30 March 2009

Melvin Goes to Dinner

Last night I got to watching Melvin Goes to Dinner again. I've seen it four times. It's my favorite movie (besides maybe Home Alone). It mostly stars a bunch of character actors, though it features cameos from Jack Black, David Cross, Bob Odenkirk (who also directed and produced it), Maura Tierney, Jenna Fischer, and that guy who plays Pete on 30 Rock. The guy who wrote the movie and stars as Melvin, Michael Blieden, played a special agent in Arrested Development along with the other male star, Matt Price. The two lady leads are Annabelle Gurwitch, previously the host of "Dinner and a Movie" back in the day on TBS, and Stephanie Courtney, who has recently landed a role as a switchboard operator on Mad Men.

These accolades aren't very impressive, I realize, but the movie is nothing but excellent and captivating from start to finish. Here is Jack Black's scene in the movie:

David Cross and Bob Odenkirk starred together in Mr. Show, which was usually fucking hilarious. But they also starred together in a Yo La Tengo video for what's probably their most famous song, "Sugarcube." As you probably know from reading this blog, I don't miss opportunities to write about YLT, especially when there's funny involved.

28 March 2009

Little Feat

Cocaine is a funny drug when it comes to music. It makes some artists actually create better music (Sly and the Family Stone), and it gives some artists the illusion that their music is better than it really is (Conor Oberst). Some artists, after kicking the habit, get bloated (John Mayer), and some die a cocaine death (Ike Turner). A lot of musicians have written songs about the pitfalls of cocaine (Phish, Bob Dylan). But it takes something special to write a song championing the love for such a notorious substance.

Enter: Little Feat (and possibly Van Dyke Parks). Little Feat were a Southern rock band in the 70's. The first time I had ever heard of them, it was on the recommendation of my dad.

One day a few years ago he mentioned this Little Feat to me. "Oh yeah, they were smokin'!" or something. "Ok cool, I'll have to...check them out...someday..." and then I didn't.

It wasn't until I saved a copy of Robert Palmer's Sneaking Sally Through the Alley from becoming dumpster food that I first got to know what Little Feat were all about. The backing band on this album are a couple dudes from Little Feat and a couple dudes from the Meters, and the first track is a cover of Little Feat's "Sailing Shoes". The cover is pretty funked out, with a heavy bass line and some sultry ladies complementing Palmer's soulful pipes. And then I still didn't seek out the original until I was at my parents' house last September. I was digging through some of my records, some of which got mixed in with my parents'. And there it was: 1972's Sailing Shoes, by Little Feat.

I was watching the Cubs trying to clinch the division with the sound off, and popped the old bird onto the platter. The original "Sailin' Shoes" is much more sparse than the Palmer cover. It's Southern, but not in that dumb rock Skynyrd kind of way. It doesn't try to rock at all. Laid-back slide guitar, plodding honky tonk piano, gospel chorus. In a word, this song owns.

I had my computer music on shuffle this week, and what should pop up but a Van Dyke Parks song entitled "Sailin' Shoes" from the same year as the Little Feat version. "What is this all about?" I asked myself.

Well it turns out, Parks probably had something to do with the writing of this song. He and Little Feat's frontman (and member of Zappa's Mothers of Invention) Lowell George were good friends. It seems a little odd, then, that Parks never got credit for the song.

So here are the three versions:

Robert Palmer - Sailing Shoes
Van Dyke Parks - Sailin' Shoes
Little Feat - Sailin' Shoes

26 March 2009

Department of Eagles video

It's always nice when people put a lot of effort into a music video. The new Department of Eagles video for "No One Does It Like You" features an astonishing amount of choreography, some pretty great costumes, and a whole lot of bloodshed. It's fun artsy fartsy, not to be confused with heavy artsy fartsy. You feel me?

25 March 2009

Cat Stevens

Matthew and Son, Cat Stevens' first album, is by far the least introspective of his releases. This album is full of AM-radio-oriented tracks, nearly all of which clock in at under 3 minutes. There are better Cat Stevens albums out there, but none with as much ear candy.

