Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Please Don’t Go

So..... it’s over. I’ve said it before, but i didn’t really believe it. or maybe i was saying, hoping someone would say “no, you’re wrong” (cos my peeps got no problem with that) or at least “not yet” to give me just a little more time to pull myself out of bed in the morning, blissfully ignorant.

but really, this time i know it’s for real. oh sure, there’s some crying left to do, some recriminations to be thrown around, giving back this and giving back that, and the eventual acceptance (that’s about 7 months off by my time proven stage progression), but i know it’s done. baked. eaten and the leftovers have already spoiled on the countertop. It’s been a long time, longer than i thought was possible (despite the writing otherwise), and really it was a good run.

I’ll admit to seeing it coming, but still not ducking. More me being in denial cos i’d be fooling no one to say there weren’t warning signs. Once the initial rush had worn off, everybody could see it was a possibility. And there were more than a few detractors right away (but i just blocked them out). What’s perfect though? nothing, right? you take what you get and deal. But i’ll admit the overhead was quite a bit, maintenance was more than i’m comfortable with, and the space? To say nothing of the economics of the situation.....jeez, all that time, all that effort and ..........

Ah hell, who am i kidding, i’m just trying to salve my wounded ego, because i got jilted.

it happened at the cheapo on lake street, this past sunday morning. never thought it would happen at cheapo. not really sure where i imagined it would happen, maybe best buy or the fetus, or some cool place like amoeba or some little two bit shop in a far flung place. honestly, i probably didn’t think it really would, but cheapo just seems wrong. but you don’t get to pick your places, your times for life changes events, you can just roll with them.

There’s a hole in the floor now, where it happened; down the aisle, halfway through the Tuesday/Wednesday new used (as opposed to the old used, the old new and the new new) on my way to Friday (my picking is random, don’t ask for rhyme nor reason, just hope i whisper something good) I glance to my left, and even before i had seen, much less processed, it hit me. the bins are half empty. I finally believe it. CDs really are over.

This ain’t chicken little prospectus anymore, this is the canary singing before he falls over. it’s real, it’s happening, and it’s in black and white and in the NEXT ROOM. i can’t close my eyes and think everything is all right. Cheapo is running out of used cds. The end is here!

Half empty bins are unprecedented. sure, i could believe a half empty monday (who sells on sunday, and do you really think the clerks are gonna bust their humps putting stuff out for MONDAY?), but half empty thursday? friday?(seems all the cds somehow congregate at the back end of friday.) Something is badly askew here when i don’t have to move a cd over a previous row in order to flip through the current row. and something is really off when i can fit a dirty pig elbow in the row before i even reach a disc.

Nobody is selling cds. in this economy, with the cd demographic looking for a quick buck, nobody has anything to unload. cos nobody is buying discs. like viking fans after game 10, discs are gone (probably to des moines) and they ain’t recycling in the cheapo bins anymore. the happy circle of life; buy cd, listen to cd, get sick of cd, (possibly burn cd for archival copy, but that might just be me) sell cd, buy cd, (give dirty look towards scar on the upside), has been replaced with sell cd, sell cd, sell cd, use proceeds to buy shiny new ipod and open access to bank accounts to apple (wasn’t an apple the reason adam and eve got banished from the garden?) and then....nothing. empty bins and all you got is a crappy sounding electronic file that has no heft, no meaning, no substance, no soul (ok, so i don’t really think cds have soul)

i like cds. they sound great (i don’t buy that warmth argument about vinyl---and who really has that great of equipment to make a difference even if it’s true), they don’t have pops and hiss (again, great nostalgia for it in some folks, but it always used to bug me), you can leave them in the car on a warm day (mostly, newt says, mostly) and damn if they ain’t super portable. (i’ll give you the shrinky dink artwork annoyance, but i’ll counter it with some nifty packaging and HOLOGRAPHIC cds) and even better, when you are flipping through cds, you can make that click, click sound that drives people nuts. albums barely move the (stale, mildewy) air when you flip through them. I mean, it’s really no contest. How can cd’s be dying off? NOOOOOOOO. We were promised jetpacks, i want jetpacks along with my lifetime of digital aluminum music!(see above for denial, and i’m not 100% behind that lifetime of use thing cos i’ve had a few cds with the dreaded pinhole rot, may Eureka version 1 rest in peace) How can such a nearly perfect listening medium be rendered onto Caesar?

