Thursday, September 28, 2006


I'm out of town for the long weekend, visiting someone special and seeing The Motherfucking Hold Steady. Here are some love songs to tide you over:

Neil Young- Harvest Moon from Harvest Moon

Beach Boys- God Only Knows from Pet Sounds

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ryan Adams Raps...I'm not kidding

Visitors to Ryan Adams' web site are now greeted with a Star Wars-influenced menu soundtracked by Mr. Adams keeping it real ... or something. Here are the lyrics thanks to Stereogum:
"Look Who Got A Website" ©Ryan Adams | Barland Music 2006

Awwwwwww shit.
Look who got a website.

That's right.

Dot com.
What the fuck.

CHORUS: Welcome to motherfucker

New York City it's up!

CHORUS: Mix masters please report to the dance floor

Staten Island.

Ancient Sumerians
Anna Sarriss...
Ohhh shit.

Well if I could get around to my rhymes
Then I could destroy galaxies
of wannabees
With a bottle of whisky
And a wizard and a mime
Until then?
Dot com motherfucker!

CHORUS: Welcome to motherfucker

New York City!

CHORUS: Mix masters please report to the dance floor

Staten Island

CHORUS: Welcome to motherfucker

Anna Serris ohhhh

CHORUS: Mix masters please report to the dance floor

Anna Serris you out of this world
like ancient Sumerians
apparently we came from ancient Sumerians
they came down and gave the world a bunch of technology
because they wanted to clone themselves and that was
and maybe be on the Earth
and get some some stuff that they needed
for their planet
but then they had to split
so they went to another planet
we stayed here
and now we just yell at each other
and have milkshakes
Hi Anna

CHORUS: Welcome to motherfucker

Awww shit Anna Serris

CHORUS: Mix masters please report to the dance floor

You a g-g-g-g-genius

CHORUS: Welcome to motherfucker

Kevin Bacon was a cock!

CHORUS: Mix masters please report to the dance floor

Well up these streets are digital roads
Goin into your mind like if you think it was your nose
and your nose was sucking coke and drinksin E
Trippin' too hard and gotta be
What was a dezzin Kevin Bacon
Makin Waterworld 3
They ain't even made 2 yet
Yo that was Costner partner

CHORUS: Welcome to motherfucker what the fuck?

CHORUS: Mix masters please report to the dance floor

two thousand and three

CHORUS: Welcome to motherfucker

updated by witches

CHORUS: Mix masters please report to the dance floor

This website's updated by witches
witches n' me
weird witches
roll about and leap
with their hair on fire
and their nails long
and they're screaming at animals and people
and they're going crazy
and they need to take a break from recording

CHORUS: Welcome to motherfucker

Aww shit - it's a long record.

CHORUS: Mix masters please report to the dance floor


CHORUS: Welcome to motherfucker

One and a half stars yeah!

CHORUS: Mix masters please report to the dance floor

Aww shit
One and a half stars
3 records sold
my record went balsa wood
in Indio or someplace that I'm not from
you know what I'm saying man?
And then the guy goes "This record is very long and sappy.
Basically he's alternative country but crappy."

CHORUS: Welcome to motherfucker
Mix masters please report to the dance floor
Welcome to motherfucker
Mix masters please report to the dance floor

Welcome to motherfucker
Mix masters please report to the dance floor
Welcome to motherfucker
Mix masters please report to the dance floor


This is sure to fuel haterz' fire for the man and his over-the-top persona, but don't lie to yourself: this shit is pretty funny, if only for the utter ridiculousness. Look for Ryan to release two albums and leak about four discarded sessions next year, approximately 75% of which will be excellent. (Same ratio as Return To Cookie Mountain, btw.)

Ryan Adams- Born Yesterday
from Destroyer Sessions

Ryan Adams- Helpless (Neil Young cover, with Gillian Welch)

Ryan Adams- Jeane from Jacksonville City Nights B-sides

Monday, September 25, 2006

"Pussy Cats" Starring The Walkmen

I'll admit it. I had never heard of Harry Nilsson until The Walkmen decided to cover the entirety of his 1974 album Pussy Cats. Since I'm not qualified to give the back story, I'll let do it for me.

