26.12.06

Happy New Year, bitches...

So that's it, Christmas is over, James Brown is dead, and I'm done with the Christmas tunes. There were more tracks I wanted to post, but just didn't get around to, so I'll save them for next year perhaps. I was gonna do a "top gigs" list for 2006, but I really can't be bothered right now. I know I've broken your heart, but you'll get over it real fast, trust me. I'm gonna take a lil break from this, but I'll be haunting the usual spots if anyone wants to message me.

I've been feelin some old school tunes lately, so I'm gonna close out 2006 with this Brenda Holloway vid, "Just Look What You've Done", from 1967. I've never actually known her by name, just a few songs on random comps. I was listening to one track and was inspired to look her up. From what I've read, she apparently was an exception to the rule, as she was a female artist who wrote AND performed her own songs back when most female artists didn't do shit like that. In any case, she's utterly gorgeous and a fabulous singer, she totally shoulda been a big star.

Have a safe one, cya in 2K7...

25.12.06

The rats ate all the presents and the reindeer ran away

Sooner or later, everyone releases a Christmas song or album. Even the legendary Spinal Tap did one, called "Christmas With The Devil". There are a few versions of this song floating around, the best of which is on the "Christmas With The Devil" 7" b/w a "scratch mix" of the same song, but this one is a little more difficult to find. You can also find it on their "Break Like The Wind" album, which had wider distribution and has probably ended up in bargain bins all over the world.

The version on BLTW is a tad overproduced, and I much prefer the 7" version. Also, the 7" version has Tap themselves wishing happy holidays to all at the end of the song, while the BLTW version edits that out completely. Check out the 7" version here, and happy holidays, bitches.

Listen:
Spinal Tap > Christmas With The Devil

RIP James Brown

Singer James Brown, known as the "Godfather of Soul", has died at the age of 73.

24.12.06

Step into Christmas, the admission's free

I got into the Wedding Present waaaay late, but hey, better late than never. Right? I once had a housemate who loved them and would play choice songs for me, but it never clicked. A few years ago, I went to see the The New Pornographers and guess who was supporting. It was Cinerama, which is David Gedge's "other" band. Cinerama were so fucking good, I was completely taken. I bought a few of their albums and sure enough, I started to delve into the Wedding Present and it all came together beautifully. Anyway, this is their kickass cover of Elton John's "Step Into Christmas", which you can find on their "Hit Parade 2" album, as well as that "Lump of Coal" compilation I mentioned a couple weeks back.

Listen:
The Wedding Present > Step Into Christmas

Wonder Christmas

I don't know much about Chocolat, except I really like her songs and her sweet, sweet voice. This song has kind of a big 60s feel to it. Maybe sorta like something off the Phil Spector album. Maybe. I could be reaching here, but check it out...

Listen:
Chocolat > Wonder Christmas

(ps...it's m4a)

22.12.06

I wish that I could walk you home

I don't know much about the Raveonettes, although I once saw them live a few years ago. I got a free ticket, thanks to a timely email from a friend. I thought the gig was pretty cool, but I never followed up for whatever reasons. In any case, I believe this is an original of theirs and I like it. So there.

Listen:
The Raveonettes > The Christmas Song

21.12.06

I Want An Alien For Christmas

Some people think Fountains of Wayne are a novelty band, and in some ways, they are. What I really like about them are their smart, catchy pop songs. They've got enough hooks to last days and days. In any case, both of these are pretty darn catchy with a healthy dose of fun. You can find the tracks on FoW's "Out-of-State Plates" compilation or on the original single (pictured) if you have the time/cash to track it down.

Listen:
Fountains of Wayne > I Want An Alien For Christmas
Fountains of Wayne > The Man In The Santa Suit

20.12.06

We felt so young, it was just like Christmas

Speaking of sleigh bells, it's Low's modern classic, "Just Like Christmas", from the predictably titled EP, "Christmas". Low are generally known for their funeral dirge-like songs, so this is a very upbeat number in comparison. I love the sleigh bells and the timpani drums. Well, they sound like timpani drums to me. I also like the way the guitar comes in at the end, and Mimi's voice is just lovely. What more could you ask for?

Listen:
Low > Just Like Christmas

19.12.06

Christmas Rap

Okay, I have time for one more before I head out. Anyone remember this? Classic. Nuff said.
Listen:
Run DMC > Christmas in Hollis

Old skool

These are probably questionable in terms of being actual Christmas songs, but don't worry, I've got plenty more. I say whatever, I love 'em and I'm a sucker for sleigh bells. I'll even go as far to say that sleigh bells are better than handclaps. Anyways...

Listen:
The Pixies Three > Cold, Cold Winter
William Bell > Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday

17.12.06

I'm waiting for Santa Claus, he's riding on a bison sleigh

One of my favorite bands. I finally got to see them live a few years ago, and again last year when they came through town. They're so fun, charming, and unassuming and very much worth your time. I love this track, it's great, goofy fun and doesn't feel like tacky sentimental crap. They're just a band out to have a good time and they want you to have a good time as well.

Listen:
Shonen Knife > Space Christmas

OMG! I AM SMOKING CRACK!

I just realized I had previously posted that Kinks track a few days ago. Good thing this isn't a professional blog or else the shareholders would be up in arms. Or something. So I will make up for this error by posting a cover version of a Christmas track I've already posted. What? I said, this one is sweet. Asobi Seksu played it last month at the GAMH gig. Also, you can download it from their website. It's really just a reason to post another pic of Yuki. And who needs a reason?
Listen:
Asobi Seksu > Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)

16.12.06

Give all the toys to the little rich boys...

This was one of the first non-traditional Christmas songs I remember hearing, some time in the late 70s, and it's been a fave ever since. I'm guessing that finding the single would be a bitch, but you can also find it on the comp, "Come Dancing with the Kinks: The Best of 1977 - 1986".

