Sunday, December 28, 2008

clearing the slate

Oy Vey! Its been ridiculously long since I last posted but I have so many reasons/excuses why that simply trying to figure out how to recap them all has become one of the factors contributing to the delay. Ultimately they can be summed up with: Holiday Prep, holiday travel, viscous clinging illness, sad passings and major decision to quit my job to dedicate myself full time to my small business creative development/marketing company Spigot Marketing.

So not only have I been so busy I'm too tired to sleep I have also been overwhelmed with stuff I want to post that I didn't know where to start. In the spirit of somethings better than nothing I'm going the bullet point route. Sadly I'm not going to be able to give them the coverage they deserve but I need to clear the slate so I can move on to the new year.

  • I got to attend my first Making Time, a Philadelphia dance party institution that I had heard a lot about but never attended, and despite having a horrid cold I rallied got, got my hairs did, rounded up the troops and headed up to Transit. There was four floors of rotating DJs (all rockin their own genre), free Sparks (a vile caffeinated malt beverage), fantastic people watching and surprise guest CSS. I must confess I am not the biggest CSS fan but they sure know how to charge a live show. It was chaotic, loud, dancey goodness. LOVED IT and I can't wait for the next Making Time.
  • Reconnected with an old friend while home who is now a Grammy winning producer and got to see the process behind the voting and exert a little influence on his vote.
  • Previously mentioned friend gave me his most recent project the first record by a Nashville band which I will be reviewing in tomorrow's post. This will be my first review of a band no one else has reviewed which is exciting in a total music nerd kind of way.
  • I started mapping out my 2009 concerts which will kick off right next week with my second Frightened Rabbit show and includes shows by Lykke Li, Tapes 'n Tapes, Bishop Allen, Yarn, Nappy Roots and Yo Majesty to name a few.
  • Finally, I have decided to figure out how to produce my first show. I think it would be a TON of fun to brings some of my friends into town for a night of music fun so stay tuned to hear all about this endeavour and so much more...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bon Iver aka Lumberjack Plaid lovers of PA unite

I had the great pleasure of seeing Bon Iver this week at the Trocadero in Chinatown. Apparently, Billy and I didn't read the fine print on the tickets requesting we wear our skinny jeans, lumberjack plaid and stocking cap. The opener for the night was The Tallest Man On Earth . We caught his last song, a cover of Jackson Brown's These Days, which was good. Probably would have been better had it fallen in the context of his entire set. But, I'd go see him if he passed through town again.

Bon Iver took the stage and opened with one of the tracks from their new EP Blood Bank. Despite it being a little more chamber folk than I usually like it was a good way to start the show. I was a little surprised to see how amped the band was but upon reflection, For Emma...Forever Ago was a solo effort (implying a good degree of tech support) so, with the addition of band members it seems only natural that the whole thing would be plugged in. It was well done too. The drums and bass were given the hollow weight from the album and live it was particularly powerful. The only time it was really apparent was on the new EP tracks which are aiming for an epic sound vs. the reflective somber mood of For Emma...

The version of Skinny Love they played introduced a degree of bass drum that made my heart twitterpate. I have an affinity for the warm vibrations of a bass line and Justin's assembled band delivered in spades. Again they emphasized the bass percussion in Re:Stacks in a way that made it a different tune entirely. There were only a few off notes of the evening mostly involving the newer stuff it seemed a little untethered and aimless but it took a few listens to For Emma... for me to adore it so, I'm willing to chalk that up to having not heard most of it before.

The only other issue I had with the show had nothing to do with the rperformers and EVERYTHING to do with the chick standing near us who had fucking bells attached to her shoes. Note to all of you concert goers out there: don't bring your own instruments to shows. She obviously thought it was cute that she was adding her own touch but not only did she jingle her bells at the worst possible times but SHE WAS ALWAYS OFF BEAT. Ugh. But I digress.

The fellas did a cover of the Outfield's Your Love which was an interesting choice but Justin's voice made it him own for sure. For The Wolves the crowd was encouraged to sing along at the end while it built to it's crescendo the howl/scream/yell when the tension broke. The space in the Troc made the crowd participation rather effective and the howl at the end reminded me a bit of the Midnight scream organized by my alma mater during finals.

The true gem of the night for me though was the closing of the show. When the album first came out I was intrigued simply because you seldom see Emma used. While sorry that the Emma in Justin's past cause such pain I am not too torn up cause this album was the product. Anyways, I was hoping to hear my track played live and not only did they play it but they finished the WHOLE SHOW with a little dedication to moi. The cherry on top was the country swing they gave to it making it clear that whatever it once meant Bon Iver has moved on to a much happier place. I look forward to hearing Blood Bank in its entirety next year and seeing Bon Iver when he returns to Philly.

