Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Go ahead and kiss her / You dont know what you're missing

Belle and Sebastian have sat squarely in that place that they sit for ever. They are the band that was always well known, always embarassing to like, always completely in a league of their own. The production on their last 2 records has become exceedingly gorgeous. The songwriting has held up, the melodies still make ears melt, and yet it is still the music that you're going to listen to alone in your bedroom. You're not going to head out with the friends on an august night and turn it up in your mustang convertible -- you're just going to quietly enjoy it on your own time. If you ever meet a girl that has a belle and sebastian 45 on her wall -- you're going to pretend that you think that they're alright, and then you're going to quote one their songs. Admit, you can't not like these guys.

Their music is so unabashedly good that it can still overcome the embarassment that comes with liking them. You should really have their new album, and you really owe yourself to have a handful of the old ones as well.

From NEW Belle and Sebastian : The Life Pursuit:


Here's a selection of interesting blog topics and tracks from the last few days. They tickle me in one place or another --

  • Songs: Illinois -- 3 Songs from a band I've never heard of, Pigeonbooth. I'm thin on info, but it's sweet lo-fi folk.
  • So Much Silence -- These guys must have bugged my room. I stumpled upon it earlier today and I was planning on doing both a blueprint post, and a halo-benders post. They beat me to the punch, and did it better than I'll ever be able to pull off. A tip' a the hat to ya, kids.
  • Killing Floor Blues -- If you're jonesing for old-time blues or soul, this guy knows more about it than you ever will. Holla'
One More Thing to check out this morning..... this is amazing!

2nd Day, 2nd Milestone

Since Yesterdays BLOCKBUSTER day two other important things have happened. First of all I received my second, and third comment from people that I don't know. How this happened? Well, folks, you are just as baffled as I am. Of course my friends and family are number one, but I'll whore myself out for someone who can appreciate my music any day of the year. That's why BurningOak.com gets a plug here -- check it out if you're interested in the Champaign-Urbana music scene (?).

The second thing -- I got my first link. Mike Cable gave me some love over at his blues site, Killing Floor Blues. Check it out, he has some sweet oldtime blues

Monday, January 30, 2006

Johnny Horton Milestone!

Today is an exciting post. Following up to my New Orleans thread I received my first comment by someone that I don't know. That means that my words are spreading. Some guy named Chaz Ringo suggested that I include The Battle of New Orleans in my post about that unluckiest of southern towns -- I did him 3 better (count em' one-two-three) and posted a handful of Johnny Horton songs. Keep up the good work, Chaz.

In Support of New Orleans

Unfortunately, I've never been fortunate enough to travel to New Orleans. Given their current aquatic plight, it may not happen anytime soon -- the tragedy down there is hard for me to even get my head around. I like to think about what it must have been like to be there before the hurricanes. A place where you can get a drink 24 hours/day in a TO GO GLASS and then just walk around the street with 3 feet of booze in your hand. Oh yeah, and then you get to your happy place and there are naked girls, transexuals, and pickpockets everywhere. Sounds nice, yeah?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Bring the Awesomeness.

So I just added a new feature -- every link for an mp3 file now has a little play button on it. This will actually PLAY the file -- you can listen without having to download everything.

There are a few other blogs with this feature, but obviously mine is the best.

Later, Kids!

Rockets and Nails in his Pockets.

I wake up with bourbon breath and dust in my lungs. The record was doing the cah-tsk, cah-tsk, cah-tsk that it does when it hits the middle, skips, hits the label. I was sore. Tired. Dirty. I need to put more gravel underfoot. I start walking. The wind kicks up and I'm reminded of how much I dislike this place and these people. I need to head west, head south. I catch a train and sleep returns. I dream of the south and the way the wind smells in autumn. I dream of the tin-pan alleyways, bread with gravy, the taste of river-water, and the thumbprinted windows of my parents house. I remember August nights in those dim bars, talking to Maggie and drinking too much. The stage at the back of the bar and the way those skinny old timers would coax those strings into song.

The Back Porch Vipers are a band that I (and it seems like everyone else) found on the SXSW Sampler Collection. There's something like 500+ bands included and this is one of them that really stood out. Their first release, Light Up, is all songs from 1930s Harlem about marijuana. Vocalist Karen Abrahams has incredible range and pure molasses in her throat. They kick ass.

The Hackensaw Boys probably rose to such incredible fame after they played intermission sets during the 2002 Unlimited Sunshine tour. Sir Issac Brock liked them so much that the Hackensaws contributed heavily to both the Ugly Casanova record and Good News for People Who Like Bad News. They travel around the country in a huge old bus called the Dirty Bird. They perform and record with traditional bluegrass stylings and again -- a big fat helping of Kickass and Gravy.

