Monday, February 27, 2006

Absolutely Brilliant: Toy Story vs Requiem for a Dream

The 50 States: Delaware

Let's keep this magical mystery tour jiving. Next stop is Delaware: shaped like a lima bean, I really don't know much about you. You have the appearance to outsiders of being a lonely, misplaced state -- but I'm sure if I cracked you open, you'd be full of love and rasberry flavored chocolates. You've yet to invite me over for blueberry pancakes, but if you were so inclined on some sunday monring (and expressed me some first-class tickets and a bottle of makers mark) I'd be there in a heartbeat.

Delaware, you were admitted to the union on a sunny day in 1787. You were a trailblazer when you were the first to ratify the US Constitution. You brought us such great things as The Methodist Church, log cabins, the automatic flour mill, nylon, Robert Bird, E.I. du Pont, Henry Heimlich, and Julius Johnson.

Delaware, even though are you small -- you still have songs written about you, and for that, I love you.

edit: Ok, I was busted. That David Dondero song is about Wilmington, NC. An anonymous commentor called me out, but maybe... just maybe kids, I make mistakes like this just to see if anyone is actually listening. Enjoy the Dondero track right now, and enjoy it again when we get to NC.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

An Avantgarde Saturday: Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen

"How comes a man by a name?" you ask, With a curiosity shallow. You wish for a simple anecdote, a trifle, an entertainment for you and your fellows. Very well. Have you seen a rock on a cruel headland? Where the winds and the tides ministrations make no allowance, nor follow any plan, yet conspire to expunge imperfection. Is a child in his crib, with his fat little limbs and his doting mother in attendance to be tested, and scarred, and beset as if he were a man in the prime of his strength and endurance? No. Names we have we are given at birth. Some look to genetics to tally their worth -- the offspring of magnates whose power and fame confers elevation and prestige all the same. But a man puts no stock in notriety unearned, the notions unworthy and so must be spurned.

So it was meant to be and so it went with me.

I packed up my pride and struck out on my own. I ran away to sea at the age of 11, in lowly estate you well could imagine. Serving the needs of a harsh and cruel captain -- enduring his scorn and cleaning out his cabin. He called me "his little papito." Ah we sailed the high seas and I grew into manhood, and I was impatient to stand where that man stood -- to be a ships captain, arrayed in my finery, but my plot was uncovered to suceed him by mutiny. I barely escaped with my life in a longboat to the west coast of Turkey, where I was captured by the wild Tsuleots who took me to be a gypsy. It was considered unlucky to kill a Gypsy. They camped along the beach, they danced along a blazing fire. They chided and taunted, and called me a liar when I told them I was a bitter-ships-captain, ill-used by fate and usurped by my crewmen. They drank all the while -- some vile spirit distilled from the berrys of the wretched grass which grew in abundance in the area. And the drunker they got, the more my story seemed to amuse them. So I joined with their band and we rode off to the mountains together. Many fine adventures we had, too.

Awww.. the Tsuleots, they loved me so well, they gave me a horse. I could not ride him, though -- and this added to their general amusement. They called me Muldavio. "Crazy, wild, gypsy who can't ride his horse well" is roughly how the translation went.

"How comes a man by a name?" you ask, the answer is more than you wanted -- and had better remain a mystery than remain so mundane and deflated. Do you think that you now have the measure of me? Is your orb cured by this revealation? Are you happy that romance and mystery have abandoned my bluff constitution? Well it seems you see less the more that you think you know. By the moon and the stars and the tides that flow, I will happily accept the name they bestowed, I'll stand on my pride and I'll reap what I saw. God's in his heaven and the devil below. Receive with your heart what the mind can not show.

I am the great Muldavio.

-- Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlmen.
As far as music goes, this is exactly the sort of thing that I wish I could find more of. The plucking of strings, bellows of accordian, and a wafting of clarinet brings out a unique sound -- something that more bands should concentrate on. Not to say that I want more avantgarde, old time, sea-farer tunes -- I just wish that our music scene had more breadth and depth. Today we have cookie-cutter indie rock, MTV marketed "underground" sounds and even the band names are only aspiring to a mediocre level of conformity. The sentence for most music: boredom. Then Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen slowly crawl onto my playlist -- the world changes. This is the sound of risk. The steam that comes from a boiling pot of tango, waltz, polka, and rock. This is where Andrew Bird comes from. This is where Tom Waits comes from. This is where I found Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen. I can only sit and imagine how fantastically engaging these boys must be live.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Something Special in Thao Nguyen

Unfortunately, I do not know anything about this girl except that she has an absolutely adorable voice and pens some equally cute songs. She has a brand new cd out and I've been really enjoying it lately. I promise you could use some Thao Nguyen in your life. Trust me. Plus, her MySpace page describes her:
Somewhere someone said something along the lines of: if edie brickell and cat power had a baby, and you woke it up, and it was still sleepy, and you got it to sing.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

(slightly) More Connecticut Goodness

Well this mornings post was nearly as complete as a Connecticut music post can be. This afternoon though I was shaken by a LIGHTNING BOLT of ideas! That one song..... rarr arrrrr arrrrr..... nope, just another crappy aerosmith song.

Also, a comment worth replying to:
The Trick said...
I'm loving the tunes, but I doubt your research. I'm pretty sure PEZ was a European creation (Austria), i.e., not from Connecticut.

Well dear Tricky -- you are right, but I am not wrong. I said that Connecticut brings us such great things as PEZ, and in fact the US headquarters is in little ol' Orange, Connecticut. I appreciate you trying to keep me honest, however -- if I didn't have loyal readers like yourself I'd probably still be going on about that time I was kidnapped by Congolese rebels.

The 50 States - Connecticut

Connecticut so curious a place are you. You remind me of the blue power ranger -- you are strong by yourself, but you are mighty when teamed up and in a MEGAZORD configuration! What would connecticut be without New York, New Jersey, and Massachusets? Why it would just be a little bity place where rich kids go to college and that I can never remember where to put it on the map. I will give one thing up to you -- you are one of the only states that refused to ratify the 18th amendment! SALUT!

Connecticut you pioneered statehood in 1788. You brought us such great things as the telephone book, the worlds first nuclear sub, cattle branding, the oldest US newspaper, the hamburger, polaroid camera, the helipcopter, color television, speed limits, lollipops, license plates, the WWF, silverware, PEZ, Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold, PT Barnum, Charles Goodyear, Nathan Hale, Katharine Hepburn, Annie Leibovitz, JP Morgan, and Noah Webster.

We love you, Connecticut. Now give us some more music with which to celebrate you!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The 50 States: Colorado

Colorado was giving it's best to break my 50-states project. We were gaining so much momentum. I was riding a wave of success from the the pacific that swished directly over california and was headed for these red rocks. California was HERALDED! I don't know why I was having a difficult time with this Colorado character, but he was a huge pain in my ass. I like the state, I really do -- I just wish there was more than just a couple of good songs about it. Yes, there is a Pavement song called Colorado -- but it's nothing like what we want to feature in this here merry ole' business.

Colorado is on my destination list every year because of it's epic snowfalls. (Let's just ignore that I usually only layover there until I get to the real destination -- salt lake city.)

Colorado was made a state in 1876. It has given us such great things as the US Air Force Academy, Mike the Headless Chicken, the cheesburger, the Valentines city of Loveland, the rodeo, mountains, more microbreweries per capita than anywhere else, the highest suspension bridge in the world, 20 rivers, Jack Dempsey, Tim Allen, and my bitch of an ex girlfriend.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Merry Presidents Day

Well I'm back with yet another half-assed holiday post (the holiday is half assed, not the post). When it comes to songs about Presidents it appears that we have limited choices -- hip-hop and songs of dissent. I more or less struck out on finding quality tracks that support our current president -- and it would be a hard task to accomplish. I recommend if you are looking for an endoresment of the current administration to try your local country radio station. In the meantime I'm going to post the lazy mans presidents day mix and ask that we all fondly think of our troops that have to spend yet another holiday away from their familys.

