Tuesday, October 31, 2006

(10.31.06) Recommends:

Halloween songs.

I've talked about the track before, but here it is in all it's glory: "Do They Know It's Hallowee'en" by the North American Halloween Prevention Initiative. Go to the website and the song should automatically load. Enjoy!

Monday, October 30, 2006

(10.30.06) Recommends:

The Shins, "Phantom Limb" from the forthcoming "Wincing The Night Away (Sub Pop, Jan. 2007).

Continuing with yesterday's theme of anticipated music, today's post regards arguably the most anticipated release of 2007: The Shins' new album "Wincing The Night Away." They have released the first single from the album. It's available for streaming at The Shins myspace , and available for purchase at the Sub Pop web shop.

It's pretty hard to hate this band, right? Usually when an indie-anything blows up big there's a backlash. I don't think there's ever been a Shins backlash. In fact, a "Shins backlash" might not even be possible. I think that if you don't like the Shins, you're trying to be cool, but you're not doing a very good job of it. Go listen to the new single and let me know what you think.

Today's extra bonus:
The Shins 2003 appearance on Turnpike, a great Lawrence, KS music television show. Back when music television actually meant, er, music on the television.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

(10.29.06) Recommends:

Chris Garneau, "Not Nice" from the forthcoming "Music for Tourists" (Absolutely Kosher, Jan. 2007).

Goodness me. Is it possible that it is not yet Halloween and I've already heard one of the best songs that will be released in 2007? Don't just take my word for it: Absolutely Kosher has given us a sneak peak. Please listen to "Not Nice" right now. You have a new hero of which you heretofore did not know. It's okay. Chris Garneau is here now; things are looking up. I would say more, but please just listen to this song, and let the awesomeness of this song do the typing for me.

His official website.
His myspace. (Four more songs from the forthcoming album available for streaming).
His Absolutely Kosher website. (Where you can pre-order this bad boy).

Saturday, October 28, 2006

(10.28.06) Recommends:

This American Life's website.

Second only to baseball, This American Life might very well be America's greatest contribution to radio. It is, without a doubt, one of our culture's most important voices. It is just about the only thing around which I've regularly set my Saturday morning: get up, get in the car, grab a donut (or three) and drive around aimlessly listening to yet another life-affirming episode of This American Life. And while baseball's internet arm must be run by short-sighted, money hungry assheads bent on alienating every last baseball fan on the planet, TAL's internet arm is run by gods. You can freely listen to every episode ever aired. If you wish, you can purchase CD's with episodes, such being delivered to you with a reproduction of a little Chris Ware drawing. You can get TAL as a podcast. You can sign up for a weekly email. You can get info on the shows, contributors to the shows, and episode recommendations from the show's producers. Everything you want is here. You can get lost for hours on this webpage. And if everybody spent just one hour on this webpage every week, we would live in a far more reasonable country.

Friday, October 27, 2006

(10.27.06) Recommends:

Beirut, "Gulag Orkestar" (Ba Da Bing!, 2006).

Wow. This is probably the most ambitious release of the year. It's like Eastern European indie rock. I mean, the main force behind the band -- who's 20, mind you -- wrote the album in New Mexico and resides in New York. But this album is like Klezmer band indie rock. Organ grinder indie rock. Something that should be played in a silent movie house, with old men in the back, sipping vodka and pining for a different time and a different world. But don't get me wrong; this isn't novelty rock. This thing is a record, people! "Postcards from Italy" is easily one of the best tracks released this year. Sometimes a band comes along that puts out music that's just a little different, a little strange. But it's something that reminds you why you love music in the first place. Neutral Milk Hotel. Air. Sigur Ros. Arcade Fire. Add to this list Zach Condon and Beirut. If he doesn't pull a Jeff Mangum, we have a new voice to collectively anticipate over.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

(10.26.06) Recommends:

Getting to sleep well before midnight.

Sometimes there are weeks where you don't get to bed until ungodly hours. Those weeks are necessary evils, I suppose. But I've always heard this theory -- I'm still not sure if it's an old wives tale, or if it is genuine science -- that the best sleep comes before midnight. Whether true or not, not much beats being asleep before the 10 o'clock news is over and waking up refreshed the next day.