Justin & Sarah Siskind Lovi'ns For Fools
Justin solo on piano For Emma...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Best Tracks of 2008

In no particular order....

Laura Marling- Ghosts
Beyonce- Single Ladies
Ray LaMontagne- Let It Be Me
Gold Panda - I Suppose I Should Say 'Thanks' Or Some Shit
Brett Dennen- Ain't Gonna Lose You
Slow Runner - Trying To Put Your Heart Back Together
Rural Alberta Advantage - In the Summertime
Mobb Deep vs Ray Parker Jr - Ghostbusters Got It Twisted (DJ Ayres Remix)
Treasure of the Everglades- Bark Hide & Horn
Port O'brien - Dance With Our Ashes
Ben Sollee - Change Is Gonna Come
Esperanza Spalding - Precious
Wild Sweet Orange - Either/Or
Mumford & Son - Roll Away Your Stone
I'm From Barcelona- Paper Planes
Matt & Kim - Day Light or Good Ol' Fashion Nightmare (tie)
Bikini - Tonight
Yarn- Can't Slow Down
The Little Ones -All Your Modern Boxes
The Watson Twins - How Am I To Be
Hello Saferide - Anna
Plushgun - Just Impolite
Friendly Fires - Jump In The Pool
Little Joy - Brand New Start
Pierre De Reader - I'll Be Around

Most of it is in here >>>> ZIP

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Best Albums of 2008

If I tried to write something about each of these albums I'd never get this list up. Links to come...

25. The Wave Pictures- Instant Coffee Baby
24. Atmosphere- All his '08 releases
23. Peter Bradley Adams - Leave Taking
22. Portastatic- Some Small History
21. Thao Nguyen- We Brave Bee Stings And All

20. Adele-19
19. Q-Tip - The Renaissance
18. She & Him - Volume One
17. Slow Runner- Mermaids
16. Fleet Foxes- Winter White Hymnal
15. These United States - A Picture Of The Three Of Us At The Gate To The Garden Of Ed
14. Okkervil River- Stand Ins
13. Vampire Weekend- Vampire Weekend
12. TV on The Radio- Dear Science

11. Los Campasinos - Hold On Now, Youngster...
10. The Dodos- The Visiter
9. Kings of Leon - Only By The Night
8. Noah And The Whale - Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down
7. The Avett Brothers - The Second Gleam
6. Girl Talk - Feed The Animals
5. Passion Pit - Chunk Of Change
4. Raphal Saadiq - The Way I See It
3. Bon Iver- For Emma Forever Ago
2. Jenny Lewis- Acid Tongue
1. Frightened Rabbit- The Midnight Organ Fight

Top 5>>> ZIP
The Rest>>>zip
Stay tuned for Best Tracks and Best "new to me" Acts

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Is it the accents?

I am unsure what exactly it was the incited it but early this year I developed a fascination with Irish musicians. I think it was some combination of finally watching the fantastic movie Once, becoming a member of emusic which has a great regional search capability and most notably tapping into the music blog culture. For a while there I was rabidly hunting down new and old Irish groups as they seem to provide the most consistently fabulous tunes. Regardless of the genre there is something about the lyrical playfulness and intelligent musical crafting that is shared by folks from the green isles.

Of course I have always enjoyed the musical stylings of the widely known Irish acts: Van Morrison, Belle & Sebastian, The Cheiftans, Flogging Molly etc. But my research turned up a few gems I intend to share.

*** Amendment*** Frightened Rabbit are actually Scottish (thanks to NotAgnes at It All Started With Carbon Monoxide for the heads up)

As anyone who has read this blog can gather I Ha-luv Frightened Rabbit. Their album Midnight Organ Fight is one of the strongest released this year. Charging out of the gates with the confidence of a group that has been playing together for years, as these gentlemen have. They recently followed that studio album up with LiverLung a live recording capturing some of their songs better heard with a tinge of spontaneity. I must say after experiencing them in person this fall there is a whole new side of them live so I'm providing you with two live recordings one from that EP and the other from a Daytrotter Session.

Frightened Rabbit Old Old fashioned
Be Less Rude

Before I discovered FR Bell X1 crossed my path. Rocky Took A Lover was the first song I heard of theirs and it was catchy enough to send me looking for more. A little bit like an Irish The Fray their music is poppy and not particularly complex. Their output isn't very consistent some songs like Flame are a little too childish to garner my support however when they hit it they hit it. I saw them this fall when they opened for Stars and their live show is also a little soft but that could have been the poor sound system preventing us from really hearing them.
Bell X1 Rocky Took A Lover