Andrew Bird should need no introduction. He probably has more than one spot on my Top 10 best shows ever. This is some of the old-school Mr. Bird. His voice and lyrics make my stomach feel warm and full. MMMMMM GRAVY!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Reason for Better Canvas

My friend and I had an argument one time about stereo equipment. He likened those that care about speakers/headphones/amplifiers/precision sources to someone that can only appreciate paintings on the finest canvas. I conceded that it's not the most important thing in the world, but with the right music, a good set of Sennheiser Cans vs a set of computer speakers can be the difference between an interesting song and having the tune crawl up your spine and ram an icicle into your brain.

Sondre Lerche is this tiny man from Sweden. He's charming. He has excellent stage presence. A survery in Scientific Proof Magazine from 2001 resulted in everyone knowing that 9 out of 10 girls would trade a foot full of toes for the chance just too touch him. He stands on stage and talks very softly and hides behind an oversized Gibson hollowbody. Then he starts to play, then he starts to sing, and then the fainting begins. Oh yeah -- this kid has one of the coolest voices in indie-rock today.

The production on his albums is consistently amazing. Everything just sort of hangs off of his voice in the perfect way. His third album is coming out in a couple of weeks. Check it out, I'm sure it will be brilliant if the song in his new video is any indication.

The Tiny is a band that I stumbled upon because their picture was so interesting. On a good set of speakers, you can hear ever nuance of every instrument that these three can play. The voice is sort of a Beth Gibbons, Bjorkish sort of affair. Her phrasing and melody is among the best, and all of those beautiful sounds make me want to lay down in the sun and smile.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

This Bird Has Flown

These three tracks are from a new Beatles tribute album that came out a few months ago. I haven't seen any mention of this fantastic compilation on any of the other sites, and I'm beginning to wonder why. There is no debate that the Beatles set the template for modern music, of this I feel that everyone is sure. This comp has many of the new-school covering some of the most famous songs of the last decade. I can't imagine that any other comp that featured such current indie-staples as Fiery Furnaces, Low, Sufjan Stevens, Rhett Miller, Ted Leo, or Ben Kweller could be overlooked and/or forgotten.

Then again -- maybe I just wasn't paying attention. I was probably busy working on the new Outkast film.

If you're interested... the album has a website and you can preview all the tracks here....

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Mash Ups.

The Mashup -- Where does it stand in 2006? The DJs/producers are getting more and more talented by the day. They are blending previously unheard of sounds and making things appear out of seemingly thin air. The field is dominated by unheard of artists that wear ninja costumes, spin in the dark, and travel in black helicopters well below the RIAAs radar. How they can take two songs and frankenstein together an all new track is just mindblowing to me -- so I give you my mashup picks for today.

These are what mashups are all about. They take the 50-cent vocals and assemble it with the Lovemakers track into a single cohesive track. This is a great example because the fiddy verses and the Lovemakers chorus have a completely copacetic thing goin.

This track takes the standard mashup recipe but adds a healthy dose of awesomeness. Whereas the other mashup producers are fairly content just looping some rock bars and shoehorning some hip-hop verses over them, Loo and Placido (http://www.looandplacido.com/) seamlessly fit all 4 artists in without making it sound contrived. These 2 are french remixers that are featured pretty regularly on euro MTV and end up on my playlist from time to time. I would certainly call this my favorite mashup ever.

This one also flips the mashup over. It takes the hip-hop track and layers the queen verse/chorus/verse over the top. This one doesn't sound as polished as the Loo and Placido, but I think it's still pretty cool. And that brings us to another example that I think does it even better --

Billy Joels voice sounds fantastic. This mashup goes the more minimal route, but again layers the traditional rocker over the hip-hop beat. I think the Jay-Z track offers a fantastic starting point, but how this guy ever found a vocal only track of the Billy Joel record -- it amazes me.

This brings us full circle all the way to the only mashup that I'm aware of that is rock on rock. How this madman ever made the vocals sound like that is probably somewhere buried with Jimmy Hoffa. This track is straight up creepy, but I can't stop listening.


Here's some blog posts from today that tickled my craw:

You Ain't no Picasso - Two Gallants : I read this blog everyday, and this band sounds really cool. They're from So-Cal but don't have that nonsense OC-itude.

MyExBestFriend - Wonderwall : This is a new blog, but coincidently they posted a BETTER version of Wonderwall today then I did yesterday. Still Ryan Adams, but it's like a real studio version where I posted some half-assed live bootleg. Touche.

So Much Silence - The Procussions : Cool hip-hop group that I've never heard of. Bounce, bounce.

M3 Online - The Elected : The other half of Rilo Kiley get ready to release an album, and it is a goodin.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Covered Sound

It's really pretty basic -- today I'm going to post some cover songs. If these songs are better than the originals or not is probably up for debate, but they are all beautfiul, and they all interest me in one way or another. I think that cover songs are probably on the way to being illegal which is why several of them exist only as live-versions by popular artists. Let's all hold hands and be friends, ok?