Some of these songs are certified hits. The album opens with the title track, which is one of the more dynamic tracks on the album. It has baroque pop written all over it, which signifies the rest of the album's style. The following track, "I Love My Dog", is a more contemplative affair. Interestingly, it features Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones on bass. It was Cat Stevens' first single, though it's not as well known as "Matthew and Son" or the third track, "Here Comes My Baby". This track seemed to gain in popularity after it was featured in Wes Anderson's "Rushmore". It was also covered by professional cover band Yo La Tengo on 1990's Fakebook.

The sugary sweet keeps cruising along on the next track, "Bring Another Bottle Baby". The song is a sexy French affair, which I can't help but think shaped the Flight of the Conchords song "Foux du Fafa".

Another significant track on this record is "I've Found a Love." Anyone familiar with Panda Bear's 2007 Person Pitch will recognize the guitar strumming and tambourine-tapping right after the chorus. Somewhere in the middle of that album's epicenter, "Bros", features that sample. Record nerds!

The rest of the album features songs that aren't quite as ambitious, though decent all the same. And there's the album closer, "I'm Gonna Get Me a Gun", which a bit unnerving. The title suggests exactly what the song is about, though it's no ballad. The music sounds a bit like the background for a Tom and Jerry chase. Weird stuff. Apparently it was written for a musical about Billy the Kid, but the musical was never produced. Strangely, despite not having any context, it was released as a single in the UK and never had any controversy along with it.

Cat Stevens - Matthew & Son (1967)

Yo La Tengo - Here Comes My Baby

23 March 2009

Still Flyin'

Still Flyin' should be given honorary Australian residency. They've toured the country twice in two years, they're friends with Architecture in Helsinki, recorded their debut long-player here, and have already released the album in Australia, while all those chumps in the US and Europe have to wait another month to get their hands on it.

Still Flyin' are known to party hearty. They're a fun band, plain and simple, and all of that excitement and life-affirming attitude is put into their music (along with a bunch of slang that I don't fully understand- "hammjamm"?). They don't sing about the tribulations, they sing about the party bus. It's kind of like a mix between Vampire Weekend and Architecture in Helsinki, with the collective properties of Broken Social Scene.

I should mention that the main dude's voice turned me off a little when I first listened to their recorded music, but this band has tons of people singing in it, and the energy and catchiness of it all are well-worth listening to, even if the dude isn't always pitch-perfect. And as I previously mentioned, they put on an insanely entertaining live show.

Here's a track off the forthcoming Never Gonna Touch the Ground. Even if you don't pick up this album, don't miss them live. Fun as hell.

Still Flyin' - The Hottchord is Struck

20 March 2009

New Bill Callahan

Here's a new song called "Eid Ma Clack Shaw." When Woke On a Whaleheart first came out, I remember thinking that a happy Smog just doesn't seem quite right. Eventually that album grew on me and I realized that I felt good to know that he felt good. But if this new track is any indication of the rest of the new album, he's back to the depressing nature of the bulk of his work. Although that makes for some great music, it's hard to see (or hear) your heroes in such pain.

In other news, there's a guy at my bridge club that looks exactly like Bill Callahan in 30 years.

Bill Callahan - Eid Ma Clack Shaw

Booker T and the MG's - McLemore Avenue

Booker T and the MG's, most known as the Stax house band that brought the world Green Onions, were no stranger to cover songs. In 1970 they managed an entire album dedicated to covers of songs from the Beatles' Abbey Road. McLemore Avenue, named after the avenue that housed Stax studios, contains all but four of the original album's tracks (leaving out Maxwell's Silver Hammer, Oh Darling, Octopus' Garden, and Paul McCartney's closing ditty Her Majesty). Similarly to Abbey Road's second side, most of the songs here are arranged as medleys, which gives the album a lot of fluidity. What's interesting, though, is that the songs are not entirely replicated in their original sequence. "The End" fuses into "Here Comes the Sun" and "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" turns into "I Want You (She's So Heavy)". It's quite a curveball for anyone that's listened to Abbey Road enough to know all the lyrics by heart (as millions of people surely do).

Although McLemore Avenue doesn't offer the variety or studio professionalism that Abbey Road does, it's a lot more groove-driven. The signature Booker T elements are there, including the constant organ whir, loose guitar solos, and tight rhythm section of Donald "Duck" "Double Chin" Dunn and Al Jackson Jr. Sure, McLemore Avenue is a bit of a novelty. But it's more fun and laid-back than the original and it's something new, yet familiar (like Coke Zero or any romantic comedy ever made).