The relationship between Harry Nilsson and John Lennon is legendary. They were notorious booze hounds and carousers, getting kicked out of clubs for misbehavior and generally terrorizing L.A. during Lennon's "lost weekend" of 1974. They wanted to make an album together -- hell, anyone working at such a peak would -- and the result was Pussy Cats, a Nilsson album produced by Lennon. Almost immediately, Nilsson got sick, resulting in a ruptured vocal cord. Not wanting Lennon to stop the sessions, Nilsson never told his friend, stubbornly working his way through the sessions until he lost his voice entirely. These are the sessions that make up Pussy Cats, an utterly bewildering record that's more baffling than entertaining. Like many superstar projects of its time, this is studded with contributions from friends and studio musicians, all intent on having a good time in the studio -- which usually means hammering out rock & roll oldies. In this case, it meant both Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and the children's song "Loop de Loop," which gives a good idea where Nilsson was at. Through its messiness, Pussy Cats winds up showing how he and Lennon violently careened between hedonism and self-loathing. Of the new songs, the inadvertently revealing "All My Life" is the strongest, followed by the sweet "Don't Forget Me," yet this is more about tone than substance. It's about hearing Nilsson's voice getting progressively harsher, as the backing remains appealingly professional and slick. It doesn't quite jibe, and it's certainly incoherent, but that's its charm. It may not be as wild as the lost weekend itself, but it couldn't have been recorded at any other time and remains a fascinating aural snapshot of the early days of 1974.
Pussy Cats certainly an album unto itself. Nilsson's gradual progression from 1970's singer/songwriter to drunken, self-loathing narrator makes for a fascinating period piece at worst and long-forgotten tears-in-your-beer classic at best. Nilsson's voice sounds like that of someone with the world's longest hangover, which gives even the most conventional 70's pop tunes a certain appeal.

The album's also a favorite of The Walkmen. Though I've fallen out of the honeymoon period with this year's A Hundred Miles Off, 2004's Bows + Arrows is one of my favorite albums, which I can't wait to bust out once the weather turns cold again. Lead singer Hamilton Leithauser plays the same role Nilsson perfected on this album - down-and-out, remorseful, bitter underdog after half a dozen whiskey sours. The musical background is different, but the sentiment is the same.

The first three tracks of "Pussy Cats" Staring The Walkmen (due out 10/24) are streaming here.

The Walkmen- 138th Street from 2004's Bows + Arrows

Harry Nilsson- Many Rivers To Cross from 1974's Pussy Cats

Saturday, September 23, 2006

New Radiohead

So The Eraser was pretty average and we will have to wait until next year to hear new studio stuff from Thom and Co., but here's a compilation I made of (I think) all the new songs Radiohead played live this year. These may not be the best sources out there of the tracks, but they are all listenable and a good reminder that if music were basketball, these guys would be Michael Jordan.

Radiohead- New Songs Live 2006

Radiohead- The Bends (old school live)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Little Boxes

Much of the charm of hit Showtime series Weeds is in the quirky theme song, sung by 1960's folk artist Malvina Reynolds. Her most popular song, "Little Boxes" is light-hearted counter-culture look at the conformity of suburban America.

Malvina Reynolds- Little Boxes
from "Weeds"

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Like 3 shots to my head, the President's dead

Considering how much I've grown to love last year's Black Sheep Boy, I don't know why it took me so long to get ahold of the new Australian-only Okkervil River EP, but it was certainly my loss. With each passing album, Will Sheff writes better and better lyrics and the band sounds better and better behind him. "The President's Dead" shows it, but not as much as one of the band's best tracks yet, "Love To A Monster."

i grow tired of this song. i turn my eyes to the blond in the bleachers. she's a lovely young creature. i think she's seeking adventure. i think she's ready to see that the world isn't so sweet or so tender. i won't break her, just bend her, and make into my new ringer for you. i stay in the same comfy town, write the same old songs down, drive the same streets, seek the same sense of dull peace, whisper the same sweet words to the chippies. the same walk by the road and the same muddy snow's finally leaving, but i'll fight off the spring; I don't want lovely things, i don't want the earth new.
Ouch. Breakup song of the year?

