Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Jens Lekman Coming to VT

How long does it take to get to Bennington from Montpelier? Hopefully, not too long since the King of Swedish Pop, Jens Lekman, will be playing at Downcaf on Oct. 13th. (Note: I can't find any info on the venue. Does anyone know what Downcaf is?)

His full tour dates and info on his new compilation album of singles can be found on Pitchfork.

I posted about Lekman back in July but in case anyone doesn't want to jump back to that post, here are the links to his tunes and video.

Jens Lekman - You Are the Light
Jens Lekman - Black Cab

Video for "You Are the Light"

Gold Sounds

While I was gone, I received an email from Brown Brothers Recordings reminding me that next month (9/27) they'll be releasing their album of jazz covers of Pavement tunes. The email also let us know that there is a new streaming cut from the album (titled Gold Sounds) on their website.

Being a huge Pavement fan, I've been following this project since I heard about it last spring. They've been occasionally changing the streaming tune on the site during that time so I've had the chance to hear their versions of "Summer Babe", "Stereo", "Platform Blues" and now, the current selection, "My First Mine". "Summer Babe" was easily the best of the four but "My First Mine" is pretty good too.

Just to clarify, Brown Brothers are the album's producers while the musicians are James Carter (reeds), Cyrus Chestnut (keys), Ali Jackson (percussion) and Reginald Veal (bass). I don't know shit about jazz besides the "Coltrane basics" but I'm looking forward to picking this thing up. So far, it has sounded pretty good.

I could nitpick about the track listing though:

2.My First Mine
3.Cut Your Hair
4.Summer Babe
5.Blue Hawaiian
7.Platform Blues
8.Trigger Cut

I'd much rather hear their interpretation of "Type Slowly" than "Blue Hawaiian" and "Forklift" might have been more interesting than "My First Mine". Or perhaps it would have been amusing to hear what they would have done with "5-4=Unity" which is Pavement's tribute to Dave Brubeck's "Take Five". Could they have done a jazz cover of it that would have shown both love for Brubeck's and Pavement's songs? It would have been the unique situation of covering two songs at once.

UPDATE: I got an email from Brown Brothers Recordings today letting me know that they did in fact record a version of "5-4=Unity" and that it would be released at a later date. According to them, it's a "real head turner".


Well, I'm back from a long weekend in NJ. My son had a good time at Yankee Stadium (even though he only made it through five innings) and loved taking the ferry, bus, subway and cab there and back.

If you've ever been to NYC, you know that one of its charms is that you see things there that you don't see anywhere else. And it didn't disappoint this time either. While waiting for the ferry in Weehawken, we saw a huge seaplane (about the size of a 737) land in the Hudson River. It came in really low which gave us the disturbing view of a large plane backed by the skyline but eventually touched down in the river. I don't know if it was an emergency landing or planned but we did see a barge towing the plane later. For my son, it was just frosting on a huge cake of NYC entertainment.

The oddest part of the weekend was our visit to Northlandz: Home of the Great American Railway in Flemington, NJ. We've all seen large model train layouts but this thing is ridiculous. It's the equivalent of Richard Dreyfus' pile of mashed potatoes in Close Encounters. Someone started building this thing and didn't stop until it had well passed the obsessive stage. Here are some statistics on the thing:

Highest Mountain 30 feet(6,000 scale feet)
Longest Bridge 40 feet
Number of Bridges 300-400
Number of Trains 100+
Feet of Track 50,000(8 miles)
Atlas Super-Flex track
Buildings 4,000+
Wood Enough wood to build 42 large houses
Enough wood to build 42 large houses 52,000 square feet
Lichen Trees 500,000+

The path that you follow to view the entire exhibit is a mile long and goes up and down three stories. Even with my son basically speed walking and running through the museum, it took us an hour and 20 miuntes to get through it.

It was interesting for about twenty minutes but then it became repetitive and then it just became bizarre as you start to wonder what the hell happened in this person's life that drove them to build something like this. It's so far beyond anything normal or healthy that it begins to creep you out. Oh, did I mention that part of the way through the exhibit you enter a large room that has been made into a small theater where the owner plays one of his three pipe organs for you? Did I also mention the doll display towards the end where they have a large Pee Wee Herman doll sitting at a table with some Asian dolls drinking tea? Trust me, it's a freaky place that belongs in Weird NJ.

But my son thought it was cool.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Going Away Again

I'll be heading down to NJ tomorrow for a long weekend and to take my son to his first Yankee game (and, hence, for him to hear his first f-bomb). I'll see you on Tuesday.

Okkervil River

Nope. That isn't Bob Geldof in the photo over there. That's Will Shef of Okkervil River.