Listen:
The Kinks > Father Christmas

13.12.06

I think of you, wherever you go

One of my favorite Christmas tunes, it's The Pretenders' "2000 Miles", from their underrated 1984 album, "Learning To Crawl". I remember my dad complaining that it wasn't a Christmas song because it wasn't a classic. Umm, dad...WTF are you talking about? I wonder what people thought of, let's say, "Frosty The Snowman" the first time they heard it back in the 50s. They probably thought Gene Autry was smoking crack. Anyways...

Listen:
The Pretenders > 2000 Miles

12.12.06

A lump of coal...

This is probably one of the trippiest Christmas tracks I've ever heard, it's Henry Rollins reading "t'was The Night Before Christmas". You can find it on a Christmas comp called "A Lump of Coal", which was released in the early nineties. The other stuff on there is not bad (at least it's not the Gwen Stefani Sings Christmas Classics), ranging from The Wedding Present's "Step Into Christmas" and The Primitives' straight ahead version of "Silent Night", to the Crash Test Dummies' "First Noel" and The Young Fresh Fellows' "O' Little Town of Bethlehem". I can't imagine that the album is still in print, but I'm sure it could be found if one looked hard enough. Anyways...

Check it:
Henry Rollins > t'was the Night Before Christmas

9.12.06

This Year's Favorites...

(in this order, sorta...)
  1. Asobi Seksu >> Citrus
  2. Neko Case >> Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
  3. Band of Horses >> Everything All The Time
  4. Mogwai >> Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait
  5. Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins >> Rabbit Fur Coat
  6. Joanna Newsom >> Ys
  7. Camera Obscura >> Let's Get Out of This Country
  8. The Radio Dept >> Pet Grief
  9. The Decemberists >> The Crane Wife
  10. Cat Power >> The Greatest
  11. Sparklehorse >> Dreamt For Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain
  12. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan >> Ballad of the Broken Seas
  13. Tom Waits >> Orphans
I didn't really get much new music this year, or at least it didn't feel like I did...but this is what I liked. Fairly predictable, if you know me, but there it is. I'm sure there's tons of stuff that I should be listening to, as well, so I'm open to any recommendations.

I have to say, after a so-so (to put it politely) debut a couple years ago, the Asobi Seksu album came out of nowhere and absolutely floored me. I mean, I was expecting nothing but greatness from Neko Case, but the way AS took me by surprise is the reason I placed it at number one.

Band of Horses took me by surprise, as well. I had read that they were a couple guys who used to be in Carissa's Wierd (sic), whom I really love. So I picked up the BoH album, not really knowing what to expect, and ended up with a wonderful album. I got to see them live, and they sounded fucking great.

I keep using the word, surprise, but it applies to the Jenny Lewis album as well. I'm not a huge Rilo Kiley fan, but I do enjoy their work. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins caught me off guard with its...simplicity, I guess is the right word. The album is really charming and only gets better with repeated listens.

The Zidane album, to me, is a big improvement over Mr. Beast. I love the quiet beauty within. It's very subtle and understated. Don't get me wrong, I love the noise and fuzz as much as anyone else, but I love the opposite end of the spectrum as well.

**EDIT** I just realized I forgot to throw in Tom Waits' Orphans, even though I haven't listened to all of it. It's three discs long, but c'mon, it's Tom Waits. He's the man, okay?

8.12.06

The Manhattan Love Suicides

It's been a long week and I'm tired as hell, so I'm gonna keep this short, mainly because I don't know much about The Manhattan Love Suicides. Their album was just released on Magic Marker Records. I ordered a copy from Darla.com on the strength of the tunes on their myspace page, which I had first heard this past summer. They kinda remind me of The Primitives or The Darling Buds, except with more fuzzy guitars. Fuzzy guitars are a good thing, trust me.

Listen:
The Manhattan Love Suicides > Skulls

5.12.06

Self Portrait: DoB

OMFG!!1!!!1~~ Robot Hero in rare self portrait shocker!

Me, messing around with camera at 1am on my birthday. Fucking hell, I feel old. I'm treating myself to an Aimee Mann gig tonight, at Bimbo's 365 in North Beach. She's doing a "Christmas Show", probably in conjunction with the Christmas album she just released, which is titled ""One More Drifter In The Snow". You can buy the album over on her website and probably your local brick and mortar CD shop as well. It's got all the covers you might expect, and it also features an original song, "Calling On Mary". Also, her version of "You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch" is amusing.

I'm taking my dad along with me to the show. I figure that over the course of my lifetime, he's put up with enough of my shit that he deserves at least night out on me. I also figure that of all the music I listen to, he'd be more receptive to 1) Aimee Mann (even tho he probably wouldn't "get" her) and 2) a Christmas themed show. I don't think he'd be very pleased if I dragged his ass to go see Asobi Seksu or Neko Case. Then again, if I put enough alcohol in him, I could probably get him to sing along to all my favorite Godspeed You! Black Emperor tunes. Anyways, check out Aimee's Christmas track, along with my two favorite birthday songs. Cheers.

Listen:
Aimee Mann > Calling On Mary
The Pixies Three > Birthday Party
Cibo Matto > Birthday Cake

29.11.06

IT'S FUCKING COLD!

It's so cold here, the sky and clouds have turned icy blue. This is a view of San Francisco's Embarcadero, taken from the Bay Bridge.

It's not even winter yet, and it's really fucking cold here. It's in the mid 40s right now. I mean, come on...this is California. Palm trees, blue skies, movie stars...you know the cliches. I can't deal with this cold. Anyways, I've been listening to some random stuff lately. I've been trying to think of one coherent subject, but nothing is jumping out at the moment. Brain freeze, I guess.

The Ramones > California Sun

We're out here havin' fun, in the warm California sun. Riiiiiight. Love this track, tho, the Ramones have always been favorites of mine. Back in junior high, we used to watch Rock N' Roll High School at least twice a week. Man, those were the days. Gabba gabba hey, bitches!

Ted Leo > Dirty Old Town

Pogues cover, in case you didn't know. Although, I'm unsure if it's a traditional song or a Pogues original. I've been listening to Ted Leo quite a bit the past couple days. I love the way Mr. Leo pours himself into this one, it feels right. It's on his "Tell Balgeary, Balgury Is Dead" album, which sorta reminds me of Billy Bragg's Peel Sessions album.