Also worth noting is the distinct abscence of Colorado in my 50-states post. Be patient -- I'm going to Chicago but when I return I will be back with some fresh love for Colorado!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Yes it is Ben Gibbard time.

Oh come all ye search engine travelers. Despite my appearances, I'm really not whoring for your business -- unless you want to become everyday, repeat, respectful, appreciative, and attentive readers/listeners -- I could care less how many hits/listens I get per day. These are honest-to-goodness great tracks from a guy that I really respect. Even though I think Death Cab is caught in a tailspin, I still think Ben has what it takes to write songs that aren't layered in eighteen different kinds of cheese.

I've got bundles of solo, live, rare, accoustic, or otherwise odd Gibbard tracks. This is some sort of strange ep that I just found as a download -- some stuff I've never heard. So here's to you loyal listeners -- and to everyone else -- why not check me out tomorrow and see if you like something besides with what you are already familiar?

Listen to these beauts and see if you can imagine the swide to swide sway that Ben is doing while he strums that guitar. Listen to these and then use them to make super-awesome-mix-cds decorated with your sharpie poetry. Take it and try and meet girls from

Video Post: The Presets

This video from The Presets is amazing. It makes my eyes want to give up on life. It cures my bird flu.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

From the Hood. February.

Up next is our second monthly feature on the music from the Twin Cities. Today we've got 3 artists on the standby Minneapolis label RhymeSayers Entertainment. There was a time when Minneapolis was known for lakes or cold weather or that stupid cherry on a spoon sculpture -- but these days, it's all about Rhymesayers. The Rhymesayers Record Shop (The Fifth Element) is a landmark in Uptown. The sounds of Atmosphere come pouring out of every cracked car window in South Minneapolis, and out in my suburban town all of the kids are slack jawed when I tell them of one of the numerous times I saw Slug battle someone else in front of about 8 people in a seedy St. Paul jazz club. Ok... enough rambling.... on to Brother Ali.....

To say that Brother Ali is my favorite albino rapper may not be accurate -- he just wins by default. He's also one of the nicest guys I've met in the local music scene. Every time I've run into him at some shitty bar, he's always incredibly gracious and receptive to compliments. But the voice this guy has -- holy hell -- at shows you know when he's picked up the mic. He gets a crowd going like no other hip-hop guy that I have ever seen. It's truly a natural talent. Couple that with some sick rhymes and he makes minneapolis mine.

The next three tracks come from Stuck on AM, an anthology of live Radio K performances. These are from the early days of Rhymesayers. And a beautiful Mason track for good measure.

Our last 2 artists break from the Rhymesayers mold. Some of the best Singer/Songwriter around -- Mike Gunther and Kid Dakota are both helping to put Minnesota on the map.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Valentines Mix 06

Hey Lovers -- I'm sure most of you thought that I had gotten all of the Valentines day festivities out of me yesterday ... well .... you'd be wrong. Valentines Day brings some baggage. You could be of the hunted or the hunter, of unrequited temperment, of birds -- bees -- butterflies. You might be headed for departure, entanglement, sorrow, revenge, or just another roll in the hay. I'll be headed for the bar.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Valentines Day: Kristofer Astrom

It was 1998 and a friend of mine gave me a badly dubbed cassette from Kristofer Astrom. He told me that the songs were beautiful and that Kristofer used to front a Swedish hardcore group. He told me that I could listen to the tape and then give it back. I think it might be the only tape that I still own, and for years I didn't even know what the album was called. I would occasionaly find it while cleaning my room or cleaning my car, and I'd pop it in and it would sound glorious. He takes the most basic and simple indie tunes and sprinkles them with some special sort of magic.