Earlier this month, at the Magnolia Electric Co. show at Higher Ground, I ran into a friend who suggested that I listen to Okkervil River. The next day, I found a few mp3 on the band's site. Now, after a few weeks of letting these tunes swish around in my brain, I'm left with the feeling that I'm a friggin' idiot for not having heard them earlier.

The New York Times has compared them to The Decemberists but I think that's rather obtuse. Both bands utilize a multitude of instruments and have a folk-base at it's root but The Decemberists are much more polished. Okkervil River is more roughed up and less poppy than The Decemberists. They sit closer to Lullaby for the Working Class on the chamber folk-pop spectrum.

Plus, they have a boatload of mp3 files available on their site. These are my four favorites but if you are hungering for more, go here.

Okkervil River - Black
Okkervil River - Red
Okkervil River - Westfall
Okkervil River - The War Criminal Rises and Speaks

Video - Okkervil River - It Ends With a Fall

Brat Burgers

Ever gone to a BBQ where they were serving both brats and burgers and wished you could have some of each but don't want to overstuff yourself?

Well, the finest combo since chocolate and peanut butter is now here...the brat burger.

The fine gentleman who writes the blog, Confessions of a Butcher, sent me his recipe for these bad boys. With his permission, here it is:

2 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef (round would be ideal, I usually use the shop trim, which is somewhere in the mid to upper 80% lean realm).
2 1/2 lbs fatty ground pork (two boned pork shoulders are about perfect. I usually trim the top cap off first and use for salt pork since we don't want these burgers swimming in grease)

The two main ingredients in the spice mixture are mace and mustard.
Often times you will see allspice used instead of mace since it's
easier to find and it's a bit more accessible to most people's palate.
For 5 lbs. of meat I use
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon Mace (or 1 and a 1/4 teaspoon Allspice),
1 teaspoon dry mustard,
1 teaspoon fine ground white pepper (substitute 1/2 teaspoon fine black pepper)
1/2 teaspoon Marjoram
1/4 teaspoon coriander or caraway (not huge on the caraway, as it's
more the Wisconsin/Johnsonville type)
1 teaspoon dried milk powder (to bind and imitate traditional
bratwurst which have milk in them.
I think I'm going to try these over Labor Day weekend. Thanks again, Jace.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Garden Highlights

I planted these hydrangea trees last year and they are going great right now. The only downside to them is that I planted them on the southern border between our property and our neighbor's yard. So, they tilt towards the sun coming from their yard which gives our neighbors a great view of them but we see the less desireable backside of them from our deck.

But that's a minor downside for a tree with such a long plentiful bloom. The blooms are white now and will turn pink over the next few weeks. Then after the first frost in late September, the blooms will turn a light tan as they die for the winter.

Pop Soda

Among the many great things about Vermont is the large number of independent stores, craftsmen and food companies. This is largely because Vermonters are very supportive of independent business over national chains and brands.

One of my favorite local businesses is Pop Soda. The micro-beer market at this point is pretty saturated but there's still a gaping void for alternatives to the national soda brands. And Pop Soda is a great option to start filling that void.

Produced in Moretown, VT and available throughout central VT, the stuff rocks. Each of the three flavors contain a bit of spice to them to let you know you are drinking something unique but also plenty of summer sweetness to keep you coming back. My favorite is Lemon Lavender; although lately, the Citrus Hibiscus has been growing on me.

So, if you live in the area or are visiting and want to try something locally produced and massively enjoyable, pick up some Pop Soda. Here in Montpelier, we get a bit spoiled because they sell it at the farmer's market straight out of the keg (as fresh as it gets) but it's available in four packs around the area and in some restaurants like Positive Pie.

Ryan Schierling

Ryan Schierling is a professional photographer who does a lot of work in smokey clubs capturing live music on film. I don't remember how I stumbled onto his site but I really enjoy rolling through the guy's portfolio of music photos. All four of the portfolios listed on his site are worth your time.

I think he lives in the Seattle area so a lot of his photos feature bands from that area but he also has shots of national and international acts (as evidenced by the Architecture in Helsinki picture to the left).

He also has another site that displays photos from his more general portfolio of work.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Indie Rock on VPR

Currently, there is no indie rock programming on Vermont Public Radio. They have almost every other music genre that isn't supported by the private radio stations in Vermont (e.g., classical, jazz, folk, worldbeat, Irish, etc.). In fact, they play classical all afternoon and then from 10pm-12am every weeknight. Wouldn't it be nice if they just took one of those 2-hour evening slots and played a few indie bands?

If you feel that way, please contact VPR to let them know. You can contact them using their "Contact VPR" page on

I sent them an email a few months ago making this request and got a very nice reply back that left me a bit encouraged. In my email, I acknowledged that classical music fans donate a lot of money but also pointed out to them that other influential public radio stations such as Minnesota Public Radio had recently started broadcasting indie rock. I let them know that I'm not expecting them to do a lot of programming changes but just one 2-hour slot a night. A fairly modest request.