I wish writing about principles of good governance was as fun as this album...

Booker T and the MG's - McLemore Avenue (1970)

19 March 2009

Henry Cow - Unrest

I really don't know much about Henry Cow. Unrest is the only album I've heard by them. But it's a masterpiece of an album, and even if the rest of their stuff is garbage (which it likely isn't), they deserve to be praised based on Unrest alone.

I do know two things about Henry Cow: they were contemporaries of the Soft Machine and they were a band, not just some guy named Henry. The album Unrest sounds a bit like Third-era Soft Machine (post-singing) but with more free-jazz overtones. There are basically two types of songs in this album- those that are dominated by frenetic drumming and wailing, scatterbrained guitar solos ("Bitter Storm Over Ulm," "Half Asleep; Half Awake," "Upon Entering the Hotel Adlon"), and those that take direction via the bassoon ("Solemn Music," "Linguaphonie," "Arcades"). "Deluge" combines elements of both song structures with the drums taking the forefront and atonal, Albert Ayler-esque bassoon passages in the background. From here, the album goes into dark, tortured territory. "The Glove" sounds like a full-moon midnight at an electro-shock therapy clinic, replete with caterwauling, unsettling bassoon, and snippets of agitated drumming harnessed to what sounds like a chimp playing piano. "Torchfire" is only slightly less unnerving, as it avoids the pained yelling in favor of schizophrenic guitar and keyboard solos.

Unrest, indeed.

Henry Cow - Unrest (1974)

Here's a video of the band playing Phil Ochs' "No More Songs," one of the most depressing songs from an arsenal full of depressing songs.

17 March 2009

Camera Obscura video

A few weeks ago I posted the new Camera Obscura single "French Navy," off the forthcoming My Maudlin Career. They've just released the video for the song. It's a damn fine indie pop number, and they're a damn fine indie pop band. Just look at how sharply they're dressed!

Richard Youngs

Last night, I briefly mentioned the influence of Bert Jansch on British folk musicians. One such apprentice is Richard Youngs. Calling him a folk musician, however, would be greatly dwarfing Youngs' indulgences in a slew of genres, from experimental, raga, and noise freakouts to simpler folk and electronic works. My introduction to him was 2005's Naive Shaman, a body of amorphous and pulsing electronic sounds to complement his floating melodies. His voice is not unlike Jeff Mangum's (of Neutral Milk Hotel) at his most content, though traces of Jansch and Tim Buckley come through as well.

I was originally intending to post a song off Naive Shaman, but I've decided to keep with the folk theme of last night's post and go with a song called "Trees That Fall" off the 2002 album May. We're coming into autumn here. The air is cooling and getting a little crisper, and some folk tunes only seem appropriate for such weather. Of course, it would make sense for me to post something off his 2007 album Autumn Response, but, well, I can't, because I don't own it.

I will eventually get to some of his more experimental works another time, but for now, bask in the pastoral comforts of this song.

Richard Youngs - Trees That Fall

16 March 2009

Needle of Death

There's a song I'd like to share this evening by a Scottish fellow named Bert Jansch. He's had quite a prolific career, putting out dozens of albums on a myriad of labels as a solo artist as well as a fair few albums with Pentangle. "Needle of Death" was one of his most popular songs, released off his first album in 1965 before he took to playing with a group. The album also contains a song called "Alice's Wonderland," written by Charles Mingus. As is pretty evident when you listen to his recordings, Jansch influenced many important songwriters, including the recently-deceased John Martyn and the long-ago-deceased Nick Drake. Jansch is still alive and well.

Bert Jansch - Needle of Death

Yo La Tengo recorded it for their Today is the Day EP, released a few months after Summer Sun in 2003. Georgia Hubley takes the vocal duties and treats the song with the somber loving care it deserves. I think Yo La Tengo are generally better off when they're doing their own material, but in this instance, they do the song justice and then some. The entire EP is a little gem, one side smoking hot indie rock, the other a handful of more subdued and acoustic numbers.