Capsule > Idol Fancy

I put this one on a mix for Mr. Wood for the bowlie mix cd exchange. This track is so fucking catchy, it's ridiculous. I could listen to this all day long and not tire of it. If you're looking for the album, it's called "Phony Phonic". This comes from Madcat (another bowlie peep), who was kind enough to send me nearly 5gb of brilliant jpop.

David Bowie > Rebel Rebel


When I was 8 or 9, my uncle John got me CHANGESONEBOWIE for Christmas. I have since concluded that this was a monumental point in my musical life. I had no idea who David Bowie was at the time, but uncle John was perhaps my favorite uncle and we spent a lot of time together. In any case, I played that album to death. Space Oddity was one of my favorite songs. I didn't get it at the time, but I thought it was cool because he was singing about spaceships and stuff. I also vaguely knew of 2001: A Space Odyssey and thought they were connected. C'mon, I was just a kid. Rebel Rebel was my absolute favorite, tho. I used to run around the house singing it. Who knew it was about cross-dressing? I sure didn't. I'm guessing my uncle didn't, either. Or he didn't care. Knowing him, I'll pick the former.

27.11.06

Off your face

Perhaps my favorite My Bloody Valentine track. I love the way Bilinda sings it, so sweet and melancholy. I remember having the strangest feeling the first time I'd heard it. I had bought Loveless and the Glider EP (which contains this track) after seeing the Only Shallow video on 120 Minutes way back in 91 or 92, when Loveless first hit. I think, musically, I lived off 120 Minutes back then, it was one of the few ways to hear new music out of the mainstream that I was interested in. Anyways, Only Shallow was the song that hooked me. The soothing, sexy vocals set against that glorious noise. The backup vocals, with the oohs and aahs. It was cool how the vocals weren't pushed to the front of the mix, the way they blended in with the rest of the instruments. Off Your Face is a perfect pop song to me, it sounds like the way it would feel to float on clouds in a clear, blue sky.

My Bloody Valentine > Off Your Face

26.11.06

The Fountain


The other night, I saw a movie called The Fountain. I'd been waiting for it since I had heard of it, roughly about a year ago. The director is Darren Aronofsky, whose previous work is Pi and Requiem For A Dream, which were a couple of the more interesting movies I've seen in past years. The Fountain is the story of a man who is trying to find a cure for his dying wife's disease. There are three parallel stories being told at the same time, concerning life, love, death, and spirituality. As I mentioned, I had been waiting for it for quite some time and generally, I'm a total sucker for stuff like this. Sadly, I felt disappointed when it was all said and done. The story felt convoluted and incomplete. It felt repetitive and perhaps a bit forced. This is me trying to be nice. In the end, I was disappointed with the film. Visually, it's gorgeous. The soundtrack, done by Clint Mansell, The Kronos Quartet, and Mogwai, is excellent as well, and worth your time. The movie, perhaps not so much, but you never know, this is just my view.

Stay With Me (from The Fountain OST)

23.11.06

Once, I wanted to be the greatest

One of the worst gigs I've ever seen was Cat Power at the Noise Pop fest a few years ago. It started off fine but quickly descended into crap. She complained about the reverb on her guitar. She complained about the tuning of the piano. She complained about the stage lighting. She soon had the lighting dude dim the lights til it was nearly complete darkness onstage. She slowly kept creeping towards the back of the stage until it reached the point where I couldn't see her. It was a shame, because I had really been looking forward to seeing her and this is my one Cat Power memory I've been left with.

Now I've read that she's gotten help and cleaned up her act. No more freaking out on stage, no more emotional outbursts...or at least she's cut it all to a minimum. I might try to catch her again so I can replace the shit experience with a good one, but we'll see. In any case, I'm still a fan of her, live performances notwithstanding. Check out these solo versions, they're pretty sweet. Apparently they were recorded for eMusic, although I couldn't vouch for it. And isn't she stunning in that pic? Goodness...

Listen:
The Greatest
Remember Me
Ramblin' Man
Good Woman

18.11.06

Zidane

I don't know much about the guy, I'm not much of a footy fan. I do know that there's a new documentary on him, "Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait", which follows him around during a Spanish league game on April 23, 2005, in which Real Madrid beat Villareal, 2-1. The music for the movie is done by Mogwai. I haven't seen the film, so I can't comment on it, except to say that I'd like to see it.

I've heard the Mogwai album and I have to say I really like it. It's not the usual quiet-loud-quiet-loud dynamic that goes on. It's more like quiet-quiet-and more quiet, quite the opposite of what one would expect to hear in a sports film. Sort of in the way that Explosions in the Sky lent some of their quieter tunes for "Friday Night Lights". The melodies haven't really stuck with me, like how a film score doesn't always linger and instead sets a mood, but they're very pretty and the album is lovely to hear.

Listen:
Mogwai > 7:25

15.11.06

The troubled words of a troubled mind

I'd forgotten about it, but the last couple times I've seen Gillian Welch, she's covered Radiohead's Black Star. It seems unlikely on the surface; Gillian Welch being a folk or alt-country artist and Radiohead being progressive or alternative (and labels being labels); but it fits. In any case, I stumbled upon this the other night while wandering the www, and it's been stuck in my head the past couple days.

Listen:
Gillian Welch > Black Star (live)

12.11.06

Awaiting an audience

I saw Asobi Seksu tonight at the Riottt (don't ask me about the spelling, I have no idea) fest. They were the one band on the bill that I was extremely excited to see. One drawback was that the venue was the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. It's a shitty place to see a show, really, but you take what you can get. Their set wasn't loud enough, the sound kept getting lost or just bouncing off the walls. They were victims of horrible acoustics. I got to talk to Yuki a bit afterwards and she said they didn't even get to soundcheck, which sucked. On the good side, they had a pretty sweet setlist, drawing mostly from Citrus, which is their newest album. They also did a kickass cover of Then He Kissed Me, which was kind of an unlikely, but cool choice of song. I asked her how they chose that song, and she said it was just a song she'd always loved as a kid. Fair enough.

