Friday, April 28, 2006

Top 5

  1. Matthew Ryan – Irrelevant

It is no secret that Matthew Ryan is one of my favorite artists ever. (And that is not hyperbole) “Irrelevant” is a classic desperate, dark and depressing Matthew Ryan song off his debut album, Mayday.

There’s only one light on in the house

And that’s the light up in the hallway

Shining off the back of my head

And I’m concentrating hard

On the cigarette to the ashtray

And the ashtray back to my lips

So I lean up from my easy chair

I rub my three-day beard

Give a thousand-yard stare

As I recall all the time and the money

We spent

Before I became irrelevant

  1. Willie Nelson – Crazy

I’ve been thinking about Willie for two reasons. 1) I went to Glueks last night and caught the last hour and a half of Mary Lucia’s live broadcast. When I think of Lucia, I think of her playing Willie Nelson’s version of “The Rainbow Connection.” 2) On Sunday night at the 331 Club, there will be a Willie Nelson tribute with a ton of artists participating.

I have always liked Willie’s version of this song better than Patsy Cline’s. I prefer the raw, shaky voice as opposed to Cline’s beautiful instrument. That is not a knock on the supreme vocal talent of Patsy Cline. It’s just that I hear more emotion and passion in Willie’s trembling voice.

  1. Rolling Stones – Can’t You Hear Me Knocking

I was just listening to Sticky Fingers. I always think of this song as the song after “Wild Horses.” I actually had to go look at the name, but the name doesn’t matter, what matters is the rocking guitars and that kind of boogie sex rock that the Rolling Stones are so good at creating.

  1. The Dames Taiwan

I went to Grumpy’s downtown recently and for the first time I didn’t play the jukebox. Usually when I am there, I will play a Pixies song, a Pavement song and this song by The Dames. It is too bad the Dames called it quits because they were one of the few acts that could possibly define themselves as metal that I liked.

  1. Archers of Loaf – Harnessed in Slums

At Glueks last night, I met up with one of my oldest friends. I knew this guy in Germany in the early nineties. I started thinking about those days and how much I absolutely loved this band. (I still love this band)

They were the best at that angular bright dual guitar attack. I regret that I never got to see them live, but as I said I spent those few years in a small town in Germany, which didn’t make many touring band’s itinerary.

They did play once at the Entry after I moved to Minneapolis. I though about going, but I can’t remember why I didn’t. Then they broke up before they toured again. Sad.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

New look

I am playing with new templates. The colors aren't exactly the ones I want, but I am going to work on it. For now, I have to go and do some real work.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Best of what?

Apparently City Pages' readers feel that Dazy Head Mazy is the best band in the Twin Cities.


Are you sure?

I didn't even know they were still around. It's not that I don't doubt that they are extremely popular. It's just that I don't think they are that popular with City Pages' demographic.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

undescribable disdain

I bet at the front entrance to the clear channel radio complex there is a picture of Jack Sparks with a caption that says, "If you see this man, press the red panic button under the desk."

I love that Sparks is so passionate about music. I think I know what he is feeling when his veins bulge from the sides of his neck as he discusses the ways Mick Anselmo is ruining country music. It is the same rage I feel inside when I am talking to a user on the phone and trying to get them to right-click on an icon and they start babbling on about some stupid unrelated thing that is happening. See. I can't even describe my rage accurately. I am wasting time writing this post because I have two support calls to make that I know are going to put me in a fould mood for the rest of the day.

Okay. Here goes. Pinch my nose and just dive in. I need a new job...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Roller Coaster Race Car Rock 'n' Roll Blue Jeans

I went out to the Hex on Saturday to cover the Stingray Green CD release show. I just wasn’t feeling rock and roll that night. I sometimes get a really bad anxious feeling when I am out. I get that roller coaster stomach where your guts kinda shake and flutter and there is a slight rush of endorphins to the head. This is sometimes thrilling, but sometimes scary. Anyway, I just didn’t want to be around all these people having a good time. I left halfway through the last band’s set just to spend the 15 minutes it takes to get home, alone.

You know I started the Friday Top 5 thing in homage to Jim Walsh’s Monday top 20. Because he is brilliant, he now is doing themed lists complete with pictures. My favorite one is number 26, "Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down," by Uncle Tupelo, alongside a picture of President W.

Better spirits later.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Top 5

It’s been a busy week for me. I had a fifteen-page paper and a presentation due on Wednesday about the ACLU. I have a few more articles to finish up for a news writing class I am taking and then I am done for the semester. Unfortunately, I won’t get much of a break. I am taking three classes this summer and in the fall. Plus, I may be taking on a bigger role at the school paper, The Metropolitan. (This is still up in the air at this point.)

I knew I would rely on this trick eventually, but I didn’t think it would be only few short weeks into this top 5 nonsense. Here it is: the next 5 songs that play randomly on my iPod.