Okkervil River- The President's Dead from Overboard and Down EP

Okkervil River- Love To A Monster from Overboard and Down EP

Monday, September 18, 2006

In the news today

In the one and only time I link to People Magazine, everyone's favorite country-legend-turned-hippie Willie Nelson got busted with a pound and a half of marijuana on his tour bus. That Willie Nelson - always contributing to society's depravity.

Daytrotter has a great piece on exactly why I can't really get into Final Fantasy's music. Technical prowess can only get you so far. People don't remember Hendrix for his fast fingers, they remember him for playing the guitar like he was violently making love to a woman. Desire, inspiration, ingenuity and childhood dreams always trump the technical side of songwriting. Some of my favorite bands couldn't play their instruments very well and didn't know a lick of musical theory, but made ground-breaking music by sheer will alone. I'd write more about this if I were more motivated and had more time, but instead I'll just post funny pictures.

"I don’t believe that you need something to hit you in order to write music. It can be just like computer programming or building a house. It’s pretty simple,” he said from Toronto. “When people talk about genius songwriters, I’m just like, ‘No, it’s just somebody who made a series of correct decisions."

And to cap off my little splurge of R.E.M. posts (That And I Feel Fine compilation is solid fucking gold), Life And How To Live It, a must-view blog for R.E.M. fans, has live MP3's of last week's return of the four original members.

And The Hold Steady are my new favorite band. Boys And Girls In America will rock your face off on 10/3. Whoever mentioned the Springsteen influence was spot on.

Class and work schedules are shaping up for the fall, and though I will certainly be a busy man, I intend to keep feeding this blog my meandering, obtuse observations about some of my favorite music. I'm also planning on a redesign, so if someone with better HTML skills than me wants to hold my hand through some things, I'd be much obliged.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Venice Is Sinking

Keeping with this week's "bands from Athens, Georgia" vibe, Venice Is Sinking are an above average introspective indie group. Think Pedro The Lion with whispery male/female vocals and without the Christian imagery, but with a hypnotic twist, Interpol-style. "Pulaski Heights" reminds me a bit of Something About Airplanes-era Death Cab with violins. Great soundtrack to the ever-approaching fall season.

Venice Is Sinking- Pulaski Heights from 2006's Sorry About The Flowers

Friday, September 15, 2006

...that's what you're lookin' for

TV On The Radio- Letterman (9/12/06)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I've had kisses that make Judas seem sincere

Ever get the feeling when you hear a song for the first time and you know immediately that it is going to be one of your favorite songs ever? I've had that with every other track of The Hold Steady's new one, Boys And Girls In America. These guys are the Led Zeppelin of bar bands. Separation Sunday had been growing on me, but this has me floored. Oh, and they just happen to be playing Irving Plaza the weekend I am in New York. Some new tracks up on their myspace.

The Hold Steady- Stevie Nix from 2005's Separation Sunday.

The Hold Steady- Positive Jam
from 2004's Almost Killed Me

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


These will be no-brainers for the long time fans out there, but for the uninitiated, here's some of my favorite R.E.M. tracks that you may not have heard on the radio.

R.E.M.- Perfect Circle from 1983's Murmur

A gem from the band's classic debut, "Perfect Circle" is a bastion of the great things the band had in store in its future. As a gentle waltz led by Mike Mills' bittersweet piano line, it sticks out amidst some of the other post-punky tracks on the album, but goes to show the same gift with melody and arrangement that would show up in later albums.

R.E.M.- Cuyahoga from 1986's Lifes Rich Pageant

As you probably know from that Vote For Change Tour and seeing Stipe's face all over those silly "make hunger/poverty/bad things stop" ads, the band (or Stipe, anyways) has never had any qualms about their political views. The 1980's were no exception, with this beautiful protest song about the Cuyahoga River, an Ohio river that was a prime example of the need for the federal government's involvement in environmental issues in the 1970s.