Anyways, I realize there's still a month and a half left in this year, but I might as well say it now, Citrus is my favorite album of 2006. It's ridiculous how many times I've played it during the past six months and I still haven't tired of it. Do yourself a favor, go to their website and place your order. If you still need to be convinced, you can stream clips on their site, there are a few free mp3s you can download, and you can listen on their myspace page. Lastly, they were selling cd's of their 10/6 gig at the Echo (in LA, I believe) that has the aformentioned Crystals cover. Asobi Seksu are coming back to SF on 11/22, supporting Mates of State at the Great American Music Hall. See you there...

Listen:
Asobi Seksu > Then He Kissed Me

6.11.06

Fading reflection of what was...


I really don't know much about her, but Holly Golightly's "There Is An End" has been kicking my ass lately. It's another track that's on the Broken Flowers soundtrack, which she performs with a band called The Greenhornes. I don't know anything about The Greenhornes except that they do a sort of 60s British Invasion kinda sound. Apparently, I don't know much of anything. In any case, somebody please correct me if I'm wrong. The original version of "There Is An End" can be found on Holly's "Truly She Is None Other" album. At this point, I prefer the Broken Flowers version, probably just because that's the first one I'd heard. Previously, I'd only heard of her because of that White Stripes track she shows up on, "It's True That We Love One Another", and I can't stand that one. It makes me wanna smack all three of them and tell them to shut the fuck up. And of course, I'd also heard of her because of "Breakfast At Tiffany's", although that's a different Holly Golightly if you can believe that. Mmm, Audrey Hepburn.

Listen:
The Greenhornes and Holly Golightly > There Is An End

*EDIT*

Okay, I've done a little bit of reading and now it all seems to make sense. Check out this powerpoint presentation, complete with bullet points, I've prepared for you in order to simplify the complicated world of rock n' roll.
  • The song was originally written by one of the Greenhornes, Craig Fox.
  • It appears The Greenhornes are friends with Jack White, he produced a couple of tracks for them.
  • Holly Golightly shows up on the White Stripes album, "Elephant", and possibly is introduced to The Greenhornes.
  • She then records"There Is An End" with The Greenhornes, which appears on their album, "Dual Mono".
  • "Dual Mono" predates, by about a year, Holly's solo version which appears on her album, "Truly She Is None Other".
  • The Greenhornes' Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence are the rhythm section for The Raconteurs, who are fronted by Brendan Benson and, ta-da, Jack White.
  • The Greenhornes + Holly Golightly version of "There Is An End" is also the one that's on the Broken Flowers soundtrack, and here we are.
Keep in mind, this is a lot of speculation in the space of about 30 minutes and 4 beers, so please correct me if I'm wrong.

5.11.06

You're on time out.

Hmm, I was gonna post something tonight but yousendit seems to be down. This brings me to something I've been thinking about...does anyone have any recommendations for inexpensive online storage for music files? I haven't really looked into it, but perhaps I will this week.

4.11.06

I came around to tear your little world apart

I feel compelled to write this just as an aside to the Garbage vs. Curve thing. Remember when Vow first came out in the mid nineties? I think the single preceded the album by a month or so and it was oh so sexy. I mean, really, was there anyone hotter than Shirley Manson back then? Anyways, not gonna put too much else here, as I've been promised a Garbage post before the end of the year. So for now, relive the brilliant darkness...

Garbage > Vow

2.11.06

Death at one's elbows...


So yesterday I had this brush with death. Well, not exactly brush with death, I just said that because it sounds cool, but the chance for a pretty nasty injury was there. I had been photographing. I was finishing up and about to turn off the flood light when there was a buzzing noise and the bulb exploded. I had turned away in that half second when I heard the buzzing, and luckily so. The shards flew everywhere and were so hot that they had melted into the carpet. It was so weird, I've never seen anything like that happen. I imagine if I had been facing the bulb, the shards would have landed on my face and arms, the heat melting them into my skin. I'd guess my eyes would have been fairly safe, since I wear glasses. But yeah, me...dead.

Joe Jackson > Jack, You're Dead
Joy Division > Dead Souls
M83 > Gone
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds > Death Is Not The End

I'm impatient for the sun to go down

Somebody over at one of the BBs I haunt posted about Curve, whom I haven't listened to in a while. Curve were always pretty underrated, I felt. They were dance, industrial, electronic, goth, shoegaze, etc all rolled up into one. Toni Halliday had (and probably still has) the voice of a siren temptress, not to mention that she's completely gorgeous. Jennifer dissed me for my love of Curve (I forget exactly what she said, but she didn't like them), but this will have to be one of those times we simply disagree. These are some of my favorite Curve songs.

Listen:
Missing Link
Cherry
I Feel Love (Donna Summer cover)

1.11.06

Wishing life wouldn't be so dull...

Recently, I'd been tipped to The Konki Duet. I've been listening to their album, "Il Fait Tout Gris", obsessively. It could be the perfect soundtrack to a bizarre fairy tale or a journey down a forest path lined with gnarled, old trees. Aside from what I've read on their website, I don't know much about the three girls in the band (Zoe, Tam, and Kumi). They have an album, "Mountain Mouton", coming next week. You can buy it here. Also, you can, of course, listen to them on their myspace page. They've got some downloadable goodies on their site, as well as the tracks I'm going to preview here. These are the third, fourth, and fifth tracks on the album. I really love the sequencing and the way they flow in and out of each other. That can be said of the whole album in general, but these tracks are particularly striking to me.

*Please note that these files are m4a, as I generally post mp3 (just in case it makes a difference)

Check em out:
Tu Vas Partir Sans Moi
Il Fait Tout Gris
Melody

25.10.06

Synthstatic!