i don’t know what comes next. i’d sooner go back to rockville than go back to vinyl. mp3’s (even 320, don’t even talk to me about that itunes shite) are ok for when i’m running, but i can’t abide the sound of them coming out of anything other than an itty bitty speaker stuffed in my ear. Am i gonna have to be one of these FLAK guys? don’t get me wrong, i’m comfortable with my geek, i just don’t know that i want to...bother. it all smacks of audiophile and i have some latent tendencies, but that seems only ok as long as i don’t act on it.

Come back, baby, come back.

There's a Bear Inside Your Stomach

Aug 6 2010
First Avenue

Feeling a little bad because i left out any mention of the Antlers in my National show blurb. They really deserve notice because Hospice is a pretty amazing album. took a while to grow on me (i’m kinda lazy and the story just seemed a little much) but once i let the songs seep their way into my undermind over a bunch of months, the lyrics came off as less labored and more organically tied to the emotional heft of the production. Another almost top tenner from 2009 that feels like it should have been ranked higher. So I was excited to see them open for the National. I was very curious to see how the intimate and personal story would translate to the stage. And they did quite a great job, retaining all the drama and sorrow of the recording, but also filling up the club with the narrative’s dynamic sweep. Sylvia and Two of course, got the crowd excited, but the quieter pieces moving the story along on the album were equally compelling. And of course, I loved bear. Pretty accomplished for a three piece. 87 pounds and this all bears repeating. I can’t wait to hear more.

I Won’t Waste Any More of Your Time

Kind of a fun little run of that 70’s Cali Soft Rock sound, too bad nothing is really jumping out at me. thank goodness for 70’s Cali new wave.

Jenny and Johnny I’m Having Fun Now: But that’s a lie, because i’m not having that much fun. I hope Jenny and Johnny break up. Then i hope Jenny gets back with Rilo Kiley and uses her art to work through the pain of the break up.

Ra Ra Riot The Orchard: The Rhumb Line was a lot of fun. Insanely catchy melodies and that Vampire Weekend faintly african world beat production that was so popular a couple years ago (i love those blink and you missed it music trends) I appreciate that they are trying some new things, but am also faintly bored by the new things. Of course, when they stick to the old paradigm (Massachusetts), i’m dubious (would have been a decent b-side from the first album maybe, except it's kinda too long). Thing is, the songs aren’t very strong, and experimentation and production touches can’t hide that.

The Weepies Be My Thrill: if only they would be. No, that’s not really fair. 15 years ago i’d have enjoyed this on the cities 97. and I liked the last two cds well enough. But they just sound a little too like late columbia shawn colvin to really endear themselves to me. Honeypie? Hummingbird? Red Red Rose? anyone else in a diabetic coma? i miss the indigo girls! If paint could sing, this is what it would sound like (and it would be flat white, not even enamel).

Film School Fission: But if you are changing your direction, it’s only a matter of time. Ah, that’s the spot. A little higher and to the left, to the left, to the left.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Message is the Medium (Apologies to MM)

Sometimes it really is about how you got there, what got you there and when it happened, rather than where you ended up (which was pretty much always a forgone conclusion anyway). The why will have to wait for another day (if it isn’t already self evident)

I startled my parents (and brother and sister) when I was a wee lad (5 or 6?) and performed an impromptu cover of “Joy to the World” (bullfrog baby, bullfrog) on the way back from church (seriously, I thought it was a hymn and I was just spreading the good word) I knew those lyrics inside out (hmmm, might have to dig out some three dog night and see if I still have it down) and my performance was…sincere to say the least. Words might not save you, but melody will always carry you. So began my affair with pop music.