R.E.M.- Country Feedback from 1991's Out of Time

One of the best songs written on the topic of suicide and one of the darkest pieces of Americana you're likely to ever hear. If Stipe didn't have to go and drop an F-bomb, this would probably be a weekly standard on my sad bastard radio show. The mark of a good lyricist is the ability to convey a lot of feeling with a few words - and Stipe's refrain of "It's crazy what you could have had" and lines like "these clothes don't fit us right" somehow speak more about the tragedy of teenage suicide and the depression that leads to it than anything I can think of.

R.E.M.- Find The River from 1992's Automatic For The People

Though I intend to one day take a road trip across it, I've never been to the rural South. But, along with the stunning "Nightswimming", this is what I imagine the twilight in summer to feel like down there. A beautiful affirmation of modern man's need for his natural roots. Check out Mills' three-part background harmonies in the chorus - just stunningly good music. This is how you end a nearly perfect album.

R.E.M.- Tongue from 1994's Monster

Mining the outdoor symphony sound they perfected on "Find The River," "Tongue" is a beautiful mood piece in between a lot of overt and often contrived grunge influence on 1994's much-maligned Monster. (I'm not afraid to admit that I throw it on as a guilty pleasure every once in a while.) Stipe, who was on the verge of coming out of the closet (Lance Bass style) at the time, embraces his feminine side, delivering the song in a womanly falsetto. Not quite like anything else the band (or any other band, for that matter) has done.

R.E.M.- How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us from 1996's New Adventures In Hi Fi

What a way to lead off an album. A gentle jazzy drum beat, funky bass, staccato piano chords and a dreamy guitar lick mark one of the band's most unique tracks. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if the band would have pursued an entire album written just like this song.

R.E.M.- Falls To Climb from 1998's Up.

Up saw the band begin experimenting with electronica, computers, synthesiser, etc. It's a mixed bag. Though they had experimented with their sound with much success in the past, for the first time it sounded like the guys had really expanded past their capabilities, losing their roots in the process. While the sound embraced on Up has morphed into the monstrosity of the band's last couple efforts, the highs on this record are incredibly high - "Daysleeper," one of the band's best radio singles ever, and "Falls To Climb," the exuberant album closer that finds a perfect balance between the mechanical electronics and band's pop roots. There's a reason Thom Yorke has been quoted as saying that Kid A never would have happened with out R.E.M.'s Up.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Take a picture here, take a souvenir

The history of my musical tastes is one of obsession. Looking back, some of those obsessions I am proud of and others I am not. I'll not delve into my embarrassing Garth Brooks obsession in elementary school. (Though I'm sure it planted the seeds that grew into my current appreciation of good country/roots/bluegrass.) In my angsty middle school years, it was the Smashing Pumpkins. Then came the most unhealthy of the obsessions - the DMB stage that led to the box of 125 or so bootlegged concerts gathering dust in my closet. Then Radiohead, then Wilco, then Ryan Adams and so on. Somewhere in between the Pumpkins and DMB was a three-month period where I couldn't get enough of one of our generation's greatest bands - R.E.M.

The three remaining members of R.E.M. will reunite with their original drummer, Bill Berry, for induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. They will also begin work on their 14th full length, which is hopefully nothing like their last abortion of a full length, 2004's Around The Sun.

Over the course of 23 years, R.E.M.'s music has veered through all kinds of terrain, while never (with the possible exception of 1994's Monster) giving into the current trends of the times. The band's years on the IRS label (chronicled on a 2-CD set And I Feel Fine, conveniently enough) perfectly mixed Husker Du-ish post-punk, Byrds-esque jangly folk and Beach Boys harmonies into something that is was uniquely R.E.M. - defining 80's college rock alongside bands like The Talking Heads and The Pixies. To this day, the sound of a 12-string Rickenbacker immediately conjures images of guitarist Peter Buck. Micheal Stipe, always a stunning lyricist, grew from a resigned, mumbling, yet somehow appealing singer into the epitome of the earnest-yet-in-control rock n' roll front man. From Stipe's lyrics - rooted deep in the American South - to the band's unique Americana-influenced sound, R.E.M. remains one of the purest examples we have of an American band with an American sound.