You'll most likely say this is completely derivative, and you'd be right. But when it sounds this good, does it really matter? You can check out Skywave's website, but it looks as if it hasn't been updated in a couple years. I'm guessing they're now defunct, but the truth is I really don't know. Synthstatic is the only album I have, their stuff seems pretty difficult to find. I first read about Skywave over at tonevendor.com a few years ago, those guys seem to be pretty big shoegaze fans and their writeup was very enthusiastic. I took a chance, bought the album and was not disappointed. This is one of the few albums for me that comes close to evoking My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, the Jesus and Mary Chain's Psycho Candy, or Ride's Nowhere. There's probably even a little Joy Division in there, somewhere, if you listen close enough (although I'm sure Jennifer will come along and set me straight). I like the way the album sorta floats along, but sounds like a plane crash drenched in feedback and reverb at the same time. Fucking gorgeous.

Skywave > Wear This Dress
Skywave > Here She Comes
Skywave > Nothing Left To Say

Neko Case is back, kinda...

While I'm still awake, there's a new Neko Case DVD available, which you can buy here or at your local video store. Here's the info from the Neko Case website and a video clip ("Behind The House"). Also, here's a link to the Austin City Limits site.

Neko's August 2003 debut performance on the legendary PBS program, Austin City Limits, will be available on DVD October 10th as part of New West Records' ACL collection!!

Performing on Austin City Limits, one of Neko and her grandmother's all-time favorite programs, was one of Neko's proudest career moments, and probably one of her proudest personal moments as well...

Neko and the band were so thrilled (and nervous!) to be in Austin for the taping (even in August's humidity!). Joined by JON RAUHOUSE on pedal steel, banjo and Hawaiian guitar, KELLY HOGAN on gorgeous backing vocals, and TOM V. RAY (and his GIANT BEARD) on upright bass and hidden tambourine, the performance includes songs from Neko's albums Furnace Room Lullaby and Blacklisted and the cover-heavy EP, Canadian Amp, as well as the previously unreleased song "Behind The House." There's also some pretty hilarious storytelling from Neko and Hogan.

Many, many thanks to ALL the wonderful folks at Austin City Limits including (but not limited to!!) Terry, Jeff, Maury (and Link!), Emily, Leslie, AND to the kind, kind people at New West Records including "Sweet Mother" Gary Briggs, Cameron, Katherine, Traci, Jay, and all the rest...

It's just the thought of you in love with someone else

It's Weezer's cool vid, "Gone Fishin", with the muppets. Happy, Ben?

22.10.06

I'm so tall, can't get over me...

Been listening to some random stuff this weekend. Weezer happened to pop up in the playlist, which was kinda cool. Their first album was really fun, catchy guitar pop complete with nerdy lyrics. The second album, Pinkerton, was pretty cool although it was slagged off by a lot of critics. Pinkerton didn't sell as well as blue (the first album), either, but the hardcore fans loved it. Anyways, it all pretty much went downhill from there and the albums seemed to get successively worse.

The song that inspired this post, "I Just Threw Out The Love of My Dreams," is a b-side from their single, "The Good Life" (aka the Oz EP from the Pinkerton era). The lead vocals are done by Rachel Haden, twin sister of Petra Haden . There's actually a third sister, Tanya (they're triplets and their father was jazz musician who used to hang with Ornette Coleman), but I don't really know anything about her. Anyways, I love the guitars and moog in this song and Rachel's voice sounds just as good as Petra's. Actually, I was convinced for a long time that it was Petra doing the singing, but it is, in fact, Rachel.

Listen:
Weezer > I Just Threw Out The Love of My Dreams

18.10.06

Show a little faith, there's magic in the night

I've lately been obsessed with Mary Lou Lord's cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road". The original is on The Boss' "Born To Run" album, and this version is on her "Live City Sounds" album, which was recorded live, just her and a guitar, in the subway of Boston.

The album as a whole is solid. She does some very choice covers like The Magnetic Fields' "I Don't Want To Get Over You", Big Star's "Thirteen", Bob Dylan's "Your Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go", and Daniel Johnston's "Speeding Motorcycle". She also throws in a few originals which are fine songs, but the covers are what stand out for me.
Even if I didn't like her versions, I'd at least respect them as she lets the songs speak for themselves. They're pure and simple, not overproduced crap with overwrought vocal histrionics like that godfuckingawful Train cover song I wrote about a little while back. Anyways, check out her album, I think it's worth the ten bucks.

Listen:
Mary Lou Lord > Thunder Road

16.10.06

Butterfucker!

One of the coolest albums you've never heard. Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda hook up with Russell Simins from JSBX (Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) and some other dudes who I don't really know. The album has a kinda punk feel to it, with some beats and fuzzy guitars. Don't be put off by my poor description, it's a really good album. Some of it is hilarious, like the spoken bit in "Degobrah", where Simins (presumably) is screaming about how he doesn't want to be a role model. Anyway, my favorite song off the album is "Butterfucker." It's got a lazy hip hop beat, guitars that rip a hole in space, and Miho's sassy voice underneath it all. It's very sexy, so turn it up.

Butter 08 > Butterfucker

12.10.06

Broken Flowers

I'm outta town for the rest of the week. I'm heading to a wedding (not mine) in Maine, so I'll leave with this. I've been listening to the Broken Flowers soundtrack quite a bit this week. There's a lot of cool tunes on here that I really know nothing about. The movie itself is very good, if you haven't seen it before. It's about a guy (Bill Murray) who receives an anonymous letter from an ex girlf telling him that he has a twenty year old kid. So Bill Murray sets off to visit a few of his exes from way back when to try and figure out who might be the mother of his child. The journey is unsettling and poignant and there are some fairly uncomfortable moments.

I felt like I identified with Bill Murray's character a little bit too much, and I don't know if that's good or bad. Credit Jim Jarmusch for creating such a realistic character, I guess. Also, the guy who plays Murray's neighbor (in the pic above) is fantastic and the woman who plays the neighbor's wife is lovely, she just seemed so sweet and down to earth. In any case, check it out if you haven't seen it and grab the soundtrack if you have a chance, it's worth it. Here's one of the tracks I really like.
Sorry, I haven't done my homework and I know nothing about the artist.

Dengue Fever > Ethanopium

9.10.06

GOOOOOOOOOAL!