I have long been a fan of Snow Patrol. Their song Chasing Cars was included on a compelation produced by Cities97 (a Minneapolis radio station) a few years ago and I adored it upon first listen. Their lyrics are sincere and romantic and their compositions carry your ear along. Not challenging it too much but keeping you on your toes. I grabbed their newest single last week, Crack The Shutters is ripe for a TV soundtrack and reveals a slight change in Snow Patrol's sound. I look forward to really listening to the rest of the album.
Snow Patrol Chasing Cars
Crack The Shutters

Finally there is the musical empire helmed by Glen Hansard. I first heard him unknowingly when my mother introduced me to the Frames 6 or 7 years ago. The Frames were an alt rock band that was much more popular in the UK than here. Their sound was a slightly less country Old 97's and much like Rhett Miller Glen delivered their lyrics with a truth and unrefined pitch that makes them even more endearing. I first knowingly happened upon Glen when I read about the movie Once. Instead of retelling the modern romance that the movie's making was start here IMDB. After finally watching the movie I needed to hear more and my oh my has Mr. Hansard delivered. From the Swell Season ( the group formed by his new partnership with his co-star Marketa Irglova) to his solo covers (of both Britney Spears AND Justin Timberlake) to his duet with fellow irishman Damien Rice there is plenty of him to be had. The Swell Season are about to release their next album and I am anxiously awaiting it. Low Rising is the first song to be leaked and if every track is as good you may very well see it on 2009's best of list.
The Frames Your Face
The Swell Season Low Rising
Damien Rice (with Glen Hansard) Lay Me Down

So there you have it. My first installment of Irish adoration. I don't anticipate this infatuation ending any time soon and I have lots of other Irish music to share so stay tuned...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksween SHUT DOWN!

Well I have officially hosted my first holiday and I think it safe to say it was a resounding success. More than just a day of being thankful it was more of a whole weekend celebration. My bff no J/k Samantha came down from Boston for five days. We kicked it off right Wednesday night straight from the train station we went to see my friend Jeremy's band Pink Skull play at the Barbary. I have seen them before and they are simply fan-fucking-tastic. The first time I saw them the crowd was weak and no body was dancing. Thankfully, Wednesday was a totally different story. Pink Skull plays what I would call spacey dance band eletronica. A strong percussion foundation (provided by Jeremy) is funked up by Julian Grefe's drum contribution. Grefe is a key figure in the Philly electronic music scene he has been the co-driving force behind Making Time a ginormous Philly dance party. He clearly has a gift for the dancable beat and his partner in crime Justin Geller (who does mixing and lights) makes it even tighter. Mike Hammel and Sam Murphy round out the act and provide the spacey guitar and bass elements. They are at their dancey best when they are just jamming and despite some lame dead weights in the middle of the dance floor Sam and I, joined by a fine bunch of my Philly friends danced like crazy people.Even after Pink Skull left the stage and the DJ stepped in the dancing continued. I can't imagine a better way to kick off Thanksween.

Thursday JT and Marley, two fine souls from my college days, rolled into town at 12 and Thanksween officially commenced. Because this is a blog aimed at the music that colors such times I am going to avoid going into too great of detail about what antics we got into. Instead I'll stick to the tunes that were discussed, played and obsessed over. Beyonce's Single Lady Video was the central talking point. If you haven't seen it watch it NOW!

She is beyond furce in this video. The choreography respects the dance hall beat and she looks hamazing bringing it to life. Jenny Lewis was also looped a few times. Her latest release takes the bluesy alt country sound of Rabbit Fur Coat to a new level. Its got soul its got beautiful harmonies and is varied anough to keep your ear interested through out. Instead of writing at length I will simply refer you to Billy's posting on our house blog Whats Rockin Watkins. Other albums that got play: Fleet Foxes Winter White Hymnal Frightened Rabbit The Midnight Organ Fight YeaSayer All Hour Symbals plus a ton of random tracks.

We worked off the day of lounging and eating with a night of Soul/R&B/Funk again at the Barbary. Sam and I, as we are prone to do, got our dance on with Melinda, Keegan, Matt, Ashley & Dan as well as some other excellent booty shakers. The DJ's were supurb playing a little of everything from Otis Redding to The Stones. I think it is beyond safe to say a good time was had by all.

Yesterday we kept it low key some good heads came over we ate, watched movies and played with aminal (I'm watching my friend's bunny Morris and cat CrabCakes who were the mascots of the festivities). On the whole I must say this was by far the best Thanksween ever and hopefully the beginning of a fine new tradition.

Pink Skull Get Inside (My Tiny Pyramids)
Beyonce Single Ladies
Jenny Lewis Sing A Song For Them
Otis Redding Try A Little Tenderness

Monday, November 24, 2008

Birthday Noise

So there have been a slew of birthdays lately. Some I have been able to celebrate adequately (ahem Yakatori awesomeness for Ms Sklar) others I wish I had done more. Alas, I've been busy with work and getting ready to take some time off for baking, eating and general chilling over the holiday. But I thought I would put together a dedication mix for you folks who have conquered another year. So, here is to you Drew, Papa and Sam...

