Jan 31, 2008

Needs Some Sleep

Carol Chase Bjerke - If Death (2003)

Eels - I Need Some Sleep (mp3): A lullaby. A mobile. A piece of wind. A Thursday night. A subtle reminder. A release. [win or buy]

Jan 30, 2008

A Majestic Story of White Snow and Belts and Cues

Gunilla Klingberg - Mantric Mutation [detail] (2006)

Let me tell you this story like you're my grandchild. A long time ago... before YouTube, before .m4as and .mp3s and .movs, before videos were downloadable and streamable and embeddable... I used to tape music videos off of television. Much like cassette mix-tapes whose transitions were choppy at the ends because of radio intros and fades to commercials, the videos were often branded with the station in the bottom right corner and in the case of MTV, quite obnoxiously. My most beloved of these grainy VHS tapes was recorded over winter break of my Freshman year of college and played repeatedly over the subsequent semester and years. Few things in my life have inspired more impromptu dance parties or indoor toilet paper messes than the protruding bass, climbing guitar, and wailing scream of the first video on that tape, Bandages by Hot Hot Heat.

So on Tuesday night, after Louis XIV celebrated their album release by spilling violins and raw guitar from their rock pockets like Jack White in alt porn with black electric-tape over his white nipples... I was excited to see Hot Hot Heat live. The band uncaged its dance rebellion onto Talk to Me, Dance with Me with a full sound and a full crowd that made the Majestic Theatre proud.
Lead singer Steve Bays' passionate over-annunciation has always sounded a bit like a cartoon character to me, but this quality was accentuated when he shook his curly afro and a mist of sweat expired in the multi-colored lights like a Gatorade commercial. He was the quintessential tight-jeaned, v-necked, white-belted frontman proclaiming that it was one of those nights where he couldn't catch a buzz, but realized when he stepped on stage that he was too drunk to play a show.

The stage was set with a white keyboard affixed on two Grecian pillars painted white, looking like an alter to 2003 dance rock. Steve's passionate preaching rocked it back and forth like trying to push a car out of the mud. And the crowd played the role too, responding to the hymns with the white male headbob and indie toe tap in lieu of kneeling. They rejoiced at the sound of the deepest toms starting Bandages and the short set drew to a close with crowd-pleaser Goodnight Goodnight. The band was much more polished than I remember and just the right mix of rock and impressive, much like the mood set by the Majestic itself. Scott, one of the venue owners, was even helping move equipment off the stage between sets.

Hot Hot Heat transitioned perfectly to The Editors by huddling outside the backstage door (which was visible from the crowd) to smoke in the below-zero winter. Only a hospital would've been sadder. Tom Smith, lead singer of the Editors, emerged immediately as the focal point of the show with his deep Interpol plodding vocal and emotive gestures adorning the expansive sound spread over a structure of bass drum eighth-notes. At points, he seemed to glue his lips to the mic, hyperextend his neck, and force the words through the wires. The British contortionist antics juxtaposed his serious tone and continued as he flopped his arm over his head and climbed onto of the piano to deliver the impassioned Bullets like a machine gun. This sound is what flashing stage lights are for.

I got a chance to catch up with the Editors at the Great Dane, where they scampered across the street immediately after the show. Apparently the guys are avid pool sharks, Chris and Russ schooling Ed and Tom like they university buddies they were from
"you wouldn't know, but Stafford University". They joked about how every show since Florida has been colder than they're used to, but that didn't stop them from spending their day off walking up and down State Street. The shows have also been less attended than the 10,000 crowds they draw in England - a fact they were very humble about even as a drunk bar-goer asked if they were "Hot Hot Heat, or that other band". But they maintained that they were very pleased with the show, perhaps a bit like the first Jameson shot they explored with bit of hesitance.

Shedding their rockstar-ness and black arctic jackets revealed a real accessibility that is tough to notice in their flawless execution of the arena rock genre. But they would have fit right in with air-guitars while watching pirated videotapes of Hot Hot Heat in between lofted beds in my Freshman dorm room. They're a talented act, clearly preparing for a long run, but in need of differentiation from genre cliches that are frankly, past their prime. Oh and then I left the bar and walked home down Willy Street, uphill both ways for miles in the below-zero temperatures and drifting snow... so you could have this review, my grandchild.