I've been following the NHL's San Jose Sharks since their inception in 1991, and one of my favorite things is celebrating a Sharks goal. The song they've been using for the past I don't know how many years is Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part 2", which you've probably heard at one time or another. It's great, it's got handclaps, thumping drums, and the irresistable shout of "HEY!" People really get into it, I know I do. Actually, I think quite a few NHL teams (and teams in other sports) use it as their goal celebration song, it's all good fun. Ooh, and by the way, the above pic is the game-winning overtime goal by the Sharks' Curtis Brown (in black) from the game I attended last week.

This season, the Sharks have changed their celebratory song from "Rock and Roll Part 2" to Green Day's "Holiday", presumably because of Gary Glitter's arrest and conviction in Vietnam for committing obscene acts with minors. I'm guessing that removal of the song is a league wide decision, and I can kinda understand it, but the Green Day song sucks. It doesn't have that same tribal rhythm. Billie Joe does some "HEY!" shouting, but it gets lost underneath the buzzsaw guitars. I went to the Sharks game on opening night last week, and it was just weird after they scored their goals. People were cheering and clapping, but it wasn't nearly as impressive as the "Rock and Roll Part 2" celebration.

I want my old goal celebration song back.

I guess the deeper question is this: If an artist falls on hard times and ends up committing crimes against society, should we write off their previous output? Don't get me wrong. If the guy slept with 11 year old girls, fuck yeah he should go to jail for that. He was convicted in a court of law and, from what I've read, he's lucky they didn't cut off his dick and have a firing squad cap his stupid ass. However, most of his music was written some 20 or 30 years ago, before he fell from grace. Yeah, he was probably high on dope or strung out on cocaine, but that's the sort of baggage that's accepted with rock n rollers, especially back then. It's kind of a double standard, isn't it, but at least he's (theoretically) destroying only himself with the smack. Abusing little girls is a whole other story.

So yeah, I want the old song back at the Sharks games. My reasoning is that it's a better song and it was written when Gary Glitter was an entirely different person. If he had written/recorded/released it within the past 10 years, when all his troubles began, I doubt I, or anyone else, would have anything to do with it.

So what happens when your favorite artist (or celebrity) runs afoul of the law? If you're a fan of Michael Jackson, did you throw out all of his albums that you own? Does that make "Thriller" or "Off The Wall" lesser albums? Are all those great Jackson 5 songs now crap because of who he is now? In the case of Gary Glitter, is it better to wipe the slate clean, not play the song and thereby deny him royalties? Actually, does anybody know if he still gets to collect royalties while he's in jail? Do the checks go to the government? I have no idea.

So here are the songs in question. I feel compelled to add that, despite their Bay Area origins, I'm not really a fan of the Green Day or that song, but it's there for fair play. I'm not even a fan of Gary Glitter, but I do like that song and have since I was a kid. Oh, and the other songs that were up for consideration were U2's "Elevation" and Blur's "Song 2". If anything, "Song 2" would work better than "Holiday", plus I like Blur much, much more. "Elevation" is simply shit.

Gary Glitter > Rock and Roll Part 2
Green Day > Holiday

4.10.06

The Worst Cover Song EVER!

I forget where I found this, but it was billed as the worst ever cover song. Sadly, I looked at the title and saw it was a cover of one of my favorite Sugar songs, "If I Can't Change Your Mind." What sucks even more is that the covering band is San Francisco's own Train. I know terrible bands can come from any part of the world, I'm just embarrassed because I love my city. I was gonna post a picture of Train up here, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. Ew.

The original is quick and lively despite the unhappy lyrical subject matter, it's almost as if the song can barely keep up with itself. Bob Mould's voice has a sort of glimmer of hope to it, but he mostly sounds resigned to the fact that things are the way they are and it's not gonna change.

Train's version of IICCYM certainly lives up to the worst cover song billing. Well, if it's not the worst, it's pretty goddamn close. First of all, they cut the tempo in half which really drags it out. Secondly, the guy's voice is so whiny and emo, it's almost like a falsetto. WTF is that all about? It sounds so overproduced and soulless, like it should reside on the soundtrack to the latest blockbuster chick flick starring...fuck, I dunno who's in these movies...umm, Meg Ryan? Sarah Jessica Parker? Well, whatever, it's absolute crap. The only good thing about it is that Mould is getting royalties from all the GAP office casual clone chicks who are buying this shit.

Compare and contrast:
Sugar > If I Can't Change Your Mind
Train > If I Can't Change Your Mind

Bonus:
Sugar > If I Can't Change Your Mind (live BBC version)(because I think this is even better than the original)

Words that could've moved mountains

This track, from the album "Born Into Trouble As The Sparks Fly Upward", really fits my mood tonight. The dialog is moving, sort of sad yet hopeful and the music feels that way as well. The band is an offshoot of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, who seem to be on indefinite hiatus. You can check info and purchase music at the following internet stops.

A Silver Mt. Zion (official site)
Constellation Records
Mountains Made of Steam (fan site)

Listen:
The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band > Built Then Burnt (Hurrah! Hurrah!)

Dear brothers and sisters
dear enemies and friends

Why are we all so alone here ?
All we need is a little more hope, a little more joy
All we need is a little more light, a little less weight, a little more freedom.

If we were an army, and if we believed that we were an army
And we believed that everyone was scared like little lost children in their grown up clothes and poses
So we ended up alone here floating through long wasted days, or great tribulations.
While everything felt wrong

Good words, strong words, words that could've moved mountains
Words that no one ever said
We were all waiting to hear those words and no one ever said them
And the tactics never hatched
And the plans were never mapped
And we all learned not to believe
And strange lonesome monsters loafed through the hills wondering why
And it is best to never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever wonder why

So tangle - oh tangle us up in bright red ribbons!
Let's have a parade
It's been so long since we had a parade, so let's have a parade!
Let's invite all our friends
And all our friends' friends!
Let's promenade down the boulevards with terrific pride and light in our eyes
Twelve feet tall and staggering
Sick with joy with the angels there and light in our eyes

Brothers and sisters, hope still waits in the wings like a bitter spinster
Impatient, lonely and shivering, waiting to build her glorious fires
It's because of our plans man; our beautiful ridiculous plans
Let's launch them like careening jetplanes
Let's crash all our planes in the river
Let's build strange and radiant machines at this jericho waiting to fall

27.9.06

Help me to breathe


Some years ago, I stumbled onto an anime series called Serial Experiments: Lain. The series, which lasts for 13 episodes, revolves around a 13 year old girl called Lain. There was a scientist, Masami, who uploaded his consciousness to "the wired". Lain represented the barrier between the wired world and the real world. Masami tried to get Lain to upload herself as well so he could achieve his dream of breaking down the barrier between the virtual and real worlds.

