind of asshat would I be if I interrupted a conversation with her mom??  Sure, maybe it's not too rude to interrupt someone to tell them that they're awesome, but I still didn't have the heart to do it.  I know she'll come back to Louisville one day and I'll tell her she's great then, it'll keep.  Anyway, we got to see a couple songs by Harper Blynn and they really are quite good, but mornings start hella early around here and I couldn't take another super late night during the week, so we had to shag out of there and get our old asses to bed.  Hopefully they'll come back thru Louisville soon too on a more hospitable night cause I'd love to see them, especially after I get a little more familiar with their music.

That's been pretty much it.  Not much else going on musically, I've been listening to Rachel and Madi a lot lately, sprinkled in amongst the usual suspects.  I'm also still waiting to someday get tired of Dr. Dog's Be the Void which I've been playing the shit out of for the last couple months.  I did craft a mind blowing play list that I've been listening to for weeks, I'll share that with you soon.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

OurVinyl

In an inspired act of graciousness, the good folks over at http://www.ourvinyl.com/ have been kind enough to post a little blurb I wrote about Ryan Schmidt's "Go Where You Belong" (which, as you well know, I love fiercely) as the Song of the Day today.

You can go here to see for yourself (and check out my snazzy byline at the bottom while you're at it): http://ourvinyl.com/ryan-schmidt-go-where-you-belong/

While you're over there, check out the rest of the site too.  I'm a big fan of what they're doing, sharing the experience of music and encouraging diversity in our listening habits, so I hope to contribute more to the site in the future.  If I do, of course you'll know about it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No Musician Is An Island

Have you ever watched a movie because of who directed it or produced it or wrote the screenplay?  Of course you have, we all have, and they count on it, that's why trailers so often contain the line "from the director of..." or "by the people who brought you..."  That kind of decision has very little to do with the actors.  For instance, if Quentin Tarantino is involved with a movie, I'll watch it.  That surely is not because of his beautiful face.  It's because I've never seen a movie he was involved with that I didn't think had merit.  At this point, just the fact that he thinks the project is worthy of working on will make me watch it.  Who stars in it has no bearing on my desire to see the movie.  My husband is the same way, if Joss Whedon (Avengers) or Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) is involved, he's there but if Michael Bay (Transformers) had a hand in making a movie, forget it.

So what's my point you're asking?  Well, when was the last time you purchased a record solely because of the guy who produced it?  Or engineered it?  Or played guitar on it?  Personally, I have found a number of really talented musicians by researching who worked on albums I really love and finding out what else they've had a hand in.  I believe my most recent such discovery was Jesse Macht who is just ridiculously good, but I might not have found him if not for his producer.   I was inspired to mention this by this article over at Tape Op.  Go ahead and read it, it's worth it.  He gets the point across much better than I ever could and with a different point of view.  You can come back.  It's cool, I'll wait...

The article was originally brought to my attention on Aaron Tap's blog (which you can find here).  There is little I could say on the subject that they haven't covered, except that I can speak on the subject as a music fan rather than someone in the industry.  As fans, it is essential that we remember that for all intents and purposes nothing you listen to was created by one person.  Sure, there might be one person's name on the album cover or one guy's face in the video but trust me, he was not alone in that endeavor.  And from out here, it's damn near impossible to determine who influenced the sound the most.  Who sang the backing vocals?  Who decided to put that drum in that spot?  Who wrote the string arrangement?  Who played the piano?  Who organized and actually performed the finger snaps that you love so much?  Who decided how loud the lead vocals should be in comparison to the instruments?  Each of those people affected the end result that has had such an impact on you and they are each essential. 

So I implore you, take a look around, read some liner notes or google it if nothing else (there are myriad resources available online for this kind of information) and find out who did what and what else they've done.  Find someone who's taste suits yours and check out their back catalogue.  Let's make an effort to make music purchasing and listening a bit less passive and give it the attention it deserves.  After all, these people (even the ones you've never heard of) have put their heart in soul in this end product, the least you can do is acknowledge that it means something to you and give them some support.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Record Store Day 2012 - Part Deux

Now that I finally have a job, I've had a chance to go out and celebrate Record Store Day 2012 a bit.  I won't receive my first paycheck until this coming Friday, so I haven't really done it up in style yet, but I did pick up a couple cool things. Here's what I've found so far:


The Kills - Blood Pressures
Throwing Muses - The Real Ramona
Bess Rogers - Out of the Ocean
Simon & Garfunkel - Bookends

