Thursday, December 20, 2007

The End of Year List

So I have been somewhat reluctant to post my end of year list (partly because these types of lists are somewhat cliche, but mostly its simple procrastination). But here is my top 7 (a very zenlike number) of 2007:

1) The National -- Boxer
I fell in love with "Fake Empire" and then slowly grew to the rest of the album. Like nothing else that was produced this year, The National take their own unique sound and deepen the textures on this record. Probably the only album this year that was solid throughout, this is definately a band that will make seriously powerful music for a long time.

2) The Editors -- An End Has A Start
I posted on the great Editors/Interpol debate when these records came out, and my prediction held true. While the Interpol record faded away quickly, this album just kept hanging around. By the fourth listen the Joy Division comparisons faded and all that was left was epic Brit rock.

(mp3) Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors (bonus: This was #34 on Contrast Podcast's end of the year top 50 and you can catch my intro of the song here)

3) Band of Horses -- Cease To Begin
The first three tracks on this record are better than any other album opening group (with the exception of The National). I admit that I dismissed these guys the first time around, but I rarely make the same mistake twice. While the back half of the record drags a bit, there is no denying that "Is There A Ghost" and "No One's Gonna Love You" are tremendous songs full of passion and emotion.

4) Rogue Wave -- Asleep At Heaven's Gate
With a greater depth to the music than previous efforts and an even greater Beatles influence, Rogue Wave brought forth a record of mature songwriting that I really warmed to after awile. "Like I Needed" and "Chicago x12" are slices of pop heaven.

5) Radiohead -- In Rainbows
I wanted to like this record more than I do. Sure Radiohead is still one of the premier rock bands around. Yes it's a solid record, but frankly I expect more from them. Are they being punished for past glories? Probably. But I hope that they still have a great record in them, because I think this one was just really good.

6) The Shins -- Wincing The Night Away
Originally, this was headed for the disappointment file because I was left a little underwhelmend. Then a few weeks ago I went back to it and re-discovered what I first suspected. This is a pretty darn fine album. In clearly an instance where hype almost killed a good band, The Shins made a wonderful mash up of Smiths, Beatles and California pop for a record that is both very British and very American in sound.

(mp3) Split Needles (do yourself a favor and track down the alternate version of this one!!)

7) Shout Out Louds -- Our Ill Wills
This is mostly on the strength on the single "Tonight I Have To Leave It", which is the clear frontrunner for single of the year (Hanging with The National's "Fake Empire" and Votxtrot's "Introduction"). Taking from The Cure and other 80's pop bands to update a great sound is always a good way to get in my graces.

1) Bloc Party -- Weekend In The City
I wore it out for two weeks and haven't been back since. I think they will still be great and it is possible that in 10 years we all look back on this record and re-evaluate it (much like u2's October) but right now I say it was my biggest let down of the year.

2) Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
I love Ryan Adams and yet he constantly frustrates me. He could be this generations Dylan, but he just doesn't seem to be able to get out of his own way. Not polished enough for commercial success, too polished for indie god status. He just floats and throws out material that has so much potential and yet fall short. I also am disappointed that he stooped to a duet with Sheryl Crow...I know he can do better.

3) Interpol - Our Love To Admire
I am just about done with these guys. After all the talk about the new sound, all I heard was the same thing. Outside of "Pace is the Trick" the record is lifeless and repetative. If the next record sounds like the last two, they may not recover.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why We Blog...

My wife has started her very own blog (you can visit by clicking here). This got me thinking about the whole blogging phenomenon itself. Why exactly do we blog? What is the purpose of putting our thoughts out there for just anyone to read? My wife's take is that it's sort of an inner monologue that we share with others. I would agree except I think of it as nore an inner argument with our own subconcious. I mean, after all, aren't we just putting a carefully crafted piece of ourselves out for display. It's not like most of us who blog with any regularity really give any in depth insight into our lives and our way of looking at the world. Most of us use it as a vessel to spring forth opinions on which band we think is shit or who is the hottest Spice Girl (count one vote for Gerri over here by the way!)
This is not meant to be critical but merely a short rant about just how seriously we should take this whole blogging universe. I mean, come on, just because I read Perez Hilton doesn't mean I believe everything he writes. And just because someone doesn't care for the head coach of the UCLA football team doesn't mean that blogger should be quoted in the LA Times as a source on anything to do with the coach's job. People are taking these blogs way to seriously. It's meant to be fun and meant to entertain others. So I will continue to write about music and TV because it's pithy and has little effect on the world. Hopefully, you will continue to read and keep writing your own pithy blogs so that we have something to enjoy!! But that's just my opinion.
I think this opening line sums up my feelings about my blog pretty well...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Dark Night and The Perfect Song

So I was out late tonight on a food run. The streets were dark and I was clad in my usual winter attire (Jeans, T-Shirt, Red 2005 Pasdena High School Sweatshirt that rarely gets washed so it feels great). This is one of those moments when you're driving and just need something to sing along to. There are plenty of ways to attack this situation. Do you go for something poppy and catchy to pass the time? Something aggressive to keep you awake? Actually, I settled on Ryan Adams' cover of the Oasis song "Wonderwall". Why? Because it's quiet, sad and arresting all at the same time. Adams takes what was already a beautiful song and transforms it into a song full of longing and melancholy. It just seemed to fit my mood and the situation. Which got me thinking about the nature of music as the external soundtrack to our day to day lives. We all have music that we work out to or work by. We have music that signifies great moments in our life. But it's the songs that we play when we are traveling through the more mundane parts of our day that really shapes our life. Sometimes the perfect song can make those moments seem a little more bearable...

Ryan Adams -- Wonderwall (From Love is Hell)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Slapsgiving!!

For anyone who is not familiar with the TV Show "How I Met Your Mother" the above reference will make no sense. If you aren't watching one of the funniest shows on TV (and let's face it, the number of good comedies is dwindling by the minute) then you need to start. The writing is brilliant, the acting is superb and the show does just a few little extras that make it special. Case in point was the recent Thanksgiving episode. The episode focused on a running gag involving two characters paying up on a slap bet from earlier in the season. It ends with this charming song about getting slapped in the face!

So sit back, enjoy some Turkey and slap someone you love!!!

Happy Slapsgiving (Thanksgiving) Everyone!!

Monday, November 19, 2007


check out my latest contribution to the Contrast Podcast. The Theme was random shuffle and my take was one the Replacement's classic "I'll Be You".