My first grade teacher (Mrs. Hazen) was responsible for that Three Dog Night outburst. She would play pop music for us in class, for which I am eternally grateful. Now some might say she played records just to shut us up for 3 minutes and 10 seconds, but I don’t think it’s about that at all. I think she loved pop music and wanted to share her joy with all of us. I have very distinct memories of hearing Sing (this came back with a vengeance in second grade), Black and White and Clouds at various times during first grade. She even handed us printouts of the lyrics to Clouds and asked us what we thought the lyrics meant. Music Appreciation indeed. A little bit over our heads, but this is where the foundation was laid.

Car radios were the primary medium in those early days. We got on the bus at 7.15 in the morning and had a 45 minute ride to school. Ed, the bus driver, was a pretty cool guy and would play Z-100 for us (even though I’m sure he preferred to listen to the country station). 45 minutes was tons of time to get my music fix in before school. The bus ride was a staple of my musical education. An hour once a day (45 minutes in the morning, 15 at night) 5 days a week, for 10 years (I pretty much drove myself to school all the time by junior and senior years) adds up. Plus all the football games (junior high at least) and track meets (one time we had a broken radio and dietrich earnhart and I sang whatever pop songs we could think of for the entire ride….apologies to all). By the time I was in forth or fifth grade I was begging Ed to switch it up with the stations, and of course, I was always begging him to TURN IT UP, OK THAT’S GREAT! I really loved it when he’d get a new bus with nifty new stereo speakers sprinkled throught. (I always sat below the left side speaker, 2/3s of the way to the back of the bus, and I sang along with every song that I liked, while I read whatever book (and there always was a book, that had caught my fancy)

Plus, once I figured out there was more than Dolly Parton and Conway Twitty, I’d lobby my folks for a pop radio station whenever we’d get in the car. Success rate about 50%, but I think that had more to do with my mom (pop) and my dad (country) than any burgeoning lobbying skills.

It didn’t take long for my parents to realize I had a serious jones for music. I got a cool am clock radio for Christmas when I was 7 or 8. I think that radio was my best friend until I turned 18 (not sure if that’s sad, funny, sweet or true) and I really got a lot of use out of that. I spent a lot of time in my room with that radio, listening to music, baseball and whatever kinds of signals would gap across the ether. At least once or twice a week, Joe would whip a pillow at me and tell me to turn that damn thing down as I lay in bed late and night listening to the radio under the covers. I dropped it once (probably more than once) and it got a crack from the alarm nob below the clockface halfway up the clock. I don’t really name things, but I always thought of that radio as “lightning” because of that (it also had a white casing.

The clock radio was superceded (but I always loved that clock radio) by a ginormous console stereo that Fr. Krubel gave to me when I was 12 or so (well…probably gave to my mom and dad, but they passed it on to me. I shared a room (a small bedroom) with my brother and moving that console into my half next to my bed gave me exactly one foot by eight feet of free space (talk about intensive farming). But I wouldn’t have given that up for anything because you see, not only did it have FM radio (which I was pretty indifferent to at this point) but it had a TURNTABLE! Now sure, the parents had a console downstairs and we could play records (my mom had a lot of herb alpert and a bunch of other records that we wouldn’t be caught dead playing…although I used to play Rose Garden compulsively) and we did play records down there (my sister had a friend whose dad stocked jukeboxes and she would pass on the “retired” 45s to my sister, who would then pass them onto me---although I’d get so frustrated with the scratchy sound that I’d flip the single over and play the b-sides……so now you know where my b sides obsession comes from) But the console was in the living room, so it’s not like I could could just play records any old time I wanted (not that I had any records at this point anyway).

I loved that console. It had a crappy needle cartridge that only played out of one channel (I brian wilsoned my way to college, “discovering” real stereo when I bought a walkman at the end of freshman year), it buzzed like a band saw, and it raised the temperature of our bedroom by about 20 degrees (great in winter when it was frosty upstairs, yet another reason for my brother to throw a pillow at me in summer.) Once I started buying records (thank you K-mart, Columbia house record and tape club and those mind blowing annual pilgrimages to Trucker’s Union in Eau Claire during the Yearbook conference in high school), I couldn’t wait to finish eating, chores and milking so I could get upstairs, fold myself into my little one foot width between bed and console and stick my ear into that left channel speaker (I had to keep it down so my family watching tv downstairs wouldn’t be disturbed.) and listened to music for hours on end (ya, I was an anti social cuss even then). Eventually, I got ambitious (stupid) and started messing around with the wiring in the console and figured out how to flip the channels so I could to the right channel speaker (mono) at the same time. I even messed around with the cartridge enough to sometimes get stereo, but I was so flakey, I could never listen that long. I even figured out how to plug my walkman into that behemoth. Great fun. (I really should have been an engineer). I think at some point, long after I had quit using it (I never went back once I figured out REAL stereo) my mom gutted it and used it to store quilts. No regrets, that baby served me well.