Jan 29, 2008

Wait, She's So Cold

Craig Wilson - Shadow Tow

The Meantime - Waters of Love (mp3): Andy Tates' floating pace sounds like zooming out, craning it's words to see someone or something from a different angle. It's the same perspective that allows Craig Wilson's subjects to not be usual pedestrians, but the shadows the cast. This song values the time it needs to perceive and process, however mindless and sustained the hesitation may seem, like examining the orange skin as you peel the orange. Its texture looks, sounds tactile as a frozen lake.

Jan 28, 2008

Why Won't You Release Me?

Fly Over Gallery - Return of the Living Dead (2007)

Duffy - Mercy (mp3) [video]: The poppy onslaught of cute, white women singing fifties soul from across the Atlantic continues. While this trend is twisting the mainstream female vocal norm in an interesting way, there's something irksome about the time and place in which the influence is resurrecting. Amidst complex questions of whiteness and miscegenation, Duffy (and Amy and Joss and Lily) sound more like Eric Clapton standing at the Crossroads than Robert Johnson. And again, the racial inbalance seems glaring because of the lack of public exposure to young black counterparts, not in the mashed-up miscegenation itself. As commercials run for the Real Housewives of Orange County, is the repressed fifties housewife being brought back, replacing aprons with diamond rings and picket fences with condo associations? I guess the point is that as this period in music resurfaces, what does it say about 2007-08 that the style resonates? And as the sound returns, how have the issues of racial exploitation by the music business changed?

Jan 26, 2008

Our Movement

MGMT - Time To Pretend (mp3)

This MGMT song is soundtrack to a piece of me, of many of us, that needs a soundtrack so it doesn't die. Take a minute and cut a vest out of a paper bag and march it out the door tonight. How we treat these minutes is a gem for an archaeological dig of the misguided future. And I don't want my fossilized footprints to be found between a cubicle and a Starbucks.

Shut The Power Off

Peter Krawanga - Ohne Titel (2006)

Nick Jaina - Power (mp3): As it sits, the lights drop black. Its pupils flash and the world opens to nothing but wide open. Silence gradually introduces the presence of gravity pushing upwards from the chair, so it stands to butt its heels up against the wall and feel the blackness of the whole room. The arch of its back flattens to align with the aching still of wall. It hesitates empty between thoughts like this is the end. Its ears chime as they turn off. The verses get further and further apart, until the last dips itself in wool and sighs like a boat pushing ashore. [buy]

Jan 25, 2008

JustSayinIsAll.com PRESENTS a Spring Concert Series

Zane Lewis - Purging Pope (2007)


JustSayinIsAll.com PRESENTS

Say Hi [To Your Mom] (mp3)
Project Lodge [817 E Johnson]
Thursday, February 21st
$6 (all ages)


JustSayinIsAll.com PRESENTS

Phosphorescent (mp3)
Project Lodge [817 E Johnson]
Monday, March 31st
$7 (all ages)


JustSayinIsAll.com PRESENTS
The Headlights (mp3) & The Evangelicals (mp3)
The High Noon Saloon
Wednesday, April 2nd
$7 (21+)


Dane101.com & JustSayinIsAll.com PRESENT
Enon (mp3)
with Karmella's Game
and His & Her Vanities
The Annex
Sunday, April 20th
$5 (18+)

Jan 22, 2008

Above All Things

Paweł Żugaj - Woman (2007)

Nick Cave's alter ego Grinderman sings like he's pissing a kidney stone. A first glance, this track's leading plea to try to "learn to love yourself" is as unexpected and unconvincing as the regret of a born-again Christian. But it explains by deepening with real emotion, specifically a unique anger sprouting from self-love instead of the usual self-loathing. He is honestly surprised that she just doesn't want to. And his disappointment explodes. The fact that dandelions dried in his tight fist and serenades of scratching guitars aren't her thing, is incomprehensible. So he scrapes the feeling against the pavement until it dies.

Grinderman - No Pussy Blues (mp3)

Jan 21, 2008

Why Are You Not In The Street?