While all four are cool, I'm far and away the most tickled with Bookends.  I've had it on my shopping list for a while now and just had a vague hope someday seeing it.  Believe it or not, I found it in a used bin for $1.99!!  It looked clean, but for that price, I didn't have much hope it sounding worth a shit.  It has obviously been played a lot and it's on that crappy old thin vinyl, but it plays!  And not only does it play, it sounds heavenly.  It has that perfect scratchy, crackley sound that is only available on old vinyl.  Don't get me wrong, I would never want all my vinyl to sound this way, but something about those two singing Mrs. Robinson over that scratchy background noise is just incredible.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Freaky Friday Presents Redneck Realness

So here it is, today's little taste of oddness.  Of course, everything Betty Goo did has a touch of oddness which is part of what makes them so amazing.  It goes without saying that I love this song (it IS Betty Goo, after all).  But seriously, it's about the fucking Dukes of Hazard for pete's sake, how can you not love that?  AND there is a Roscoe P. Coltrane impression.  Obviously it's not earth shattering or soul shaking, but it's fun and nostalgic (used to watch the Duke brothers with my dad) and just thinking about "The Ballad of Bo & Luke" makes me smile.  I'm pretty sure that qualifies it as awesome.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ryan Schmidt - "November 15"

When I first wrote about White Horse I mentioned that I'd like to hear "November 15" without the guy that's harmonizing with him on the record.  Nothing against that guy, I'm sure he's perfectly delightful and talented, I just don't need him on that song.  However, I never really expected to hear it, especially not so soon.  But, because sometimes life is kind of cool like that, Ryan Schmidt recently did some new videos that he's posting on Youtube and he included an acoustic, solo(!) version of this song. 

I would have just retweeted the link to the video but after listening to it several times, that just wasn't sufficient.  I'm blown away by this version of the song.  It's perfect.  the video is black and white, like the cover art, like the music itself.  It is stripped-down to it's most essential parts and wonderful and hauntingly beautiful.  Now I just have to get this version on my iPod and I'll be a happy girl.  Here, feast your ears upon it:


Oh and holy shit, check this out!  While cruising around Youtube I found this video of the same song from 2011 but with Micah harmonizing and it totally works!!  (Well except for the chattering, ice-clinking asshats in the background - how were they not struck silent??) I mean, I'm still all about the solo version above, but I wanted to share this one with you as well:


How much do you love it??

And, you're welcome.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Strange Saturday

Since I've been back to work (yay!!) I've neglected my online duties.  You know, important stuff like reading my twitter timeline and postsecret and posting here of course!  Anyway, I'm trying to get back on track but I was distracted by not working and now I'm distracted by working.  I can't win.  Anyway, I'll get it all straightened out again eventually. 

My point is this, I missed Freaky Friday (much like I missed New Music Monday earlier this week), so today is going to have to be Strange Saturday.  I don't actually feel like this song is strange exactly, it's just kind of outside the ordinary.  Which, in general, I find to be a wonderful thing.  In fact, pretty much everything I've ever heard by The Kills has been out of the ordinary.  I like that about them.  My favorite song by The Kills is "U.R.A. Fever" which you've heard if you've seen that movie The Losers (hilarious - watch it).  But today I'm going with "Sour Cherry".  This song is just...well...different.  Check it:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Train - California 37

Album: California 37
Artist: Train
Release: April 13, 2012


I was going to talk about California 37 for New Music Monday but I've been very busy being unemployed and I just didn't get around to it.  Turns out not working is a lot of work!  Regardless, let's just christen today New Music Wednesday and get on with it, shall we?  This album was released less than a month ago and I've only just had it a couple weeks so I'm still digesting it.  Given that, this is basically my first impression and I'm keeping my option to change my mind entirely in the future open.

Vocally, I think this record is better than Save Me, San Francisco.  Pat's voice is just settled in a better place here.  However, lyrically and even stylistically, I'm not sure I exactly follow where they were coming from. The whole thing starts with a catchy song called "This'll Be My Year".  I like this song, I do.  But (you knew that was coming, right?) I have to take issue with a lyric.  In one of the verses, he says "'92...Freddie dies but Queen is still..."  Okay, look, Freddie Mercury didn't die in 1992, he died in November, 1991.  My husband argues that he means that Queen carried on in 1992, but it isn't worded that way and it bugs the piss out of me.  I understand that this is nit picky and weird, but I can't help it.  It jumped out at me like a sore thumb the very first time I ever heard this song.

Next is "Drive By" which I'm sure you've heard by now.  It's a peppy little pop song, very catchy, but not anything earth shattering.  Apart from being quite cliche saying that he basically hit the road the morning after because he was "overwhelmed and frankly scared as hell", I like it.  Next is "Feels Good At First" about the how wonderful love is in the beginning of a relationship.  I really like the sound of this song, it's a good one to sing along to.  After that one though, they lose me for a few songs.