The reply I recieved said that they agree that the VT radio market does not support this music genre and they were aware of MPR's "The Current" and Washington's KEXP. However, she said that they are unlikely to make a change at this time. She said that our best chance of hearing indie rock on VPR will be on the new music-only station that VPR is setting up right now. She said that they are currently discussing programming options for the new station and appreciated my interest in indie rock programming.

I then spoke to a friend who works at VPR and he said that her reply sounded rather encouraging. He felt that if VPR recieved a few more similar requests that there would be a good chance of hearing indie rock on the new station when it begins operating.

So, with that in mind, if you want to hear lots of music similar to what is discussed on this blog, please contact VPR and let them know. Polite, cordial and direct emails get the best results.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

How Do You Say "Rout" in Spanish?

Well, as I feared, Real Madrid popped in a pair of goals in the first half and rolled in the second half to a 5-0 crushing of the MLS select team.

The result will reassure Europeans misimpressions of the quality of US soccer. They think we stink and this result did stink. But US soccer is still strong and getting better. Perhaps this will encourage European teams to further underestimate us next summer in Germany and that can only help the US National Team.

El Boxeo Update

Well, despite our best efforts, it looks like El Boxeo couldn't find a place to play on Aug 31st. I got an email from them today saying thanks for the help but that they'll skip this date and try to come to VT later.

The White Stripes Rider

I love reading the riders for bands to see all of the oddball items that bands deem vital to their happiness / success / satisfaction / whatever on the road. It always seems so random and high maintenance. I understand that they have to be specific to curtail unscrupulous promoters but some of the stuff is kind of silly.

The Smoking Gun has a nice archive of these riders but now the rider for The White Stripes has been posted on The Modern Age.

Some highlights:

  • They ask for $100,000 a show.
  • A small children's piano.
  • 24 bottles of non-carbonated Volvic mineral water.
  • 1 litre of soybean milk from non-GM soy.
  • Doritos potato chips - original flavor (I hope these last two are for different people).
  • Fresh vegetables: baby carrots, green and red peppers.
  • One packet of artificial sweetener.
  • It is very important that there is plenty of ice and that it is changed regularly.
There isn't anything too outrageous but I guess they didn't tailor the rider for the various regions of the world they were playing in and their list caused a lot of problems for the concert organizers in Kaliningrad, Russia.

What kind of barbarians are these residents of Kaliningrad? No Doritos!

The Handydandy

Alright. I'm not sure what to say about these guys. Here's the idea: The Handydandy is a band in Austria that plays cell phones that are cellularly connected to laptops. And to add a little spice to an already spicey dish, they attach the cell phones to cardboard cutouts of actual instruments to simulate a traditional band (including the grand finale "smashing of the cardboard").

I'd put them in the category of: "Hey, that's interesting but I still need a fucking melody".

Seriously, I could see an Elephant 6 band picking up on the idea and adding one band member playing a cell phone as atmospheric background but it doesn't really work as an entire band of "cell phoneists". But it is interesting.

Video - The Handydandy (follow the link and click on "the handydandy - concerts/performances 2005" towards the top of the page)

Thanks to Music Thing for the tip.

Monday, August 22, 2005

MLS in The Bernabéu!

Tomorrow, an all-star team of players from MLS will play Real Madrid in one of the great cathedrals of soccer, Estadio Santiago Bernabéu (or just Bernabéu for short). This is the equivalent of an Australian Basebal League all-star team playing the Yankees in the Bronx.

Technically, the winner of this match wins a trophy called Trofeo Santiago Bernabéu but in reality it is an exhibition match that will be treated differently by both sides.

This is Real Madrid's last pre-season match before starting league play next week. So, they'll be focusing on playing well but not taking any injuries while trying out a few new players. The MLS owners and administrators will see this as a chance to prove to the soccer elites of the world that MLS has grown competively over it's ten-year existence. And lastly, many of the players will see the match as a chance to exhibit their skills for European scouts of teams with big payrolls.

If MLS keeps it close during the first half, then the second half could be an entertaining 45 minutes of soccer. If Real Madrid pops in a quick pair early in the match, the game will lose a lot of its steam. Hopefully, it'll be the former scenario.

The game will be shown on Fox Sports Channel at 3:30pm EST with a few re-broadcasts over the next few nights.

More Show Congestion

Why don't bands consult with me before booking shows to find out what is most convenient for my schedule? Damn, the second week in September is a friggin' blizzard of shows.

On Wednesday, Sept 7th, Apollo Sunshine is playing at Higher Ground in Burlington.

The next night, The National & Clap Your Hands are playing down at the Iron Horse in Northampton.

Then, on Friday night, Sufjan Stevens is playing at Cabaret La Tulipe in Montreal.