Shaun Owens-Agase and Tyler Peterson - World War Four (2006-2007)

I'm not quite sure why I feel it's appropriate to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with ambient rock sung by white New Yorkers who sound like the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz. Maybe because the drumbeats make me want to protest. Maybe because the song feels massive and progressive. Or because I'm always simultaneously reminded on Martin Luther King Jr. Day of all the battles yet to be won and the fact that battles are winnable. Perhaps because the track seems to sing with a clear direction that the passing young generations teach us (sometimes by dragging us along). But mostly because it's more about a challenge for the future than a documentary about the past. And because though justice must be done, a Justice track would just be too dance-y.

Battles - Atlas (mp3)

Jan 20, 2008

Freezer Burn

Lara Schnitger - Grim Boy (2005)

Cold covers faces today like cancer on lymph nodes. Though the streets are mostly empty, I saw one man sprinting like he was being chased by a rabid cougar. Or worse, the cold. Today makes even the hottest tracks talk about the weather. "This is dreadful," they say, and go back inside.

Horse Operas - Factories In The City (mp3)

Jan 19, 2008

For The Well-Behaved Pirates in the Audience Tonight

Chris Van Allsburg - Missing in Venice

Crochet'd Machete - Dozens [Missing in Venice] (mp3): Meticulously layered music is usually best in silence... the focus of headphones, the examination of museums, the thought of classrooms. But Crochet'd Machete flourished tonight in the abusive competition of a busy Cafe Montmartre. Live-sampled layers were attempts at being noticed, escalating like need. The loud crowd, then, was the poignant neglect, contrasting like passing a homeless man huddled in a blue construction tarp. This music is the bustle. The cold, the fight, the cry. Claps echo like feet on the pavement. This music is the noise of your persistence tonight and daily. Clutching the pockets of a hounds tooth coat and screaming into a scarf. Building to the climax of the masses.

Pale Young Gentlemen - Fraulein (mp3): If you arrive thawed and on time, imagine the joy to find vocals burning atop a strained neck extension and strings popped with a deep bend in the knee. Tonight the Pale Young Gentlemen were both your parent's wallpaper and the PBR that Elliott Kozel spilled on it during a danceparty while they were out of town. Such resilient energy is gold during Wisconsin winter; its strong example persevering as one important reason not to hibernate.

Jan 18, 2008

We Don't Dive, We Cannonball

Bozidar Brazada - Idle Idol (2007)

This week we don't flourish, we win. Our moments aren't enjoyed, they're catapulted. To our troubles, somersaults. To our pencils, sparklers. We don't dive, we cannonball.

Thao with the Get Down Stay Down - Swimming Pools (mp3)

Thao with the Get Down Stay Down - Beat (Health, Life, and Fire) (mp3) [buy]

Jan 16, 2008

As People Say

Pete Circuitt [Bitstate] - Home 0207 (2007)

Plastic Operator - Pleasure Is Mine (mp3): Electropop is vast like the distance left to travel, but intimate like the reason you travel so long just to get home. As people say, that's where the heart is. Or more accurately, where the heart always wants to be.

Plastic Operator - Home (mp3): In this track Pieter and Mathieu at first seem paralyzed, stuck in not knowing. But it's quickly clear they're just lying still, preferring paralysis because it gets your attention. "You don't care" really means "I'm sad you don't care". So, take the time to care that they showed up on your doorstep all the way from the UK just to see you today. At least send a thank you email. [myspace] [buy]

Jan 15, 2008

Sleeping With One Eye Open

Erica Shires - Mariana (2)

Laura Barrett - Deception Island Optimists Club (mp3): On the tip of long passages, especially on the tip, I sit. Down planks and up mountains - the first step trying to get as far away from danger as possible, the last as close as dangerously possible. Here in the strength while swaying and in the focus above plummets and among the delicate kalimbas are my place. These are the places about how maintaining balance isn't important until unbalanced. About how crazy Mit Romney seems, but not as crazy as usual. About how brave and necessary it is to say hello and smile. [buy] [previous]

Jan 11, 2008


Will Ryman - The Bed (2007)

*Whew* So those were 100 Great Songs of 2007... about as many songs in ten days as I usually share in four months. But while you were swaddled in quantity (100 mp3 count converts to about 900 thread count), the blog experienced the longest period without writing in two years. You've surely missed my jumbled metaphors, obscure art references, and ramblings grouped commonly in calming lists of three. I miss your stoic silence. I miss how it challenges me to be better and earn a reaction. I miss how sometimes you stop by to steal an mp3 and leave because you're in a bad mood, but especially when you come back. I miss how you're unsure of what to say. And when you think I'm a little crazy. Or lost.