So. Tonight why don't you just put away your work a little early -- they'll be more work to do tomorrow, regardless of how much you get done tonight; they're always is -- crawl into bed, and put on 4am by Richard Buckner. We'll see you tomorrow. Bright and early.

Richard Buckner, 4am.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

(10.25.06) Recommends:

The writing of Chris Bachelder.

David Foster Wallace once said of Arthur Bradford that his stories were like having a conversation with the part of your brain that dreams at night. I've always thought that was just about the coolest compliment I've ever heard. And I think it equally applies to Chris Bachelder. He is one of the most stunningly creative writers alive. He is a "humor writer," but not the kind found in the "Humor Section" of book stores. His attention to detail is staggering. His sentences are like fractals, and his work like chaos theory. Or M.C. Escher prints.

He came out with a new book this year, U.S.! and has another novel Bear v. Shark. In between the two, he released an eBook called Lessons in Virtual Tour Photography, which can be downloaded for free here.

If I haven't convinced you to download a free book, or to go out and buy one of his other books, do me a favor. At least read this page-and-a-half exerpt I'm providing today. It's Lesson 26 from the download and it is titled "Ivan Lendl and the Hazards of Really Giving a Shit." If ever there was a title that alone made me want to read everything an author has written, this was it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

(10.24.06) Recommends:

Tokyo Police Club, "A Lesson in Crime" (Paper Bag Records, 2006).

This album is seven tracks. No track is longer than two minutes, forty four seconds. But to listen to "A Lesson in Crime" is to hear your future, and the future of many of those like you. As in, you're soon going to be listening to this album a lot. And that's a good thing. You are Crime. Tokyo Police Club is, well, the Law. You stand no chance, friends.

Their NMC page.
Their myspace.
Their homepage.
Tour video from YouTube.

Monday, October 23, 2006

(10.23.06) Recommends:

Concert Photography, Vol. 3.
The Be Good Tanyas (Opening: Ana Egge)
The Attic, Santa Cruz, Calif.

I've talked about how good this band is before. I am happy to report they are fantastic live. I saw them a bit off the beaten path: playing at a tea house in Santa Cruz. This band is poised for major crossover mainstream success.

Ana Egge:

Banjo tuning:

Banjo + Harmonic: a force strong enough to put a grown woman on the verge of tears:

Ukulele? Ukulele!

The Be Good Tanyas @ The Attic; Santa Cruz; 10.22.06.

Friday, October 20, 2006

(10.20.06) Recommends:

Concert Photography, Vol. 2.

Today's photos feature Mew and One Thousand Pictures. Mew is from Denmark. They put out a well-received album earlier this year called "And The Glass Handed Kites." They have a "big" sound. As in, I can picture them playing in front of a sold-out Wembley Stadium. The music is very atmospheric, but tightly focused. Almost every article I've read about the band has mentioned Sigur Ros + Arcade Fire. I don't really hear either one, but I suppose I agree to the extent that the reviewers mean atmosphere + earnest energy. At any rate it was a very good performance. Opening up was One Thousand Pictures. Or 2/5th of the band. The singer said the rest of the band was at the hospital due to spider bites. We've all been there before. They have an album coming out in January 2007.

One Thousand Pictures @ Popscene; San Francisco; 10.19.06.

Mew @ Popscene; San Francisco; 10.19.06.

Mew @ Popscene; San Francisco; 10.19.06.

Mew @ Popscene; San Francisco; 10.19.06.

Mew @ Popscene; San Francisco; 10.19.06.

Mew @ Popscene; San Francisco; 10.19.06.

Mew @ Popscene; San Francisco; 10.19.06.

Mew @ Popscene; San Francisco; 10.19.06.

Mew @ Popscene; San Francisco; 10.19.06.

[Yes, I'm still figuring out how to take pictures in the dark. Somebody please help!]

Thursday, October 19, 2006

(10.19.06) Recommends:

Autumn in the Midwest.

You can smell it in the air. You can see it in the changing color of the leaves. For the coming Fall may we recommend:

Starting in St. Louis:

And ending in Detroit:

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

(10.18.06) Recommends:

Being able to digitally record your dreams for future play back.