  1. P.O.S. is Ruining My Life – P.O.S.

So just breathe and just breathe in and out
You’ll feel a whole lot better
Close your eyes and you’ll see
That if you can’t see them
Then they can’t see you
Close your eyes

  1. 405 – Death Cab for Cutie

I love the line, “Leave your bad habits underneath the patio.” I think they played with Franz Ferdinand (Zzzzz!) last night. HWTS should have a review shortly. I had a long drunken discussion about DCFC with a friend last weekend. I can’t remember the details (due to the drunken part of the conversation) but I know he was telling me that Plans is a lot better than I give it credit for. I don’t know if I agree with that no matter my level of sobriety.

  1. So Pretty – Kid Dakota

What can I say… I am a sucker for these dark depressing indie rock songs. I remember when I first saw Kid Dakota; I thought it was like nothing I’d ever seen before. I still feel that way about this first EP.

  1. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond

Damnit. I knew this random iPod thing was going to embarrass me. Yes. I like Neil Diamond. If you can get past the cheese factor, the man is a great songwriter.

  1. Winners Never Quit – Pedro the Lion

I am not really a fan of Pedro. I bought this one album a few years ago and I liked it. Then I saw him live and it just totally ruined his music for me. I have never been bored to numbness at the Entry before or since. I do like this song though.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Top 5

  1. Mary – Langhorne Slim

After seeing Mr. Slim last weekend I finally get it. The show featured Slim and the Memphis band Lucero. I had a feeling that I would like Lucero, but I was ambivalent about Slim.

After seeing Langhorne Slim live though, I have a different opinion. He puts on a raucous and fun show. Talented enough to remake the songs live, weird and scary enough to keep you guessing what was going to happen next.

  1. Sister Jack – Spoon

Spoon is one of those bands that when I finally heard them, I thought, “Why haven’t I been listening to them all along.” I like this song because of the line, “I was on the outside looking in/ I was in a dropped-D metal band we called requiem.”

I was once in a dropped-D metal band and it brings back those memories. (Good memories)

  1. Styrofoam Plates – Death Cab for Cutie

I couldn’t even listen to this song for about a year after my Dad died. I can relate to some of the things in this song, and I feel very guilty about that.

  1. We 3 – Soul Asylum

This is one of my favorite Soul Asylum songs. I have Soul Asylum on the brain this week. They played this past Wednesday at the Fine Line, and there is a Rock for Karl benefit tonight at the Entry.

  1. Don’t be careful with your loveJim Walsh

I have a bit of a man crush on Jim Walsh. Just because he is a brilliant writer and this is a funny, sweet song.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Music journalism?

I know it's a very popular TV show, but does American Idol deserve articles from a local music journalist? I know there are many people addicted to the show. I know there are even people whom I would consider hardcore music fans that enjoy the show. But I think most anybody would draw a definitive line between entertainment value and artistic merit.

When record companies whine about shrinking profits, do they realize what the idolization of pop music is doing to their bottom line?

The encouragement and subsequent rewards of the soulless, bubble-headed singers promotes karoake puppets.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

3 years

Three years ago, I wasn’t surprised.

The battle was long, for you especially, but for us also.

The battle was un-winnable.

So, here it is. Three years since you’ve gone.

The anniversary kind of snuck up on me this year. I was walking down the hall here at work, and like a poison dart to my brain; your face appeared. Then I heard your voice in my head. Then all my thoughts have been black since.

I remember the night I flew back to Virginia. I slept in the office that you had downstairs. You called it an office, but NASCAR paraphernalia filled each square inch of that room. It was your “racing room.” That was an uncomfortable night. Every time I opened my eyes I would see Jeff Gordon, then I would think of you. Every time I closed my eyes, I swear I could hear you talking in the kitchen. You would say, “Hey there!” just like you always did when you saw me.

Here it is. Three years later. I can still hear you. Sometimes I hear myself say something like, “Hey there!” Sometimes I’ll hear myself say that, or something equally insignificant, and I’ll…


I’ll think of you.

Because that is all I can do.

I miss you Dad.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Friday, April 07, 2006

Top 5

1. Manifesto – Valet
After writing this, I had this song in my head for the rest of the day.

2. At my job – Dead Kennedys
This is the way I feel some days when I am stuck in my gray “veal fattening pen.” Jello Biafra’s snide, sarcastic singing delivered with a clockwork beat and droning guitars.

I’m working at my job
I’m so happy
More boring by the day
But they pay me

3. What is Truth – Johnny Cash
A coming of age storytelling song in that sing/speak delivery that Mr. Cash employs sometimes. I found this song on the Johnny Cash box set, the first disc of which contains 27 songs. This song came on my iPod and the first verse stuck with me for some reason.

