Thursday, September 28, 2006

Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Lack of Internet

So I'm moving this weekend and probably won't have Internet for several days. And, as it turns out, our ex-roommate called all the way from Hong Kong this past week and cancelled the Internet at my current place.

Needless to say, my blogging time will be extremely limited for the next week or so.

In the meantime, read about the non-death of Paul Vance if you haven't already.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Latest GEICO Caveman Ad

So usually I try to avoid TV at all costs, but tonight I watched the Yankee game with pops and I was surprised and delighted to hear the voice of Erlend Oye (from one of my favorite bands, Kings of Convenience, and one of my not-so-favorite bands Whitest Boy Alive) in one of those GEICO caveman commercials. If you're wondering, the track is called "Remind Me" and it's from Röyksopp's 2002 album Melody A.M.

As I've said before on this blog, I'm not exactly enamored with Oye's electronic catalogue, but it was nice to see GEICO getting it done - especially after those awful talking british gecko ads which literally drive me into a blinding rage.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Stream: The Decemberists - Yankee Bayonet

Pitchfork has posted streaming audio of Yankee Bayonet, a new song from the upcoming Decemberists album, The Crane Wife, which I am very much looking forward to. Last year's Picaresque finished second in the MAOTY rankings.

The Crane Wife is the band's major-label debut (Capitol) and apparently they've described it as their weirdest album to date, which I guess would be bucking some trends. Bob Boilen and Co. played a clip of one song on NPR's All Songs Considered and it was vintage prog rock, but they say the album as a whole is as catchy as anything they've done. Yankee Bayonet is a bit more straightforward than the NPR clip, but it's more than enough to fan the flames.

[stream: The Decemberists - Yankee Bayonet]

Sufjan Claus is Coming To Town

So I am WAY late on this news, but Sufjan Stevens is officially releasing his Christmas EPs on November 21 (you know, the ones I mentioned on my old blog a year ago that you downloaded and now know by heart). Songs for Christmas features a plethora of brand-new tracks (that you didn't download and do not know by heart) and a bunch of other extras that are described on Asthmatic Kitty's Web site as:

• Five individually packaged CD EPs!
• Five Christmas stickers!
• Extensive liner notes and short stories by Sufjan Stevens!
• An original Christmas essay by Rick Moody!
• An animated music video and comic strip by Tom Eaton!
• A Christmas Songbook with lyric sheets and chord charts--so you can sing along too!
• An original Christmas Family Portrait painting of Santa Sufjan (with wife and kids!) by Jacques Bredy!
AK does have an mp3 of a new song called "Sister Winter," a link to which I have included below (so that you can download it and learn it by heart). It's not as festive as some of the other Santa Sufjan offerings. (Actually, it's downright maudlin for the first three minutes).

Speaking of Mr. Stevens, who made my favorite album of last year (Illinois)... I was listening to Seven Swans yesterday morning and was reminded of how good it is, but also of how I've barely listened to any Sufjan in '06. I didn't buy The Avalanche (see my Wishlist at right for more details) and I probably won't buy this Christmas boxed set either (as I've already downloaded most of the songs and know most of them by heart). The man is insanely prolific, which is a wonderful thing, but it also has its drawbacks, as Sufjan saturation is extremely high right now. Am I all Sufjaned out? Probably not, but, genius though he is, I just don't feel like I need every moment of his life to be recorded.

[mp3: Sufjan Stevens - Sister Winter]

p.s. The Dugout has a hilarious (and fictitious) AIM chat between Colorado Rockies third baseman Vinny Castilla and Sufjan, in which the indie crooner sings a song called "Vinny Castilla Day" from his upcoming state album, "Colorado is Colo-Radical!", that includes such memorable lines as:
glorious STATE! glorious STATE!

it was vinny castilla day,
the giant man of the rocky mountains,
shoulders broad

aaaaaand then my sort-of girlfriend died of cancer and was hit by a train at the same time and everybody cannot find jobs and god is a jerk but i am a christian for irony's sake ooooooooooooooooh
(Via Idolator)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Download: Tom Waits - Bottom of the World

A free download turned up this week on Pitchfork from Tom Waits, called Bottom of the World. It'll be featured on Orphans, a 54-song collection of new and rare tracks due on November 21.

If you're already a Waits fan, you should grab this. If you're not already a Waits fan, you should definitely consider becoming one.

This is classic Waits - Pitchfork picks out one of the signature lines as: "Well I dined last night with Scarface Ron on Tilapia fishcakes and fried black swan" - with his dark subject matter and his gravely, whiskey-washed, world-weary voice. I haven't played this for Jen yet. He could join Antony in her doghouse.