Townes Van Zandt If I Needed You
Graham Lindsey Shit On A Shovel
M Ward Story Of An Artist (Daniel Johnston cover)
John Mellencamp Cherry Bomb

Zaki Ibrahim You Choose
A Tribe Called Quest Check The Rhime
Flaming Lips Do You Realize????
The Little Ones Boracay

Get Cape Wear Cape D*A*N*C*E (Justice cover)
Matt & Kim Yea Yeah
Hospital Ships Bitter Radio Single
Takka Takka Everybody Say

With Love Emz

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Very Happy 3 minutes 34 seconds

My friend Shannon made this video for some friends and has managed to wrench some smiles from far more bluish faces. Click the link and watch the videos (Shannon's is the first)

Dance white boy DANCE!

Depeche Mode

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Aaaah ngst

There is this great scene in the movie Broadcast News when Holly Hunter (who plays a strong woman in the male dominated world of eighties well broadcast news) goes into her office, shuts the door and starts crying. When her boss walks in mid-sob session she collects herself and explains that she allows herself one cry a day to keep her sanity. I have ascribed to a similar ethic myself. On particularly rough days I allow myself a little break with some terribly sad songs to recognize the bluishness and indulge the inner angst but then move on. I find it keeps things in perspective while still allowing a lil bit o' outlet. As a nod to the great Broadcast News the songs assembled below are in the vein of the imperfect version of love and relationships it captured as well as standard go-to's for those pity breaks.

"I would give anything if you were two people, so that I could call up the one who's my friend and tell her about the one that I like so much"- Albert Brooks "Bubba" Broadcast News

The Everybodyfields Lonely Anywhere
Bon Iver & Sarah Siskind Lovin's For Fools
Jeremy Messersmith Beautiful Children
Slow Runner I'm Gonna Hate You When You Go
Wakey!Wakey! New Partner (Bonnie "Prince" Billy cover)
The Piano Creeps Hey Love

The Everybodyfields
Bon Iver
Jeremy Messersmith
Slow Runner
The Piano Creeps

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Mountain Goats

A week later I finally have time to give the run down of the Mountain Goats show I saw last week at the TLA. It was kind of an interesting crew I convinced my friend Tom/Sebastien to join me and we met up with Ashley and her fella Dan as well as another friend of hers. A random bunch, yes but, fun all around.

The show was all ages and at the TLA two variables that generally mean an influx of non-city dwellers and this was no exception. Kaki King was the opener and beyond saying she could be the poster child for "only one good album" and "much better recorded" cliche definitions I am not going to waste my energy on expressing how totally horrible she was for the entire hour and half she played [a set time rivaling those common during shows from my Jam Band phase]. The single redeeming factor was the sound board guy who played trumpet and some digital instrument that looked like the love child of a Casio keyboard and a bong from the back, apparently too shy to join them on the stage.

Anyways, the Mountain Goats made a quick switch of gear and got off to a rollicking start. I have been a fan from afar for a while but in the last few months I have really come back to some of their stuff, in particularly live recordings. So, seeing them live was a priority. For someone with Aspebergers John Darnelle is pretty fantastic on stage. His anecdotes were short and entertaining and got right back to the music. He even satisfied a request from the audience to play "Thin Lizzy" -- only after pointing out it was generally in poor taste to ask for a cover by shouting out the other band's name and not the song title -- and it was a fine cover of a eighties pop standard. They kept to their peppier stuff Fall Of The Star High School Running Back and Pirates and No Children the lyrics to which are some of my favs. The crowd (after the Kaki fans went away) was a fun dancy high spirited bunch singing along to Darnelle's often quirky lyrics.

The only low point was Kaki's return to the stage, and I really am not trying to hate on her too much it was just the weak point honestly, and their duet on the Snake Song they have recently released. I'm pretty sure that's not even the real name but its not one I like too much and seemed to go on for too long.

Kaki stuck around for another song but then the rest of the Goats came back on stage and finished the set. The show finisher, for me at least, was This Year. The one song I was really really wanting to hear. He sang it with a sincerity I hadn't heard in previous recordings, perhaps due to a year that he led by mentioning was one of the hardest he has ever experienced. I didn't stick around for the encores I was stupid tired at that point (1:12 am) but I heard it was excellent. On the whole not the best show I've seen but certainly not the worst and I will definitely catch them once the opportunity again presents itself.