I wasn’t completely tied land locked by radio either. Somewhere in early high school I got a pair of radio headphones. Now I was mobile (much appreciated for the Saturday America’s top 40 countdown) and could listen on the tractor, out in the yard, even when I was out on the roads biking (seriously I am amazed I am still alive for all the times I was out biking on the highway totally oblivious to the traffic around me.) I imagine I was quite the sight with those on. Huge earphones over both ears with a pretty damn big strap across the top (so THAT’s where all my hair went). And of course, I sang along to every song (that I liked) especially on the tractor or when I was out riding bike. (my grandpa came tearing out into a back farm field once when I was cultivating corn because he thought I was shouting for help. That isn’t the only time something like that happened. Just sayin’)

The aforementioned Z-100 (WBIZ) was an ok radio station. It was FM, it was out of Eau Claire (so the signal was fine) and it played some pretty good music. Weirdly though, it didn’t have disc jockeys and was a very strict format. You could pretty much turn on the radio at 7.35 and be sure that you were going to get a song that was new to the charts. Likewise, after that, you’d get kind of an oldie (a year old for sure), then commercial, then weather, then some weird canned promo, then a top ten hit. Looking back, I realized it was probably just a programmed station, but I think I kind of appreciated the predictability of it. Z-100 was radio station of choice in my grade school. In fifth grade, we’d even get to listen to the radio during recess on those rainy/snow/crappy/cold days when no one wanted to go outside.

By the time, I was in junior high, I was a strict Z-100 hater. I’m sure this was in part because my older brother always wanted to listen to that in the barn at night when we were milking and neither one of us could stand to give in to what the other wanted. But it was also because the format hadn’t changed in years and I preferred the other FM option, I-94 (WIAL) that played a little more poppy songs and less of the Kansas, journey, styx stuff Z-100 had gravitated towards (although their playlists overlapped 85% I’m sure). Shortly after I graduated high school, my brother became a big fan of I-94 and listened to it all the time. (I think he secretly hated Z-100, but because I was opposed to it, he had to like it)

Every once and a while we’d compromise on WMEQ (93.4?) out of menomonie, but I was never that much of a fan of that radio station. Although at least they were a local call, so I could call in requests, which was kinda fun. (another time DE and I decided we were going to make a hit of an album track off a Barry Manilow album (even now…btw, album track on a barry manilow album? I can see you shaking your head in dismay now) Needless to say, our careers as promo guys didn’t go very far. But WMEQ was more than happy to play “Somewhere in the Night” for us.

Thing is for the first 10 years of my radio listening career, I didn’t really even care about FM and stereo. I was all about the AM and one particular radio station, WEAQ, AM 790. As much as Mrs. Hazen built me a foundation, WEAQ let me build the house. And a grand and glorious house I built. This was such a great station and I have such fond memories of listening to it. (Interestingly enough, the signal overlapped with WLS out of Chicago and sometimes when I was listening at night, I’d get one or the other and didn’t usually know the difference until I’d suddenly start hearing this different DJ talking about the lake and traffic and stuff) They played the perfect mix of top 40 70s hits (imagine Have a Nice Day crossed with Didn’t It Blow Your Mind). With a few exceptions (“Heaven on the 7th Floor” for one) they pretty much played every top 40 hit from the 70’s, and more than a few that just bubbled under. There were no format divides, no snobbery, no genre distinctions. They played it all, throw it in the bowl, toss it a couple times and play it. Leo Sayer, Eagles, Deep Purple, O’Jays, Sly and the Family Stone, Joni Mitchell, Pilot, my beloved band Babyface (What? They are from Eau Claire????? But I love this song!); it goes on and on into obscurity. I’m smiling as I type this. But it really was a joy.I got goosebumps the first time I heard “Undercover Angel” (omigod, that’s kinda me) on the station and listened every day at the same time just waiting to hear it again (Z-100 conditioned me to that)