A Moment of Serendipity

It's weird how the planets align sometime. Just a few days ago I was thinking about the last time I had heard Nirvana. I was one of those college kids who bought into the whole Seattle thing wholesale and for awhile it was rare that you would find me listening to anything other than "Nevermind" or "In Utero". I was into all that Kurt Cobain had to say and found his music and lyrics to be oddly comforting at a time in my life when I was very awkward. College was not the wondrous experience for me that it is for most (honestly I enjoyed High School a lot more than college). What I did find solace in throughout college was music, and Nirvana in particular.

So I was flipping around TV the other day and I ran across a VH1 Classic re-airing of the Nirvana Unplugged along with a documentary on the making of Nevermind. This was after a short stop on MTV a few day earlier for a live version of "Drain You." Then today I was checking out my usual blogs when I Guess I'm Floating mentions a coin flip contest for copies of "Bleach" and "In Utero". It's just plain weird. Its as if the universe is giving me some sort of cosmic nudge back to something beloved and familiar that I had forgotten.

In fact, I have shied away from any Nirvana posts mostly due to the fact that anything written about the band is cliche. We all know the story and for many of us, there is a deep personal connection to the music. Obviously the myth of Kurt Cobain, like all those that die early in their career, has overtaken the actual material to the point where his legend is greater than anything he ever played. But in revisiting the band's work it is still clear that there was a lot more going on with these guys then just a simple rock band. (BTW, who would have guessed that Dave Grohl would go on to front his own great band. Back then he was just the drummer!) Cobain had a unique way, as is the case with a lot of great tragic poets, to expose his pain and anguish in a way that was relatable and understandable. His phrasing was often very simple and his sense of clarity was downright shocking in some cases. That pain was often embellished by the sheer force of the music and the rage that came with every guitar chord and drum beat. Nirvana didn't just play music, they reached into their very souls for the sheer release of emotion. It's what made them a great band. It's too bad we don't see that kind of passion in music anymore...

Just a couple of my favorites for you.

Nirvana -- Breed (Live) (from From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah)

Nirvana -- Smells Like Teen Spirit (Live) (from From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah)
I challenge anyone to not get goose bumps when this song starts. Even now it still is a great, classic rock song.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I'm on the Bandwagon

Some of my favorite blogs (17 seconds, The Vinyl Villain and Manic Pop Thrills) have begun a campaign to get the new single from Scottish singer Malcolm Middleton to the top of the UK Charts in time for Christmas. The song, "We're All Going to Die", is not nearly as morose as it sounds (save for the chorus of "we're all gonna die alone"!!). So I'm here to do my part (although I'm sure that my impact here in the USA will be negligible, but I'm here to support the cause fellas)

So if you're in the UK (or are looking for some truly warped Christmas cheer!) check out Malcolm's myspace and buy the song when it hits ITunes on December 17th...

I promise to return to posting regularly very soon (now that Homecoming is past me...)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Feeding the Indie Rock Beast

So rather than diving into my record collection to unearth something that is ten years old I chose tonight to surf around looking for some new music. (Actually it started with listening to the new JIMMY EAT WORLD record which got me thinking that they sounded alot like another band I liked called THE KILLINGTONS which led to the following search...)

THE SECRET 6 are a Long Beach, CA band that formed after The Killingtons fell apart. Although the sound is still very similar in that it relies heavily on some of the great emo tricks of the trade, there is a little more subtlty and depth to the new material. I particularyl enjoyed the poppy "1992" (you can acutally picture the audiance pogoing to this song live) and the acoustic "Lost" Their site says they have a record coming out this month so stay tuned for more from these guys.

After that I took a jaunt over to one of their friends, a four piece band call MODERN MEMORY. With a flair for the Radiohead-esque, these guys turned out to be pretty decent. Using synths to flesh out the darker guitar sound and then layering some breathy vocals over the top, the band would not feel out of place in the brit rock scene of about 8 years ago. They have a record out now that I might actually buy.

In an attempt to move away from the emo/shoegaze world I checked out a a 5 piece band called REPEATER who are also from Long Beach (clearly something is going on the LBC lately). More theatrical in their music than the other two, this band dips its pen in the David Bowie ink jar and mesh it with a brit rock feel (most likely an Americanized version of Suede). I could have really enjoyed this band except the singers voice isn't the best. But it is musically very enjoyable.

The last stop on my bried Myspace tour was a four piece band called ESKIMOHUNTER. You know how some band names just seem to fit, while others are widely misleading when it comes to the music. Well, these guys could not have picked a better name if they stumbled onto it by accident. You literally feel the chill of the music. Classic shoegazer rock in the vein of Spaceman 3 or My Bloody Valentine. Very enjoyable for when the December frost hits the ground.

As always if you have any suggestions of artists to check out please let me know.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Mode Goes It's Own Ways

There was a moment a long time ago when I stood in a record store for the first time trying to decide what tape I wanted to buy (back when cassette tapes were in vogue) On one shelf was the entire catalogue of THE CURE. Below it was the entire DEPECHE MODE collection. Now there are some decisions in life that define us as people. This was one of those times. I was still an impressionable youth and had yet to really form a true identity (after all I was a freshman in high school at the time). In the end I snapped up "People are People" and that, my friend, has made a world of difference. Now I have come to also count The Cure as one of my personal favorites but I don't think at the time I was ready to travel the mascara and goth path with the same reckless abandon (preferring the more subtle S and M look of Depeche was I naive then)

Anyway, the reason I recall this little tale is because through a confluence of events Depeche Mode are back in the news. Now the band hasn't made a really great record in awhile (although the last record "Playing The Angel" was at least a tolerable return to earlier form), but what's interesting is that most of the band is releasing solo material. So it seemed to be a good time take stock on all things Mode.

At the heart, Depeche Mode is the unique chemistry between Martin Gore and Dave Gahan. Gore has been the principle songwriter since Vince Clarke left all those years ago. Gore has always had the keen ability to tap into the pain and misery of flawed romance and marry it to music that is both catchy and danceable. What I find odd is that when he strikes out solo he only covers other people's songs. Is this an artistic attempt to separate himself from the brand he helped invent? Or merely a creative lark because he doesn't want to throw away good material on a record that won't sell very well? Either way, the music on his two solo albums, "Counterfeit" and "Counterfeit2" is certainly in line with the majestic ballads he tends to sing on DM records. The first ep was released ages ago with the proper solo album out in 2003 so the music is somewhat dated by now. It's a shame he doesn't stretch more (other than really giving in to his obvious love of gospel). Not surprisingly, my favorite song of his solo work is the most reminiscent of classic Depeche Mode, the poppiest song on his first ep called "Compulsion".