Okay, so probably Al Gore hasn’t invented this yet. Until that day comes, watching the following video is the closest I’ve ever come to such an experience. Wow. This video is a doozie. It starts off with a familiar enough scene. Bozo, giving the camera that half-seductive, half-psychotic smile followed by his quasi-marching-band-leader dance segueing into a quasi-River Dance that we can all remember seeing on WGN in our childhoods. But then a foreign language pops up. It's a sure sign you're dreaming when you see a familar scene, but everybody around you is speaking a language you've never heard, right? Pretty much from there it turns wacky very quickly. Following find a partial list of reasons why this video has been alternately blowing my mind and freaking me out all day:

--A low-budget, dancing frog.
--Everybody kissing Bozo’s nose, as if it’s the pope’s ring.
--Some kind of clown/werewolf in gold sequins, with long, flowing gold beard.
--A mass of children, violently jumping up and down, shaking pom-poms in unison.
--Random, clearly imitation, Muppets puppets, who quite frankly looked terrified to be part of this.
--Asian + other multi-ethnic jugglers.
--Asian fire-spitters.
--Asian magicians.
--Marching band with electric guitar players.
--Marching band with bearded electric guitar players.
--Marching band with mullet-ed electric guitar players.

If anybody has any details about the origin of this clip I would love to hear from you.

This video cannot be stopped.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

(10.17.06) Recommends:

NPR Live Concert Series.

Going to concerts in clubs can be a harrowing experience. It can take weeks to get all the cigarette smoke out of your clothes. The beer is like six bucks and comes in small plastic cups. And the sight of so many indie rock fans with such pasty white skin can be as bad on the eyes as staring straight into the sun. Two solutions: move to California, where at least smoking in doors is banned; or catch your favorite band on NPR's Live Concert Series. Each webcast is a live show in its entirety of one of your favorites acts, from clubs all around the country.

The next band appearing in the series will be Wilco[1] on October 19. Each webcast is archived for a year. Shows currently available in the archive:

Jenny Lewis, Built to Spill, Regina Spekter, Sleater-Kinney, Jose Gonzalez, Fiery Furnaces, Gomez, Sonic Youth, The Walkmen, Mogwai, Toots and the Maytals, Neko Case + Martha Wainwright, Artic Monkeys, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Belle + Sebastian w/ The New Pornographers, Colin Meloy (of the Decemberists), Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, James Brown, Sinead O'Connor, Son Volt, My Morning Jacket, The White Stripes, Sigur Ros, Hurrican Katrina Benefit (f. Wynton Marsalis, Norah Jones and more), Death Cab For Cutie, Secret Machines + Kings of Leon, Lucinda Williams, David Gray, Bloc Party, The Decemberists, Interpol, Bright Eyes.

And finally, a message from NPR:
Please note: this is a recording of a live concert. Some of the language may not be appropriate for all audiences.

[1] Another advantage of watching a show online: boxing gloves not necessary.

Monday, October 16, 2006

(10.16.06) Recommends:

Supreme Court Oral Arguments via the Oyez Project.

You think I'm kidding about this, but I'm not. After all, if you were only to listen to rock music all day, not only would you most likely go deaf, and probably turn to a life of drugs, but you wouldn't know much about our most important political and social issues. Or, at any rate, you'd be terribly boring. So, put some Oyez into your ear, hommie.

From the The Oyez Project ("oyez, oyez, oyez" being the thing they say to kick off a supreme court session; the equivalent of "hear ye, hear ye...") website:

"The OYEZ Project is a multimedia archive devoted to the Supreme Court of the United States and its work. It aims to be a complete and authoritative source for all audio recorded in the Court since the installation of a recording system in October 1955. The Project also provides authoritative information on all justices and offers a virtual reality 'tour' of portions of the Supreme Court building, including the chambers of some of the justices."