The old man turned off the radio
Said where did all of the old songs go
Kids sure play funny music these days
And they play it in the strangest ways
Said it looks to me like they’ve all gone wild
It was peaceful back when I was a child
Well man could it be that the girls and boys
Are trying to be heard above your noise

4. Bikeriders – Lucero
I just watched “If I Should Fall from Grace” about Shane MacGowan and the Pogues. An excellent look at MacGowan and the way he has decided to live with his demons and the people around him have accepted his demons.
I just bought this Lucero disc because I am covering the show Saturday at the Triple Rock. I swear this song sounds exactly like a Pogues song.

5. Break My Heart – Malcolm Middleton
I was considering the Arab Strap show last weekend, but I ended up not leaving the house too much thanks to a mountain of schoolwork. It did make me think of the solo album by Malcolm Middleton (one-half of the strap). I thought this album was brilliant and severely underappreciated. A lot more poppy than the typical Arab Strap album, but the lyrics are still mostly about chicks and drinking though.

You’re gonna break my heart I know it
But if you don’t
You’re gonna break my run of happiness
And destroy my career
I’d rather feel full than to sing these shit songs
I’ll sell my guitar and never look back

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Music Industry, Schmusic Schmindustry

This is my opinion. If you are involved in promoting artist’s creations, shouldn’t you be concerned with that art and not the money that art can put in you and your companies bank accounts?

Three stories that point to innovative artist marketing tools, the return of the single as a viable commodity and the music industry trying to stop the world from turning.

British singer Sandi Thom hosted 21 concerts in her basement which were broadcast on her website. This stunt helped her garner a record deal with Sony. Here is where my skeptical and cynical side comes in. I think that maybe she wasn’t struggling as much as her and her manager would like you to believe. This reeks of a publicity stunt for her new label. I could be wrong though. I think either way it is a cool story. I like the idea of it, maybe this will launch a myspace concert series where we can watch 16-year-old suburban kids play Metallica covers in their parents basement.

A single by Gnarls Barkley hit number one on the British charts. What makes this newsworthy (or blogworthy)? The song “Crazy” has not been released on an album yet, and in fact, has not been released in any physical form. This song exists exclusively as a download. This is the first strictly digital song to reach this milestone.

Finally, the RIAA says that importing songs from a CD into iTunes violates the “fair use” copyright laws. The RIAA doesn't want people to listen to music apparently.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

...when inertia grabs the whole damn band.

“What do you want to do?”
When I say I am working on a writing degree, most people ask this question. I say, “Write!”
This week someone asked me why I write about music. All this got me thinking…

I write because I enjoy the process of writing. I like the pressure of trying to find the perfect word and saying it in the perfect way to coax out a bit of emotion in a sentence. I like rearranging the words on the page to make them do slightly different things. This is the reason I write anything.

I can readily admit that I am insecure about my writing talent. Anytime someone compliments me I feel awkward and lose the words to thank that person for reading. I am still trying to find my voice as a writer.

When I was 10, I found my brother’s albums. There was a couple of Rush albums and Synchronicity by The Police. I listened to those albums everyday and memorized the words and I would sing along in the living room before anybody else got home. It was my secret. I have been obsessed with music ever since.

I moved to Minneapolis 14 years later and started a band. I started going to all these clubs and I would see some amazing local bands. They weren’t always good, but they always interested me. Where I grew up, local bands played backyard barbecues, and if they got really lucky they would get a gig at some beach bar, but those gigs came far and few between. Any beach bar that hosted local bands usually, for some reason unbeknownst to me, wouldn’t last long. So, here in the Twin Cities, to see these young bands, and be in a young band that could gig every week in great clubs, even legendary clubs was something special to me.

My band disappeared, but my love for local music has not. I love seeing a band on the stage of the Entry thinking, “Holy shit. This is it!” And they are right: This is “it.” I never grow tired of seeing bands pouring their guts out on the stage, even if it is for 10 people on a Tuesday night.

I know that I would like to be able to pay my bills by writing. I know that is not happening quite yet. My goal isn’t necessarily to be a music writer, but if I am put on the spot, that is what I know. I have in interest in politics, in culture, in human-interest stories. But I don’t have the passion for anything but music. Music is what I think about constantly, music is the thing that I can talk about for hours. I can be ambivalent about most any other topic, but when it comes to music, I am going to have an opinion. I guess that is why my fledgling writing career has gravitated towards music. This is my manifesto.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Today should be a national holiday. Baseball opener. I have sat, in previous years, in front of my TV for 12 hours of baseball. This year I am at work; sweating it out in the gray lifeless cubicles of corporate America, instead of sweating it out on my couch with a cold beer.

Maybe next year I can return to the dream.

The real season starts tomorrow with the Minnesota Twins.