Meanwhile, if you're a newbie, let me recommend a few tracks off the top of my head from my sadly limited Waits collection: The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me), Tom Traubert's Blues, Jersey Girl, Heartattack and Vine ("Don't you know there ain't no devil, there's just God when he's drunk"), Small Change, Hoist That Rag, The Fall of Troy, Lowside of the Road, Get Behind the Mule, Hold On, (Heck, the whole Mule Variations album), Day After Tomorrow.

[mp3: Tom Waits - Bottom of the World]

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Rogue Wave Needs a Kidney

From Idolator:

Pat Spurgeon, drummer for Sub Pop superstars Rogue Wave, needs a kidney. A benefit will be held Sept. 30th in San Francisco. If you think San Francisco hasn't been cool since the late-'90s and would rather just give money, you can also donate at the band's website (you can read a rather impassioned plea for help on Entertainment Weekly's blog).
Rogue Wave made my fifth-favorite album of 2005, which is saying a lot because last year was an incredibly strong year for music, called Descended Like Vultures. Apparently, record companies don't provide health insurance and Spurgeon has long had issues with his insides.

Call me an asshole, but I have no interest in donating or getting you to donate. Instead, I'll lend my support to the band by using this opportunity to highly recommend Descended Like Vultures. The whole album is great, but if you want a sample track, check out California [iTunes link], which, if you've been around me any time in the last year, you've probably already heard.

Spurgeon, by the way, is also known for his funky hair. He's on the far right in the band photo (behind lead singer and band namesake Zach Rogue).

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Random iPod Song: Das EFX - They Want EFX

So for the inaugural "song from the past that came up on shuffle today" entry, I give you Das EFX's They Want EFX.

This is, not surprisingly, the only track I have by Das EFX, which is still together and still maintains, according to Wikipedia, a cult following. I can attest to them still performing as recently as a couple of years ago, as promo posters for one of their shows creeped up around Prague one week. R. and I found it quite amusing. (We chose not to attend).

Other than that, I know nothing about them, so as I was walking around Hoboken this evening, I came up with a phony backstory involving some sort of social experiment proving that you could pretty much say anything in a song as long as you have a good enough beat. People were asked to devise the most ridiculous, random, asinine lyrics they could think of and then the lines were strung together and performed. In case you've forgotten (or never heard the song at all, God help you), these are the lyrics. Really, I'm not kidding:

Bum stiggedy bum stiggedy bum, hon, I got the old pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
But I can fe-fi-fo-fum, diddly-bum, here I come
So Peter Piper, I'm hyper than Pinocchio's nose
I'm the supercalafragilistic tic-tac pro
I gave my oopsy, daisy, now you've got the crazy
Crazy with the books, googley-goo where's the gravy?
So one two, unbuckle my, um, shoe
Yabba doo, hippity-hoo, crack a brew
So trick or treat, smell my feet, yup I drippedy-dropped a hit
So books get on your mark and spark that old censorship
Drats and double drats, I smiggedy-smacked some whiz kids
The boogedy-woogedly Brooklyn boys about to get his, dig
My waist bone's connected to my hip bone
My hip bone's connected to my thigh bone
My thigh bone's connected to my knee bone
My knee bone's connected to my hardy-har-har-har
The jibbedy-jabber jaw ja-jabbing at your funny bone, um
Skip the Ovaltine, I'd rather have a Honeycomb
Or preferably the sesame, lets spiggedy-spark the blunts, um
Dun dun dun dun dun, dun dun
And that's just the first verse.

And, if only to prove that you can find anything on YouTube these days, here's the video.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - The Letting Go

Very few artists are day-one purchases for me these days. My favorites I usually buy within a week or two, sometimes discoveries take months to make. But Will Oldham (aka Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, aka Palace Music) has become a hot-off-the-presses pickup for me, one of the best songwriters of this generation and certainly one of the most eccentric. His last two albums proper - Master And Everyone and Superwolf - are among this decade's best.

I just got back from Tunes and am only listening to The Letting Go for the first time, so I won't make any comparisons yet, except to say that this one's lighter in tone than those other two (though that's not saying much). Right now, a song called No Bad News is on and it freaking rules, man. It's about being the bearer of, you guessed it, bad news. Dawn McCarthy's vocals are great, too, really helping to bring haunting beauty to these songs along with the guitars and orchestration. See Love Comes to Me, Then the Letting Go, Strange Form of Life, etc.

And apparently the mututal fascination between Bjork and Oldham hasn't died, as, to go along with their collaboration on Drawing Restraint 9 and her standing on the side of the stage at Keyspan Park almost droooling on herself as he played - this album was recorded in Reykjavik.

And Bonnie made it all worth buying the physical CD:

Released: Today. BUT OF COURSE.