And finally, on Monday, Sept 12th, Nouvelle Vague is playing down in Boston at The Paradise.

Four good shows in six days. If I was a man half my age (and without any responsibilities to a job and family), I'd hit all four. But I do have a job to attend to and a family so I have to make some tough choices.

After thinking about it, I got tickets for just the National/CYHSY show and Sufjan Stevens. I like the few songs I have heard from Apollo Sunshine but they are the band I'm least familiar with so I ruled out that show first. Then I saw a video on Nouvelle Vague's website (follow the link and then click on "Video (5min)" that slightly turned me off to their live shows. It seems like, in concert, they do minimalist versions of their already stripped down covers of 80's new wave tunes. That's too much minimalism for a six-hour roundtrip drive. So, despite their album being my favorite CD so far this year, I decided against that show as well.

While I'll miss out on two good shows, I'm still happy to be hitting the other two. The Iron Horse is a nice small venue and to get two good bands on one bill is a treat. And I've never seen Sufjan Stevens but am loving his new album, Illinois. I've never been to Cabaret La Tulipe but seeing shows in Montreal is kind of fun. It's like going to another country. HA!

Video: The Mountain Goats' "This Year"

The Mountain Goats' new album The Sunset Tree is one of my favorite albums of the first half of this year and the tune "This Year" is one of the best. Although I could have used the song more as I struggled through 2004.

The video is kind of amusing. The close-ups on John Darnielle catch some entertaining facial twitches. However, the best moment is when the guy in the black ski mask offers him a drink in the middle of the video.

You have to suffer through a pop-up ad and a brief commercial before the video starts but it isn't too bad.

Video - The Mountain Goats - This Year

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy Sings Puff

As if Bonnie 'Prince' Billy wasn't weird enough, now he's covered "Puff the Magic Dragon". Fifteen Minutes to Listen has the link. There is something creepy about BPB that is difficult to describe but adds to his mystique. And that creepiness comes through in this tune.

Apparently, it's going to be a part of a compilation of indie rockers doing children's songs Called Songs for the Young at Heart. In addition to BPB, Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian, Kurt Wagner of Lambchop, Robert Forster of The Go-Betweens and others will be contributing to it.

Rockers doing covers of kids' tunes is almost as annoying as celebrities who write children's books. In fact kids' tunes, in general, are annoying. I have two little kids and they enjoy regular "adult" music much more than the handful of kid's CDs that people have bought them. My son is three and has a playlist on my iPod which includes Al Hirt's "Green Hornet", the 5,6,7,8's "Woo Hoo", Albert King's "Watermelon Man" and The Handsome Family's "In the Air". And my 20-month-old daughter's favorite album is Pink Martini's Sympathique (in fact, she is going to kill that album for me she plays it so often). So, musicians should just stick to what they do best and leave the kid's music to Raffi.

Bonnie Prince Billy - Puff The Magic Dragon (follow the link)

Neighborhoodies: Free Download Each Day

Extrawack! had a nice post while I was gone. The post is largely an amusing tale of his trip to the PGA Championship but towards the bottom, it has a link to a site that is worth bookmarking.

Neighborhoodies is generally a clothing site but it also offers a free mp3 download each day. Plus, if you miss a day, you can check out their archives for earlier downloads. I'd particularly recommend the tunes from July 19th, 25th and 29th and August 1st and 12th.

My New Rock'n'Roll Hero

Check out this video someone made during Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's concert at South Street Seaport. The guy dancing is great. He obviously is loving the music and doesn't care a single iota what anyone thinks of him. He's just there to enjoy himself and the music.

A few blogs have made belittling comments about the guy's dance moves and business casual dress attire but that's silly hipster bullshit. The guy is just being a fan. I'd rather hang out with him than the stiff hipster in the blue ironic t-shirt and bike messenger saddle bag four people to the right of the dancer.

Drunk Russian

This is pretty funny. Watch this video and check out the drunk guy in the background.

The best part is that the interview seems to be taking place at a job site. We've all been blotto before work?

US Moves a Little Closer to Germany

Not geographically, of course, but in terms of qualifying for next summer's World Cup in Germany. Last Wednesday, the US topped the Soca Warriors of Trinidad & Tobago 1-0. However, the scoreline doesn't reflect how well the US dominated play as they outshot T&T 18-1.

You can see the goal here. Follow the link and then click on "Post-Game all_access video" about a quarter of the way down the page.

This win gives the US 15 points after six games (5-1-0). There are four more games to go but it's almost impossible for the US to not qualify at this point.

The next match is Sept. 3 against Mexico in Columbus. Normally, this would be a crucial match on the qualifying schedule but since both teams are doing so well and virtually guaranteed to qualify for Germany, the match loses a little juice. It's still a great rivalry and the bragging rights are vital but losing won't hurt either team's chance of qualifying.