The next one, "50 Ways to Say Goodbye" is inexplicably Latin themed.  I guess I just don't understand why they went with a Latin feel on this song.  The lyrics and the feeling of the song don't really have anything to do with each other.  My problem really is that I really like this song, but at the same time I feel like I don't get it.  After that are "You Can Finally Meet My Mom" and "Sing Together" - two songs about death, neither of which inspire me to listen to them (the first one makes me cry, the second one is just meh).  After that is "Mermaid".  I think "Mermaid" is going to grow on me, it just hasn't yet.

The second half of the record works better for me than the first half.  I love "California 37", it was instantly my favorite song on the record.  I do have one issue with it though. (surprise, surprise, huh?)  Let me preface this by saying that, for all intents and purposes, I don't have an ex-anything floating around out there. No ex-husband, no baby daddy, no ex-boyfriend that amounts to anything, so I don't have the first clue what it's like to deal with a person in that role.  That being said, I question the wisdom of referring to the mother of your children as "the bitch" in a song.  I'm just not sure I'm down with that.  Otherwise, great song. 

The last three, "We Were Made For This", "When the Fog Rolls In", and "To Be Loved" chronicle three different stages of relationships.  The first, of course, is a perfect love affair.  The second is the dissolution of a relationship. The third is the forgiveness and friendship that could theoretically happen after a breakup.  I really like all three of them.  Pat's voice is suited to them perfectly, the music is spot on and the lyrics are natural and comfortable.  Overall, I like this record better than the last one (as it should be); I liked the second half right away and the first half is steadily growing on me.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Finally Friday - Get Freaky!

Here's another one that you had to have owned the album to ever hear.  I was genuinely surprised to learn that this song was actually released as a single because back in 1995 you just didn't hear a lot of songs on the radio with "whore" in the title.  It was a simpler time.  A more innocent age.  Hahahaha...just kidding.  (not about the whore thing though)  Also, I don't recall ever hearing it on the radio.

I never bought Sparkle and Fade even though I love that song "Santa Monica".  I first gained access to it when the Man and I moved in together in 1996 and even so, I never really listened to the whole thing until probably 5 or 6 years ago.  Overall, I'm not a huge fan of the album but there are a few gems on it and this is one of them.  So, without further ado, I give you, "You Make Me Feel Like A Whore" by Everclear.


Since I'm so late in posting this today, I'd like to make it up to you by including another one of my favorites from Sparkle and Fade, "Heroin Girl".  This is another one that was actually released as a single and played on MTV a little bit, but I don't remember ever hearing it, so maybe you didn't either.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

We Can Tell

It has long been my experience that things end up getting written in three main ways.  First, because someone is paying someone else to write it.  That simple.  News articles, album reviews (Ha!), things of that nature fall into this category.  These are not the things I'm here to ramble about. 

The second way is because a person has an end goal in mind.  A best-selling book, a hit song, an acceptable blog post - something of that nature.  The person has a goal and subject matter in mind and they go searching for the inspiration, the meaning, the heart of it.  Sometimes we take the experiences of others and use them as fuel for this fire.  Or we dig deep to our pasts and the things that lurk within for inspiration.  It's a task.  It's not always easy and sometimes down right painful.  But very often, it works.  To an extent.

Then there is the best way.  When something bubbles up inside the writer and just demands to come out.  It spills over, it cannot be contained.  It can be born of experiences or emotions or memories or anything, it doesn't matter.  What does matter is that it will no longer fit inside and it must be unleashed into the world.  It pours out freely and is cathartic in its release. When that happens, the thing written exists on it's own.  Just the fact that it's out is good enough. The work was done on the way out.  But these organically written things often have the best potential to become something great (if these are ever shared with other people).  They can become best-selling novels, hit songs, brilliant blog posts, etc.  However, their true beauty lies in the fact that they really don't need to be any of those things. 
Here's the thing - people can tell.  Alright, maybe not in the case of books and whatnot, but after watching interviews and reading many articles about how different people write music, when it comes to songs I believe we can tell the difference between those that were forced that those that forced their way out.  There are songs that you can just tell are part of someone.  They come from deep within, they demanded to be let out into the world.  The whoever wrote them didn't have to dig for the inspiration, it was just there.  Personally, I believe those are the best kind.

Monday, April 30, 2012

New Music Monday

Today marks the return of New Music Monday.  Why, you ask?  What changed?  Eh, who knows.  I've been listening to a new record by an old favorite and an old record by a new favorite and just feeling generally affectionate toward music makers.  So I decided to give my latest "new music" play list another listen to see if I hated it all like I did last time and I didn't!  So it's time to report on my latest findings.

"Television Youth" - Sonic Avenues
Might as well start with my least favorite of the list, you know, now that I've told you how I don't hate everything anymore.  Thing is, I don't hate this song, I just don't really like it.  It's kind of noisy and not in an organized, going somewhere kind of way.  It sounds like Sonic Avenues can't decide if they're a punk band or a rock band.  Or maybe they're a punk band that just isn't angry enough.  I really don't know.  I think I could kind of like this song if I was in the mood for it, but I'm just not.  But if you're into loud music that makes you jump around the room and throw your body into amps and whatnot, then by all means, have at it.