Signing to major label Warner Brothers in 1988 was seen as the end of the band's reign to many, but the 1990's saw the band achieve wild mainstream success and single-handedly launch the mandolin (otherwise known as the best instrument no one plays anymore) into Top 40 Radio with "Losing My Religion." In the middle of superstardom , the band released 1992's Automatic For The People, widely (and rightfully) considered an American classic. Though never given its rightful praise, 1996's New Adventures In Hi Fi is the band's second moody 90's classic and will forever be brought up anytime anyone mentions "overlooked albums" in my presence.

R.E.M. is the rare band that was able (for most of their career) to toe the line that so many other bands can't - the line between critical and popular success. They defined an entire decade of music before going on to sell millions of records without sacrificing their artistic direction or significance.

That is, until 1998's Up showed signs of wear and an occasional lack of direction, 2001's Reveal proved mostly lifeless and 2004's Around The Sun an absolute and utter turd. As an example of hard it is to be an R.E.M. fan at this juncture, here is Michael Stipe inexplicably covering Beach Boys classic "God Only Knows" with Mandy Moore.

Michael Stipe (w/ Mandy Moore)- "God Only Knows" (Beach Boys cover)

Believe me - there's nothing I'd like more than an R.E.M. Renaissance. R.E.M. was the first rock concert I ever attended and the band holds a special place in my heart. But at this point I'd settle for any excuse for them to tour and play some of the criminally overlooked gems in their back catalogue. I'll post some of my favorite R.E.M. tracks sometime in the next few days.

R.E.M.- "Radio Free Europe" (Letterman- 1983)

R.E.M.- Turn You Inside Out (live)

R.E.M.- Find The River (MTV unplugged)

R.E.M on The Simpsons

Friday, September 08, 2006

Is it because I'm Canadian?

New TV On The Radio video for "Wolf Like Me" is available through AOL. Asians, hilarious dialogue and werewolves that look like the Abominable Snowman from Rudolph. How much better can you get?

Black Keys rocked, someone flaked out on me for the Silver Jews and I couldn't face the prospect of anymore driving. If I don't move to an urban area within the next year I may end myself.

I'll be gone this weekend in rural Idaho for family/spreading your grandmother's ashes time. You're jealous, don't lie. I'll see if I can't steal someone's wireless connection and make some posts from the old man's laptop.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Creepy, yet refined

Awesome Daytrotter session from Bonnie "Prince" Billy, whose upcoming album The Letting Go and sprawling back catalog is quickly becoming this fall's go-to music. I shouldn't need to tell you, but this guy is one of a kind. He keeps the weirdness to a minimum on The Letting Go, making parent-friendly yet engaging folk. Check out Palace tune "The Sun Highlights the Lack in Each."

Really funny promo:

On my way out to see the Black Keys tonight and The Silver Jews tomorrow night, putting 250 miles on the car in the process. Pictures if my camera decides to work.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

New Wilco- "Walken"

I have high hopes for Wilco in 2007. Who needs sonic experimentation anyways? All the good songs have already been written, why rock the boat, man? A return to Being There-style Wilco would be clutch.

Apologies for the break, blogging is a form of labor too.

Monday, September 04, 2006

TBS Recommended: M. Ward- Post-War

M. Ward has always been one of the most unique voices in this decade's Americana scene, and this, his fourth full length, is a huge step forward for Ward - the youngest man with the oldest voice. Post-War, with its layered (or more layered, anyways) production, is a bit of a departure for long-time fans of Ward's bare-bones, ghostly-warm crooning. But like all good artists, Ward is evolving. While prior albums found Ward dwelling lyrically and stylistically on the antiquated, Post-War sounds surprisingly modern. "To Go Home," one of two Daniel Johnston covers on the record, is a beautifully orchestrated celebratory romp, complete with layered vocals compliments of Ms. Neko Case, crescendoing drums and a triumphant ending. Fans of his trademark serene nighttime folk still have the title track and "Rollercoaster." Ward retains his AM radio/campfire singalong charm we're used to hearing (see: "One Life Away" from last year's Transistor Radio and 2003's "Transfiguration #1" from Transfiguration of Vincent), while making the most of his ample studio time. What we are left with is an excellent example of folk sensibilities in a modern setting from an artist that appreciates the value of both. More singer-songwriters should strive for what Ward has so effortlessly achieved over the course of four albums - a unique take on the same old tricks.