I lived on a little farm, 5 miles outside of a little town and I didn’t know anything about anything (might still not). So, WEAQ was more than a radio station to me, it was my link to a world beyond; to something else undefined, to potential, to possibilities. I was exposed to race and politics and history through song. I saw the world through the lens of a 3.05 pop song and even though I knew it was just a song, all I needed was a glimpse of another world to know that it was there. Songs became clues and I’d have to know what something meant (Black and White was my introduction to race…I was dumbfounded by slavery….but secretly sympathized with the plight of the black man, because I had to work on a farm for no wages). I can’t tell you how many times I heard a song on the radio in those early days and I’d be scouring the newspapers and watching tv to figure out what it was all about. (“four dead in OHIO?” what? How can the government let this happen????) Everything was fodder for me “Different Drum”, “Lonely Boy”, even “Put Your Hand in the Hand”; they all expanded my emotional and intellectual palette beyond the abilities of the limited environment in which I was raised. And I believed, ya know? The strength, peace, love and understanding of the (hippie hangover) music of 70’s wasn’t just tripe to me. They weren’t just pop songs, they were messages from a greater philosophy that I heard and integrated into me (kinda like some kid in college who gets high off the existence of existentialism). I subscribed 100%, and created a world view out of it that I still carry with me today.

WEAQ even had their own top 30 list, given out for free at all the local 7-11s in Eau Claire. Oh, that was a treasured article, when I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of those. Just to hold that little card in my hand and read off those song titles and artists. And sometime there’s even be a song/artist that I hadn’t heard and oh my did I have a holy grail to uncover. I’ll admit to being a little chart obsessed about my favorite songs (“How can Tycoon NOT be top ten locally?”) but I never took it too personally. I would dearly love to have just one of those cards in my little hands again. There was powerful magic locked up in those little cards.

While I’m on the subject of wishes, I’d also really like one of my old elementary school notebook back covers, where I’d make up what I thought were all kinds of witty one liners using pop song titles. Just kind curious to see if they were as good as I remember them being. I really ought to dig through the attic at the farm and see if I stashed one somewhere. They were always a big hit with the girls. Yes, big magic in that pop music stuff.

And I can’t forget to mention; WEAQ had casey kasem’s top forty. Talking about the top forty could be an entry in and of itself. Suffice it to say, many are the Saturday afternoons I spent counting down with casey and reaching for the stars with my feet on the ground. Listening in the on the barn radio, curled around my little am radio up in my bedroom, on pickup radios when we were out in the fields (always missing that ONE song I wanted to hear because I had to do something and getting stuck hearing Rex Smith AGAIN), comparing notes with Shelley C Monday morning once we both realized we both listened to the countdown and wrote down the list, just in case we missed something. For as much as I loved the countdown, it was the eventual demise of WEAQ, because it eventually moved to the FM stations (I 94) and just like that, WEAQ ceased to exist as it had (format change). I followed to I 94 (thereby setting up 4 years of barn fights with my older brother) but only reluctantly.

I never really listened to radio quite the same way after that. Sadly, I don’t have a favorite station today. There’s a radio in my car, but I feel like its only on as a last resort. I occasionally listen to the Current, but I usually have to turn it off after a couple songs or when the DJs talk, whichever comes first. For all the glowing eulogies, I never really got into Rev 105, I know, I know…I’m a heathen. In fact, I don’t think I’ve really listened to radio since I went off to college. It seemed like every person I met in college was their own radio station, on all the time and broadcast on every band. Who needed the airwaves, when I could just pop into a dorm room and have a universe of music unfold before me. New bands, new genres, so many ideas, something all the time and now I could see bands LIVE. Twin cities radio just couldn’t compete with that (and we got terrible reception in the dorms anyway). Twin cities radio still can’t compete with that.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

You Really Got Me

Wolf Parade post made me think of my da. He wasn't a huge music fan but he'd listen on occasion. He liked country music when he wasn't listening to farm radio, but he always let my older brother and i pick (which meant fight, literally) which "rock" radio station we'd listen to in the barn when we were milking the cows at night.