So these guys have the audacity to do a Beyonce cover song. This could easily fall right into being a parody of a parody. Could they be trying to sway Beyonce fans to don some cardigans and sweater vests, pick up some black horn-rims and grow some shaggy hair, or do they just recognize that it's a song with some potential and that they could re-do it beautifully? I think that it's interesting that just the fact that it's a cover of an annoying hot-100 song means that it will be met with laughter and it will be assumed that it's just a stunt to generate a laugh. The reality is however, this song would nearly stand on it's own merits. The harmony and phrasing are as strong as the lyrics are thin.

Everybody knows who Bright Eyes is these days. (Excuse my possibly incorrect verb tenses, please. thanks.) I'm pretty sure that everyone knows who Feist is. A young, talented songwriter covers a young, talented songwriters song. God is smiling.

Ryan Adams. Sigh. Oasis. Sigh. This looks like just the opposite of the Bright Eyes/Feist union. This looks like annoying, cocky songwriter, covers annoying, cocky rock-stars. Except that all is not as expected in who-ville. Something works -- something parts the dark clouds and shines through -- Ryan Adams voice and instinct suddenly pull him out of the tail-spin and for these five or six minutes he glides again. He played this song so well and with so much heart that those silly Gallaghers actually credit him with playing it correctly. Rumor has it that the lads were so impressed that when they play this song now they claim that they are covering Ryan Adams cover of their song. Oh -- and that song "Brown Sugar" -- well, it just kicks ass.

This one is easy enough. I don't think I need to explain anything except that The Shins can cover The Postal Service every bit as well as Sam Beam can.

My favorite singer/songwriter offers up two good covers from famous american songwriters. "Famous Blue Raincoat" by Leonard Cohen and "Tell Me Why" by Neil Young. Will this blog ever get sick of posting Hayden tracks? Probably not. If that's a problem than you can just go elsewhere.

Friday, January 20, 2006

These Boots Were Made for Rocking

Also swiped by those nayer-do-gooders the Congolese was my collection of bootlegs that I myself recorded. From time to time as I slay the dragons and recover these collections, I will feature certain tracks.

Here is a particularly fugged up track. The sound quality is actually incredible good since I didn't have anywhere near good equipment. I had an AudioTechnia 822a with a cheap-ass Sony MD with auto-leveling. It still sounds good. How the Congolese managed to corrupt it into a cruddy 80kbps Mp3 -- I'll never know the extents of their depravity. This was also the last track I was able to record because my MiniDisc technology ran out of space -- hence the sweet fade-out at the end. It was near the end of the show, but it's really the first 10 minutes or so of this track that make me go wheeee.

On The Rebound from the Underground - Pt. 1

Here's a story. My computer hard drive was stolen by Congolese rebels about a year ago. For some reason they suspected that I had the diplomatic ties to encourage the US increase it's Coltan consumption. I briefly visited the Democratic Nation (hah!) and attempted to retrieve my harddrive but was met with significant resistance. They wiped my entire music collection from it and the drive was never seen again. Luckily, I had backed up some of the music some time earlier on another hard drive. For strictly logistical reasons I can only recover one iPod Nano worth of music at a time.

This feature is going to be me showcasing some odd, rare, interesting, or just regular tracks that I encounter on my mission.

Before Andrew Bird was at the top of every indie-kids iTunes Playlist, he was just a skinny kid from Chicago that liked to play a violin. Ok -- I guess he's still just a skinny kid from chi playing violin, but he plays it differently now. I saw him play with Squirrel Nut Zipper some-teen years ago and he blew me away. He released 3 cds with his band, The Bowl of Fire, and each one of them was lightyears away from the previous. This is from the second of these releases -- Oh! The Grandeur -- and really showcases all of his substantial talents. Me loves me some Andrew Bird.

All Time Quarterback was Ben Gibbards solo experiment. I don't know if the guy just wasn't content cranking out album after album of sappy love music, but Death Cab for Cutie must not have been providing him enough exposure back in 1999. This song comes from a 5-song ST EP that he released on Elsinor Records. It's Lo-Fi, it's catchy, and it's the reason Ben Gibbard is now an indie household name.

Anomaly is a dark hip-hop DJ and produces some really black tracks. I can't find very much info on him from the internet, but if I recall I picked up this EP in late 1999/early 2000. The EP featured some really killer production, and cameo tracks by Slug, Eyedea, Abilities, Swift, and Los Nativos. That was pretty much the Rhymesayers Lineup in those days, but I don't recall Anomaly doing much else than this. I'd love to know what name he is working under these days because, as showcased on this track, he really can ride that foundation. Bonus -- his EP artwork was created by a guy that I have a slight obsession with -- Mr. Aaron Horkey (yes, those are hand drawn, kids. Aaron doesn't know how to use a computer.)