Here's a so-brief-as-to-be-useless-generally-but-for-purposes-of-explainting-this-
website-useful primer on how the Supreme Court works:
1. The Court agrees to review a case.
2. Lawyers for both sides of the litigation "brief" the court (the sides write essentially a book report on the legal issues at play).
3. The Supreme Court justices read the "book reports" and start formulating their opinion about the issues.
4. The lawyers come before the court and argue their book reports in front of the Justices.
5. The Justices can ask any last minute questions about the book reports.
6. The Justices go back to their chambers to think again about the book reports.
7. The Court releases an opinion.

So the oral arguments that you will hear on this website represent stage 4. The issues might be boring, or complex. But the oral advocacy skills are always excellent, and the questions of the justices are piercing. I recommend going to the featured audio section, and giving some of the arguments a listen. The Court is a mysterious body; this site makes an important contribution in humanizing the experience.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

(10.15.06) Recommends:

Yo La Tengo, "I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass" (2006, Matador).

When Yo La Tengo released "I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One" in 1997, some labeled it the greatest indie rock record ever released. As a general proposition, bands do not put out, as there ninth album, genre-defining albums. But here's where the story gets better: Yo La Tengo keeps releasing albums which, if not as good as "I Can Hear..." are certainly very nearly as good. This Band Is Composed of Robots and Will Never Put Out Another Bad Record and I Don't Even Care. If getting your ass kicked sounds this good, I say "We ready, we ready..."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

(10.14.06) Recommends:

Concert Photography.

Originally I thought it would be too clunky to carry around a camera to shows. Plus, having to deal with the derisive stares of people who think you're a "blogger" there just to take pictures and not to actually watch the show. But it turns out taking pictures is a fun way to remember the night. Who knew? Now I just have to learn how to operate a camera in the dark. Here are some recent efforts:

Bluegrass Fans; Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival; Golden Gate Park; 10.07.06.

Banjo Stage, f. Earl Scruggs, Gillian Welch, Steve Earle; Id.

Earl Scruggs; Id.

Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings; Id.

Steve Earle + Band; Id.

Takka Takka; Warfield Theater; 10.13.06.

Takka Takka; Id.

Takka Takka; Id.

Architecture in Helsinki; Id.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah; Id.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah; Id.

Takka Takka + Architecture in Helsinki + Clap Your Hands Say Yeah; Id.

Friday, October 13, 2006

(10.13.06) Recommends:

Be Good Tanyas, "Hello Love" (Nettwerk Records, 2006).

Is it possible that the best Bluegrass-Traditional-Americana-Folk band on the planet is a female trio from Canada? It is possible friends. In fact, if you can listen to their new record (any of their records, for that matter), and come to any other conclusion, please let me know. This "Hello Love" is something to behold. It has stunning originals. It has Neil Young covers. It has sweet whispers and get-up-dancy fiddle tunes. It'll make a run for my second favorite album of the year.

Their website.
Their myspace.
Their page on Nettwerk Records.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

(10.12.06) Recommends:

The Elected, "Sun, Sun, Sun" (Sub Pop, 2006).

More L.A./West Coast takes on alt.country. This recommendation will be simple. I am going to reproduce the "Similar Artists" box that appears when you listen to this album on Rhapsody. At which point, you will either immediately drop everything and listen to this album, or you'll die. Because if you are not moved by this list, you have no heart, and your death is therefore quite imminent. So, here goes:

*Beachwood Sparks
*Bright Eyes
*The Cork and Spark
*The Flaming Lips
Related Projects:
*Rilo Kiley


The internet is a series of tubes, leading to various websites. So check out this one.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

(10.11.06) Recommends:

Sufjan Stevens, live in concert.

I know that if Indie Rock was the United Nations, Sufjan Stevens would have Most Favored Nation trade status. And it's not like I'm Kofi Annan or anything, but I've got to say, I wasn't always very enamored with this Christian troubadour. In fact, I kind of hated him for a while. Here's why:

First, my sister kept telling me I had to hear his Illinois album. So I went searching for it on Rhapsody. And Asthmatic Kitty does not license to Rhapsody. (Note: I just went to Rhapsody, and lo-and-behold, every freaking Sufjan Stevens album is now available. That's really weird. And very welcomed.) Now, I realize that it's kind of irrational to hate a musician just because his record label does not license its records to Rhapsody. I get that it's a musician's/label's prerogative not to license to Rhapsody. But it's a music fan's prerogative to completely dismiss an artist/label for not doing so. So that was strike one in my book.