One time when he and my mom came back from shopping, he had a present for me. (Very unusual, growing up, money was very very tight and other than christmas and birthdays, gifts just didn't happen....wasn't even something we'd expect) Out of the K-Mart bag he pulls....ohmigod, it's a record album....and it's....ewwwwwww....Van Halen's first album. I don't think i hid my transition from elation to disappointment very well. And i think i kinda hurt his feelings.

But of course, there were barn chores to be done (there were always barn chores to be done) so we all hustled off to the barn. While i was piling up corn silage (why did i get stuck with the silage and joe got to do the corn feed? i can still smell the silage on me) my dad wandered into the silo house.

I tried to explain that i wasn't really into those hard rock band like Joe was (not that joe was either, he was kansas and journey and i even discovered an ABBA greatest hits 8 track tape in the red duster i inherited from him...and not like van halen is really hard rock anyway) but that i was way more into the mellower, pop music, top 40 hits. But if he wanted to buy me something rock, i was ok with todd rundgren. But that i really appreciated the idea and it was a very nice thing to do. I still laugh thinking how i probably just mystified him with all the bands i was naming that were acceptable to me (looking back, even i think all 70's rock sounded the same), and my hubris of correcting such a wonderful gesture, but to his credit he didn't roll his eyes (my dad never rolled his eyes) and i'd like to think his feelings weren't too hurt.

Receipts were eventually retrieved from the garbage and an exchange happened the following week, although for what, i don't really remember. I just remember the Van Halen album that my dad bought me, just being a dad and connecting with me. He was a really good guy.

I’m a Perfect Piece of Ass (or My Mind’s STILL Loose Inside the Shell)

First Avenue
August 6, 2010

How do i love thee, national? let me count the ways:

dark, brooding lyrics that make me read the lyric sheet and shiver (and worry about the well being of matt’s significant other) and all those super catchy couplets “I still owe money, to the money, to the money i owe” that ring through my mind kinda like when radiohead used to care.

the kinda alt/kinda classic rock that wouldn’t be that far out of place in any era, matched with some amazingly detailed (but rarely fussy) production that always lets the engaging melodies stand out.

All the Wine, Wasp’s Nest, Karen, Mr. November, Apartment Song, Bloodbuzz, Ohio, Blank Slate, About Today, Brainy, Mistaken for Strangers, Lemonworld, Daughters of the SoHo Riots

matt’s monotone but resonant vocals (“sing pretty in pink, sing pretty in pink!”) and his propensity for getting drunk (or at least it seems that way) through the course of the show (i’m sure he MEANT to fall off the drum kit at the 400 bar show)

and the drums...always the drums, especially on Boxer and High Violet, intricate, pulsing, minimalistic but full, and just the right restraint.

i could go on and on, but why bother. they are awesome and you know it, and if you don’t, do yourself a favor and listen. (alligator is my personal favorite, but Boxer and High Violet are critically better.)

I’ve seen them three times now and not been disappointed once (and i’m not really a multiple show kinda guy.....Phoenix was a crazy aberration brought on by the mind blowing, sweat filled show at the Varsity). You pretty much can’t go wrong seeing them.

So let’s see....what stands out from this show......they played Daughters of the Soho Riots, they played Apartment Song (not totally in love with the arrangement, but meh...hadn’t heard that one at the first ave show last summer), Abel, Mr. November, most of High Violet (darkness and the fourth song were neglected), they closed with About Today.

what else..... they played a new song (not sure on the title), that i really liked (even with the idiot who stood right in front of us and proceeded to talk to a chick through the entire encore.

and hmmm...oh yeah, Justin Vernon (bon iver) came out for a pile of songs (he’s coming, he’s going, he’s coming back again) best part was when he grabbed matt’s ass on one of the departures. that was pretty funny and i’m jealous.