It's kinda convoluted and sometimes difficult to follow, but I feel it's worth watching. There's lots of discourse on religion, memories, thoughts, and consciousness. Anyway, I enjoyed it even though I got lost at times, having to go back and rewatch scenes or entire episodes. The internet helped out a lot as well. This is a pretty comprehensive fansite, if you're interested.


So by now, you're wondering where the hell I'm going with this. Well, I absolutely loved the theme song. I just happened to think about it tonight so I put it on. It's done by a british band called BOA (no relation to the Korean singer, BoA). BOA's lead singer is Jasmine Rodgers. Her brother, Steve also plays guitar for the band. They happen to be the children of Paul Rodgers, who you may remember him as the singer for Free, Bad Company, The Firm, and now Queen. If you don't remember him, I'd say you're not missing much, and I also think the Queen thing is a huge joke. That, however, is a whole other story.

So their song, Duvet, from the Race of a Thousand Camels album (1998), was used as the opening theme for Serial Experiments: Lain. I think the song is utterly gorgeous. The chorus is such a cry for help, it makes me wonder what Jasmine Rodgers could have been going through at the time. Sadly, the rest of the album is not nearly as good as this track. BOA had a release last year, but I haven't heard it as of yet, but I might give it a try if I can track down some samples. In any case, here you are...

BOA > Duvet

Ecstasy of St. Theresa revisited

So I did a little research today and I was a little surprised to discover that Ecstasy of St. Theresa are still going, and they have an album coming out next month. It seems they've evolved into an electronica type band, which is not a bad thing in itself, but, to me, it's not nearly as attractive as the swirling noise of the Sussurate album. I just have a soft spot for the noise, I guess. Anyway, you can check out the obligatory myspace page as well as their own site.

Here's another track from Sussurate, just cuz...
Ecstasy of St. Theresa > Icecreamstar

25.9.06

Ecstasy of St. Theresa

This track is pretty much an MBV clone, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Waves of distortion and fuzzy guitars, complete with ethereal female vocals which get lost in the mix. It's lovely and completely mental. The album, Sussurate, was originally released in 1992, but I think it went quickly out of print. There was a limited reissue a couple years ago, and apparently there's a new pressing over at tonevendor.com. It's very much worth a listen if you're into the whole swirly guitar thing, I totally love it.

Ecstasy of St. Theresa > Sweetabyss

20.9.06

'No' said the stars to the moon in the sky

Tonight, I watched The Proposition and it has to be one of the best movies I've seen this year. If you don't know, the screenplay was written by Nick Cave, which was what really interested me in the movie. It's a western set in Australia and it really worked me over. I kinda sat there completely immersed, filled with dread and sadness as the film went on. Beautifully written, shot and acted, I felt overwhelmed by the time the end rolled around. It's just one of those films that really affects. And then comes this song as the credits roll, it's just so pretty and melancholy, it's a sweet little cherry on top of the cake. The soundtrack was written/performed by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. Ellis is the violinist for The Bad Seeds and also for the Dirty Three. Anyway, the track is called "The Rider Song." Both the film and the soundtrack are very much worth the time.

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis > The Rider Song

18.9.06

I just look at you and know you're pretty sweet

This is one of the best pop albums you've never heard. Crunchy guitars, three part harmonies, and cotton-candy melodies. Seriously, there's not a bad cut on this album. You might think differently, but you'd be wrong. Released in 97, this, sadly, was their final album.

Long Island
Minneapolis
Never Say Never (I totally love the moog on this one)

Someone stole my record player, how d'ya like that?

Roaming around the great big internet, I recently discovered a Neko Case track I hadn't heard. It's a Tom Waits cover, "Christmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis". The original is on Waits' "Blue Valentine" album from 1978. It's a sad narrative with typical Waits loveable losers, and Neko's version is a home run. The organ adds a churchlike confessional quality to her version which is quite nice, and her voice is as golden as ever. You can find it on the Tom Waits tribute album, "A New Coat of Paint" (2000).

Check em out:
Neko Case > Christmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis
Tom Waits > Christmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis

14.9.06

You are an apple in disguise


Proving yet again how much of a geek I am, I used the Motorola phone tools and made myself a ringtone using the opening ten seconds of Lush's Sweetness and Light. I remember the first time I heard that track; it was fucking magic. And when the rhythm section kicked in, it was pure heaven. I tend to OD on them when I listen to them, but Lush always manage to find their way back into my rotation every couple months or so. So yeah, I have a Sweetness and Light ringtone on my phone...somebody fucking call me, like now.

Check out the original track from the Gala album, which is a comp of their first three EPs. Also, check out the MBV (Orange Squash) remix, which is on the Splendor soundtrack. I haven't seen the movie, but the soundtrack is damn good. Judging by the soundtrack cover, I'm not so sure I'd like the movie anyways, and I don't know anyone who's seen it. The remix is pretty cool, it packs a punch whereas the original sort of floats along. You can't go wrong with either version or their respective albums.

Lush > Sweetness and Light
Lush > Sweetness and Light (Orange Squash Remix)

9.9.06

Goin' to the chapel

So, next month I'm going to Maine for a friend's wedding. In a fit of...I dunno what, I decided I was gonna make a wedding mix cd as an little extra gift to them. I spent an evening and this is what I came up with. I started out with an enormous amount of tunes, however I ended up cutting quite a few just to make the 80 minute CDR limit and also for flow. A mix definitely has to have flow. Hopefully this one does; I quite like it anyway. It's a 93mb zip file, so it'll take a little while to download.