Sometime around 2002 I was able to track down a copy of this on cd. I purchased it, and it was every bit as good as I thought it would be. Who exactly this Kristofer Astrom is, I'm not sure. I am sure that he makes beautiful music and Valentines day seems really an appropriate time to post this music. Whatever your hearts status is this v-day, I think Kristofer has you covered.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Away for a few days

Hey kids -- Just checking in today because I'm sure there are millions of raving fans that are wondering where todays post is. Well, Colorado is going to be more difficult than I anticipated, but on top of that I'm absolutely swamped between my jobs (fighting terrorism and snowboarding). Look for me on saturday when I return with plenty of awesome songs about colorado, and some fresh new music.

In the meantime go check out the new music from Grandaddy, or download the Infadels album and put it on repeat. Yes, it's that good.

Also -- hit up the comments section with whatever new music you are feeling, or whatever new music you JUST CAN'T WAIT TO DROP.

Word, lovers.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The 50 States: California

So we continue our journey across the great 50. Today the rockin' arrives at California. Will we ever leave?

Oh California, you glutton for publicity. You bastian of public relations and sunshine. The golden rays always cast you in a favorable light. You are honey colored in perpetuem on every map ever made. Until you make that great swan dive into the pacific you will remain the west of which there is no wester. You are always the destination, never the departed. You can shake people, suffocate them, burn them, leave them in the dark, and yet you are still at the top of every kids wish list. In fact, out of every song ever written about you -- only Death Cab for Cutie wanted to get away from your evil clutches.

California was dubbed a state in September 1850. California gives us such great things as really big trees, turkeys, avocados, the Hollywood Bowl, The Walk of Fame, movies, porno, one out of every eight US residents, five-hundred-thousand earthquakes, raisons, grapes, wine, the most beautiful sunset ever witnessed, and the highest and lowest points in north america. Oh, and every major celebrity ever. Aaaaaand the coolest state moto: EUREKA!

No doubt about it, we love you California.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Michael Stipe Birthed You.

This may seem like a strange supposition, but consider this: Michael Stipe did indeed birth you. He pushed his bald head back, opened his mouth, and out you crawled. It was sometime between 1987 and 1991. He had just signed to Warner Brothers, had recorded a few brilliant records, and you were in the back of your parents station wagon humming along to the melody. You grew older, stronger, and those songs were inside of your bones keeping them strong and spinning you like magnetic north towards better places. You're lucky that he found you or you may have never been.

Here are a few tracks recorded at Austin City Limits. The show was just last month and Michael Stipe came out for 2 songs with the headliner, Coldplay.

The 50-States: Arkansas

Back here on this beautiful Monday for another edition of our tour of the 50-states. Our wagon of fun and folk-songs is picking up steam and dropping bombs all across the country. Today we'll be making a bee-line right through Arkansas so we can quickly get to whatever is on the other side.

My grandma is from Arkansas. She's between here and completely batshit insane at any given moment. She loves to tell me about her boyfriend named Bill Clinton, but if I bring up Hillary she'll just start crying and telling me how beautiful she used to be before she got evil. I just say, yeah whatever g-ma. Love yas.

Arkansas has given us more than just my crazy Grandma, however. After becoming a state in June of 1836, Arkansas has given us such great things as Wal-Mart, the national duck calling championships, General Doughlas MacArthur, Scott Joplin, Johnny Cash, and John Grisham.

We love you, Arkansas.

Friday, February 03, 2006

From: Portland, To: Elliott

Elliott Smith is a tragedy that most of my readers should be familiar with. Like so many troubled musicians, Elliott just could no longer bear with the sadness that so deeply affected his music. His sadness was his muse, his sadness was his voice, his sadness was the way he layered his guitars. His drugs were his enemy. I only saw Smith but one time and it was in chicago in the year 2000. He was mumbling and not making much sense, playing every song at the same seemingly 120bpm, and stopping and starting songs in the middle when he forgot the words. It was still an amazing experience.