Like the Yo La, the first video isn't from the new album. It's from Superwolf. And if you haven't seen it yet, you've missed out. The second is from the new one.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass

(Or, if you buy it from iTunes like I did, I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your A*s).

There are any number of reasons why I've decided to remain in Hoboken. It could be the neighborhood. It could be Arthur's Steakhouse. Or Tunes. Or India on the Hudson. Or the Manhattan views. Or could it be the slightest chance that I'll run into Ira and Georgia again on the PATH, wheeling their bikes onto the train at 2 a.m.?

Actually, it's the proximity to work that was the biggest selling point. It had nothing whatsoever to do with Yo La Tengo. Still, they do help make Hobo cool and, after approximately 721 albums, they still kick major ass.

I've only had time to sample this one so far, but I'm already in love with Beanbag Chair, which I've actually had for a few months now, and that fun little sound in the background of Black Flowers, which I was air-pianoing earlier this evening. I am one of the rare Summer Sun devotees, but I can already tell this one has more range. And let me know if The Weakest Part reminds you a bit of Sesame Street. Either way, I love it. Released: September 12, 2006. PATRIOTIC.

Not from the new album, but, as a Mr. Show fan, a must-see classic:

New Innocence Mission in March

There must be a blue moon out somewhere, because The Innocence Mission has updated its Web site - announcing a new album in March of 2007. The countdown begins.

Antony & The Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now

Move over, Mountain Goats. Jen likes you now - and there is a new voice in town that drives her nuts.

Antony sounded good to me on Current 93's The Beautiful Dancing Dust, so I decided to finally pick up I Am A Bird Now, one of those hyped albums from last year I just never got. "I hate that thing he does with his voice. It's like he can't really sing," says Jen. For me, the jury is still out. I think his voice is rich and soulful, but yeah, that thing he does...

Anyway, there are at least two songs on this album that make it worth it (as if annoying Jen by playing it isn't enough): Hope There's Someone and For Today I Am A Boy. The first is a gorgeous, haunting plea for strength and companionship in the face of loneliness and death. "Oh, I'm scared of the middle place between light and nowhere. I don't want to be the one left in there, left in there..."

The second is not your mother's indie ballad. It's the story of a boy looking forward to a bright and wonderful future as... a beautiful woman. The ambiguous sexuality of Antony informs much of his music (his childhood hero Boy George does a guest vocal turn on You Are My Sister and My Lady Story "is one of breast amputation") but this song, and this album, like any good piece of music, isn't only about what it's about. Released: February 1, 2005. TRANSFORMED.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Great Depression - Preaching To The Fire

Todd tells me to '"enjoy the subversive dream pop" and so far I am. After a long week, it's a nice distraction for a Sunday morning in PoTown. I have clothes to try on and a pool to swim in and, apparently, a WB marathon later tonight, if I'm up to it.

Still a bit groggy although I've been awake for a couple of hours, this has enough juice to get me out of bed but enough "dream pop" to keep me a bit dazed. Which is nice, being all alone in a big house, with Max the dog and that confused look on his face. Released: August 7, 2006. GASSED.

Sample it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Apple Buys CoverFlow

iTunes 7 has CoverFlow integrated. I love this company.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Neil Young - Time Fades Away

I've already introduced you to my musical God. Now meet Jesus.

I'm breaking my rules here a bit, as I got this pre-blog, but I've been jonesing to put it up so here it is. Neil finally reissued On the Beach, my all-time favorite of his albums, in the last few years and I had it on repeat for days, as I had on my favorite Neil bootleg as I wandered the AT. (Ambulance Blues was the inspiration for the name of my Archives list in the right-hand column, if you hadn't made the connection already).

Anyway, I was surfing the Web recently, reading about On the Beach, when I saw a review that said, "Great record. But why hasn't Neil reissued Time Fades Away?"

Time Fades Away? If I had been around in '73, I'd have rushed out to get this one. But that not being the case, I somehow missed this live album of previously-unrecorded Neil songs that apparently, to my limited knowledge (I am in the market for a good Shakey bio if anyone knows of one), marks a time in Neil's touring life he'd rather forget. Or at least that's the buzz I read about why this gem - and it is a gem - is out of print. Love In Mind, The Bridge, Journey Through the Past, Don't Be Denied...these are some of Neil's best. And all recorded during his height as an artist, part of the so-called "Ditch Trilogy" along with Tonight's the Night and On the Beach. A must.