The blog, 'i will have the penne all'arrabbiata', tipped me off to a nice article discussing how well the US is doing during this qualifying cycle and how far the program has come. I agree with the article. It's not just that we are winning our matches, it's how we are winning. In 2001, the US started with four wins in their first five games but some of the wins were squeekers with the US getting some lucky breaks. This time the US is clearly outplaying the other teams in the hexagonal. I don't know if this success will translate into a good performance in the World Cup since so much depends on the the teams you draw in the first round but it'll be fun to watch.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Soccer in the Sun and Shadow

Well, I'm back from vacation. Here's the lesson I learned during vacation: if you are renting a place without seeing the interior first, be sure to ask if the walls go all the way up to the ceiling and if any of the rooms have doors.

We wound up renting a place that was basically a one-room house with about six foot high walls separating the space into three tiny bedrooms, a living room, bathroom and kitchen. It was pretty much a rustic cube farm.

The problem this caused is that when our 3-year-old son would talk in his sleep (as he does regularly), it would wake up our 1-year-old daughter who would then wake us and our son up. So, sleep sucked for the last week.

Plus, after we put the kids to sleep, we had to have all of the lights turned off. So, my wife and I spent our evenings huddling in the corner over a citronella candle whispering to each other. Not exactly what we had in mind.

But the vacation wasn't a complete washout. We had some nice times during the day and I got a chance to read Eduardo Galeano's "Soccer in the Sun and Shadow". I picked it up without knowing anything about it and was greatly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

The book is basically a series of short essays and stories about soccer. It's heavy on South American stories since the author is from Uruguay. This was a bonus since so many soccer books available in US bookstores tend to be Euro-focused. I love European soccer but this book was a nice bit of variety.

However, the best part of the book was the poetic writing style of Galeano's. American authors wax poetically about baseball but never about soccer. So, it was exciting to read such fresh descriptions of plays and players. To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, here is a bit from his essay on referees:

"In Spanish he's the arbitro and he's arbitrary by definition. An abominable tyrant who runs his dictatorship without opposition, a pompous executioner who exercises his absolute power with operatic flourish. Whistle between his lips, he blows the winds of inexorable fate either to allow a goal or to disallow one. Card in hand, he raises the colors of doom: yellow to punish the sinner and oblige him to reprent, and red to force him into exile.
No one runs more. The only one obliged to run the entire game without pause, this interloper who pants in the ears of every player breaks his back galloping like a horse. And in return for his pains, the crowd howls for his head. From beginning to end he sweats oceans, forced to chase the white ball that skips back and forth between the feet of everyone else. Of course he'd love to play, but never has he been offered that priviledge. When the ball hits him by accident, the entire stadium curses his mother. But even so, just to be there in that sacred green space where the ball floats and glides, he's willing to suffer the insults, catcalls, stones and damnation."
Here is a bit from his essay on the fan:
"Banners wave and the air resounds with noisemakers, firecrackers and drums, it rains streamers and confetti. The city disappears, its routine forgotten, all that exists is the temple. In this sacred place, the only religion without atheists puts its divinities on display. Although the fan can contemplate the miracle more comfortably on TV, he prefers to make the pilgrimage to this spot where he can see his angels in the flesh doing battle with the demons of the day."
The book has some lulls too but in general, if you enjoy books about soccer, this is a good read.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


My family and I are going on vacation again this week. This will be our third extended trip to different parts of New England this summer. It's been a great few months.

This time we are going to a camp we rented on Mallet's Bay which is part of Lake Champlain. So, no new posts for a week or so. See ya then.

While My Ukulele Gently Weeps

Check out this video performance by Jake Shimabukuro. The guy is amazing.

Tiny Tim made the ukulele a novelty instrument but this guy shows what you can really do with it. Check out how fast his right hand is moving about 3/4 of the way through the song. It's just a blur.

Thanks for the link, cj.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Audioscrobbler (now Last.FM) Update

Since my last post about Audioscrobbler's weekly charts for the Vermont group, Audioscrobbler has overhauled their site. It looks a lot nicer and functions a little better but is painfully slow. Hopefully, they'll do another system upgrade to get it moving quicker.

The other change is that it nows goes by the moniker Last.FM which used to be the radio sister site to Audioscrobbler. I guess they chose to play up that name and function.

Here are the top ten bands for the members who belong to the Vermont group:

Top Artists – Week of Jul 31 to Aug 7, 2005

The Decemberists
The Beatles
Belle and Sebastian
Sufjan Stevens
Thelonious Monk

The Decemberists also hold the top song slot with "We Both Go Down Together".

The group has a few new members since last time but the tone of the list didn't change dramatically. It still shows a strong interest in indie rock although it was interesting to see Monk jump up on the list out of nowhere.