Check it out:

Mirah > Words Cannot Describe
Doris Troy > Just One Look
The 6ths > You You You You You
My Bloody Valentine > Sometimes
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds > Breathless
Darrell Banks > Open The Door To Your Heart
New Order > Temptation
Cowboy Junkies > Anniversary Song
Jose Gonzales > Heartbeats
Wilson Pickett > I'm In Love
Nick Drake > Northern Sky
Malcolm Middleton > Best In Me
Ben Folds > The Luckiest
Spiritualized > Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
PUFFY > Always Dreamin' About You
Lamb > Gorecki
Yo La Tengo > Nowhere Near
Connie Francis > Don't Ever Leave Me
Matthew Sweet > We're The Same
XTC > Stupidly Happy
Teenage Fanclub > Norman 3
Joe Jackson > Happy Loving Couples

5.9.06

I light the fires while the city sleeps

Okay, I'm back from holidays. Anyone miss me? Didn't think so. Right, so tonight I've been listening to the KCRW compilations. There are something like 7 or 8 titles, I've kinda lost count. I'm sure you could find out on their website if you are so inclined. Basically, they've been making comps which consist of live on-air performances from whomever they can get to come down to their studios and play. They've had a wide range of artists on the air, from Radiohead to Fiona Apple to Yo Yo Ma to Ryuichi Sakamoto. Seriously, there's something there for everyone. Look for the Morning Becomes Eclectic shows. They always have someone interesting being interviewed and playing live. Based in Santa Barbara, California, KCRW is one of the better internet radio stations I've come across.

I could probably write a whole shitload of posts about the tracks included on the KCRW comps, so I'll start with this one. One of my favorite KCRW performances is by MC 900 Ft. Jesus. Honestly, I really don't know much about the guy. This is the only track that I've ever heard and, while I really like it, I've never gone out to explore his catalog. This track, "The City Sleeps", has got a lazy hip-hop beat, I especially like the drums and the hi-hat action going on, it's just nice to hear an actual drumkit on a rap track. There's some scratching goin' on, too, but it's more in the background than anything. There's a pretty good keyboard solo in the middle. His delivery is low-key and smooth, the song is about some guy who goes around setting fires to buildings in the middle of the night. As an insomniac, the line, "Everyone has a little secret he keeps / I light the fires while the city sleeps", has a sort of double meaning for me, although I'm no longer a pyromaniac. As a child, I once set fire to a garbage can in our house and received the beating of my life...but that's another story.

Listen to this story:
MC 900 Ft. Jesus > The City Sleeps

23.8.06

Let's get out of this country


Alright, I'm heading outta town tomorrow, so I leave you with these CO tunes. See ya'll in a couple weeks.

Let's Get Out of This Country
I Love My Jean

22.8.06

Laugh and Peace


Okay, this one is really trippy, it's a song from a video game called Vib Ribbon. The band are a Japanese outfit called Laugh and Peace, and the song is "Polaroid". Somebody sent it to me a long time ago and I dig it out now and then. It's kinda, I dunno, strange and haunting. You can find some info on the video game here, and there are some songs available to download. Only problem is that I can't seem to be able to download them. Maybe someone else can grab them and share them. I can't even find any info on whether they released a proper album or not. The guy who owns that site is right, the lyrics are sorta sad.

Laugh and Peace > Polaroid


Walking by the ribbon
Up its spiny side
Raindrops falling me
I have no umbrella

Search in my car
Search in my house
I can't find just anything I want
Search in my heart
Search in my hopes
There's no rules so
Any time, any place

Walking by the ribbon
Up its spiny side
Raindrops falling me
I have no umbrella

Walk until I find it
Such a happy time
Please say "Good night" to me
I feel all alone

Ready for you
Ready for me
I don't know what I'm just looking for
Ready for life
Ready for death
There's no rules so
Any time, any place

Looking for my answer
Looking for my dreams
Starting over
Looking for my answer
Looking for my future
Hey, I gotta watch, I know

Step by step
Walk through mountains
Step by step
Walk through oceans
Step by step
Walk forever
I'll be running

Jumping down
Walk through mountains
Jumping down
Walk through oceans
Jumping down
Walk forever
I can guess everything

Chocolat

I have time for another quick one. I can't find much on this artist, the only thing I can figure out is that this single ("Twinkle Starberry") was released in 1997. I also found an album called "Hamster", which is pretty cool. If anyone knows anything, I'd appreciate the info. Check out these tracks, they're very catchy. Kinda half indie pop and half J-pop, I'm liking them quite a bit.

Kaze Ha Miracle (I'm not entirely sure this title is correct)
Like a Starberry

Do you have the time to listen to me whine?

Yes, it's another of my dreaded Puffy posts. Some Bowlie peeps were in town this weekend, so we took a trip up to Amoeba Records. In an act worthy of ultimate fanboy completist geek status, I bought the Japanese import version of the latest Puffy album, "Splurge", for $30. Yes, I splurged...big time. Now, I have no problem admitting that this album is not their best. I bought it for one reason: the cover of Green Day's "Basket Case", which is not on the American release. I've seen them play it live and I really enjoyed it, so there you go. Ultimate fanboy geek status: Achieved.

In listening to the album, I've made a pleasant discovery. A few of the songs from the American release which were sung in English are sung in Japanese on this disc. I really think they should try to do that more often, it sounds better to my ears. And maybe not have the next album as over-produced as this one.

Anyways, check it. Maybe you'll like it, maybe you won't.

Puffy > Basket Case

14.8.06

Oh daddy, when are you gonna be a big star?

Insomnia sucks. 4am and I'm looking for some info on one of my favorite musicians, Adrian Belew. If you don't know his solo stuff, you might know him from when he played with Frank Zappa, The Talking Heads, or King Crimson. I came across this old video of his, the song is called "Oh Daddy" and it's on the "Mr. Music Head" album from 1989. It's really cute, his daughter, Audie, is in the video, singing and dancing. It's a catchy pop song that would have been a big hit in a parallel universe, but we all know how that goes. Enjoy...