I don't really feel like putting in the links to the usual informative sites, and I suspect nobody will have a problem with it since nobody comments on this thing anyway.

Yo La Tengo - Needle of Death

15 March 2009

Go-Betweens video

It's largely a video weekend here at the Regular Express, mostly due to me working a whole bunch the last couple of days. Time constraints, my friend.

Within this large coastal country, a band that gets very little recognition is the Go-Betweens. All the classic Australian bands get played on the radio constantly, and a lot of talentless contemporary bands are praised as a lot more permanent than the fleeting hot garbage that they are. But never do I hear Go-Betweens songs on the radio. I never hear other bands mention them as an influence, and they repeatedly go unmentioned on lists of important Aussie bands.

So I'm righting the wrongs of the world, one band at a time. This is the video for "Was There Anything I Could Do?" from the 1988 album 16 Lovers Lane, which is chalk full of goodies. This video is poking fun at other 80's videos, and is alternatively funny and horrifyingly gaudy.

And in case you can't handle Robert Forster's rouge, here's the track sans video:

The Go-Betweens - Was There Anything I Could Do?

13 March 2009

Fleetwood Mac video

Another old video. This time it's the s/t song from the album "Tusk" by Fleetwood Mac. The video is largely based around the making of the actual song with the USC Marching Band, which was no small (or cheap) feat. It includes a little morning wine, baton-twirling, and a cardboard cutout of John McVie. (Don't you love how wikipedia has horrible pictures of musicians well past their prime?)

Thin Lizzy

The finest point in the evolution of music videos was early on when the short features shifted from a mock-live setting to something more directorially creative. Today we see music videos taken into a whole new faction of media, whereby videos tell a completely different story than the song itself or serve as a platform for showing off graphic design skills. The early 80's were a simpler time in the production of music videos, when the video served to enhance the meaning of the song through simple narratives.

Many bands that I cherish had fallen by the qualitative wayside by the time videos were becoming an artform. Not Thin Lizzy, though. They managed to put out some gems in that time period. It's hard for me to say what my favorite Thin Lizzy album is, but 1979's Black Rose probably gets the most spins.

The song "Sarah" was released as the third single off the album and is probably the poppiest hit Thin Lizzy ever put out. The song was written for Phil Lynott's daughter, and the video shows Sarah growing up before his very eyes and into a woman, then a Scott Gorham.

12 March 2009

Bill Callahan/Smog

Make no bones about it: I love Bill Callahan. He's hands-down my favorite solo artist and easily in my top five favorite musical entities. So the good news is that the forthcoming "Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle" is coming out in little over a month and today Stereogum has reported on the progress of said album.

For a couple weeks now I've been meaning to share the "Rock Bottom Riser EP" but am just getting to it now. It was the last release under the Smog moniker before he shed the shackles of Shmog-ery to become eponymous. The EP came out a year after "A River Ain't Too Much to Love" and features two album cuts ("Rock Bottom Riser" and "I Feel Like the Mother of the World") and two non-album cuts ("Bowery" and "Fool's Lament"). These latter two sewed the seeds for what was to become the country amblings of "Woke on a Whaleheart." The CD also contains videos for the album tracks, one of which features the big love of Chloe Sevigny and can be seen here:

EDIT: Link removed upon request- go out and buy it you filthy animals!
Rock Bottom Riser
1) Rock Bottom Riser
2) I Feel Like the Mother of the World
3) Bowery
4) Fool's Lament


The new Superchunk EP, to be released April 7th, the year of our lord 2009, is currently available for streaming pleasure from Merge Rekkids.

It's been quite a long while since Superchunk has released anything proper, though Mac "the Knife" McCaughan has been at it with that other Superchunk-sounding project Portastatic and drummer Jon Wurster is also in that Mountain Goats band and, as always, making his patented phony phone calls on The Best Show.

Whenever I listen to Superchunk, it gives me a false sense of nostalgia for high school, even though I had never heard of either band while I was actually in high school. It just sounds like stuff I listened to in high school. In fact, I used to think Superchunk, and not Supergrass, were responsible for that "Alright" song off the Clueless soundtrack. Those were confusing times.