"The Days of Adderall" - Deleted Scenes
If you don't know, Adderall is the drug they give kids for ADD.  Apparently it makes your mind very clear but I have to seriously question any "clarity" that's brought on by chemicals.  I guess the songwriter does too because that's pretty much what this song is about.  According to their blurb at spinner.com it's about a mythical place of clarity where all of your ideas seem like good ones.  The song itself is kind of quiet and ethereal and I dig it, but I honestly think I would like it better if I was high.

"Lost Communication" - Anothers Blood
This is by far my favorite of these songs.  I like this guy's voice they way I like Perry Farrell's voice.  It doesn't have the warm, honey quality that I'm usually drawn too, but I still really dig it.  There's just something about it that hooks me.  This song reminds me of "Get Gone" by White Arrow in that I can't tell you exactly what it is that I love about it, I just know that I want to listen to it over and over.  And I have.  And I will continue to do so. 

"Lowdown" - Bridge 19
I'm honestly not sure how these girls hit my radar but I'm glad they did.  There are pleasant harmonies, clever lyrics and an interesting arrangement.  What more do you need?  If you like female singers (which I didn't used to, but they're growing on me left, right and center) I recommend checking this one out.  I look forward to hearing more from them.

"Desert Wind" - A Lion Named Roar
And now we've come around to the radio hit of the bunch.  Does that sound like an insult when you read it?  Cause it kind of sounds like one in my head and I don't really mean it that way.  It's just that it sounds like any of 1,000 different pop songs you might hear on the radio at any given moment.  That doesn't make it bad, I actually like this song.  It's catchy and you can sing along with it and the guy has a nice enough voice, it's just not unique.  (Of course, unique doesn't necessarily = good.) And we all know that things that are different and new and wonderful rarely get the radio love they deserve.  Anyway, I like it and if they keep this up, I'm sure we'll be hearing more from A Lion Named Roar (although, I'm questioning the band name...).

Friday, April 27, 2012

Freaky Friday

I feel pretty certain that the vast majority of you have heard this song before (well, those of you born prior to 1980 at least).  However, just the fact that it is performed by a band called Butthole Surfers more than qualifies it for Freaky Friday in my opinion.  Also, I love the weirdness of this song.  The music, the strange kind of sing/song speaking of the lyrics.  I have liked this song since it was new but, oddly enough, I've never heard anything else by Butthole Surfers.   Maybe I'll do that one day.  In the meantime, here you go:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ryan Schmidt - Burning Bitter Years

Album: Burning Bitter Years
Artist: Ryan Schmidt
Release: 2007


And so I have finally circled back around to Ryan Schmidt's debut album.  I started in the middle, worked my way to the present, and now we're back to 2008.  Burning Bitter Years was released just about the same time Ryan graduated from high school.  And yes, I did say that was 2008.  So...the same year my husband and I were celebrating our 10th anniversary, Ryan Schmidt was graduating from high school...but have I mentioned how young you can get married in Kentucky??  Anyway, if you ask me (and since you're reading this, I'll kind of assume you did), this is a really impressive example of songwriting for a kid in high school.  In fact, Burning Bitter Years and Ryan himself have completely changed my opinion on young songwriters.  Besides, let's be honest, who knows pure angst better than teenagers?  Sure, older folks have the market on real heartbreak and hard times, but our connection to the gut wrenching experience of finding our true selves is never closer than during those awkward years between being a kid and being an adult.

Now, don't get me wrong, these songs aren't on the same level as those on White Horse or Black Sheep, Run, but they're not supposed to be.  That's one thing that really makes me love this record - it's a first step.  When you listen to the three of them in succession, you can really see the progression of his songwriting and the execution of it.  That's what records are supposed do.  They should chronicle the artist's career and Burning Bitter Years is a great opening chapter in that story.  Another thing I love about this record is the potential it holds.  When you compare this one with the two he put out while in college, it makes the prospect of what's in store for us now that he's out of school altogether (well, almost) very exciting.