In a kind of musical irony its Dave Gahan that has used the solo platform to try to establish himself as an artist. For the entirety of the band Gahan has been the vessel for the words of others so his solo records have been an attempt for him to tell his story (and anyone familiar with his tale knows that there is certainly enough source material for several albums). Musically he does not stray much from the Depeche sound of later years (he even is credited with three songs on "Playing the Angel"). Lyrically his material is full of pain and misery and he a surprisingly adept wordsmith. The first album, 2003's "Paper Monsters" used to blues influence that had been creeping into the band's work to it's fullest effect. I here that the new record (to be released on October 23rd, my birthday) is a continuation of this sound to the point where it's hard to separate it from a proper Depeche Mode record.

And perhaps this is the problem. When bands start putting out solo work it should take risks. Why otherwise would people be interested. If the members of a band are going to rehash their sound under their own moniker then there is really little point (other than the monetary benefits of not having to share royalties.) Wouldn't the time be better spent going back into the studio as a group and rekindling the magic that made them great in the first place?

p.s. for a real treat you can jump on over to Pop Will Eat My Blog and get the album by former DM member Alan Wilder's other band RECOIL. A true artistic risk, Wilder enlisted Toni Halliday and others to make a whole new sound (for it's time) This is how you make a solo album. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


So everyone knows by know that Radiohead decided to surprise the world and announce their new record could be downloaded from their site for whatever you felt was an appropriate amount. (For the record my price was 5 pounds or roughly 10 bucks). Obviously these guys are not only musicians but social scientists interested in seeing just what we as music fans feel is fair market value for their extraordinary work. Under the old system the seller (or label) determined price and we were forced to shell out the outrageous costs for a CD that cost about 2 bucks to actually make.

Now Radiohead has changed the dynamic, basically daring their fans to say that we are entitled to their music for little or no cost. Basically its the entertainment version of a guilt trip. Under normal circumstances, I would have probably tried to cobble together the record from various Internet sources for free, but by allowing me to determining the value of the music, they got money out of me that they would not normally have. Is this the future of purchasing music? Probably not. ITunes wouldn't allow this sort of behavior to exist if it ends up threatening their digital empire. The record labels, already teetering on the brink of being irrelevant, will continue to strike at the nature of downloadable music because it threatens their bottom line. What makes this situation unique is that it is a group with a proven track record for sales and a fan base that is willing to leap into the unknown with their band. Had this been any other band (an in fact I know that HARVEY DANGER actually gave away their last record for free on their site) tried this they would have been looked at as fools for messing with their profit potential. But because we trust and respect Mr. Yorke and Company, they may have made more money this way then they would have using traditional means. You have to at least tip your hat to them for trying something new.

As for the music on "In Rainbows"? It is of course brilliant. Very similar in style to "Hail To The Thief" it has a lot of the same sparse rock nature with the electronic flourishes to give it that slightly otherworldly feel they have been crafting for awhile now. It appears that Thom Yorke's solo record has not had any real impact on the band's sound. I will probably give a better analysis later in the week when I have fully digested it.

For now...enjoy a couple of tracks (and for goodness sake, spend some money on it, let's not be total anarchists shall we?)

(mp3) Radiohead -- All I Need (great bass line on this one)
(mp3) Radiohead -- Bodysnatchers (probably the hardest rocking thing on the album)

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Stomach Punch

One of my all time favorite sports Columnists, Bill Simmons, recently wrote a column detailing the different levels of losing when it comes to sports. I find this eerily appropriate given what has just transpired in the Angels-Red Sox playoff series where the Angels lost on a walk off three run home run. Simmons sums it up like this:

The Stomach Punch

"Definition: Now we've moved into rarefied territory, any roller-coaster game that ends with (A) an opponent making a pivotal (sometimes improbable) play or (B) one of your guys failing in the clutch. ... Usually ends with fans filing out after the game in stunned disbelief, if they can even move at all. ... Always haunting, sometimes scarring. ..."

This is what I feel like right now. The Angels hung in the game the whole time. I paced around my house until I wore a hole in the carpet. My nerves were frayed after every pitch. Then, BANG, Manny Ramirez hits a three run homer and then time stops. I could actually feel my heart sink with the realization that my team had lost. Believe me this is not a fun feeling. I'm despondant and depressed. I will of course watch on Sunday with the faint hope that the guys can turn it around. But I don't think you ever really get over one of these types of games...

(mp3) Beck -- Lost Cause (from MFR)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Quick Beat

So I was driving home from the store tonight and heard this on a cool little college radio station (KSPC in Claremont) and was instantly taken aback. DIGITALISM is a duo from Germany who apparently grew up on a steady diet of Depeche Mode, New Order and Kraftwerk and mixed it all together with a taste of Daft Punk and The Fall to make an intoxicating blend of dance music. They could best be compared to The Klaxons or LCD Soundsystem. (I know, I know could I name drop a few more bands...)

I haven't heard much of the rest of their album but this is a great song!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Agony and the Ectasy

Today has to be have been one of the most emotional days I've had in a long time. The day can really be split into two pieces, one containing a bittersweet but joyful moment; the other a gut wrenching and torturous display.

First the good stuff. Today was the first day of pre-school for my two boys (I know it's sappy but bear with me). Now my guys are only 1 1/2 years old but are in need of some socializing time to help develop their speech so we got them into this school where they could be around other kids and learn better speech patterns. So why is this a good thing you ask? Well, it's something of a rite of passage seeing your kids take their first tentative steps into the world of education. Now I wasn't there to pick them up but the report from my wife was that their was paint involved, leaves were collected and decorated, and toys were shared at an appropriate level. All in all, a good day.

(mp3) Jack Johnson -- We Are Going To Be Friends (great little kids at school song originally by the White Stripes but my guys like this version better)

Now the agony. Anyone who reads this on a semi-regular basis knows of my love for the Los Angeles Angels. Well today was the first playoff game between the Halos and the Boston Red Sox. So I raced home from work (leaving a ton of things to do and a mass of disappointed co-workers in my wake) to get in front of my big screen TV to watch this game. What followed was 3 hours of sheer torture. There is very little I can do to describe what it feels like to have your favorite team in your favorite sport lay an egg on national TV. I mean they were hapless...just a bunch of guys hacking at pitches and overwhelmed by a clearly superior team. This is why baseball is the cruelest of sports. It takes 9 months for your team to get to the playoffs and within in week it could very well be OVER!!! And yet, being the glutton for punishment I am I will watch again on Friday (and Sunday), in the futile hope that my team will somehow come through. I know it's pathological but that's the price you pay for being a fan...

