So, who's up for some twee?
And I'm not talking about dipping your toe into the pool. Listening to Tullycraft is the equivalent of doing a cannonball into the deep end of the twee pool. Hell, who else would have a lyric like "You can keep your punk rock, ska, rap beats and house. Fuck me, I'm twee!"
What the hell is twee, you ask? It's basically pop on steroids without a drop of rock 'n roll machismo. Still interested? Good because Tullycraft released a really good album this year called Disenchanted Hearts Unite.
Hailing from the Evergreen State, the ten-year-old quintet finally got their twee asses in gear and released a follow-up to their 2002 pop head-bopper, Beat Surf Fun. The stuff is often faulted for being too precious but sometimes I get tired of music that "challenges the listener" and just want to let my feet tap and head bop for awhile. For the same reason I can't eat Mike & Ike's all the time, I can't listen to twee endlessly. However, at the right times, Tullycraft gets a lot of spins.
From Beat Surf Fun:
Tullycraft - Twee (courtesy of Think Tank)
From Disenchanted Hearts Unite:
Tullycraft - Stowaway (courtesy of songs:illinois)
Tullycraft - Girl About Town (courtesy of songs:illinois)
Tullycraft - Our Days in Kansas
Tullycraft - Rumble With the Gang Debs
Thursday, December 29, 2005
So, who's up for some twee?
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
What's the opposite of the drummers on the World's Fastest Drummer circuit?
That's right. A drummer that also plays guitar, sings, writes songs and puts out his own solo albums. Basically, a true musician rather than a "freak of finger tapping".
Chris Brokaw is that true musician. In addition to being the drummer for The New Year, Brokaw has fronted the early 90's band Come, played drums for Codeine and just released his third full-length solo album, Incredible Love.
Brokaw plays acoustically on Incredible Love but the album doesn't sound like typical acoustic singer-songwriter fare. It rocks a lot more and indulges in a wider variety of sounds. His guitar isn't necessarily standing out in front on every song. It's a more blended sound.
I wish I had known about him a year ago when he played in Montpelier at the Langdon Street Cafe. However, he seems to tour endlessly and particularly throughout New England. So, hopefully, he'll come around again. I know I saw Come back in the 90's when they opened for Pavement (In fact, I think Spoon was also on that bill) but I wasn't taken with their sound that night. I guess my tastes have changed enough over time to now appreciate his stuff.
Right now, Brokaw is playing a few shows in NYC, IL and MA before heading off for a month-long tour through Italy, England and Ireland. Hey, he'll be in Italy on 2/12 for the Inter-Juventus match. That's certainly better than being in Boston on that day.
Bradley's Almanac posted the mp3 files from Brokaw's concert at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston back in October. There is also a live video of Brokaw performing at the 2002 SXSW festival on his label's site (12xu).
Chris Brokaw - Move
At lunch today, I looked in our mailbox and found a good example of why it's so entertaining to live in Montpeculiar. However, before I get into the letter, here is a little background...we live on a street that dead-ends into a large city park called Hubbard Park. In the park, there are various hiking trails, fields, shelters, ponds and a big sledding hill. There isn't any parking at our access point to the park so folks just park along our street. It's no big deal.
So, with that in mind, here is the poem that was written on the paper I found in our mailbox:
On New Year's Eve one year agoOh, the "people watching" should be pretty damn good on Saturday.
It was a great time to be alive
For Liz and Chris fell in love that day
And made wedding plans for 2005
They met in Hubbard Park
On that fated day
And will soon meet again at 3:00
To wed, sled and play
They'll be bringing their friends
And their families, quite a few
We hope you won't mind them parking
On your street for an hour or two
We'll be gone by 5 at the latest
And promise not to create a fuss
We couldn't afford the liability insurance
To rent a very large school bus
If you have any objections
Please call their friend, Michelle
And on this New Year's Eve
We thank you and wish you well
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Now that Christmas has passed and we are in the midst of Hanukkah, it's time to wish everyone a Happy Hanukkah. And it's also time to start reading about Yo La Tengo's Eight Nights of Hanukkah at Maxwell's in Hoboken.
For the last few years, the Hoboken-based band has raised money for charity by playing Maxwell's each night of Hanukkah. The bonus this year is that Hanukkah runs through New Year's so fans get the confluence of their Hanukkah shows with their New Year's show. To commemorate this event (and play along with the technology of the times), YLT is blogging about their eight day event.
For past stints at Maxwell's, YLT have taken the stage wearing gorilla costumes. However, this year, Ira came on as Santa, James as a Rabbi and, just to retain their claim to the moniker of "art-rock", Georgia was dressed as Robin the Boy Wonder.