However, even without all the context that we have now, this is just a really good collection of songs.  They cover lots of ground too, all over the spectrum of love and life.  My favorite example is the title track.  Of course, just the guitar in that song alone kills.  What an incredible sound.  Then there is "Ten Days", which is about a 10 day license suspension (remind me to never speed in New Hampshire). I'm sure it really sucked at the time, but I have to admit I find that song pretty amusing now, especially after I figured out what it was really about.  Overall, I find Burning Bitter Years to just be a great example of a songwriter starting to find his voice.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Degrees of Fan-ness

It's easy to be a fan of a song.  Almost nothing is required.  All you have to do is recognize the song when it comes on and be inclined to say, "Ooo, turn it up, I love this song!" or, "Aw shit, that's my jam!!"  You know, something like that.  You can learn the words, or just the chorus, or just parts of the chorus, doesn't really matter.  It's not even really necessary to know who is singing it or who wrote it.  Just like it, that's all you have to do.  At least, in my opinion.  For example, I'm a fan of that song "Good" by Better Than Ezra.  As far as I know, I don't know any other songs by them and I have no idea which album that song was on, but I love it. 

But for me, being a fan of an artist or a band is something else altogether.  There are a shit ton of artists that I would consider myself a fan of.  You know, the ones that I own at least one of their albums (probably more), I know all the words to several songs.  When I hear them on the radio, I recognize them, even if it's a new song.  I know who the band members are (as in, if they got a new drummer or guitarist, I would realize it) and I know a little something about the band itself.  Like, where they're from or where they got started or why the band is named that, you know, that kind of thing.  I'm sure you can think of a bunch of artists that fit this description for you. 

Being a good fan, on the other hand, is yet another animal.  If an artist has released 12 albums and I own one or two of them, I don't consider myself a good fan of that person.  Here is a quick list of some things that I think constitute a good fan (these are independent of one another, just one of them is enough to be a good fan, but there are a few artists that fit this entire list for me):
  • Owning all of an artists albums...or at least a generous % of them if they are plentiful
  • Knowing all the words to an entire album - (being able to sing the whole thing in the shower is always a plus)
  • Hearing one of their songs out of context and not only knowing which album it came from, but which song is before and after it on the album
  • If I feel a twinge of guilt when I stop them mid-song or even mid-album to listen to somebody else
  • If I have more than one copy of a given album (on purpose)
  • If I have purchased at least one album (but probably more) without ever hearing anything on it solely on the merit of it being that person's/band's work
  • If I can tell a song is theirs just based on the lyrics or arrangement because it sounds like them
I'm sure there are other weird things that I do, but you get my point (and this wine I'm drinking has gotten rid of the list I was keeping in my head).  My major point here is this - it's really just the music.  Knowing their music, appreciating it, loving it.  It's about having an open mind about new things they put out - even if it is very different from previous works.  It's not about knowing every gory detail of their personal life, that shit doesn't matter.  Of course, to be honest, I'll google the hell out of somebody, but that's just because I'm nosey as all hell.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Record Store Day - 2012

One thing I have yet to figure out is why Hallmark hasn't come out with a Record Store Day card yet.  I mean, they manufacture fake holidays all the time just to make money, so why not honor a real holiday that is celebrating a real thing?  What could be more real than a record store??  That most wonderful of places where you can linger amongst the physical embodiment of music.  Revel in the smell of new CDs and screen printed t-shirts mixed with the musty glory of used vinyl in worn dust jackets and probably a whiff of incense. 

And please don't forget the employees.  You know, the boisterous kid that could use a shower and thinks that anyone who doesn't listen to Lamb of God (or ICP or Necrophagist or whatever) is clearly a douche with no taste.  And the quiet guy that reorganizes the vinyl for fun, talks to no one and has an encyclopedic knowledge of music history.  The girl with the gauged-out ears and the pink hair that just wants to hang with cool people and knows working here is where she'll find them.  And in our little town, we occasionally get to see the actual owner - the slightly older guy who smells vaguely like pot and would probably be awesome to hang out with.  Ah, the record store.  What's not to love??

Sadly, I didn't get to celebrate this year, mainly as a result of not currently being gainfully employed - I told you I've had a shitty couple weeks. And also because I know that I will never find what is currently at the top of my shopping list in any record store around here (I'm still waiting for the only people that I know for sure would own such things to have a yard sale so I can fly 3,000 miles and buy them for $2 off a card table).  Have no fear though, as soon as I rejoin the workforce, a large portion of my first check will go to the support of my music habit.  Still, I love this day and I love record stores, so in honor of it and them, here are the things that I have acquired from my local record stores recently:
The Black Keys - Rubber Factory, Dr. Dog - Be the Void, Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame, Neon Trees - "Animal"

Queen - Greatest Hits II, Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon, Foo Fighters - There is Nothing Left to Lose, Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

 Foo Fighters - The Colour and The Shape, Simon and Garfunkel - Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, Huey Lewis and The News - Sports

Violent Femmes - Add It Up, U2 - Achtung, Baby, Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream, Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water, Mazzy Star - So Tonight That I Might See, Foo Fighters - One By One, Concrete Blonde - Recollection, Regina Spektor - Begin to Hope

Friday, April 20, 2012

Obscure AND Awesome

Alright, this one may not be as far out there as some other things I could have chosen, I'll give you that.  But I would also be willing to bet that there are a whole lot of people out there who have never heard of this song.  Naturally, I love the shit out of it and not just because it's the only one I know of with my name in it.  But seriously, who better to sing about me than The Velvet Underground??

