Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Annual Report

This site is scary and beautiful.

The 2007 Feltron Annual Report is a well done report on the authors year.

And absolutely riveting.

I like the disclaimer on the drinks section: "Please note: Due to the vagaries of the author's recollection while consuming alcohol, several drinks may have gone unrecorded."

Friday, January 11, 2008

Can't Have Nothin' Nice

Of Course, the wife and I bought a shiny new '08 Rav4 to carry our precious daughter and all the precious equipment that she requires (Stroller, Pack-n-play, etc.) to wherever we need to go as happy little family. So Dad, in rushing to daycare to pick up said precious cargo, got in an accident and now that shiny red paint is scratched and the smooth straight line of the driver's side is interrupted by an evil wound. It's still drivable and luckily my daughter wasn't in the car yet, so it could have been worse, but damn the luck!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

No Time for Plots

As I've found myself going out a lot less this year, I have to admit to watching a ton more TV. Most of it bad, most of it just a way to zone out and not think about anything. One of my favorite shows I've discovered is No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. It does fall into the realm of mindless TV. It is mostly just him traveling to places near and far, drinking (alot), eating (weird stuff) and exploring the underground of a particular city. The hook is that he kind of the anti-travel-show travel-show.

He has written several books including the lauded Kitchen Confidential.

There is an interesting interview with him in The Onion.

In this interview he talks about writing fiction and he says,

"Things I can't say in non-fiction, I can say in fiction. But there's that damn plot thing. I really resent plot. I like creating characters and environments. That's really fun for me. But having to create a story arc is something I have always resented."

And here is where I get to my point, a few weeks ago, listening to MPR, I heard an interview with Nora Ephron where she says dissmisively that she can't watch a lot of TV because she like "stories," that she likes "plots." It had a lot to do with the way she said it, but it just seemed like the most arrogant thing to say. As if she were above anything that was just mindless fun, and that the people who might enjoy an hour of watching somebody get drunk and be a smartass are base and incapable of creating art.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Xmas Spectacular 2007 Pt. 2

Part One is here.

7. Dress Blues – Jason Isbell

This is a devastating song about losing a friend in the war. Every couplet is like its own poignant vignette of the way loss affects people. “Now the high school gymnasium's ready/ full of flowers and old legionnaires/ Nobody showed up to protest/ just sniffle and stare

“But there's red, white, and blue in the rafters/ and there's silent old men from the corps/ What did they say when they shipped you away/ to fight somebody's Hollywood war?”

8. Chemicals Collide – Cloud Cult

This album, The Meaning of 8, hit me hard this year. The theme of loving and losing a child, and the vivid descriptions of a child’s carefree life resonated intensely to me. Becoming a parent this year, I can’t imagine not filtering the contents of this album through that lens. This CD was in my car when my daughter was born and I remember listening to it on my way to the hospital one morning when my daughter was just a few days old. It struck me dumb, as I spent that week in a daze, listening to lines like, “These days it’s hard to tell what’s outside from what’s in my mind.”

9. All The Stars – The Evening Rig

Jason Miller’s former band, The Crush, was one of my favorites when they were around. Reemerging after the demise of that band, The Evening Rig touches on the same topics of heartbreak, longing and regret. The sound is a bit different though, and while people may disagree with my comparison to the Drive by Truckers, I still see them going in that direction.

10. Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight) – The Ramones

The obligatory Christmas song on my CD. Not the greatest song, but I think it works.

11. Bus12 – The Umbrella Sequence

This came of the underrated record, Events. I just love the part where the music drops out and the last syllable of the word “Possibly” sails up and bridges the gap until the electronic-pop music starts again. This whole song is worth it for me just for those five seconds.

12. John Allyn Smith Sails – Okkervil River

Just as I knew that Mouthful of Bees would open this mix CD, I knew this Okkervil River song would close the CD. Wonderfully literate and clever, this dark song touching on John Berryman’s plunge towards the Mississippi cops a riff from the Beach Boys’ “Sloop John B.” Will Sheff’s voice gives me the chills. I think a lot about singers and whether they are really giving it their all, I don’t think there is any doubt that Sheff means what he says.

previous spectaculars: 2006 2005

Friday, January 04, 2008

Xmas Spectacular 2007

Here is the first half of my Xmas Spectacular for 2007. This isn't really a best-of kind of list, it's just a bunch of songs that I thought sounded good together and wanted to share with my friends.