I Am My Father's Son

Wolf Parade
First Avenue
July 18, 2010

Funny how a couple of years can turn everything inside itself and then back again. When Wolf Parade burst onto the scene a couple years ago (more than i guess), i was enthralled by their progressive pop smarts. They wrote catchy melodic songs that wormed into my ear and hung around for days. The production was a little of the moment, but it complemented the songs well enough. Then following that great release we had side projects of handsome furs, sunset rubdown (2 releases!) and swan lake. Lesser product to my ears but still intriguing and i’m all for prolific as we sped towards the sophomore WP disc. Then At Mount Snoozer came out and all the momentum evaporated into a wtf roadkill moment (for me at least) prog instead of pop, pedantic and plodding and flat out boring. Burn bright, baby and you burn fast. And just like that, i was done.

Then came a slow spot in 2009 and i decided to give the new handsome furs disc a shot. And i loved it, caught a show at the entry and suddenly, i’m thinking...well maybe it’s spencer that is ruining the band and dan’s got it going. The second swan lake disc came out a few months later and although that didn’t change my mind about dan being my main wolfie, i didn’t hate it and i appreciated the guys were recording again. Course, it was June of last year when Dragonslayer came out that i really realized that DAMN, this spencer guy isnt the problem either cos this album is amazing.

Maybe the problem isn’t either of the guys, it's the wolf parade project. These guys should just break up and do their own thing. and that was my new story and i was sticking with it.

Then Expo ’86 came out and i was like, damn. this is pretty good. maybe these guys should stick it out, cos the songs are tight, the flow is good and i’m liking this disc quite a bit (and despite mount snoozer, my expectations were still pretty high)

So expecting a rush, i grabbed a pair of tickets early for the first ave show and tried to temper my excitement. But there wasn’t really a rush (glad i wasn’t looking to unload extras), as we had ample space for the first time in pretty much forever (of course, not ample enough to avoid the totally obnoxious chicks flipping their freaking hair extensions in my drink, my face, my mouth who were sure they were gonna bang the band, any band(also who knew hair extensions taste like....mcdonalds french fries))

but the show was.....satisfying and frustrating. I mean, the band is certainly tight and can play the hell out of their instruments. Dan wasn’t quite as charismatic as he was at the entry show (would have been nice to see the low riders he was sporting at the entry), but he was smoking on the guitar and as guitar god as indie will allow. Spencer was a revelation, a rick wakeman-esque dynamo at the keyboards front and center, mesmerizing me with his solos and head whips (seriously dude, i hope you have a good chiropractor---even if i think they are quacks). but the format of one dan song then one spencer song just didn’t work in terms of momentum and flow. the styles of the two guys are just too different (maybe even on Expo ’86 now that i relisten to it) to make a 90 minute show anything more than a see saw of pop/prog/rock/psychedelic rock whiplash. i left there enjoying individual songs, but feeling dissatisficed with the show as whole. and really needing a quack chiropractor (oxymoron) for whiplash relief.

But, never fear, i’ll be tuning in for the next iteration of ........as the wolf parades.

A Few Quick Ones While the Cat is Away

Best Coast-Crazy for You: all the songs sound about the same and the low fi girl group sound isn’t anything special (raveonettes get me way more charged) but fun enough for summer.
Menomena-Mines: good good stuff. more traditional song structures and instrumentation than i’d heard from them before, but really excellent melodies and they can’t polish the quirk out of themselves that easily. Looking forward to the Varsity show (and i still haven't given up on the idea of seeing Janelle Monae at First Ave too)
Arcade Fire-The Suburbs: not saying the emperor has no clothes, but he’s definitely free balling. Neon Bible had a lot of skip songs for me, but at least it had some extraordinary highs. this all seems a little flat and thematically boring (must there always be call outs to the indie kids?)

and that is it. other than The Acorn disc i got in Toronto (which is more decidedly me than anyone else) i haven’t bought a new cd in three weeks at least. and other than ra ra riot (thanks Rhi) nothing is jumping out at me this week either (i'll pick up !!! when it's 4.95 used, maybe.