The Boys Are Back In Town
This Year
Dance Music

Other People's Music

Covers, I love them. There is just something about hearing a song, whether they are familiar or not, done by two different artists that gets my musical brain revving. Comparing two musicians/groups styles, lyrics, delivery, spirit, voice etc is at is purest and most satiating when done on the same song. There is also something refreshing when you hear a song you know and, maybe have grown just a little too comfortable with, done in a way you would have never anticipated. I will probably be tossing out cover features pretty regularly as I have a ton of them and I'm always adding more. So without further ado...

Glen Hansard Everytime
(originally by Britney Spears) In its original form, from Ms. Spears' Toxic album, was a guilty pleasure in its truest sense; I rarely played when anyone else was around and certainly didn't sing along when they were. But I just really like the lyrics so when I heard this version by Glen Hansard (of Once[the movie]/The Frames/Swell Season) fame it gave me a legitimate addition to my public playlists. It definitely falls into the "better cover than original" category. Sorry Brit.

Harry Nilsson Always Look On The Bright Side of Life
(originally by Monty Python) I always think of my cousin Sam when I encounter Monty Python material. He went through a phase when he was pretty plus'd by the brilliantly humorous comedy troop. This cover is still infused with the pep of the original, perhaps a little too much so. I usually prefer when the cover artist adds their own twist. None the less the I thought it worthy of sharing.

Deer Tick Beautiful Girls
(Originally by Sean Kingston) I haven't encountered other Deer Tick music before so I will avoid generalizations about their overall abilities but I really like their take on this pop tune. When SK's original hit the scene I was still listening to radio and, while I liked the mellow soulish song on first listen, it was soon overplayed and incredibly annoying. Deer Tick have resurrected it for me in a muy indie ballad kind of way. I'll have to do some further digging into their rep.

Vampire Weekend Everywhere
(Original Fleetwood Mac) On the whole I am a fan of Vampire Weekend. They are catchy and smart and their combination of poppy percussion and paul simonsish vocals translates really well to this Fleetwood Mac classic. More than adding their own twist they make it their own. Its Everywhere a'la Vampire Weekend, not ironic or bastardized. Clearly done with fun and respect.

The Arcade Fire Brazil
(Original by Ary Barroso on the Brazil sdtk) First, let me share with you the following Wiki facts: the song was written on a "pluvious night" in 1939, is considered Brazil's most famous song and ushered in that oh so popular era of "exaltation samba." It is also the one song, done in various arrangements that provides the soundtrack to the movie Brazil which I recently watched and found um, interesting. The Arcade Fire's take seems to be a homage of sorts and I love that I am no longer the only one championing the return of exaltation samba.

(Originally by Feist) My adored Julie was the first person to introduce me to the, now viral, youTube music video of the lady feist and all of here primary colored friends dancing in sync. And it seems like everyone has done a take/remix/mash up of the song, including Feist herself cutting a Sesame Street version. Bikini's count is electronic fun and v. distinct. Keeping to what they do well this is a great intro to some of their own work (check out Oh Girl Get On The Floor).

Wakey!Wakey! Maps
(Originally by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) Wakey!Wakey! is one of many groups putting out cover projects lately -- Denison Witmer is another indie scenester doing other peoples work worthy of your time. For the most part their versions of Foo Fighters, Beach Boys and even Alicia Keys songs are straight from the sheet music to your ear with a slight saccharine coating. But in this case the sugar treatment on an previously reserved recording is actually kind of interesting.

If you like their versions of other people's songs you can find more here...

Glen Hansard (The Swell Season)
Deer Tick
Vampire Weekend
The Arcade Fire

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Apathetic No More

I have long feared my generation would be remembered as the apathetic generation. But today as I biked past lines wrap around the block, saw "I Voted" stickers adorn the bags and chests of nearly everyone I passed and listened to reports of historically high voter turnout I have hope that we will be remembered for much greater things. Regardless of this evening's outcome I hope you remember what it was like to have participated in this sea change and don't loose faith in the value of your words, the power of your actions.

To complement yesterday's list of classic political songs here are some of today's voices not willing to let current events go unnoticed.

Nappy Roots Good Day
Green Day We Are The Waiting
Rustic Overtones Letter to The President
James William Roy Donuts & Bacon
Steve Earle Rich Mans War
John Mayer Waiting On The World To Change
The Flaming Lips Yeah Yeah Yeah
Ben Lee We're All In This Together
Twista Hope
Novel (ft. Talib Kweli, Ben Folds & Spredd Wilson) I Am

Your Song

On the eve of what promises to be a truly historical Presidential election I am choosing to look back at political musical statements that have defined other historically monumental times. Musicians have often given voice, drawn attention and channeled power to people and events lacking the soapbox or eloquence to capture the essence of their struggle. Thanks to a life long awareness of political/social music, from gospel to Woodstock, provided by my mother it was tricky to choose which tracks to include in this post. Dylan was essential, of course, but I didn't want to travel the predictable road and I think the final playlist manages to cover some quality music history plot points.