(mp3) Bloc Party -- The Prayer (Hadouken! Remix) as in the Angels don't have a...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Best Laid Plans...

So a few days ago it was gloomy and rainy here in Pasadena. So I dove into the collection to look for something musically appropriate for the weather. I pulled out a couple of CD's from the New York group BAND OF SUSANS. These guys were a minor obsession of mine years ago because they were making records that sounded a lot like MY BLOODY VALENTINE (and let's face it, MBV wasn't coming out with anything new at the time...or now for that matter). But then I got sidetracked and didn't post them that day. So of course what happens...the DAMN SUN COMES OUT!!! All of a sudden it's 90 degrees and people are back to the beach. So posting these songs seemed like it would kill the weather renaissance and I don't want to be accused of stealing the sunshine from SOCAL.

But I digress. This band is noteworthy in my life for three reasons. 1) It used to feature Page Hamilton (later to found the ridiculously good band HELMET) on guitars. 2) The lyrics had that vaguely political/ slightly depressed vibe that made me seem a little cooler than everyone else who was busy listening to Stone Temple Pilots. 3) This was the first band I actually interviewed. I was so nervous about this phone interview that I read the press kit the label sent me four times. I prepped something like 40 questions to ask. The lead singer, a very nice guy by the name of Robert Poss, must have thought I was an absolute freak. Later, after several other band interviews where I realized that you should really only ask like two questions, have them do a couple of radio ID's for your station then get the hell out of the way, I reeled in horror at what I complete dork I must have been to that guy. But I still dig their music on rainy days.
(probably my favorite song of theirs. Just an absolute wall of noise that hearkens back to Spaceman 3 and MBV)
(more subdued and a little more mellow but still has a nice guitar bite to it)
(it was a toss up between this one and their version of Paint it Black, but this was live so it gets the nod)

Sunday, September 23, 2007


There are few moments that a sports fan can truly rejoice. When you team wins something big, it almost validates the hours you put in watching the games, swearing at the radio in disgust, or pouring over the newspaper for useless tidbits of minutiae (injuries, locker room altercations, minor league batting averages, etc.) So when the Los Angeles Angels won today to clinch their 3rd American League West in the past four year I celebrated. I yelled and pumped my fist in joy. Now I realize that I had nothing to do with the team winning. I did not strike anyone out or hit a game tying home run along the way, but I did root, cheer and support the team as hard as I could. My wife and I have literally sacrificed a good portion of our summer to watching the games. It's just part of the routine of the sports fanatic. So as the playoffs loom I once again break out my vintage Angels jersey and outfit my boys in the latest Angel fashion for the long playoff drive to a World Series Title.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Driver Eight -- The band not the song

Tooth and Nail Records was this fun little record label out of Seattle that specialized in pop and punk records in the mid 1990's. Not the hardcore punk stuff coming out of NY and LA but the softer edge stuff (MxPx and the like). Then they shifted gears to more of a traditional indie rock fare and sent me this little gem of a record called "Watermelon" by the band DRIVER EIGHT. Now any band that uses one of my all time favorite R.E.M. songs as it's name automatically got at least a cursory listen but the more I listened to the record the more I fell in love with it.

The band is nothing really special; just a typical three piece rock group. Their songs had all the markings of REM and other Alt Rock heroes. The best analogy I could come up with at the time was BUFFALO TOM. I just kept thinking to myself, wow I really dig this record and can't really say why. I must have played it a hundred times and was still entranced by the simple yet direct musicianship and the conviction of the music. Whether it was the fuzzed up guitars of "Getting This Thing To Go" or the sunny poppiness of "Waiting for Godot", the record was just contagious.

I hadn't listened to it for a long time but as I was pulling things out of the collection I dropped it into the pile and now I am re-listening to it again. It still has that same feel. Good records rarely get worse with age.

p.s. The lead singer, Matt McCartie, seems to have continued to record music under the name THEFT. Check out some of his new work here.

(mp3) Driver Eight -- Sunbitten (love the way this one keeps building and building to it practically explodes from the speakers)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Songs for Doing Dishes Part Two

So I'm kind of devoid of any real thoughts or ideas tonight so a few random selections from my Ipod that were playing tonight as I cleaned the kitchen:

This was taken from the second UNKLE CD (after DJ Shadow left the group) and features the vocals of former Stone Roses lead singer Brown. I like this song mostly for it's way over the top melodramatic string usage behind a driving techno beat. I remember it took me forever to track this album down because it wasn't available in the US for like a year after it's release...but it was worth the wait. I can't say the same for the groups latest which is not nearly as good as their first two albums.

Got this the other day from the excellent blog 17 SECONDS mainly because it has the great Robert Smith from the Cure doing the vocals to what might as well be a lost Orbital song (since Hartnoll is one half of that duo). A great song that I will probably listen to another dozen or so times in the next 48 hours.

Hype is a funny thing. Suede was about as hyped a band coming out of England as I could remember. They were supposed to be the new Smiths. They were supposed to be as big as the Stones. They weren't either. About two years ago the lead singer and the guitarist got back together and formed a new band (why they didn't use the old name I have no idea) called the Tears. Alas they are still over hyped and not very good. I downloaded this record and can honestly say I have only listened to the whole thing twice. But this song is alright.

Tomorrow I should be back on the creative beam...goodnight all!!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Zencast #7 (Acoustically Speaking)

This episode of the Your Moment of Zen zencast is dedicated to the acoustic guitar in all its glory. A long time ago I bought an acoustic guitar, back when I still entertained notions of rock stardom (or at least coffee house anonymity) and tried to learn to play. But unlike Bryan Adams, I did not play till my fingers bled, and therefore did not master the instrument. Today it sits quietly in the hallway, mocking me and what might have been. So in honor of my unplayed acoustic guitar I bring your Episode lucky #7...


1. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova -- Falling Slowly
2. Joseph Arthur -- Honey and the Moon
3. Billy Bragg -- Northern Industrial Town
4. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -- Complicated Situation
5. Bright Eyes -- From A Balance Beam
6. Cat Stevens -- Moonshadow
7. Coldplay -- Till Kingdom Come
8. Goo Goo Dolls -- Acoustic #3
9. Josh Ritter -- Snow is Gone (Live)
10. The Hereafter -- Eulogy

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I'm In Heaven

It's my 100th post!!! (Okay so it took me a little longer to get here than some others but still I think it's quite an achievement)

To celebrate we have the new ROGUE WAVE record "Asleep At Heaven's Gate". Continuing where the brilliant "Descended Like Vultures" left off, Rogue Wave have continued to refine their Beatles influenced lofi pop sound into a smooth and catchy blend. Zach Rogue has continued to use his slightly hushed falsetto to good use given that this time out the tone of the record seems a bit darker and more reflective in nature. At first listen it appears that any real change to the sound seems to be very subtle which should please long time fans (myself included). As I listen more I can see the depth and breadth that has been added. The songs, particularly the single "Lake Michigan" and the upbeat "Like I Needed" have a nice sing song quality to them that should translate well live. Elsewhere, Matthew Caws of Nada Surf (another fave around here ), pops up to sing vocals on "Chicago x12". The back half of the record finds the band slipping into a more somber tone to finish with the simply gorgeous "Missed" and the more epic "Phonytown" (although I would have probably switched them to close the album with a slower pace...but it's a small quibble on my part.)

No doubt this will be one of the biggest and best records for me this year. I can't wait to dive into it in greater detail.

(mp3) Rogue Wave -- Chicago x12 (Care of an excellent Blog "The World Forgot")

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Random Soundgarden Post

I was big into the Seattle Grunge movement of the 1990's. I loved the energy and raw emotion of the music and the apparent genuine nature of the artists. It seemed that the bands that came out at that time were pure and undoctored. They didn't care about their image, which unfortunately became just as big a deal as their sound. Despite the images of long hair, flannel shirts and disheveled hair, the music was about the freshest collection of sounds to come around since the punk movement of the 70's. Each band had a part to play. Nirvana lead the pack with their punk ethos and rock star charisma. Pearl Jam played the role (somewhat reluctantly) of stadium stars. Alice In Chains cornered the market on the spiral of drugs and self destruction. Then there was Soundgarden.

If Nirvana was the Beatles and Pearl Jam the Stones, then Soundgarden was Led Zeppelin. More metal than any other Seattle band, Soundgarden hit you over the head with thick distorted guitars and pounding rhythms and bass lines. There was nothing subtle about this quartet. Chris Cornell even sounded a bit like Robert Plant (with more testosterone). With their two major releases, "Badmotorfinger" and "Superunknown", the band staked their claim to the label of the thinking man's metal band. Where the songs on "Badmotorfinger" were more akin to the early material, with their constant barrage of guitars and screaming vocals, "Superunknown" was more melodic and more song oriented. Both records showcase a band immersed in their own work, not caring about what others where doing or if their music would be accepted by the public. As with all the Seattle bands, Soundgarden seemed almost surprised by their success and after one more album they broke up. Cornell did some solo work and worked with members of the Rage Against the Machine (under the name Audioslave) but has never really sounded as good as he did with his original band. I think it's probably best that they did break up when they did, their place in music history was already secured and they could have only damaged their sterling record.

(mp3) Soundgarden -- Outshined (from Badmotorfinger)
(mp3) Soundgarden -- Rusty Cage (from Badmotorfinger)
(mp3) Soundgarden -- Spoonman (from Superunknown)
(mp3) Soundgarden -- My Wave (from Superunknown)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

So That's Who That Was

A few days back I posted a song I heard on a children's show Yo Gabba Gabba but an artist I could not identify. Through some cunning research (read:reading the credits at the end of the show) I discovered that the song was written by Mark Kozelek but I couldn't figure out where I had heard that name before. Then it finally hit me, he's the principle member of THE RED HOUSE PAINTERS. Another one of my 4AD bands from college, the Painters worked in the melancholy shades of acoustic guitars, minor chords and hushed vocals. Kozelek has recorded solo albums and with other musicians under the name SUN KIL MOON, but in all his incarnations he has stayed somewhat true to this folksy style of music. Often the songs extend into rhythmic dirges that can be a bit much to bear, but when he keep things relatively short and tight the impact of his voice and music is really quite powerful. Artists like M. Ward and Low certainly owe a lot of their sound to this guy.

Certainly music for a hazy, kinda dark day.

(mp3) Red House Painters -- Lord Kill The Pain (from Down Colorful Hill)
(mp3) Red House Painters -- Michael (from Down Colorful Hill)
(mp3) Red House Painters -- I Am A Rock (from Red House Painters)...yes it's the Simon and Garfunkel song but with a very different spin.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Zencast #6 (Music From The Left Of Center)

Note: this is a pic of my brother the last time he went to Iraq

I have tried to stay away from politics on this blog. I like to find lighter things to speak of but with my brother about to be deployed to Iraq sometime in the next few months I seem to be thinking about heavier things lately. So I compiled this podcast with songs that have a message about either war or revolution. I have no real political statement to make but I do feel that we have to take a hard look at what we are doing in the Middle East and why we are there. So here are songs that make a statement and ask questions about America's place in the world.

Zencast #6 (Music From The Left Of Center)


1. Husker Du -- Makes No Sense At All
2. Billy Bragg -- Price Of Oil
3. Pearl Jam -- Army Reserve
4. Micheal Franti and Spearhead -- Yell Fire!
5. REM -- Orange Crush
6. Rage Against The Machine -- Killing In The Name Of (Live)
7. Son Volt -- Jet Pilot
8. Warren Zevon -- The Envoy
9. Joe Strummer -- Redemption Song

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Band Crush -- The Miss Alans

First a short definition. A "Band Crush" is a quickly developed love for a band based on a single album (or in some cases a single song) followed by championing the band to anyone and everyone who will listen. It means carrying a copy of the CD (or back in the day a tape) at all times so you could spring it on someone who was looking for something new. Band crushes usually apply to little known bands that only you and about 6 other people have heard and often result in ridicule by people who "just don't get it."

The problem with band crushes is that they blind us to the faults of the artist. I give you THE MISS ALANS as a case study. This band was four piece from Fresno, CA who released their second record, "Blusher", to very little fanfare. But I remember hearing it and instantly falling in love. Did the lead singer sound a little off key in some places, sure. Did the music scream "We Love The Velvet Underground" a little too much...absolutely. Did I give one lick about any of that. Hell No!!! I was determined to make these guys stars all by myself. I played every single song on the record on my college radio show. I managed to convince the school to book them to play our campus (a disaster where only 30 people showed up). I copied and copied the record and actually canvased the dorms at one point handing out tapes one Wednesday evening. But I didn't care, I believed in these guys.