Strike two came shortly thereafter when a friend and I made a record hunting trip to Berkeley. Through my finely honed powers of persuasion I convinced her to buy 'Illinois.' Most people that know me understand that I'm a pretty laid back guy. But, apparently, on the ride home from Berkeley, I was in one of my "less talk, more rock" moods, and I found "Illinois" so plodding and boring that I nearly threw it out the window, where it would have shattered into a million little pieces on the 880. So the count was now 0-2.

Next I came across this video. The whole "country boy with banjo" vibe was too obnoxious for me to handle. Don't get me wrong: I love the banjo. I own a banjo. I can play at least one song on the banjo. But this video is completely ridiculous. The hat? And what is that thing in the background? It's not a silo, right? It's like a big barrel of whiskey or something. So stupid. This video was another strike, but it was a foul ball, because I realize that if you were just an indie-rocker and never experienced the banjo, maybe this video would have been an introduction to all things banjo. [Although I can't think of anything that justifies the ridiculousness of the hat.]. So, another strike, but since it was a foul ball, the count is still 0-2.

Now, by this time my music-hunting-in-Berkeley friend had actually come to adore "Illinois" (I never told her that I was originally allocating the risk of a crappy CD purchase on her; therefore, she thinks it was a quite excellent recommendation) along with all things Sufjan. She made me a Sufjan Stevens mixed CD and I listened to it on a road trip to Los Angeles. And this friend must have completely understood my reluctance with Sufjan, because she got rid of all the plodding, boring Sufjan, leaving only the beautiful, stunning Sufjan. It is nearly 700 miles, roundtrip, from my apartment to Los Angeles. And of those 700 miles, I would estimate 695 were set to the music of this Sufjan mixed CD. My ears finally conquered my brain's irrationality. That's a beautiful thing, right? I don't know how to continue with the baseball metaphor. It's not like it was a home run, but more like Sufjan was still at the plate, continually fouling off pitches, thus continuing his at-bat.

Until. Until. He continued his at bat until Tuesday, when he played in Berkeley. On Tuesday, in Berkeley, he hit it to Waveland Ave. Or he cleared the roof at old Tigers Stadium. Or he hit the warehouse at Camden Yards. Or he hit the concession stand roof at Royals Stadium (a feat, I swear to god, I saw Mark McGwire once accomplish during batting practice). This show was simply one of the greatest performances I have ever seen. First off, it wasn't just Sufjan Stevens. There was a mini-orchestra of at least two dozen people. Stringed instruments, brass instruments, percussive instruments. Then there was a choir, again, at least two dozen people. Next, they were all wearing butterfly costumes over these weird quasi-marching-band, quasi-tae-kwon-do outfits. Finally, he would sing a song about Christmas-time, and inflatable Santa Clause dolls would be released from the ceiling. Or, he would sing about Superman, and inflatable Superman dolls would be released from the ceiling.

None of this is even mentioning the music. There were over one thousand people at this show. Mostly young, smart, hip people. And there was a point when I couldn't figure out why anybody was at the show. Here was a guy, in a butterfly costume, playing a banjo, accompanied by 40 other people. This was not indie rock. This was not hip. At one point I closed my eyes, and I could see my mother and father. When I was young, they used to put me to bed with stories of how they saw Simon and Garfunkel in concert. And there, in Berkely, on a Tuesday, with my eyes closed, with Sufjan Stevens and My Brightest Diamond singing, it could have been Simon and Garfunkel, in Kansas City, in the early 70s. This Sufjan Stevens fellow. He's gonna be big. I predict by this time next year he'll be singing a duet with Elton John at the Grammy's. It was "indie rock" and "hip" yet completely family friendly. The next day I was emailing friends all over the country, who had seen him at various points on this recent tour. And the sentiment was clear and uniform: this was one of the best shows each of us had seen in recent memory.

I beg of you people: please go see Sufjan Stevens the next time he visits your town.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

(10.10.06) Recommends:

The artwork of Carson Ellis.