It takes an exceptional degree of awareness, empathy and talent (not to mention serendipity) to create music that can inspire millions to act, or at least pause and reconsider their reality. And I will always respect, share and appreciate this music. I ask you to listen, think and ACT. You may not have what it takes to write the next great social anthem but you do have the power, the RIGHT to vote. Go out tomorrow and be part of history. Play your part and your song will be sung in the returns declaring Obama and hope the victors.

Jackson Browne I Am A Patriot
Allen Toussaint Yes We Can Can
Bob Dylan The Times They Are A Changing
Sly & The Family Stone Stand!
Robin Williams & Bobby McFerrin Come Together
Blind Boys of Alabama Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen
John Mellencamp This Land Is Your Land
Matt Nathanson The Wind
Ben Jelen Talkin Bout A Revolution
Anthony David Whats Goin On

An interesting list

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Phantasticly Phun iPh not Phrfeaky Phillie Phriday

It was crazy fireworks in the street, planters destroyed, bikes lit on fire, cars flipped, dj's spinning on top of buses. Combined with Halloween yesterday was a strange day in Philadelphia. In honor of the absolute chaos that overtook this city I share with you a tune I grabbed from the MadDecent blog.



Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I managed to catch the tail end of the Obama-mercial last night and I have to say it got me thinking. I have been hesitant to throw myself into this election because I was so involved in politics in college and so crushed when Bush won (plus I have a million and one things going on in life) so I have let what little my little donations be my voice. Perhaps the sense of urgency that compelled me to act in college was placated by the overwhelming number of people of all walks of life, social status, profession, education and culture who have volunteered, registered, demonstrated and ACTED to make the change they want to see. Witnessing and participating in this wave of revolution has energized me and fanned the wee flame of hope that had dimmed to pilot light status during the last seven wretched years.

While that flame is currently burning bright there is still a tinge of worry about Tuesday and I couldn't really put my finger on the exact reason until last night when I heard Obama speak. He is an incredible person and there exists true potential in the vision and hope he has for the future of this country however he was absolutely right in turning the focus back to the people, US.

Voting is just the first step in creating change. Even when Obama is elected you must not forget that change is constant and to keep this revolution moving your actions, efforts and voice will still matter more than ever AFTER you drop your ballot in the box. Barack Obama the man represents a new horizon however the journey to that end is one we each must take responsibility for. So, before I get too preachy here I will leave you with the words of the man I am one hundred percent certain would have been the VP nominee had he not passed far before his time:

Politics is not predictions and politics is not observations. Politics is what we do. Politics is what we do, politics is what we create, by what we work for, by what we hope for and what we dare to imagine- Paul Wellstone Yes We Can


Ben Sollee A Change Is Gonna Come

Saturday, October 25, 2008

You may enjoy...

These are a few bands that are new to me (and with the exception of Stars probably new to you) and while not entirely tight packages they all do have a few tunes that are worth a listen.


I can't remember where I found Derby. It could have been when I started my eMusic account and spent an entire day tripping through links to "other bands like this" and poking around random music lists. But it doesn't really matter cause I found em.From what I have found of their stuff and by listening to their MySpace posting they are still developing their sound but If Ever There's A Reason demonstrates good use of hand clapping (look for a post on this oft overlooked percussive addition soon) and simple guitar.

If Ever There's A Reason

Hello Saferide

I will admit I haven't done an exhaustive search into Hello Saferide but I can tell you they are one of the many Indie Pop groups bustin out of Sweden as of late. I'm not sure whats in the water over there but the music talent per capita is astonishingly high. Hello Saferide is not the best they have to offer but their songs are good and their lyrics intriguing. Their music ranges from v. perky pop tending towards a Twee sound to fairly standard indie sweet wit. I'd point you towards Anna, Get Sick Soon and If I Don't Write This Song, Someone I Love Will Die.



Recently there has been a trend in my concert going, perhaps due to my growing familiarity with up-and-coming music, but I have been going to more shows to see the opening acts rather than the headliners. In this case I was going to see Bell X1 a newer band from Ireland who were opening for Stars at the Trocadero. Stars totally won out over Bell X1 who still needs to work on their live show. Stars got big last year with the release of their album In Our Bedroom After The War. I had heard a few tracks but nothing had really grabbed me. But let me tell you seeing them live changed that. They opened the show with The Night Starts Here which got the crowd going then laid out their set with character and spunk. I liked a lot of what I heard, most of it their older stuff like Elevator Love Letter and My Favorite Book. Live they really bring their great lyrics to life a spark they don't seem to capture on recording. Reunion is the track I find myself listening to most since that night.