Give it a listen:


Isn't it great?  Doesn't it make you want to do the kind of hard drugs that are bound to ruin your life?  It's okay you can admit it.  It's not your fault.  Lou Reed's voice, circa 1968, has that effect on people.  And yes, this song was originally recorded in 1968, a good long time before I was born. Still, they waited until well after I had joined the world to officially release it on VU in 1985 which I think was apropos.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Current Play List (I'll Get To It!)

I don't sleep very well or very much.  I've been that way my whole life; although, it did get notably worse a couple years ago.  More on that...um...never.  Anyway, as a result, every night when we go to bed, I listen to my iPod and play my gameboy until I get sleepy.  Last night the following conversation took place:

Me: These are snore cancelling ear buds, but I leave the left one out until you fall asleep so I can hear you when you say some random shit.
He: Do I say random shit?
Me: OH YEAH.
He: What's Pi to the fifth place?
Me: .....
He: Random like that?
Me: (after laughing hysterically) No, not usually quite that random.
He: You should tweet that.
Me: Whaa?  Now we're deciding what to say based on whether or not I'll tweet it?
He: Well yeah, I'm playing to a bigger audience now.
Me: Hahahahaha
He: You should tweet that too.
Me: HAHAHAHA

How could this possibly relate to music you ask?  Well, I'll tell you.  During this exchange, the unequalled Paula Kelley was singing in my right ear.  How did that impact the aforementioned conversation?  Well, because the song she was singing ("You Gonna Make It?", by the way) is part of the little play list that has kept me sane here lately.  That bit of sanity is what has allowed me to have even a shred of humor left in me after all that has happened the last couple (horrible) weeks.

So, just in case a shitty couple weeks befalls you in the future, let me share with you my musical Prozac:
1. Brollo (Acoustic) - Jon Palmer & the New Complainers
2. Radio - Jon Palmer & the New Complainers
3. Handbag - Betty Goo
4. Horseface - Betty Goo
5. Vanity - Betty Goo
6. Uncommon Courtesy - Betty Goo
7. Washed Up - Betty Goo
8. Over Your Head - Boy Wonder
9. X-Large - Boy Wonder
10. What About Everything? - Carbon Leaf
11. Lonesome - Dr. Dog
12. That Old Black Hole - Dr. Dog
13. Get Away - Dr. Dog
14. You Gonna Make It? - Paula Kelley
15. Slug - Paula Kelley
16. Lucie - Paula Kelley
17. The Girlfriend - Paula Kelley
18. The End of That - Plants and Animals
19. Song for Love - Plants and Animals
20. Don't Care What Time It Is - Rachel Platten
21. 53 Steps - Rachel Platten
22. You Don't Have To Go - Rachel Platten
23. All I Seem To Do - Rachel Platten
24. Don't Wanna Be Here - Rachel Platten
25. I Could Be a King - The Dunwells
26. Get Gone - White Arrows
27. Landslide - Steve Adamyk Band
28. Lost and Found - The Kill Van Kulls
29. My Time Has Just Begun - The Dead Trees
30. Pineapple Girl - Mister Heavenly
31. Sing In My Meadow - Cowboy Junkies
32. I Want to Forget - Psychic Twin
33. Church Clothes - Matt Nathanson
34. Lost Myself in Search of You - Matt Nathanson
35. Mercy - Matt Nathanson
36. Under Attack - Ryan Schmidt
37. White Horse - Ryan Schmidt
38. Go Where You Belong - Ryan Schmidt
39. Wasted - Micah
40. Yellow Ledbetter - Pearl Jam

Friday, April 13, 2012

Obscure Friday Tune

Here's one that you surely only ever heard if you own the Live album Throwing Copper.  It was never released as a single, probably because it doesn't really have mass appeal and also because they didn't play things that would require this much editing on the radio in 1994.  It's a quirky little song called "Waitress", check it out (NSFW in any way, shape or form):


If you don't think too much about it, this song pretty much sounds like Ed just really, really wants you to leave the waitress a frickin' tip.  But then if you pay attention, you see that it's a lot more than that (as usual for Live).  It is more about the boat that we're all in.  They way sometimes it sucks for everybody and we could all use a little change in our lives and maybe a little help from one another.  The song itself is kind of all over the place, but I dig it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Craziness

Are you familiar with Jackyl?  I was going to refer to them as a 90's band until I discovered that they are actually still touring.  That's awesome.  If I'm actually going to listen to some Jackyl, I'll pick "Dirty Little Mind" - it's just a way better song, but for my purposes here, I've chosen "The Lumberjack". 