If you like Neil, don't have this album - and want it - you can find it on mp3 with some skillful googling. You won't regret it. RELEASED: On vinyl - October 23, 1973; On CD - never. COMPLETE.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Weird Al - "White And Nerdy"

File Under: Records I Won't Buy

But still, this song is an instant classic. Weird Al meets Web 2.0. "I'll ace any trivia quiz you bring on/I'm fluent in JavaScript as well as Klingon"; "Shopping online for deals on some writable media/I edit Wikipedia...When my friends need some code, who do they call?/I do HTML for 'em all/Even made a homepage for my dog"; "My MySpace page is all totally pimped out/Got people beggin' for my top eight spaces/Yo, I know pi to a thousand places/Ain't got no grills but I still wear braces". This is clearly how Diggnation rolls.

Via, of course, Digg.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Whitest Boy Alive - Dreams

KofC nearly made my album of the year in '04 with ROOES, a fantabultastic, beautifully melancholy affair highlighted by Gold in the Air of Summer and Surprise Ice. But there was a section in the middle of the record - I'd Rather Dance With You personifies it - where the band gets its groove on a bit.

It wasn't and isn't my favorite part of the record, but it was enough to convince me to grab Erlend Oye's side project, a more bleeps and beats type of deal. The first track, mellow by dance hall standards, is about as close to groovy as these ears can stand. The rest just hasn't grabbed me yet - and doesn't figure to. I want my acoustic guitars and gorgeous harmonies back. Released: June 22, 2006. INCONVENIENCED.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Saga Ends...Almost

File Under: Records I Am Trying To Buy

Todd Casper sings, and plays guitar and piano, in a great mostly unknown indie rock band called The Great Depression. I was introduced to their music by Todd himself, who I met while living in Prague. We bonded over being American expats, our shared love of those first few notes of Everything In Its Right Place and our obedient, endless devotion to the Gastroturkey (long story). He gave me some demos of his music and I became an instant fan.

A year or two ago, I ordered TGD's excellent Unconscious Pilot album. And recently, when I heard they had a new one coming this year, called Preaching to the Fire, I ordered it too. And so began what I would later call in an email to Todd, "The Great Depression CD Ordering Odyssey."

First I ordered from New Artist Direct. My credit card was charged. I checked my mailbox daily. No CD came.

I emailed them and they told me they were sorry but they never received the CD from the label (Fire Records) and would refund my money. I was disappointed, so I emailed Todd and asked him what I should do next. Order direct from, he told me. So I did.

My credit card was charged. I checked my mailbox daily. No CD came.

After a full month passed, I started to get pissed. I emailed three separate times asking for either the CD or my money back.

I checked my email inbox repeatedly. No response (or CD) came.

Finally I went back to Todd. Todd was plenty annoyed at how hard it was to get his album (and possibly annoyed at me for bugging him so much about it). But he wrote back right away to tell me that the head of the label was personally shipping the album to me the next day.

I had actually ordered using PayPal, which ships to my parents' address. So I had them check their mailbox daily. And, moments ago, they called to tell me that a package had arrived from England.

Though I won't believe it until I unwrap it myself, it seems that I finally have my album.

It pays to have friends in high places.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Bob Dylan - Modern Times

God, er, Bob. The coolest grandpa ever (other than mine). The trinity, er, the trilogy, is complete and this easily ranks with the other two. Better than LAT, a notch (or two) below TOOM. Pretty mellow stuff, old-fashioned, modern if it were fifty, sixty years ago. But strong and vital. At 65, he's still bringin' it. What better artist to have as an all-time favorite? Released: August 29, 2006. TIMELESS.

Current 93 - Black Ships Ate The Sky

"BLACK SHIPS ATE THE SKY. A Hallucinatory Patripassianist Dream. The texts for this album were started following an intense dream I had that Black Ships had entered our skies in preparation for the arising of the final Caesar and for the second coming of Christ...I live in an increasing awareness that a Love will come suddenly who will finally tear our skies apart. And then all Black Ships will be no more."

To be polite, David Tibet's voice is an acquired taste. His lyrics are way out there as well. But the music is gorgeous, and I have yet to dislike anything that even remotely involves Will Oldham. Plus, Antony makes a nice appearance on The Beautiful Dancing Dust. And who could fault an artist who printed the names of every fan who preordered his album in the liner notes? Released: May 1, 2006. FREAKED.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I Am Not Afraid of You And I Will Beat Your Ass

File Under: Records I Will Buy

I am not afraid of you and I will beat your ass.

UPDATE: We've finally appeared on the site, currently on Page 3. Okay, now we're on Page 1. Alright, they've changed us to Page 2. Oh, to hell with it. Just see for yourself.

Friday, September 01, 2006

2006...Pre-Blog Album Purge

Why Not?, Sure, Not Really, No, Yup, Yes, Either/Or, Okay, Pretty Much, Uh-Huh, Aye, Ano, Affirmative, Alright, Yessiree.