Vermont Record Sales

Courtesy of Seven Days, here are the top ten albums sold over the last week in central VT's indie CD stores.

Buch Spieler, Montpelier

  1. Coldplay -- X & Y
  2. Patti Casey -- The Edge of Grace
  3. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals -- Nothing But the Water
  4. Jack Johnson -- In Between Dreams
  5. Van Morrison -- Magic Time
  6. Willie Nelson -- Countryman
  7. Madeleine Peyroux -- Careless Love
  8. White Stripes -- Get Behind Me Satan
  9. John Prine -- Fair & Square
  10. Killers -- Hot Fuss
Pure Pop, Burlington
  1. Ween -- Shinola Vol. 1
  2. Dungen -- Ta Det Lungt
  3. Slug & Murs -- Felt 2: Tribute to Lisa Bonet
  4. Willie Nelson -- Countryman
  5. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals -- Nothing But the Water
  6. Coldplay -- X & Y
  7. Gorillaz -- Demon Days
  8. Phish -- 4.4.98 Live
  9. Dane Cook -- Retaliation
  10. Pelican -- Fire in Our Throats
Exile on Main St., Barre
  1. Alice Cooper -- Dirty Diamonds
  2. Grateful Dead -- Truckin� Up to Buffalo
  3. Coldplay -- X&Y
  4. Dave Matthews Band -- Stand Up
  5. Tim McGraw -- Live Like You Were Dying
  6. Bronson Arroyo -- Covering the Bases
  7. Shooter Jennings -- Put the O Back In Country
  8. Ween -- Shinola Vol. 1
  9. U2 -- How to Dismantle and Atomic Bomb
  10. Rolling Stones -- 40 Licks Ltd. Edition

Vermont Book Shop, Middlebury
  1. Black Eyed Peas -- Monkey Business
  2. Coldplay -- X & Y
  3. Willie Nelson -- Countryman
  4. Dave Matthews Band -- Stand Up
  5. Paisley -- Mud on the Tires
  6. Missy Elliot -- Cookbook
  7. Led Zeppelin -- Presence
  8. Arch Enemy -- Doomsday
  9. Rise Against -- Siren Songs of the Counterculture
  10. Blue Merle -- Burning in the Sun
The last I posted these lists, Gorillaz' Demon Days was on three of the lists but it has now fallen off two of them. Meanwhile, Coldplay's X & Y has held onto Buch Spieler's and Pure Pop's list while climbing onto Vermont Book Shop's list.

It's nice to see Dungen's Ta Det Lungt sit in the #2 slot at Pure Pop. Are UVM students back on campus yet?

It's also interesting to see local artist Grace Potter and the Nocturnals make the lists for Pure Pop and Buch Spieler. Last time they have been on Vermont Book Store's list. So, it appears that they are having some success in this market.

The Gunshy

The Gunshy is a one-man band out of Lancaster, PA although sometimes he tours with a full band. The man in charge of this one-man band is Matt Arbogast.

The easy immediate comparison for his voice would be to Tom Waits. And while his songs are generally dark like Waits' music, thye sound different instrumentally. A fairer comparison may be to Oakland's Filthy Thieving Bastards except without the harmonies and a bit darker.

The songs roll with the feeling of a train rumbling down the tracks as various instruments step in and out around Arbogast's acoustic guitar and strained vocals.

There are more mp3 files available on The Gunshy's website but these two are my favorite available tracks.

The Gunshy - Reason to Retreat
The Gunshy - Stories

Help El Boxeo

I had never heard of these gangsters before tonight but they apparently need some help finding a Vermont venue to play in on August 31st. Here is what they posted on the message board for the Vermont group of Audioscrobbler:

El Boxeo (Detroit) Needs a Show August 31st friends from Detroit need a show in Vermont on Auguat 31st. I've tried Langdon, 242 Main, and two houses in Burlington but no one can do it. Does anybody know of places for small indie bands to play? Or would you like to have a show at your house? Come on...they are awesome.

So, come on. Who has a club or living room they can play in? I'm going to send them an email suggesting they try The Black Door.

What is "242 Main"?

Based upon the two mp3 files I pulled from their website, they aren't bad. Mainly instrumental stuff with violin, drums and guitar. Sort of a post-rock version of Dirty Three.

El Boxeo - New Science
El Boxeo - Let's Get Mythological (recommended)

Great Lake Swimmers

I've heard of some odd recording locations but this one is pretty peculiar. Toronto-based Great Lake Swimmers chosed an abandoned grain silo in southern Ontario to record their self-titled debut album. I don't know what impact it had on the recordings but I do think the drums have a weird sort of staccato echo to them.

While I'm not a huge fan of singer / band leader Tony Dekker's lo-fi acoustic brainchild, I do love this tune. I wish the rest of the album lived up this track.