10 March 2009

Neko Case Interview

Last week, two of Chicago's major newspaper music critics, Greg Kot (rock critic for the Chicago Tribune and author of the Wilco biography "Learning How To Die") and Jim Derogatis (music critic for the Chicago Sun Times and key witness in the R. Kelly trial) interviewed a girl way out of their league when they got the lovely Neko Case on their radio program Sound Opinions. Not only is Neko totally stunning, remarkably talented, and the proud owner of a singing voice that would put most American Idol contestants to shame, but she's also got a great sense of humor and modesty to spare, as evidenced in this interview. Quite a catch, that girl.

In addition to talking about her newest recordings, she performs three tracks from the album Middle Cyclone- the title track, "People Got A Lotta Nerve," and the Harry Nilsson tearjerker "Don't Forget Me" with that other female insurgent country Chicagoan and Aqua Teen siren Kelly Hogan and guitarist Paul Rigby.

Neko Case Interview

EDIT: Link fixed!

09 March 2009

Kings Go Forth

Kings Go Forth are a three-part-harmony soul group out of Milwaukee (actually, they're mostly IN Milwaukee, as I'm not sure they've really played much outside of Chicago's little brother). Nevertheless, they create soul music that could easily be placed on the shelf next to Curtis Mayfield and the Temptations. In the last month or so they've put out their first release, a 45 with the tracks "One Day" and "You're the One." Both of these are stone-cold funk. They're a little raw and rough around the edges, though this only helps to make them sound authentically old, unlike the sterile "retro" sounds of Wino and the like. Check it out:

Kings Go Forth - One Day

Kings Go Forth - You're the One

Joe Lally 7/3/09

A friend of mine alerted me to the fact that Joe Lally was playing at the Hopetoun this past Saturday night. I had heard his first solo album around the time of its release and wasn't all that impressed with it, but figured I'd tag along anyway. Hell, I was even pretty excited to go. First off, the dude was in one of the most influential bands ever. He's been touring for over 20 years, so it's probably safe to assume he knows his way around the stage. Thirdly, the show was only $12. Most local bands charge at least that much, and any international act coming out charges anywhere from $25-$100. Needless to say, I'm game.

I realized as I was sitting through the openers that I didn't really know what to expect. Is Joe Lally going to play bass by himself? Is there going to be any spoken word? Is he going to cover Fugazi songs? It ended up being a pretty straightforward (see: minimal) setup- drums, one guitar, one microphone, bass. To my knowledge he didn't play any Fugazi songs, or at least if he did I wasn't familiar with it/them. His set simply contained an even mix of songs from both his solo albums.

Like I said, I wasn't all that taken by his first solo album, 2006's "There to Here." But the music made a lot more sense in a live setting. There was no aggression, no punk raucousness. Without that "flair," all that was left were the DIY ethos, the alienation from society, discontentment with consumerism, imperialism, war, etc.

Lally's bass playing is pretty amazing. If you've ever listened to at least one Fugazi song, you know this. But what's more impressive is that he's actually capable of singing while playing. It's one thing to be able to sing while playing some guitar chords, but quite another to play poly-rhythmic riffs while singing an entirely separate melody line. Lally was backed by a couple of dudes in a band called Gallucci. Because Lally's bass was holding down the song, the guitarist was free to explore cacophonic noise, atonal shifts, and lulling squalls as he so desired. The drumming was purposeful if a little minimal, which I'm sure was exactly the point.

The encore was the only time they strayed from this arrangement. First Joe went into the audience to sing an a cappella anti-war song called "Sons and Daughters." It's a moving hymnal about the atrocities of war and the justification for killing people that are a little bit different from us for the sake of furthering our means. It's only more powerful without any music behind it. They also brought a saxaphonist on stage for a song called "Factory Warranty." When it could be heard it was good, but sound problems caused the sax to hardly be heard and the effort was underwhelmed.

Despite the minimal instrumentation, stoic vocals, and lack of stage antics and background vocals, my attention was still captured for well over an hour by an artist whose songs I hardly know. I can't even say that for bands that I really know and love! He's maybe not a guy I'd like to catch a ballgame with, but the show was a real testament to his music and way of life. All for $12.