I mean, how many songs do you know that feature a chainsaw?  Is it a blues chainsaw?  A rhythm chainsaw?  Who can say? 


How's that for a little piece of 1992 weirdness??  I know you're dying to find out their tour schedule after that so here, I'll make it easy for you: http://www.rockmerollmejackylmeoff.com/Content.aspx?Content=TourDates (and yes, their URL really is "Rock Me, Roll Me, Jackyl Me Off"...hahahaha!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wake Up!!

Someone told me that I would attract more readers here if I talked about more personal, day-to-day things.  Honestly, I don't know what could be more personal than how music affects us.  And I mean, my "Who Is She" page is pretty detailed and goodness knows I'm candid enough on twitter - what more could anyone possibly find interesting??

However, in the interest of, well, whatever this is in the interest of, let me tell you about my morning.  (Of course, it ends with a wicked good play list so just hang in there).  So I get up at 6:15am (give or take a snooze button or two) and let the dogs out.  The dogs are always taken care of before the humans in our house - that's how we roll.  Then I grumble around the house for an hour or so, mostly trying to convince myself to get it together and go to work.  After all that, the dogs, the shower, the cereal, the daily fight with my bangs (which I've been winning lately) and the decision of what to wear - I'm off.  And that's when the good stuff starts because during my commute, I get to pick the Wake Up music for the day. The stuff that'll clear the cobwebs out of my head and make me fit for human consumption by the time I get to work. 

As a side note, my husband exists in the house with me in the morning, but we don't really interact too much.  We're not one of those barfy couples that sits around having breakfast, reading the paper and making small talk in the mornings.  We sleep as long as humanly possible and there are no profound conversations going on.  Fortunately, we both agree that mornings suck major ass.

Anyway, I've determined over the last year or so that I need a longer commute.  I'm simply not done singing badly at the top of my lungs in 30 minutes!  I've only just gotten cranked up by then.  There just isn't enough time to get in a really fleshed out play list.  However, here's what I managed for this morning's wake up call:

"These Days" - Dr. Dog - Be the Void - I am loving the shit out of this record right now.  I have it on vinyl, CD and on my iPod so I can listen to it pretty much whenever and where ever - and I do.  But in the morning, I go for this song - the intro alone is like a shot of caffeine to the system. 

"When I'm Drunk" - Betty Goo - Gooicide - this one mostly made the list today because I wanted to hear the next song and it just doesn't sound right without this one playing first.

"Herve Villechaize" - Betty Goo - Gooicide - I'm still trying to spit out the second line of the chorus to this song successfully.  I'm pretty sure I'll never manage it, but trying to remember the words and fit them all in my mouth at once at least gets my mind moving.

"Lemonde" - Betty Goo - Gooicide - another song that I'm attempting to learn, which is a bit of a challenge given that I speak no french whatsoever.  So far I've gotten the word for "gasoline", so I mostly wait around for that line.

"Horseface" - Betty Goo - Gooicide - another song that has some very fast lines that I can't quite get.  Perhaps I can't get them because I'm trying at 7:30 in the freaking morning!! (By the way, I end up with so many off Gooicide because I just hate to break this album up.  I don't know what it is about it, but I just really prefer it as one big 46.7 minute song.)

"Don't Care What Time it Is" - Rachel Platten - Be Here - this song was my first favorite on this record and it is still really high on the list - especially after seeing it performed live.  Such a fun song, great to sing along with and absolutely perfect for car dancing!!

"X-Large" - Boy Wonder - Break the Spell, Etc. EP - another one that moves pretty quickly but I can actually sing this one without screwing it all up.  Well, I don't screw it up lyrically, I'm sure I'm butchering it otherwise.  And I love the arrangement on this one so much.  It's so fast and there's so much going on, I'd love to see it performed live.  And the drums are like punctuation marks - it's genius!  Clearly, I love it - I'll listen to it 2 or 3 times in a row if there's time - and there was this morning because I got behind Farmer Bill (my generic term for any slow-driving old farmer dude that I get behind on the road) and he was in no hurry to get anywhere.  As a matter-of-fact, I'm listening to it right this minute, but I can't sing along because I don't want to subject my co-workers to that.

So there you go, if that play list doesn't wake you up in the morning you should give some serious consideration to caffeine...or amphetamines.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Freaky Friday

It's Friday and I'm still listening to the same things I was listening to last Friday.  So, just to keep things interesting I've decided to dig into my vast collection of strange things (mostly from the 90's) each Friday and find something weird and/or obscure for you.  I might have stuff more off-the-wall than what I put here, but I want to find you a video (or link or something), so that will limit what I can do.  For instance, good luck finding a video of Carbon Leaf performing "Whiskey in the Jar" (and I only say that because I want you to bombard me with links to videos of said performance because I sure as shit can't find it).