But they have a new album called "Bodies and Minds" coming out soon. Perhaps that album will deliver on the promise of "I Will Never See the Song". The first track I've heard from it, "Various Stages" sounds hopeful.

Great Lake Singers - I Will Never See the Sun
Great Lake Singers - Various Stages

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Lovekevins

Another day. Another post about a Swedish pop band.

This duo formed in the spring of 2003 when one of the guy's dog (named Kevin, hence the band name) ran off.

So, what do you do to heal the emotional wounds of a missing dog?

That's right. You write snappy pop tunes.

Their debut EP, Blame the English, came out in January of this year and hopefully, they'll have a full album at some point. Regardless, three of the EP's four tracks are available gratis on their website. Each track is a sweet pop tune with enough twists and changes to keep you interested long after the sugar has been chewed off. All three of them are worth downloading.

Plus, with a title like, Blame the English, you know their hearts are in the right place.

The Lovekevins - Blame the English
The Lovekevins - Stop Being Perfect
The Lovekevins - Happy Happy

Angry Feedback

While most of the feedback I've gotten so far has been very positive and supportive, I did get some amusingly negative comments from a friend today. This is from the email that he sent out to our fantasy football league after learning that I was writing a blog:

Murf, why not post on what its like to be a stay at home dad who is on the payroll of some unknowing NJ company? Or a computer pansie? What the fuck is all that shit? How do you find the time to read the 4 comments your blog has inspired? I make a motion to expel Murf from the league! THis blogging activity is bad for the HFL image, it is conduct unbecoming. That is the worst crap, other than the Bullock article, I have ever been exposed to. No one gives a fuck about those sorry assed bands, that is why they are touring VERMONT! Vermont has turned your brain to syrup. Do you write that shit while your babies are napping, or can you do it over their heads while you breastfeed? NEWSFLASH: VERMONT MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL IS NOT SPORTS! Gary we need to form a recog team and go get Murf from the cult that has imprisioned him the past years, we need to find the old Murf.

Just so it is clear, I think his review of my blog is hilarious.

It's Over

Well, it was a good run but, in the end, the Newport Gulls are worthy champions of the NECBL. They beat Vermont 6-2 tonight to sweep the series.

The Gulls had the second best regular season record and won convincingly during the post-season. So, bully for them. They are deserving champs.

During the game, the father of Newport's starting pitcher sat behind us and it was interesting to talk to him about his son's experience. He said his son loves playing in the NECBL and would return to Newport next year even if he got an invitation from a team in the prestigious Cape Cod League.

The reason for his son's happiness lied in the fun that he has with his teammates. In contrast, the scrutiny that the players in Cape Cod play under prevents a lot of the players from enjoying themselves. The player's father feels that scouts will find talented kids regardless of where they are playing so there isn't a need to play in Cape Cod. His son can play in the NECBL, have a fun summer, play highly competitive baseball and still get recognized by scouts for major league teams. It sounds like a good deal to me.

As for being a fan, I enjoy these games a lot. The games are more than about baseball. There is a sense of community surrounding the games that is particularly appealing. It's been a fun summer of games and I'll look forward to the next season.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Rare Decemberists' Tracks

The blog, You Ain't No Picasso, has a few links to some rare tracks from The Decemberists. In fact, that blog has a boatload of great posts lately with various advance and rare tracks from good bands. It's a good site to bookmark for music fans.

Live Journal Images

I just found this on WFMU's Beware of the Blog and have found it to be amazingly addictive.

It's a website that shows the last forty images that have been posted onto Live Journal. It's completely random and that's what I find so addictive. You can scroll through the pictures and then hit refresh and a completely new batch of forty images pops up. Lots of anime and pictures of people with their friends but also other oddball stuff (like in the picture here that I snagged as I was writing this post).

If something looks interesting, you can click on the image and it'll take you to the journal it was posted on. However, the actual journal's are rarely as interesting as seeing the image in the random conveyor belt rolling by.

Gold Cup: Behind the Scene

This link is a bit dated since the US won the Gold Cup over two weeks ago but it's still an entertaining clip to see. It shows Bruce Arena and the players talking in the locker room during halftime and after the US-Honduras semifinal that the US won in dramatic fashion coming from behind with a last-second goal.

My favorite part is Beasley laughing about Gooch getting his picture taken with a pair of beautiful women for winning the Man of the Match. I also like Arena's little yelp in the locker room when Gooch scored the goal. For such an imposing figure in coaching, he has such a shrill voice.

Follow the link here and then choose "21 July - Honduras Post-Game"

Magnolia Electric Co. @ Higher Ground

Last night, Magnolia Electric Co. played the showcase lounge at Higher Ground. It was a good show with Jason Molina and company playing a lot of tracks from their new album, What Comes After the Blues, along with a few covers.