Sad to say, the band is no more. They recorded one more record, broke up and formed another band. But I still love this album. I can't really say why, I just do. As I listen to it today I see that it is deeply flawed and some of the songs are really not very good. But a few still get me excited. "El Dorado" is a great rock song that combines Luna and Jesus and Mary Chain but with a dose of sleeping pills to ease the guitar feedback. "Supercharged" was their attempt at the big stadium anthem, with the slow build of lyrics and guitars to a crescendo at the end (and who isn't a sucker for a good crescendo). The rest of the record lacks the beauty of these songs and shows a band that just didn't have the real stuff. But what a wonderful crush it was.

Feel free to share any band crushes you have had or are having...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I've made the Big Time

Just a few random thoughts for the day. No real theme, just stuff.

I secured a spot on the latest edition of the CONTRAST PODCAST. I want to thank Tim for putting me and my pithy commentary on the Soul Coughing song "Circles" on his collection. If you've never checked these podacsts out, they are a real treat.

Itunes is currently offering the new single by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN for FREEEEE!!! (so they won't mind me posting it here)"Radio Nowhere" is an upbeat rock song with the E Street Band. If you're into vintage Boss then you should enjoy this one. I haven't heard much else from the record but this is a step in the right direction.

My kids have developed a minor obsession with the new kids show YO GABBA GABBA. Created by members of the band THE AQUABATS, the show is a variety kids show with weird puppets and music from all the it indie bands. But the reason I allow such mindnumbing entertainment in my house is because hidden in the show is some suprisingly good music. Here is a sample. I have no idea who the singer is or the name of the song, so if anyone has any idea please let me know. (link below)

Finally, and with much excitement, ROGUE WAVE is back with a new single off their latest record (coming out in September). "Lake Michigan" is pitch perfect Rogue Wave, containing everything you love about indie pop music (acoustic guitars, drums that sound like clapping hands and quirky lyrics) I've probably listened to this at least 4 times in the last 20 minutes. By all means get this!!

Back tomorrow with a proper post. Enjoy!!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Saturday Spent on the Couch

So I managed to spend a large portion of the today glued to my couch, or occasionally my chair, watching movies and bad TV. The joy of this is that I didn't have to think very much and actually saw a few things that I enjoyed that I probably shouldn't have.

The day started with the Kevin Costner/Ashton Kutcher film THE GUARDIAN. The film was about swimmers in the US Coast Guard and despite some horrendous acting by the leads, I was entertained. I guess I'm a sucker for formulaic action movies with plots so obvious a six year old could predict what might happen.

Next up was PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST. This was the 2nd of the trilogy and suffered from a terrible plot and more hammy acting than necessary. I've actually seen this one a couple of times before so it was no suprise that I drifted in and out of this on a couple of occasions. But it does have Keira Knightley, and she is hot!!

After that it was MADAGASCAR. This was on for my kids, who loved it. But I also found mysled actually paying attention and enjoying the film. I'm amazed that it seems more and more "kid" movies are really sly adult themed films hidden behind pretty colors. Just because an animated lemur sings "I Like To Move It" doesn't make the song any less lewd. But hey, who can resist dancing lemurs.

Late night brought a channel flip war with APOLLO 13 and REMEMBER THE TITANS. I have seen both of these films several times and really enjoy both. Both tug at the heart strings and both end with positive messages of overcoming the odds. I guess it helps to have actual actors emoting (take notes Mr. Costner) to make a formula film rise above the material.

Overnight I'm recording THE DEPARTED, which I have been looking forward to for awhile. Hopefully it won't disappoint.

Some mp3's to go along with the day...

West Indian Girl --Hollywood

The Postal Service -- Nothing Better

Pearl Jam -- Life Wasted

Eric More Morillo -- I Like To Move It (From Madagascar...what does it say that my kids love this version of this song?)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

On the Road...The LBC with the New Fads

So I'm in beautiful Long Beach attending a work convention. This means spending a night away from the family (which I hate) and sleeping in a lumpy bed with a bad shower to look forward to in the morning. I REALLY HATE TRAVELLING!!!

Anyway, all I have with me to post on the blog is a record by the NEW FAST AUTOMATIC DAFFODILS. These guys are an easy entry into the dumbass band name hall of fame but their music was actually pretty interesting. This record, 1993's "Body Exit Mind" is an unusual mix of Brit rock and vocals that are reminiscent of Mark E Smith from The Fall. "Stockholm" is probabaly my favorite track on this album with it's simple guitar intro that builds to a crescnedo as the vocals by Andy Spearpoint drift in and out of singing and wordplay. He uses sing speak style that gives the songs a poetry jam feel. "I'll Take You To Sleep" is a more manic song with huge drumbeats and battling guitars. The band also scores points for using bongos...yes kids, bongos!!
Anyway, so a fun little record. Not the greatest but a few choice cuts that made their way onto my IPOD.

(m4a) New Fast Automatic Daffodils -- It's Not What You Know (Kind of approriate for all the networking and bootlicking I've done today...)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Hidden Gem From The CD Collection

I love ep's. I think they are about the most brilliant invention in music history. The simple nature and limited songs allow an artist or band to express themselves quickly and with the same emotional impact of a full length record. Case in point is the 1995 AIR MIAMI ep "Fuck You, Tiger" (priceless for the title alone). Air Miami was formed when a beloved 4AD favorite of mine, UNREST, fell apart. Two of the members went on to record as Air Miami, released one ep and one album and then broke up. Air Miami's sound is very indie pop with a hint of electronic knob twirling (a little POSTAL SERVICE but more rock). At four songs, the ep gives a good balance of upbeat rockers ("I Hate Milk"), slower mood pieces ("Warm Miami May") and Radiohead style spacey ballads, even if they did predate that era of Radiohead by a year or two. I still pop this in for about 10 minutes of fun. It reaffirms my belief that shorter can sometimes be better.

(mp3) Air Miami -- I Hate Mile (re-mix)
(mp3) Air Miami -- Warm Miami May
(mp3) Air Miami -- Afternoon Train (re-mix #3)
(mp3) Air Miami -- See Through Plastic

(mp3) Air Miami -- Airplane Rider (from the official band site)

NEW RADIOHEAD !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've seen this track a couple of places and it seems legit. There are older live versions of this song running around but this seems to be the newest studio version from an album due out in 2008. Can't wait...