Here's a performance of Joe doing "Scavenger's Garden" in Spain in late January 2009:

06 March 2009

Bonnie Prince Billy

Drag City is giving the world the new Bonnie Prince Billy video for "I Am Goodbye."

With the mandolin, fiddle, female backing vocals, and wah pedal, dude is starting to sound like 70's era Grateful Dead.

Ha ha, just fucking with you.


Nine years since their dissolution and Pavement continue to make headlines. Way to go guys. Just reunite already.

In 1999, just a month prior to Terror Twilight's release, the band performed on the BBC. Their set featured more than one, but less than six songs off Terror Twilight as well as a smattering of older songs. Packaged with three extra cuts from their set at the Glastonbury Festival that year, the album has been circulating as "Anybody Can Go." The sound on this bootleg is nothing if not stellar, which is certainly a relief from all the crappy video and audio clips from people's phones and cameras that get passed off as recordings these days.

Live Pavement is great because it straddles a line between "Awesome!" and "What the fuck?" Enjoy the demon voices and cooing on "Stereo."

Pavement - Anybody Can Go

1) The Hexx
2) You Are a Light
3) Here
4) Cream of Gold
5) Ann, Don't Cry
6) Stereo
7) Father to a Sister of Thought
8) Carrot Rope
9) Cut Your Hair
10) Trigger Cut
11) Shady Lane
12) Stereo
13) Range Life
14) Summer Babe


The Clearance Creamsoda Redial Trivia Team came in 5th last night. We'll get there one day.

05 March 2009

Creedence Clearwater Revival

They're a staple on the classic rock stations, an institution of "southern rock." They have a hatful of hits, ranging from blues covers to party songs to rueful traveling jams. Creedence Clearwater Revival are an especially impressive band when you consider that they made seven albums in just over five years, all of which are good.

The critic's pick is usually Cosmo's Factory, which contains six singles, a cover of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," and quite possibly their best song ever, "Ramble Tamble." Willy & The Poor Boys is another critical winner and fan favorite, and it's no wonder with their two biggest hits, "Fortunate Son" and "Down on the Corner."

But the only album that is generally disregarded is far and away my favorite in the CCR catalogue. 1972's Mardi Gras. This album only contains one song (the underrated "Someday Never Comes") featured on that ubiquitous "Chronicle Vol 1" album. As a youngster, Chronicle was my introduction to CCR, as it probably was for most anybody that's ever liked the band. But when I finally got around the listening to Mardi Gras, possibly the reason I liked it so much was because it didn't feature those Chronicle songs. These are the deep cuts.

What's more interesting is that this is the only CCR album that doesn't feature Fogerty Tom, and still the only one to feature songwriting contributions from the other members of the band. I don't know if John's tank was running dry or if the departure of Tom left him to reflect on his controlling ways, but I'm personally glad Doug Clifford and Stu Cook got their moment in the sun. And what's more, Clifford never sulled his nickname "Cosmo" with racist banter (see: Michael Richards). With all that variety, and without any singles (but one), nobody can differentiate between what's good and what's filler. It's brilliant!

Where Creedence were always teetering on the line between country and swamp rock boogie, they plummet into the country depths here. "Lookin' For A Reason" and "Tearin' Up the Country" are pure country- the former as an ambling stroll, the latter as a Johnny Cash homage. "What Are You Gonna Do" and "Hello Mary Lou" are two of the most straight-forward pop songs here, as punchy as they are simple.

The real shining moments, in my opinion, are single contributions from each member. Doug Clifford's "Need Someone to Hold' is the closest the album comes to balladry, and Clifford's the guy to do it, having a (relatively) smoother voice than the other two. "Someday Never Comes" is, as I said, underrated. If another song on this album contains a hint of balladry, it's this one, though it quickly shifts into driving rock, and just as quickly back to a slow-tempoed lament. Lyrically it's one of Fogerty's best, addressing the grandeur and egregiousness of youth. It's also the only song that clocks in at over 4 minutes. And then there's Stu Cook's "Sail Away." His voice, in contrast to Clifford's, is rougher than Fogerty's, and his delivery is totally overblown. It's an abrasive country pop number about shirking adult duties by taking to the sea. It's an appropriate song for his voice.