1. The Now – Mouthful of Bees

I knew from the moment I heard this song, the first track on my mix CD would belong to this group of youngsters. A frenetic, warbling, lo-fi song filled with a propulsive drum beat and guitar hooks to make Doug Martsch jealous.

2. Diggin’ on You – Stook!

I don’t know if this is the best song on Stook’s newest record, When the Need hit the Wax. The whole album is great with tracks like “Lovesick Firecracker” and “Hennepin Avenue” traversing the heart-on-sleeve lyrics of Stook and the musicality of The Band. What I do know is that driving home after a bad day at work, there is nothing to make you feel better than screaming along with the lines, “Hey, Hey, Baby, Baby/ Don’t you know you drive me crazy.”

3. Trampolining – Ice Palace

I was racking my brain, thinking off all the bands we covered in the HWTS podcasts this year. This is one that I kind of forgot about, but listening to it again, I have to say this is just catchy-as-hell pop song. And that is pretty much all I know about Ice Palace, except that their album, Bright Leaf Left, came out on Darren Jackson’s (Kid Dakota) label, Speakerphone Records.

4. Soulful Automatic – Little Man

Last year, when Duplomacy’s album, All These Long Drives, came out, I told people it would be in everybody’s year-end best-of list. They made it to mine, but not many other peoples. I said the same thing this year when Little Man’s album came out. It’s definitely on my list, and I’ve seen it on a few others. A classic-rock infused record, the songs are just plain good, and that’ll get me every time.

5. The National Side – Romantica

I was a big fan of Romantica’s first album; It’s Your Weakness that I Want. When I first heard the new album, America, I was a little disappointed. I think I was in the minority on that one. It took me a few listens to understand what was different. Romantica’s first album was a bit more eclectic, in my opinion. America is more focused and given time, I now realize that the songwriting is better, it’s just that the little R&B flourishes of the first album are abandoned for a pretty straightforward roots rock sound.

6. Clifton BridgeMark Olson

I haven’t always been a fan of Olson’s work outside of the Jayhawks. The Creekdippers seemed a bit too hippie for me. This album, however, features Olson’s intimate and fragile songwriting without a lot of pretext. This is what I love about music—the artist laying his or her feeling out on the table and saying, “have at it.” This song has nothing to do with the 35W Bridge, of course, but after that tragedy, this song certainly took on a deeper meaning to me.

Here are some previous spectaculars: 2006 2005

Part two is here.

Almost made it(s)

Every year I make a mixCD for my friends around Christmas time. I am going to post the songs that made the cut soon, but here are a few that were in the running, but just didn't make the final cut.

Dan Israel - Triangle
Matthew Ryan - Blackbird
His Mischief - Rock Song (Hyperopia)
Cloud Cult - Pretty Voice

Thursday, January 03, 2008

...And this

While I was searching youtube for that maddening clip below, I found this human Tetris video. I think my favorite part is the sound effects.

Baby, Baby Let me Get Away From Meatloaf

My wife is an admitted HGTV addict. Therefore my exposure to shows like Househunters and Design on Dime is more than I would care to admit. Lately, HGTV has been airing this commercial for a new show called Sleep on It.

The commercial spoofs Meatloaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights." The problem with all of this is that the songs just gets stuck in my head. I wake up in the middle of the night with that song playing in my head. Driving to work, I'm singing, "Let me sleep on it/ Baby, Baby, Let me sleep on it." Please, Please, someone make it stop...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Top 89 of 2007

I thought that there would be more local music on The Current’s top 89 songs of 2007. Six out of 89 is not a very good showing; I don’t think that necessarily reflects the quality of local music in the past year, but the quality of voters in the poll. The highest ranking artist is Brother Ali, which is no surprise, but I thought that he and Cloud Cult would crack the top 20, at least.

20. Brother Ali – The Undisputed Truth
22. Cloud Cult – The Meaning of 8
27. Dan Wilson – Free Life
42. Low – Drums and Guns
69. Prince – Planet Earth
79. The Alarmists – The Ghost and the Hired Gun

I did vote in the poll, but I can’t remember what I picked exactly. Locally, I know that I picked Brother Ali and Cloud Cult. I also picked Romantica, The Glad Version and Dan Israel. There were two artists that were not on the ballot, surprisingly, but I wrote them in anyway. They were Little Man and Stook. Some of the national acts I chose were Wilco and Okkervil River.