The Weakerthans

The Weakerthans are no more but they ruled the Canadian music scene in the mid nineties. I know, that doesn't really imply much talent, but hey Canada has given us some undeniable talent; Ryan Gosling, Bare Naked Ladies um I'm blanking on other right now but I digress. I found them when I picked up the story behind their Cat songs. The band wrote two songs from the perspective of one of the member's cat. Plea from a Cat Named Virtue and the follow up Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure are strangely sincere and drew me in. And I recommend you seek out some of their nonfeline related music, the Reunion Tour stuff to start. Left and Leaving is a well phrased end of the line relationship song.

Left and Leaving

Esperanza Spalding

And finally Miss Esperanza Spalding. I saw her at the First Annual Root Picnic on Festival Pier this summer. The day was freakishly hot (topped out at 102) but my concert going crew were hardcore and we hung in there for the majority of the day. The line up was great DJ Jazzy Jeff (who is SO MUCH MORE than a reoccurring character on Fresh Prince of Bel Aire and if you don't know why do some readin about the history of hip hop/DJ's in Philly NOW), Gnarls Barkley, Deerhoof, Cool Kids and of course the Roots. But Esperanza Spalding stole my heart.

There was a time when I had lofty aspirations to make the stand up bass sexy while legitimately funky. I quickly realized that I was not going to be the person to carry that message to the masses but when I saw Esperanza's set I knew she was just that person. She played that bass like it was her dance partner and sang like she was channeling some late greats. She is the exception to this list in that her entire album is excellent from her Spanish take on Body & Soul to the strong lady ballad Precious. See her if you get the opportunity but for now enjoy...


Esperanza Spalding

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Momentary Musical Mantras

I find that some moments, occasionally entire days, require a bit of a mantra to get me through. Considering that there are rarely time when I am not listening to music mantras tend to come in song form. As of late these are a few tunes that have popped into my head during those times.

Stability is a truly admirable goal but one that I unhitched my cart from long ago. And I don't think that's a bad thing at all. The adventures and experiences I have had in its absence have taught me many things. Ms. Schwartz sums one of those lessons up quite nicely.

Lucy Schwartz
I Don't Know A Thing

Its catchy and witty so it tucks neatly into my thoughts many times a day.

Eff That Ess

I frequently find myself in totally curious situations with interesting characters in strange places. More often than not it leads to some new friends or great fodder for later conversation but there have been a couple of nights were this song is spinning tween my ears on my bike ride home.

Team Genius
Take Me Home

I'm wired for busy. I thrive off of having a variety of projects and tasks to divide up my day. I like to think I do a pretty good job harnessing my ADD and channeling it towards productive ends. But I do admit that there are moments when I feel like I can't slow down. Yarn [a fabulous little bluegrassy/ countryish group out of Brooklyn, of course] gets it.

Can't Slow Down

The chorus of this one says it all cause, dagnabbit, I will make it through this year alive! Right?

The Mountain Goats
This Year (live)

Want more of these artists...

Lucy Schwartz
Team Genius
The Mountain Goats

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Frightened Rabbit Show Review

I saw Frightened Rabbit on Friday night at the First Unitarian Church. They were opening for Spinto Band for whom the night was serving as their official CD release but I tell you, most of the people there had come out to see this threesome from Scotland.

As I am newish to formally reviewing shows I'm not sure if I can capture how spectacular this show was. So I'll just start from the beginning. The sound was a little wonky to start, it is the basement of a church after all*, but after they got that balanced the boys glistened.

Their post punk influence is much more apparent when you see them live and can really feel the driving bass drum and see the way these fellas rock out together. I can't tell you how much a true connection and balance of talent/musical understanding contributes to a live show. They played stuff off of their new album The Midnight Organ Fight as well as their freshly released live album Liver! Lung! FR! both of which should be purchased by you all post haste. Highlights were

•The Modern Leper which is probably the best song written with references to Leperosy and when played live have an energy the isn't on the album (but is still a valid tune)when the rhythm is pumped up a bit more you really feel the drive of this song.

The Modern Leper

•Old Old Fashioned which is the kind of tune you wish your friends who are in band would have written so if anything you had one reason to go to their shows. The lyrics to this song are grand and made for a good sing along with the crowd.

Old Old Fashioned

• They closed with Keep Yourself Warm which is the song that first grabbed my attention months ago. It is a gem of an honest relationship song and really tied things up very nicely. There is something about the singing "It takes more than fucking someone to keep yourself warm" in a room with a bunch a strangers in the mess hall of a church that has a delicious irony.

Keep Yourself Warm

If they had played Backwards Walk it might have been too good to be true and now I have real motive for seeking them out when they come back through the East as headliners this winter. The crowd wanted more after they left the stage and stood around makin noise for a while but FR didn't return to the stage. I was standing by the sound board at this point and their manager came back to let the guy know they weren't coming back out (despite the fact that EVERYONE there was bowled over by them and wanting to see what else they could put out there) because, he said, they (FR) didn't want to steal Spinto's glory at their release show a far more endearing end than any encore could have provided. Well played guys.