There is actually another single on this album that I've totally forgotten about until now. The Fogerty-penned "Sweet Hitchhiker" is the last track on the album, and basically sounds like every other barn-burning CCR song ever. I think it's maybe the most unexceptional song on the album, though it managed to get to #6 on the singles chart in its day. Forget about that song for the moment and enjoy the revamped stylings of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

The worst album I have ever heard from a major rock band" - Rolling Stone

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Mardi Gras

1) Lookin' For a Reason
2) Take It Like a Friend
3) Need Somebody to Hold
4) Tearin' Up the Country
5) Someday Never Comes
6) What Are You Gonna Do
7) Sail Away
8) Hello Mary Lou
9) Door to Door
10) Sweet Hitch-hiker

And here's a little something from the Japanese CCR cover band, Clearance Creamsoda Redial...what'd he say?

03 March 2009

Camera Obscura

Another new Camera Obscura song:

Camera Obscura - French Navy

2 for 2.


A few years back I took a class about the history of music. It was basically a class about chant, classical, and opera, none of which I'm all that into. But it was still one of the best classes I ever took in college, mostly because the teacher was really amusing. She's won dozens of awards for composition and holds a PhD in composition from the University of Chicago. She constantly traveled to attend and perform at music conventions around the world. I had kind of a big crush on her, even though she was in her mid-60's and married. She was Canadian, and after she had lived in the US for a certain period of time, she was eligible for citizenship, to which she said, "No way. I'm Canadian, honey." I like that sort of steadfastness.

On the last day of class, all the students in the class went to her apartment so we could play her instruments and she could give us an oboe demonstration. Also she fed us some finger foods and beer. Anyway, her apartment was this amazing musical playground. She had two pianos, a harpsichord, lots of wind instruments, a whole wall full of sheet music, and lots of little tchotchkes from Asia and Africa. One instrument that I totally fell in love with was something called a kalimba (also known as mbira or thumb piano). I played it for most of the night, coming up with little melodies and stuff. It's really easy to play and sounds something like a cross between tubular bells and a xylophone.

So anyway, my teacher told me that she got hers in Africa and I just assumed that Africa was the only place you could buy one. Wrong! I saw these really cheaply made ones in a store around Christmastime and it reignited that kalimba spark in me. Coincidentally, for Christmas one of my relatives got me an Amazon gift card. I bought some headphones and had a bit of money left over, so I started browsing around online. I ended up finding kalimbas on there and picked one up (along with Hungary's crowning achievement, a Rubik's cube).

So I got my kalimba today, and it's pretty spectacular. It was only $30 but it seems like it's put together really well. It's in tune, which is a plus, and the board is solid but fairly lightweight. It's extremely easy to play and it's a really good tool for coming up with melodies. Thumbs up, thumb piano!

02 March 2009

Dismemberment Plan

It's my first day back at school today, and to celebrate I considered posting Sting's "Brand New Day" or U2's "Beautiful Day." Oh wait, no I didn't.

Because it's been a few years since I finished my degree, I've forgotten about all the excruciatingly boring lectures, the late nights writing papers on coelacanths or copyright law. I'm still looking at it optimistically, like the world is my Silly Putty. That's right, I'm going to build your town one day.

So anyway, I've been on a bit of a nostalgic kick, thinking back to my first days on a college campus. I remember getting really into The Dismemberment Plan's "Emergency & I" right at the start of my first college semester, so what better way to start off my second-first-college semester, than with a track from that album?

Dismemberment Plan - Life of Possibilities

I was trying to figure out which other Emergency & I song I should post, but fuck it- this album rules. It's upbeat and manic and funny and bleak and depressing as hell all at once. Some of the best lyrics I've ever heard are on this album. One of the best bands I've ever seen was this band. "Spider in the Snow"? "Girl O'Clock"? You can't beat it! I'm starting to get way too excited about this album so I'll just end it here.

Dismemberment Plan - Emergency & I

1) Life of Possibilities
2) Memory Machine
3) What Do You Want Me To Say?
4) Spider In The Snow
5) The Jitters
6) I Love A Magician
7) You Are Invited
8) Gyroscope
9) The City
10) Girl O'Clock
11) 8 1/2 Minutes
12) Back And Forth