Portland based Expunged Records has arranged another tribute cd for him. It includes artists such as The Helio Sequence, The Decemberists, Dolorean, and The Thermals doing their renditions of Elliott tunes. The album is available for preorder and comes out next week.

The 50 States: Arizona

My 50-States project is receiving MAJOR ACCOLADES. (read em and weep, losers.) The DEFINITIVE voice of the Champaign-Urbana music scene's praise is enough to spur us onward -- so we continue our tour of the great 50 with Arizona!

I've begruddgingly traveled a few times to the southwestern furnace dubbed Arizona. My last trip was in the summer of 1998 and I hiked up a mountain in something like 135 degree weather. I'm not sure that this state has any grass outside of golf courses, but they do have the grand canyon which is one of the most awesome things I have ever seen.

Arizona -- admitted to the union on Valentines Day, 1912 it has given us such great things as petrified wood, the second largest depository of retirees, a flippant disregard for daylight savings time, a billion canyons, seventy gazillion cactuses, London Bridge, the worlds largest solar telescope, Ceasar Chavez, Tombstone, The Apache Kid, Geronimo, Charles Mingus, Linda Ronstadt, and Kerri Strug (yup, her.)

We love you Arizona.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The 50 States: Alaska

We continue our tour of the 50 with Alaska!

The grandest state of them all was admitted to the union in 1959, but the US actually purchased the land in 1867 for 2 cents per acre. If you were to overlay a map of alaska over a map of the US, you would find that Alaska can actually reach from east coast to west coast. It's frickin big, jack! The land was mostly considered worthless until gold was found in 1880 by Joe Juneau. This kicked off a massive Gold Rush and accounts for the reason why anyone at all lives there today. Japan invaded the Aleutian Islands in 1943 which began the 1000 mile war. This state has given us such things as oil, seafood, eskimos, dog mushing, bears, Jack London, and also that really crap dog movie with Cuba Gooding Jr.

Bearded Freaks from the Great Northeast: New Grandaddy Tracks

Hey kiddos -- the news has been following me around like a stink for the past few days. Grandaddy is no more. The bearded army has disbanded and will offer up only one soon-to-come album. Apparently they were just sick of having to manipulate electronic devices and have all moved into tree houses and will be spending their retirement grooming each others beards. I will be spending my hiatus from their music trying to cram more beard related jokes and puns into every post about them.

I first heard of these guys in late 2000 when they opened for Elliot Smith in Chicago. As soon as that first video-gameish arpegio hit, my heart sank. They played with instruments wrapped in vines, Jasons voice cut like a honey soaked razor blade, and I went from heartbroken to hearthappy.

On this track when he sings, "Summer it's gone and I don't know / Where everyone went or where i'll go" it has this eerie little wind that blows and you know that by the time the birds are singing in the spring again we will be without any new Grandaddy. Shed one tear, kindly.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Yay for 2006: The Infadels

I know what you're thinking -- two posts in one day, why.... "Rob you are so dreamy and irresistable. Your dedication and enthusiasm about this site is only exceeded by your superior wit and boyish good looks."

Oh yeah -- and this new album by The Infadels. It is my first 2006 release that is really making me go yeaaaaaaah. Every blog on the scene has been blowing up about the Arctic Monkeys. Yeah, their album is ok, but that is the worst name for a band ever. Name your band something cool like The Infadels and I will give you a listen. I will picture how good you probably are. I will salivate over your knob-twister and your bass players mushy fuzz pedal. Apparently on "Can't Get Enough" they are speaking about the raging Pretty Hate Machine synth mega-fuzz that backbones this song. Ok... I'm going to go back to cracking my nuckles and throwing things now.....

Try to keep your head from nodding when he says "And everywhere my pimp shoes go, I'm effectIVE, irrespecTIVE." This is such fun and great music. Big ups to the UK.

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