The highlight of the night was running into an old friend, Warren, from Montpelier who had moved to Athens, GA last summer. The odd twist is that, last summer, Warren had turned me onto Songs: Ohia which was Molina's band before starting Magnolia Electric Co. He had flown up from GA for the show and to visit with some friends so it was a complete but pleasant surprise running into him.

Warren's friends were also the first opening band, User Shorty Patent Co. However, I missed their set because I was putting my kids to sleep. I got there in time to see Grand Buffet perform but I spent their whole set catching up with Warren so I don't have much to say about their rapping. The only thing that caught my attention was at the very end of their set. As they were leaving the stage, one of the guy's came back to the mic to say, "Hey, I buried my grandmother today and she had more energy than some of you assholes tonight." A very touching moment in rock history.

The highlight of Magnolia Electric's set was the encore when they covered "Running with the Devil". Grand Buffet joined them on stage and it sounded pretty damn good. It even featured a solo on pedal steel lap guitar which is rare in Van Halen covers. Overall, it was a fun night with the unexpected benefit of seeing Warren. Good to see you if you are reading this.

Mountaineers Drop Game 1

The Mountaineers dropped game 1 of the NECBL Championship series to the Newport Gulls 11-2 last night. The good guys may have been suffering a bit of bus-lag after travelling on a bus every night since last Friday. These kids deal with a brutal travel schedule all season long and it may have finally caught up with the Mountaineers last night.

I know these guys have to return to college soon but would it really have caused that many problems if they had put a rest day between the division series and league championship? A day's rest at this point would do a lot for both teams and the quality of play.

Game 2 of the series will be a do-or-die situation for Vermont tonight in Montpelier (6:30pm game time). If they win, the series returns to Newport for a decisive game tomorrow night. If not, the Gulls celebrate the title as we roll their bus over in the parking lot..

Monday, August 08, 2005

CBGB Photos

Although I'm having trouble finding the link right now, I recently read on a blog that someone (perhaps CBGB's themselves) is collecting fan's photos of shows at the famous club over the years. So, I dug out some of my photos from seeing Pavement there in 1997 to send in. If I had had a blog in 1997, I would have posted these on my site. But I have a blog now, so I figured I'd post the photos here eight and a half years later.

I saw a lot of Pavement shows in the 90's so I don't recall a lot of details of this show. I remember it was part of a three-night stint in NYC where they first played NYU, then CBGB's and finally the Westbeth Theater. However, while parts of the other NYC shows stand out in my mind, this show was rather ordinary. The most notable thing was the celebrities that came out for the show. I remember seeing Andy Richter and Janeane Garofalo and hearing that others were in the crowd.

The photo below is the only one I have where you can see all five members of the band. You can just barely see Bob screaming into his microphone on the far right of the picture.

This photo does a better job of showing Bob doing his thing. He was always jammed in the back of their set-ups but he was easily the most entertaining guy to watch in the band.

Spiral Stairs belting out on his rare tunes. Considering this was the Brighten the Corners tour, it was probably "Date w/ Ikea" or "Passat Dream". It's hilarious to see Ibold stare so intently at his fret board. He is the most mechanical bass player I've ever seen. He never took those eyes off his bass.

The ragtime band, The Blue Rags, opened for Pavement that night. I think they released on album on Sub Pop shortly after this tour but I haven't heard about them in a long time.

This photo isn't from CBGB's but I wanted to include it here anyway. After NYC, Pavement headed up to Boston to play a pair of shows at The Middle East. So, my camera and I followed them up the coast and got this shot. It used to reside on a Pavement website with the caption "Robert Nastanovich defines rock'n'roll for a generation". I always liked that caption for it.

If anyone knows the link telling where to send the CBGB photos, please leave a comment. Thanks.

Mountaineers Top Keene 5-1; Win Northern Division Title

These stands will be packed Tuesday night (6:30pm first pitch) as the Mountaineers play the Newport Gulls of Rhode Island in the three-game NECBL Championship series.

I can't find any details of the Mountaineers 5-1 win over Keene but winning two games on the road against the best team in the league is impressive.

If the Mountaineers win will Montpelier have a parade? Or perhaps a rally on the statehouse lawn? Regardless, it'll be fun.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Garden Highlights

The asiatic lillies from a few weeks ago are just about done but now the oriental lillies are opening up. The pink ones are Stargazers but I've forgotten the name of the white & yellow ones. The best of the oriental lillies are the Casa Blancas which are just about ready to open up. Hopefully, I'll have some photos of them next week.

The ligularia (aka "The Rocket") is also peaking right now. When they are bunched together, they give a nice burst of yellow in a part of a yard that doesn't really have much color (besides green that is).

Garden Lowlights

Fucking deer.