I've been on a Decemberists kick as of late and, of course, a recommendation of this band should not be made without recommending the excellent artwork of their resident illustrator Carson Ellis. Her artwork is kind of like the band's music: it seems quaint, like from another era. Yet completely modern. And upon closer inspection, you see things you didn't notice before. Slightly mutated takes on familar scenes. Fans of Marcel Dzama and Amy Cutler will love her artwork. Please visit her webpage, my favorite is her work in pen and ink. So go, and purchase something from her. After all, you're getting older, and those posters of Bud Light biki models really should come down at this point.

Monday, October 09, 2006

(10.09.06) Recommends:

Tarkio, "Omnibus" (Kill Rock Stars, 2006).

So yesterday was "The Decemberist post." And today will be dedicated to Tarkio, Colin Meloy's former band. This is just straight Americana alt.country, and the album is some kind of retrospective Kill Rock Stars released early this year. For fans of The Decemberists, this album never comes close to reaching the majestic heights of, say, 'Los Angeles, I'm Yours," but for people who actually enjoy laid-back alt.country, this is a perfect record for crackin' open a beer, on a patio, in the sun. This record won't change the world but it can make it a more enjoyable place to drink beer on a patio.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

(10.08.06) Recommends:

The Decemberists, "The Crane Wife" (Capitol, 2006).

The highly-anticipated major-label debut from everybody's favorite lit-rockers. I've been listening to this thing since the day it was released, and that's the main point of this space: to share what I've been listening to. But I'm kinda torn here. Some days I love it; some days I'm skipping over many of the tracks. Cries of sell-out should properly be silenced by the righteous, 4-part, 12-minute-plus second track. But there's some kind of white person funk in some of the songs that makes me a bit uncomfortable. So for now, here is my line: this band is clearly one of the most important bands making music today. They've put something out that I partially do not understand. I don't believe in the ethos that "all great art must challenge," but I do realize that my lack of understanding is my issue, not the bands. The world needs this band. And a better percentage of the world will know this band with this album. So, welcome world.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

(10.07.06) Recommends:

Elton John, "The Captain and The Kid" (Interscope, 2006).

Yesterday, was a name from the past. So why not again today?

For the last few years I have been thinking -- more like hoping, really -- that somebody like Rick Ruben should go into the studio with Elton John and come out with a late career, back to the basics, no frills, kick ass rock 'n roll record. What's that? Do I hear snickering? Oh yeah, I forgot. You're one of those people that pretend that you don't know every last song off of every Elton John greatest hits album. Greatest hits albums. As in, (a) the classic Greatest Hits album from '74; (b) Greatest Hits 1976-1986; (c) Greatest Hits II (released in '97, but a follow-up to GH'74); (d) Greatest Hits 1970-2002. Not to mention Remixed, wherein songs from GH 1970-2002 are, you know, remixed. You pretend you don't love "Rocket Man" done trip-hop style. But guess what, partner? You're not fooling anybody. Just like you're not fooling anybody when you claim that the songs you sing/whistle in the shower aren't chosen from a pool containing no less then forty Elton John classics. Most bands you claim to like will never record forty songs in their careers. So stop rolling your eyes, and listen to this record. Maybe it'll be the closest thing we'll have to a Johnny Cash-"American Recordings"-style comeback for the Crocodile Rocker. Or maybe it's a sign that Elton John has thirty years of great music left in him. They've been saying it since 1974, and it's true again in 2006: the bitch is back.

Friday, October 06, 2006

(10.06.06) Recommends:

Bruce Springsteen, "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions" and/or supplementary "American Land Edition" (Columbia, 2006).

Okay, so as a general proposition I find it obnoxious when a record label puts out a record and then a few months later re-issues the record with extra bells and whistles. However. I'm gonna bite my tongue here. While not recommending going out and buying both records, you need to have one of these records in your collection. Hands down, this gets my nod as 2006's Album of the Year. People who care about "traditional American music" (whatever that may mean) will have their jaws drop upon listening. People who do not care about "traditional American music" will begin to care upon listening.

