Monday, August 31, 2009

Adventures in Modern Torture

I am not a fan of dentists in the least. As a rule anyone who makes a living causing others excruciating amounts of pain should take a long journey of self discovery. I am certainly aware of the need for dentists. I also admit that I am not the most careful when it comes to dental hygiene. I do brush but floss is not always on the menu. But I have always had problems with teeth cracking and cavities (which could be due to the obscene amounts of Coke I consume on a daily basis, but I digress). In particular there has been a three year odyssey of one tooth and the inability to keep a filling in it. By my count it has been replaced 5 times with a six procedure now in the works. So here are a few dental related thoughts I had sitting in the chair in agony;

1) We can land a man on the moon but we still have to use a piece of non bending cardboard to take x-rays?

2) The person who can invent a drill that plays a sound other than the screech of a dying mongoose sound that currently emanates from most dental equipment will be a zillionnaire (would "Shiny Happy People" playing while the dentist is elbow deep in your molars qualify as irony?)

3) Why does 2 minutes with a clay mold in your mouth seem like it lasts an eternity?

4) Novocaine is good. The shots to deliver it are bad...very bad!

5) I love the fact that the first thing they do when you get in the chair is give you a bib since it will no doubt be possible that you will start drooling like a baby...or maybe those were tears I lost track after awhile.

6) Scariest exchange of the day;
Dr: I think you need a root canal.
Dr: Well let me hit your teeth with the back of my tool here and see if it is sensitive.
Me: So if I scream in pain then I need a root canal?
Dr: That's about right.
Me: Are you kidding?
Dr: (with no hint of sarcasm) No.
(brought to you by the Marquis De Sade Dental Academy.)

7) People coming out the dental office with a face full of anaesthetic are funny. Unless that person is you...

The visit did yield a musical connection. About 15 years ago there was a British band called THE DENTISTS. A indie pop outfit that made quaint catchy songs that in many ways were so sweet they would give you a tooth ache. The band broke up after their second US record failed and they were dropped from the label. I went back and listened to their two records and although not very memorable at least it was a nice cap to a crappy day. Just think I get to go back in two weeks to finish the job. Admit it, you wish were me...

(mp3) The Dentists -- Gas (from Behind The Door I Keep The Universe)
I wish I had gotten the gas. Then again it was never offered.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hitting Shuffle (Episode 5)

My wife loves IRON AND WINE. If she could write a soundtrack to a movie it would definitely include at least two songs by him. There are fewer things more certain in life than her love for Samuel Bean. But this post is less about the band than the song itself that I landed on for this episode of "Hitting Shuffle" because I had never actually listened to it prior to writing about it. This is somewhat difficult trying to capture an instant response to something that you are experiencing for the first time.

"Pagan Angel and a Borrowed Car" off of "The Sheperd's Dog" album is a quasi blues shuffle with Bean's usual hushed vocals. The acoustic guitar is the anchor of the song with a soft piano (I think) accompaniment that seems as if it was recorded live. The addition of a cello at the halfway point creates a melancholy tonal shift that at first is not really noticeable until you really pay attention during the bridge.

(note: I had to cheat and look up the lyrics to see what the hell he was talking about). Bean recalls a lot of Paul Simon in his lyrical takes on things. He is awfully abstract but has said on more than one occasion that this record was meant as his take on politics in America. The song seems to be a dig at the leadership of the time with the couplet, "When they caught the king beneath the borrowed car, righteous, drunk and fumbling for the keys."

I can see why so many get so excited about his work. It has depth and passion. It has the same lyrical beauty of Dylan but without the hype. Not bad for a Sunday afternoon discovery.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Just a few random thoughts that were not cohesive enough for a proper post.

1) Saw (500) Days of Summer a couple of days ago. This is the type of movie that could have gone very wrong without the right level of chemistry between the leads and a deft touch of direction. Who knew the kid from "Third Rock From The Sun" would grow up to be a solid actor and one can never go wrong with Zooey Deschanel. Two days later I am still replaying parts of it in my head, which comes from the repeated listens to THE TEMPER TRAP, who had a song that was key to the film.

2) As a corollary to that, there is a scene where the lead does a karaoke version of The Pixies "Here Comes Your Man", which got me thinking. Where is the bar in LA that would have that song on the karaoke machine? But a great choice to sing nonetheless. Reminded me I need to listen to the Pixies more than I do these days.

3) FRIGHTENED RABBIT IS COMING TO LA. Next month one of my new favorite bands is playing the Knitting Factory in LA. Considering I did not think they would ever tour this far west this is truly special occasion and will no doubt lead to incessant listening to their stuff for the next month. I can't remember being this excited about a show for a long time.

4) When will Brett Favre just go away? I can't take it any more, I want my Sportscenter back Brett and if you don't shut up bad things are going to happen...

5) In conversation today with a couple of students and teachers the following words were exchanged:
Me: I grew up listening to RUN DMC
Student: Whose that?
Teacher: The guy from Run's House
Student: That guy was in a group
(me silently screaming in my head in an effort not to cry at my apparent new found old age...)

6) Drove in Claremont (city in Southern California) today (had not been there in a long time) and shed a little tear for the fact that Rhino Records is still in business. This will necessitate a trip to one of my favorite record stores of my youth for nostalgia's sake if nothing else.

(mp3) The Temper Trap -- Sweet Disposition (From 500 Days of Summer)

(mp3) Frightened Rabbit -- The Modern Leper (From The Midnight Organ Fight)

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Return of Voxtrot

I admit that I wanted to like VOXTROT a lot more than I did. I listened to their proper debut quite a bit when it came out and was struck by the fact that it could have been so much better. Hidden in the album were shades of early U2, The Cure and countless other great alternative bands of yore. Maybe that was my problem; to many influences that couldn't settle on one cohesive direction. So I almost ignored the new material that has slowly been leaking out of the Voxtrot camp. The first new track was a dark, almost tribal track called "Trepanation Party" that does a great job of finding a groove and sticking to it.

Then came the latest, and first official single, "Berlin, Without Return." What makes this track such a leap forward is the dialed tone nature of lead singer Ramesh's vocals so that the song finds a nice chorus without losing the wordplay of his lyrics. It is both a departure in their sound and a natural evolution and gives me a lot of hope for the whole album.

Monday, August 03, 2009

New Songs From The Dimes

One of my new favorite bands is giving away two new songs off of their next record, "The King Can Drink The Harbor Dry", which is said to be a collection of songs about the people and events in Boston at the time of the revolution. Having fallen in love with Boston a few years back on a vacation the songs immediately struck an emotional chord with me. The first is "Boston (Trimountaine)" is soft, acoustic ode to the town that is almost like a walking tour of the city. One can imagine walking the Freedom Trail and seeing the old churches that line the streets and how the history of the town is so interwoven into the fabric of the city.

The second is a slightly Beatlesque demo version of Paul Revere which after two listens has the same catchy power of "Save Me, Clara" from the New England EP. Based on these early listens their new record is one I am hotly anticipating.

Visit their site to get more information here.