It would be well worth your money to see Frightened Rabbit when/if they come through your town.

* One of the reasons I so love this city they have some fabulously unique venues. Besides First Unitarian Johnny Brenda's is an old dance hall and the Trocadero is an old Chinese theater.

Frighten Rabbit on Myspace

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My nibble my nosh

I put some thought into what I wanted my first play list to be. Should I go epic with tunes I consider essential? Should I go with a theme? Should I grab bits from shows I have seen in the last few months?

Well the spinner landed on songs that are new to me with lyrics that just get me. So, without further nonesense...

Frightened Rabbit is one of my favorite discoveries of the last few months. I went through an Irish musician phase a few months back (a combined reaction to the movie Once and emusic's regional search capability)and these fellas came out of the shake. They are just getting rumblings in the US and I am beyond excited to see them at the First Unitarian Church on Friday. Their album A Midnight Organ Fight is spectacular and backwards walk has become my favorite track. Lyrically its very simple but well crafted. "I'm working hard on walking out. Shoes keep sticking to the ground. My clothes won't let me close the door. The trousers seem to love your floor."

Backwards Walk

The lead singer for The National could sing the yellopages and I'd hang on every syllable so the fact that their lyrics are actually really great makes it that much easier to adore them. While I find Star A War to be a solid track its Slow Show that is, in my mind, a complete package. The music builds and carries you through the song and feeling of just wanting to get through a day to hurry home to someone to "crack them up"ie. be silly is one that I completely identify with.

Slow Show

Los Campesinos make me smile. They are pure simple smart fun pop music. I thoroughly enjoy when a song has a catchy tune and intelligent words to propel it along. I sure hope these kids continue to the do these things in flats.

...And We Exhale And Roll Our Eyes In Unison

Bruce Springsteen is a GOD this is something I have only recently fully realized and that is due in large part to discovering Matthew Nathanson's cover of Thunder Road. Springsteen crafts a story so sweet and true you can see the scenes play out in your head. "What else can we do now Cept roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair well the nights busted open these two lanes will take us anywhere."This is the kind of song I'm pretty sure my Mom would have listened to on a hot summer in the big yellow house in Kalispell.

Nathanson is an artist who does a lot of covers (Atlantic City,another Springsteen must listen) and does them well. His own stuff ain't half bad either. It would be worth your time to track some of it down.

Thunder Road

This song could be the anthem for my life the last couple of weeks. Breaking it down to celebrating the "irony everything is going wrong but we're so happy" encapsulates my approach to survival. The fantabulous driving guitars and bass drum keep you bopping your head and singing it on the most challenging of days.

Lets Dance To Joy Division

As I culled these from my list of frequently played I realized this may have to be an on going series. But for now enjoy them for what they are and if you like 'em go buy em.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Consider the toe dipped

Whew what a week. I had hoped to get this done earlier but insanity prevailed and I was tucked away in my little world of work and well work. The good news is that I made my deadline but today has been a hazy one speckled with clutzyness and exhaustion.

But I have managed to figure out how to post some songs. Which I actually wasn't expecting to accomplish so I don't even have a great playlist lined up. Instead of forcing it I'm going to keep it simple and start at the beginning.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

And here I go

For as long as I can remember my life has had a soundtrack. Dire Straights playing whenever we drove Going To The Sun road in Glacier, singing Let The Rest Of The World Go By with the whole fam piled in bed together at Gundersons on Lake Superior, making up dances to NKTOB with my sisters, the hepcat phase listening to ska and watching Empire Records, phollowing Phish phor a long time, playing the 1812 Overature while trying to keep my fellow bassists from fucking around, doing the electric slide on the deck in Spooner, dancing to PYT at Wilde House, rockin out to Queen and Tribe Called Quest at 3am during the bake off in my pastry chef days, the mix my mom made for me to listen to when I drove to Philly to explore what life had to offer here. This list could go on forever, seriously. Which bring me to why I have decided to try my hand at this music blog thing.

In the past I have made mixes of what I have been listening to both new and old during the year and distributing them to friends and family. Often the music carries a tinge of the events of the year and for those that know me (ie anyone reading this blog at this point) the events of the last few years have been crazy, intense at times fabulously silly at others, and changing all the time. I have learned to embrace inconsistancy and make the most of what life has to offer me and what I have to it. And true to form the music I have been listening to is intense at times and fabulously silly at others. I find myself wanting to share what I am listening to more than just once a year and with anyone who tosses interest my way. So in the spirit of journaling via soundtrack The World In A Paper Cup is born.

Today's mission was to write the first entry. Tomorrow.... I will try to figure out how to embed an mp3 player.