(mp3) Radiohead -- Arpeggi

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bring That Beat Back (Drum n' Bass Edition)

I had a very brief fling with drum n' bass just after college. It has already been well established that dancing and I are at odd with each ohter, and adding to the mix is that drum n' bass music tends to be very hard to dance to to begin with. Nevertheless, I did find the music very appealing mostly because it was a way to indulge in my jones for Hip-hop without being the poser white guy who bought NWA and Public Enemy. What I did appreciate about artists like GOLDIE, LTJ BUKEM and RONI SIZE was their seemless combination of hip-hop, jazz, techno, and rave cultures into a aural pallette that was danceable, listenable and memorable all at once. The closest American version of drum n' bass I could get was MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO. Jack Dangers and his various producing partners took some of the drum n' bass textures into their later works, but I think as a musical style it was more fitting for British artists.

Although over time the music began to be very repetative in nature and later artists were not as original as the groups I was listening to at the time, the genre still has some appeal for late at night work sessions when I need something upbeat but not hard to ignore. Not the most ringing endorsement but a good description of it's current place in my life.

(mp3) Goldie -- Inner City Life

Kind of the gold standard (no pun intended) of the drum n' bass tracks and the only one to be any sort of hit in the US.

(mp3) Meat Beat Manifesto -- Edge of No Control Part Two

Not a true drum n' bass track but more of a mix of tecno and industrial with the same hip-hop influence as the others.

This is the vocals verison that was the single which I think is far superior to the verison on their record which was just an isntrumental. Great jazz influenced bass line.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

What the F**K Was I Thinking

So my wife has gotten into gardening of late and wanted a flower bed created in the back yard. Not a problem says I and I promptly go out with shovel in hand to dig up a suitably sized plot of land for her flowers. After about a half hour of digging up grass, weeds, rocks and other stuff I realize that I'm starting to really perspire. No worries, I take off my hat and glasses and continue digging my merry way to China. Another half hour goes by and my shirt is soaked so I take it off in a fit of testosterone filled manliness. Now I am the first to admit my physique is not easily confused with Brad Pitt but it's my backyard so no one will be subjected to the sheer horror that is a shirtless me. Anyway, now that that image is forever burned into your mind's eye, it take me another hour or so to finish off the flower bed. I gather my things and head inside.
After lunch I lay down for a short nap only to be interrupted halfway through by a searing pain all over my body. When I reach the mirror I discover I now resemble the color of a ripe strawberry (which is fine for fruit but not terribly desirable in human flesh). Needless to say I know am the proud owner of a significant SUNBURN. So what is the lesson for the day... being a macho, macho man is better saved for Matthew McConaughey or the Village People.

Here are some songs to remind us of today's theme
(mp3) Death Cab For Cutie -- Summer Skin (and I had almost gone the whole summer without a sunburn and now I'm crispy...DAMN)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I'm trying to be relevant...I really am!!

I always find aging artists careers very fascinating. Now I'm not talking about people who had hit or two and then made a radical alteration to the new fad to stay in the spotlight, these artists are a dime a dozen (come on we all remember the thug version of MC Hammer, which was just SAD). I'm talking about a true visionary artist who is trying to find a way to fit in to the current musical culture. These albums can often be brilliant (like Bob Dylan's TIME OUT OF MIND) but more often they are train wrecks. Case in point is late era DAVID BOWIE. After spending a good portion of the 80's floundering around looking for commercial viability Bowie hooked up with Trent Reznor and explored his darker side. He also explored the dance and drum n' bass world to try to adapt to his unique style. The resulting album EARTHLING was a intriguing mess. It almost sounds like a Bowie impersonator, and probably would have been more successful if it had been. "Little Wonder" is a generic drum n' bass track not worthy of mention other than it drones on for no real reason for about 6:00. "I'm Afraid Of Americans" is a little more traditional Bowie (and the one truly decent song on the record).

So why waste all this space on a less than stellar record. Because I applaud Bowie (and for that matter other aging artists who continue to tinker) for not settling into a relentless cycle of greatest hits packages (which sadly he has done more of lately) and trying to find new ways to expose people to their music. The nice by-product to this sort of experimentation is that it usually opens new listeners up to the entire artists' catalogue. This can in the end be a good thing. So keep up the mediocre work Mr. Bowie, more people need to hear your best work.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Back to the Salt Mines

Tomorrow marks my return to work after my week and half long vacation. After spending the summer moonlighting as an English Teacher, I'm back into the world of Administration at a comprehensive urban high school. So in what may be the most cliched post I have ever done, here are some work themed songs to enjoy.

Even though I really enjoy staying at home and playing with my wife and kids, I do miss the rush of adrenaline that comes with the beginning of a new school year. I also enjoy the possibilities that come with a new start and new challenges. I remember as a kid beng so excited to get back to school and seeing my new classroom, meeting my new teacher and all the cool things that came with school (give me a break I was like 6!!). I know it's the cool thing to not like school but I still really enjoy the learning environment, no matter how warped it's become.

It's also my work so there are the usual office politics and realtionships to navigate which make the job harder. So hopefully you enjoy your work and are good at it, becuase after all if it ain't fun then why do it at all...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Zencast #5 (Songs For People I've Lost Touch With)

Music can transport you to some truly amazing places. It can also remind us of fond memories that we have long since forgotten, repressed or otherwise chose to ignore. Such is the theme of the latest podcast. I was taking a short trip down memory lane to when I was DJ at a college station in San Bernardino, CA. We had virtually no signal, about 3 listeners on average and no real format or direction but man we did some truly amazing stuff. There was a core of people who I worked with for those years at both the radio and TV sides of things that I truly enjoyed hanging with. These times came rushing back at me recently and I thought of some music that was reminiscent of those years. So I hope you enjoy this episode...

Zencast #5 (Songs For People I've Lost Touch With)


1. Boy Eats Drum Machine -- From An Oregon Coast
2. The Perishers -- My Heart
3. The Dead Kennedys -- Holiday In Cambodia (added bonus, my wife love this song, which is one reason she is one of the truly cool people in the world.)
4. Fugazi -- Cassavetes
5. The Stone Roses -- Elefant Stone
6. James -- P.S.
7. The Devlins -- Everything Comes Around
8. Dead Can Dance -- American Dreaming
9. Matt Nathanson -- You're Smiling
10. Toad The Wet Sprocket -- Fly From Heaven

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Time To Go Home

So I'm headed home from vacation. I apologize for the sparse and unusually crappy posts over the last couple of weeks. Life on the road can be tough and the usual schedule gets thrown out of wack (compounded by the lack of internet access for all but about an hour for the past week).