There's Always Other Scenes

The Hold Steady
First Avenue
July 4, 2010

Kind of unbelievable that I hadn’t gotten around to seeing the hold steady live. i was a distant fan of lifter puller back in the day (much moreso nowadays...ah the perils of skittish youth) but got on board with THS right off the bat. However, weddings, birthdays and funerals always seemed to get in the way of the live show. Ya, I know, i should have tried harder. Is what is, but determined i was to see them this time around.
And they were lots of fun, playing lots of favorites (not really a fan of the new album, but those songs didn’t sound that out of place) with a very punky and pointed attack live (because of the extra traveling guitar? the live stuff i’d heard before never sounded so supercharged). I did miss franz’s keyboards and back up vocals some (on chips ahoy and stuck between stations for sure) but it was all good (i probably should say we stood upstairs by the box entrance, so i was a bit removed from the mayhem, which is maybe why i didn’t get as much religion from the show as i’d hoped).
Mostly the show seemed like the craig finn show and no complaints here. i was never one of the CF vocal detractors and his sing speak style (even his singing) have only improved over the years, to allow the band to churn it up behind him and feel comfortable that he can move the song along, however he needs to do it. You’d think the awkward pee wee hermanisms would get tedious, but he always charms his way through it, making me smile more than a few times and his dance “moves”. Incidentally, we went to see my friend's cousin's boyfriend's band (The Blind Shake, who are really a lot of fun live, btw) at a wedding "dance" at the turf a couple weeks later. Craig sat at the table next to us for a bit.....i refrained from blathering all over him---course, i should maybe have bought him a beer. btw, maybe it was the jeans, but no ass. none whatsoever)
Not really surprised that the show didn’t save my life, cos i wasn’t really falling anyway (or i've already fallen?), but it was a fun Fourth of July to spend with my sweetie.
(the whigs opened. my mind is not changed about them at all)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

(Wouldn't Call It) Unexpected

oooh, i just found a mr. mister cd stuck in one of my gerry rafferty cd cases. (i've been on a gerry rafferty kick, so sue me) i guess this will be a mr. mister afternoon.

btw, my toronto pickups (only went to two stores really and sonic boom didn't have much that appealed to me):

rupert holmes: widescreen
gerry rafferty: can i have my money back?
meco: the best of meco
the church: a quick smoke at spot's
cock robin: after here through midland
acorn: no ghost

last cheapo pick was pretty good too:
men at work: two hearts (definitely a holy grail cd)
robyn hitchcock: greatest hits (rca era)
the books: the lemon of pink (awesome disc)

I Still Believe

Sad news about Michael Been

I have a very vivid memory of jamming away to a cassette tape of Reconciled when i was cleaning church at St. Lawrence's Parish (part time job in college). I looked up at some point and noticed one of the priest being pretty amused by the sight.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sufjan Calling

tickets are in the first row of the pit. kinda cool.

Got lucky and snagged 4 tix to the orpheum show. Ya..just gloating. and it's not like i know where the seats are. but still....anyone interested in going as my guest?

Thank you for purchasing your 4 ticket(s) from etix.com. This email serves as your receipt.

Your method of delivery is: Will Call: (When picking up your order you must bring the credit card used for this sale, the order # and your photo ID.).

You need pick up your ticket(s) at the gate before the performance.

Your confirmation code/Order Number is: xxxxxxx

Your ticket(s) are from the following venue(s): SUFJAN STEVENS PRESALE

You have been charged for the following:

Serial # Section Row Seat Price Conv. Fee Date Performance
2637005005 $35.00 $3.12 October 16, 2010 7:00 PM SUFJAN STEVENS live @ Orpheum Theatre (Minneapolis, MN)
2637005114 $35.00 $3.12 October 16, 2010 7:00 PM SUFJAN STEVENS live @ Orpheum Theatre (Minneapolis, MN)
2637005241 $35.00 $3.12 October 16, 2010 7:00 PM SUFJAN STEVENS live @ Orpheum Theatre (Minneapolis, MN)
2637005369 $35.00 $3.12 October 16, 2010 7:00 PM SUFJAN STEVENS live @ Orpheum Theatre (Minneapolis, MN)

Delivery Fee: $0.00
Order Fee: $0.00
Total Price: $152.48