Okay, here goes, enjoy!

The Presidents of the United States of America - "Feather Pluckn"

I love the shit out of their self-titled album.  Maybe it's their only album, I honestly don't know.  I'm pretty sure it has almost no musical/artistic value, but it's hilarious and endlessly entertaining and sometimes that's enough.  This was a tough choice between this and "Dune Buggy"...maybe I'll put that one up next week.  But because of their use of the term "feather pluckn", this one wins for this week.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I Don't Mean to Be This Way

I want to offer you new and different (and wonderful) things to listen to - I really do!  I want to find all the awesome music that I know is lurking out there and share it with you, but I am not shitting you when I say that this:


This:



And this:
http://www.rhapsody.com/artist/boy-wonder/album/break-the-spell-etc

Are seriously ALL I've been listening to lately.  I understand that I'm not well, but nothing else sounds good right now, so I just listen to what sounds good to me.  But I also understand that you're sick to tears of hearing about them.  So...yeah.  I'll get over it one day and let them blend into my play lists...but today is not that day.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Not Really Any New Music Monday

I tried to listen to some new stuff for you this week, I really did.  I promise.  But after last week and then my attempts this week, I'm afraid that I'm going to have to postpone New Music Monday until I'm in a mindset that isn't so ready to hate everything.  That might be next week (hopefully) or 6 months (good grief, I hope not!) but either way it'll come back eventually.

By the way, I don't mean to say I haven't heard anything good this week.  I did get Plants and Animals' The End of That which kicks some serious ass, but it doesn't qualify for New Music Monday because I've already talked about it once.  So there you go, that's all I got. 

In the meantime, listen to some Centro-Matic (then go download it and give them some money), it's not new either (not to me or the world), but it is pretty sweet.  If you can't find something in this collection that you dig, then I can't help you:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Songs Are Like Onions

Someone asked me recently what I meant when I said that you could "move around inside" songs.  I can't answer that question in 140 character snippets, so I'm going to try to do it here.  The first time I listen to a song, I generally hear the vocal (unless it's instrumental...obviously).  Because I'm a lyric junkie, I always want to know the lyrics first, what's being said, what the song is about, all that.  I honestly didn't even realize how much of a door to the rest of the song the lyrics are for me...or how locked that door can be...until recently. 

There is this song that I love, love, love but I could not, for the life of me, understand the chorus.  Not grasping the verse is one thing (I actually really enjoy being able to pick up new phrases in the verses and catching unexpected, clever bits of lyric), but entirely missing out on the chorus was fucking me up.  In the perfect storm of my weirdness and the songwriter's awesomeness (!!), I was finally clued in to what he's saying.  As soon as I knew the words, the next time (okay, maybe the 4th or 5th time after that) that I listened to the song, I was able to move past the vocal and listen to the music behind it.  It wasn't until I did it that I realized I had just been so hung up on trying to understand the words that I hadn't really appreciated the song itself.

That's kind of what I do.  I like to go into the song and pick out individual instruments and listen to them separately.  (Which stands to reason because I also pick apart my food and anything else pick-apart-able)  I'll listen to the guitar one time, then the drums one time, then back to the vocals, etc.  For me, it's by listening to each of these things separately that I can appreciate the wonder that's created when they all come together to form the whole song.  There are few things more enjoyable than a song with an intricate arrangement because every time I listen to it, I can hear something different.  Speaking of that, no one creates depth of sound like Paula Kelley.  Check out the arrangement on this song and how the combination of the instrumentation and the vocal is absolute perfection: 


Is that not the most wonderful thing you've heard today?  Her arrangements are perfect examples of music that is tangible, that you can go inside of and wander around in.  (And you know, obviously Ryan Schmidt is not too shabby himself)

But a song doesn't have to include that many instruments to be dimensional.  It can be just a voice and a guitar.  In fact, some of my favorite songs to hang out in are "just" a voice and a guitar.  I guess, in the end, I don't know how anyone can listen to music and really be a fan of it and not get what I mean when I say those things.  Haven't you ever just closed your eyes and drifted through the song as it drifts through your ears?  If not, I highly recommend it.  It's like a little 3 minute vacation.  Just take your favorite song and look around inside it.  Observe how the drums and guitar work together (or push up against each other), see how they support the vocal and give it a place to rest or give it the energy it needs to hold up the song, or what the bass line is doing in there.  It's just amazing how much can be going on inside a song and how easy it is to miss what's really happening if you don't pay attention. 

I'm not sure I've really explained myself very well, but I hope the next time you have a some quiet time with some good tunes that you'll investigate what you're hearing and take the time to truly appreciate what's been created.



**If you haven't seen Shrek, you might not get my title on this one but trust me, like onions - and ogres - songs have layers**