Before we jump into the routine again, let's pause. Sit. Stare. Unfocus eyes, and focus them again. Reflect. Look at each other from a different perspective. Enjoy silence before noise becomes autonomous again. What are you thinking? Insects? Fry bread? Religion? Any favourite songs from the list? Did you like Rolling Stone's list better? Any ideas for 2008? I miss you.

Jan 10, 2008

Great Songs of 2007: 91-100

Agathe Snow - Right on Target (2007)

91) Blonde Redhead – 23 (mp3)

Black Kids – I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You (mp3)

93) CSS - Music Is My Hot Hot Sex (mp3)

94) Lupe Fiasco - Dumb It Down (mp3)

95) Richard Thompson – Dad’s Gonna Kill Me (mp3)

96) Deradoorian - Grey Teeth (mp3)*

97) Frog Eyes – Bushels (mp3)

98) Andrew Bird - Imitosis (mp3)

99) Fergie - Clumsy (mp3)

100) Super Furry Animals – Carbon Dating (mp3)’

Jan 9, 2008

Great Songs of 2007: 81-90

Katelyn Alain - A Masculine Affair (2007)

81) Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – When The Other Foot Drops, Uncle (mp3)

82) Mika – Happy Ending (mp3) For Beth.

83) Ezra Furman – God Is A Middle Aged Woman (mp3)

84) El-P – Tasmanian Pain Coaster (mp3)

85) UNKLE – Burn My Shadow (mp3)

86) The National – Fake Empire (mp3)

87) MGMT – Time To Pretend (mp3)

88) Peter Bjorn & John – Young Folks (mp3) *

89) Iron & Wine – Pagan Angel and A Borrowed Car (mp3)

90) Bjork - Earth Intruders (mp3)

Jan 8, 2008

Great Songs of 2007: 71-80

Dupor Drazen - Angel of God (2007)

71) Animal Collective – For Reverend Green (mp3)

72) Grizzly Bear – He Hit Me (mp3)

73) Feist – 1234 (mp3)

74) Joanna Newsom – Colleen (mp3)

75) Radiohead – Videotape (mp3)

76) Billy Harvey – World Is On Fire (mp3)

77) Adel Bengo – Keep You Here (mp3)

78) Scout Niblett [ft Wil Oldham] – Kiss (mp3) *

79) Seabear – Hospital Bed (mp3)

80) LCD Soundsystem – Someone Great (mp3)

Jan 7, 2008

Great Songs of 2007: 61-70

Mateo Tannatt - Night Box [FigureModel] (2007)

61) Patrick Wolf (ft Marianne Faithful) – Magpie (mp3)

62) Rye Rye – Shake It To The Ground (mp3)

63) Little Wings - Scuby (mp3)

64) Phosphorescent - Picture of Our Torn Up Praise (mp3)

65) Marisa Nadler - Diamond Heart (mp3)

66) Rufus Wainwright – Going to a Town (mp3)

67) St. Vincent – Paris Is Burning (mp3)

68) Kate Nash – Habanera (mp3)

69) Okay – Already (mp3)

70) Valgeir SigurAsson - Evolution of Water (mp3)

Jan 6, 2008

Great Songs of 2007: 51-60

Tyson Reeder - Bar (2007)

51) Christine Fellows - What Makes The Cherry Red (mp3)

52) Ola Podrida - Jordana (mp3)

53) Dr. Dog - My Old Ways (mp3)

54) Pharoahe - Body Baby (mp3)

55) Menomena - Wet And Rusting (mp3)

56) Health (Crystal Castles Remix) - Crimewave (mp3)