This was my friends band in 10th grade. If you listen to the track try to make it all the way through, because I just listened to it yesterday and it still blows me away. This kid is 16 at the time, plays the guitar like he has 11 fingers, layered his voice into his own gospel-ish choir, tells a biblical story that is sort of neat, and still manages to feature his tourettes during the bridge. Incredible, yes?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

From the Hood. January.

So I'm going to try my best and make this a monthly feature. The twin cities is more than just corn-fed girls and too many lakes -- we've got a kicken' music scene, jack. Ever since those first settlers mistook this place for whatever they were looking for, we've been plucking strings and taking names and penning songs about freezing weather. Here are a few local bands that warm me up on these January nights. I don't know where Duplomacy came from, but I know that I like them. I saw them a few times over at Big V's and once at the Turf, and they always deliver. Their soft-stated indie-bars are well-written and infectious, and they regularly appear wearing the requisite hooded sweatshirts. Plus, "Coppertone" is a cool title for a song. If "The Hold Steady" sound familiar it's because they probably are. Lifter Puller was a minnesota staple for around a decade and then lead-man Craig Finn up and moved to NYC to either follow his habit, or seek fame and fortune. Their new record Seperation Sunday cuts deep and the writing is incredible. It's steeped in this drug-addict-reborn-jesus-freak vibe, but I'm not smart enough to figure out what that means. Most people get turned off that the guy can't really sing or do anything but sort of shout brilliant lyrics. I can't think of another current band that prints all the delicious words on their website and in the liner notes, but that is really what these songs are all about. So Mr. Kinstler is sort of a mystery to me. I've been following his music for about a year, but I have yet to hear his LP or see him live. I've got a few scratchy mp3s of unknown origins, but I like his song-writing, like his voice, and would love to see his Monthly slot at the 400 bar. Chris Koza is a recent NYC transplant. Rumor has it that he heard me say that the Minnesoa scene was about to break, and he hopped a Sun Country jet. He's got a weekly gig somewhere in NE and seems to have positivity flowing in his direction. Enjoy. So this band is no longer known as the Olympic Hopefuls -- they were sued by the Olympics and now they are just "The Hopefuls". They still perform in warm-up track suits, and they still play fun indie-pop. Kid Dakota and John Hermanson bring something for everyone. This is a silly, fun, I-like-you-song.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Page France

Here is one for the jesus freak in all of us. A shameless plug for the Guy. Page France is one of the only bands that I discovered in 2005 that will probably not be weeded out of my record collection by the time 2007 hits. I found them on Said The Gramaphone and they introduced them with this -- no possible way could I introduce them any better.

If someone were to ask me what kind of music I like, it would probably make a lot of sense to just say "THIS". I suspect that songwriter Michael Nau has precisely the same dreams as me. It's the only explanation for how his songs jolt straight to my brain's gladcentres. Last night he will have dreamed of a strange house with blue walls, where he lived with his parents, only they're not his parents. Who are they? Are they the parents from Buffalo 66? Maybe. And then the night before that he dreamt of math equations. And before that he dreamed of the brilliance of rising vocal lines and sudden thumps, glockenspiel and the harmonies that make one's spine Spring-tingle.

File under Toxic Covers.

I have a secret. Shhh! No no.... not that.... my secret is that I like Britney Spears. I don't think she's especially good looking, she surely isn't talented, and now that she's got a lil' fella hanging about she's lost all of the appeal she ever had. I'm an oldschooler though, and I wouldn't kick Brit circa 2001-2002 out of my bed for eating crackers. There are only a few things better than her song "Toxic" -- one of them is the video for the song, and one of them is a well-done cover of it. I guess it's not a secret anymore.


Hey kids. This is Rob and I now have a blog. I don't have enough exciting things happening to me to really warrant having one of these things, but I'll try to pepper it with lies every now and again just to maintain any sort of interest that you might have.

I really just want to help you learn to like better music. I just got some new headphones and this will be a good excuse for me to more closely listen to music and filter it for you fair people. So for the names sake, we'll start with something obvious:

My love affair with Hayden began on a December night in 1986. The furnace was broken. The windows leaked cool air so we filled the bathtub with warm water and submerged our apendages because we were worried that fingers/toes would start dropping off. The railroad cars hummed a Hayden song as they sped by in the dark.

The song "Trees Lounge" is from the OST for Booty Call 3. Ok. That's the joke that Hayden would make if you saw him play it live. It would be funny if he did it. It's really from the OST for "Trees Lounge" that was written/directed/starred in by Steve Buscemi. Awesome!

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