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 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  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?
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.

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: (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.