Don't get me wrong, I love going on vacation. The mere fact that I don't get cell reception at my in-laws ranch is reason alone to go. However, after a while I get the ache to return to my familiar surroundings (I am and always will be a city kid so the country life might not be for me). So me and the family hit the road today for the grueling Medford, Oregon to Pasadena, CA (with an overnight stop in Sacramento) trip down the I-5. This might be the most boring stretch of road on the face of the Earth. I mean there is nothing but miles and miles of barren, hot wasteland with nothing to see or experience of any interest. All you can do is suck it up and drive. Now in years past my wife and I would switch off musical selections but with the arrival of our sons I get the listen to wonderful things like the movie CARS over and over (a man can only take so much Sheryl Crow in his life!!) and various episodes of the kids show THE BACKYARDIGANS (which does have the benefit of some decent music).

So as I prepare for the final leg of my voyage home I give you a couple of songs that remind me of home and how happy I will be to finally be there.

(mp3) Midlake -- Head Home (one of my personal favorites)
(mp3) Alexi Murdoch -- Home (this one is a current fave of the wife)

BONUS CUT -- Rascal Flatts -- Life Is A Highway (from the CARS Soundtrack)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

On The Road...Oregon Music Scene

So I've been in Oregon for about a week now and finally got a decent enough internet connection to post a quick entry about some of the Oregon bands that are getting love right now...

THE LISTENING are a Portland band (Portland seems to have a very healthy musical community). These guys are traveling in a nice mix of shoegaze rock and Interpol style guitar work. "Hosea in C Minor" has a nice guitar line and a driving beat. "The Factory" is a darker, mid, tempo song, while "Everything is Nothing" utilizes a nice synth and piano intro which gives the sound a kinds Radiohead feel.

BOY EATS DRUM MACHINE sound a lot like Soul Coughing (who I really love) with a bit of Beck thrown in for good measure. "From an Oregon Shore" has a nice funky beat and great bass line. "Two Ghosts" is an off kilter rock song with a nice acoustic/electric back and forth. I imagine these guys are a load of fun live.

LIGHTBREAK are from Medford, Oregon (which I were I am staying right now so I feel a need to cover at least one of the local bands). This is a very straight forward rock band in the Coldplay vein of things. Lots of guitars and pianos. Not the most original of bands but not completely terrible either.

Be back in SOCAL on Sunday so I will resume posting then.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

On the Road...Sac Town, CA

So me and the family have settled into our Best Western Motor Lodge for the evening after braving traffic, two random fires, and countless hours of boredom broken up by the odd car game or the constant battle over the IPod Music (which my wife was in charge of today...tomorrow it's all me baby)

Anyway since I am here in Sacramento, I thought I would seek out some of the local musical flavor (via myspace). Overall the vibe here is decidedly harder edged (a mix of emo, indie and hard rock). Here are a few that stuck out.

FAR has a band member by the name of Jonah Matranga, which I recognize from his other and ONELINEDRAWING (who I enjoy very much). The music is pretty straight forward indie rock (nice cheeky cover of a christmas classic). Not really my cup of tea but others seem really into them.

THE GENERALS are a very middle of the road rock band who use synths to make their sound a little more new wave. The lead singer is working in the Bono register without the conviction. I think if I listened to them more I would be more inclined to like them but right now I'm lukewarm. At least they are gutsy enough to cover "Eleanor Rigby".

And now for something completely different. THE HONEY TREES are one girl with a beautiful voice. Becky Flip is swimming an ocean of sound and emotion. "Don't Fear" is a simply gorgeous piano ballad mixed with multi-tracked vocals. (available for download on her site). The other three tracks are live versions that recall a little Cocteau Twins musically or Dead Can Dance with a singer you can understand. I think this might be one to keep bookmarked for something really good in the future.

THE TERRIBLE SECRET are a band that seems to be carrying on the legacy of Catherine Wheel and other Shoegazer bands. They have the sound down perfectly (slightly distorted guitars, drums that come and go for effect, a hint of synths) and are not half bad. They even have a song that features a female accompanyment ala Tanya Donelly on "Judy Staring At The Sun". I could listen to Catherine Wheel all day so I have some fondness for these guys.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Rolling on the I-5

Now that summer school is over I have about a week and a half before regular school begins, so it's time to get out of Dodge. I'm off with the family for a week of vacation in Southern Oregon. I will try to sneak a post out before I leave tomorrow morning. I'm not sure I will be able to post anything on the ranch, so if I don't, I will talk to everyone when I get back. In the meantime, have a wonderful week!

Bands I've Seen On Accident

There are some bands I have seen multiple times in concert and never once were they the intended artist. Case in point is the STEREO MC'S. I saw them three different times in a two year span opening for other acts. They opened for both U2 and Midnight Oil in the same two year span and each time they shocked me with how good they were live.

STEREO MC'S released two records in the early 90's that incorporated a british feel to hip hop. They bought into the whole look and sound of American Hip-hop in a way that was very different from the British artists of today, who have adopted their own take on the style (THE STREETS, DIZZEE RASCAL). Their sound was sample heavy and had a R and B vibe to their beats. They had a couple of minor radio hits with "Elevate My Mind" and "Connected" but then faded into obscurity. I had always wondered how they would translate live, particularly in venues where the audience wasn't into rap. But all three times they won the crowd over with enthusiasm and surpising musical ability.

Seeing that they needed to expand their sound if they wanted more notice they released "Deep, Down and Dirty" which was a more straitforward record musically. They replaced the samples with live instrumentation and even sung on a couple of tracks.

I guess you never know what you'll get by showing up to a concert early.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Zencast #4 (The British are Coming)

Don't Panic people I just changed the layout and color scheme a bit. Thought this was a little more peaceful and Zen-like if you will. (Not that you would panic over that sort of thing and if you did then you really have very little life!!)

So I've switched over to a new podcast server and cleaned up the method of recording to try and make it better. Hopefully the changes will help. I was in a very British frame of mind when I recorded this so hopefully it's your cup of tea as well. I know that Death Cab, Aberdeen and Rogue Wave aren't British but they certainly are trying really hard to mimic that sound, so don't give me any crap about it OK?

Anyway, enjoy


Aberdeen -- Sink or Float
The Smiths -- A Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours
The Editors -- The Weight Of The World
The Klaxons -- Golden Skans
Blur -- She's So High
Elastica -- Waking Up
Death Cab For Cutie -- This Charming Man
Rogue Wave - Seconds