Hopefully everybody knows the story by now: The Boss called up Pete Seeger's old band mates, invited them to his New Jersey farmhouse, they hung out playing songs for three days, and somebody had the good sense to record the whole thing. Over the last several years much has occurred to cause one to become embarrassed about being American. But be not so fearful: with this, it's again okay to be American. Somehow it feels like a middle finger simultaneously to politicians and to stupid fucking terrorists. I guess this is why we call him The Boss.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

(10.05.06) Recommends:

The Subways, "Young For Eternity" (Sire, 2006).

First off, the members of this band, the literature tells me, are all under 20. Secondly, this music is like Brit Rock, Folk Rock, and Punk Rock all at once. Be warned, dear readers, that Pitchfork gave this record a crappy review. But that's mostly a function of this album coming out on Sire records, which is a part of Warner Bros. -- gasp! a major label! -- and Sire apparently doesn't have the hipster cachet of Sup Pop (49% owned by Time Warner/Warner Bros.). Oh yeah, and maybe because their music also appeared on The O.C. But if you can listen to these songs, and not want to live life, then you should stay in that dark, dank, moldy, solitary apartment (the same place where 95% of those Pitchfork reviews are no doubt written) of yours, and shake your fists at people who are willing to go out and do things, and create, and live. While you're in that dark space, you might as well go over to The Subways' myspace page and listen to the song "Mary," because you might as well bop your head while you're all by yourself sticking it to the man, or whatever you're protesting.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

(10.04.06) Recommends:

Danielson, "Ships" (Secretly Canadian, 2006).

So this album is filling the Leftfield Hit of the Year spot in my brain; a space occupied last year by Animal Collective's amazing "Feels." Here, there's a little "Feels," a little Fiery Furnaces, a little Flaming Lips, and a little bit of a bunch of other art-rock bands and records starting with the letter "F" that I'm too unhip to have ever heard. As with any experimental art project, there is a lot of back story that the reader can discover. But first, before doing that, just listen to the music. There are some strange and wonderful things happening on this record.

Today's Blog Brought To You By The Letter F:
Flaming Lips
Fiery Furnaces
Field, Left

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

(10.03.06) Recommends:

The Avett Brothers, "Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions" (Ramseur, 2006).

I am recommending this album almost solely on the strength of the first track, "Talk on Indolence," which is country-punk in the style of Wichita, Kansas's Split Lip Rayfield. Which is to say, bluegrass performed in a way you heretofore thought not allowed. Which is to say, music that sounds like it is performed by scary looking men, tattoed and drinking whiskey straight from the bottle. This album is more well-rounded than a SLR album, but if you're like me, you might fire up the first track, and listen to it so much that you don't get to track 2 for several weeks.

"Talk on Indolence" is currently being streamed on the Ramseur Records myspace page. Rub that grease from your elbow through your hair, then go give it a listen.

Of note: Those in the Bay Area will have a chance to catch The Avett Brothers this weekend at the biggest bang-for-your-buck bluegrass festival on earth, San Francisco's free Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival.

Monday, October 02, 2006

(10.02.06) Recommends:

M. Ward, "Post-War" (Merge, 2006).

Since I mentioned M. Ward in Saturday's post, today seems like an appropriate time to formally recognize his newest effort in this space. He has put together another solid American rock etc. record. He brings the rock more than say, Horse Feathers, on tracks like "Poison Cup" and "To Go Home" [thanks largely to the backing band (a first for a M. Ward album)]. But he's still bringing the rock accompanied with warm strings and that weathered voice. And that's why we love M. Ward.

Get the facts and vote Yes:
Don't just take my word for it: thanks to the fine folks at Merge Records, the whole album currently can be streamed here.

Also of note:
His official website.
His myspace.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

(10.01.06) Recommends:

Band of Horses, "Everything All The Time" (Sub Pop, 2006).

Continuing with yesterday's theme of Albums That Will Definitely Make It On Every Music Critic's Best of 2006 List, today I present Band of Horses. Of course, the only way you've escaped the power of this album is if you've spent 2006 living under water, where sound travels on some sort of distorted wave length or something. I'm not really sure of the science involved. But poor dolphins, never to experience the awesomeness of "The Funeral," hands down 2006's Song of the Year.

The Funeral.