57) YACHT - See A Penny (Pick It Up) (mp3)

58) Rich Aucoin – 10,342 Cuts For the US (mp3)

59) Vic Chesnutt - You Are Never Alone (mp3

60) Bonnie Prince Billy - The Way I Am (mp3)

Jan 5, 2008

Great Songs of 2007: 41-50

Tanyth Berkeley - Veiled (2007)

41) Vampire Weekend - Cape Code Kwassa Kwassa (mp3)

42) Chris Garneau - Love Zombies (mp3)

43) The Arcade Fire - (Antichrist Television Blues) (mp3)

44) Bright Eyes – Four Winds (mp3)

45) Mark Ronson (ft Daniel Merriweather) - Stop Me (mp3)

46) Devendra Banhart - Seahorse (mp3)

47) Okkervil River - Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe (mp3)

48) Timbaland - The Way I Are (mp3)

49) Sigur Ros - Hjomalind (mp3)

50) White Stripes - Icky Thump (mp3)

Jan 4, 2008

Great Songs of 2007: 31-40

[Image Removed at Artist's Request]
Ian Hokin - Trapped (Even In Death) (2007)

31) Over the Rhine - If A Song Could Be President (mp3)

32) Patty Griffin - Stay on the Ride (mp3)

33) Sunset Rubdown - The Mending of the Gown (mp3)

34) Patrick Watson - Luscious Life (mp3)

35) Soko - I'll Kill Her (mp3)

36) The Editors - Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors (mp3)

37) Of Montreal - The Past Is A Grotesque Animal (mp3)

38) Soulja Boy - Crank Dat (mp3)

39) The Pale Young Gentlemen - Fraulein (mp3)

40) Britney Spears - Gimme More (mp3)

Jan 3, 2008

Great Songs of 2007: 21-30

Paul Lee - Untitled [Can Sculpture] (2007)

21) Bon Iver - Skinny Love (mp3)

22) Yeasayer - 2080 (mp3)

23) Architechture in Helsinki - Heart It Races (mp3)

24) Saul Williams - Scared Money (mp3)

25) The Cools Kids - I Rock (mp3)

26) Dan Deacon - Wham City (mp3)

27) Rihanna (ft Jay-Z) - Umbrella (mp3)

28) The Klaxons - Golden Skans (mp3)

29) PJ Harvey - When Under Ether (mp3)

30) Coco Rosie - Rainbowarriors (mp3)

Jan 2, 2008

Great Songs of 2007: 11-20

Kristof Kintera - Bad Innovation (2007)

11) Deer Tick – Art Isn’t Real (City of Sin) (mp3)

12) The Bird and The Bee - Preparedness (mp3)

13) Low - Breaker (mp3)

14) Amy Winehouse - Love Is A Losing Game (mp3)

15) Beirut - In The Mausoleum (mp3)

16) Justice - D.A.N.C.E. (mp3)

17) MIA - Paper Planes (mp3)

18) Talib Kweli - Listen (mp3)

19) Samamidon - Saro (mp3) *

20) Marla Hansen - Wedding Day (mp3)

Jan 1, 2008

Great Songs of 2007: 1-10

Lucy Jones - Splash (2007)

2007 was simultaneously the year of the long wandering song and the ringtone, of the outrageous dance track and the atmospheric ballad, of statements by pop veterans and introductions by undiscovered talents. To celebrate it all, I plan to share ten great pieces of music from 2007 for the first ten days of 2008. There were so many. Feel free to to share your thoughts as well.

1) Radiohead - Reckoner (mp3)

2) BARR - Half of Two Times Two (mp3)

3) Andy Ditzler - Shifting Alliances [Rock Against Fundamentalism II] (mp3) *

4) Meg Baird - Do What You Gotta Do (mp3)

5) Bill Callahan - Sycamore (mp3)

6) Herman Dune - I Wish I Could See You Soon (mp3)

7) Kanye West (ft Daft Punk) - Stronger (mp3)

8) Loney, Dear - I Am John (mp3) *

9) Bat For Lashes - What's A Girl To Do (mp3)

10) Mirah & Spectratone International - Community (mp3)