The other highlight of the first night seemed to be a version of "My Little Corner of the World" featuring Hamish Kilgour (formerly of The Clean) and Lisa Siegel of The Mad Scene. YLT's version of "My Little Corner of the World" was my wife and mine's wedding song so it's always good to hear that it's still making it's way into the set lists.
I just realized that the fans at the first night also got to hear the acoustic version of "Big Day Coming". Sounds like it was a damn fine show.
Last night, the show was capped with a cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "Burning For You" with James on vocals.
I've never been to any of the Hanukkah shows but I've been to a pair of their New Year's shows at Maxwell's. The concerts are just incredibly fun. With the relaxed nature of the performances, lots of covers and a large number of YLT's friends joining them on stage, the shows feel more like a house party than a traditional concert. Plus, they often featured a large number of new tunes.
By the way, if reading the blog entries isn't enough for you to get your fill of YLT, check out their online video game. It's basically Breakout but with "video game like" versions of their tunes and amusing titles for the different boards like "Save the Acetone" or "Save WFMU".
Yo La Tengo - It's Christmas Time (courtesy of In House Radio)
Yo La Tengo - Sheena Is a Punk Rocker (live) (courtesy of Illicit Noise)
Based upon the number of calls I received from friends and family today, it appears that Montpelier's rock slide made the national news today. This obviously means it was a slow news day across the US.
The full article from the local paper with its hyperbole headline is here.
The key points:
- Nobody was hurt.
- No or little private property was damaged (although some people may have their houses condemned or lose convenient access to their house via the road that runs along the collapsing cliff).
- The decision to tear down the house at the bottom of the cliff a few years ago now seems like a brilliant and possibly life-saving idea.
- False 45th HQ was not impacted one iota.
By the way, back in October, I posted a few pictures of some fall foliage. Well, the ground I was standing on when I took these two pictures no longer exists. Well, I guess to be accurate, the ground does still exist. It's just forty feet below in the middle of the road. The guard rail I was leaning against is now just hovering in the air.
I have no idea what the town is going to do about this situation but I can't believe it'll be economically feasible to build a massive retaining wall to hold up the cliff under the road. It would seem to be cheaper for the town to buy the half-dozen or so homes on the cliff than it would be to preserve the road up there. But, then again, that still wouldn't eliminate the danger for the people driving on, walking by and living along the street below. It'll be a difficult decision.
UPDATE: A blogger who lives very close to the rock slide posted this today.
jds has a post about it too and a cool arial photo of the area where you can see the road at the top of the cliff.
One side story to this rock slide is the retirement of Montpelier's longtime Director of Public Works, Stephen Gray. Gray has been running the public works department in Montpelier for years and years. Sadly, Gray lost his wife to cancer a few years ago and then his son, Sergeant Jamie Gray died in Iraq during the summer of 2004. Obviously, that's a lot for anyone to deal with so Gray decided to take things a little easier and retire.
This was supposed to be his last week on the job and now he has this headache as well as a water main break that occurred over the weekend to deal with. The guy has served Montpelier very well over the years and I can only hope his retirement is more peaceful than the last few years and this week have been for the guy.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Thursday, December 22, 2005
There's a blog from New Hampshire (I think it's coming out of The Granite State) that I've been enjoying for the last few months. It's called A Bend In the River. It's a blog of photographs taken by the author of the blog ("G"). No music; just photos.
There are a few things I like about the guy's blog. First of all, the photos are very good and the guy doesn't seem to use any special lens or lighting. He just has a really good eye for his everyday surroundings. Second, the guy is prolific. He has a new photo up on the site almost everyday and the quality rarely drops off. Lastly, it's the most calming blog I've ever read. Blogs tend to be very busy with things all over the page and links and backgrounds and ads and whatnot. However, G keeps it very simple. The front page of the blog is usually just the photo and then any description or discussion of the photo occurs on the comments. Plus, his subjects tend to be calming.
Overall, it's a good blog to bookmark.
Neil Young - Distant Camera
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
It's time for the Christmas edition of the Vermont Music Update. Let's see what everyone is getting for Christmas this year. Here are the top albums by sales at the local indie shops (courtesy of Seven Days):
Buch Spieler | Montpelier
1. Capital City Concerts - Karen Kevra: The Music of J.S. Bach
2. Bobby Gosh - Spirit of Christmas
3. Diana Krall - Christmas Songs
4. Neil Young - Prarie Wind
5. Grace Potter & the Fuckin' Nocturnals - Nothing But the Water
6. Kristina Stykos - In the Earth's Fading Light
7. Patti Casey - The Edge of Grace
8. Bonnie Raitt - Souls Alike
9. Susannah Clifford-Blanchly - Middle of the Night
10. Bruce Chalmer/Fyre and Lightning Consort - Berakhot
Pure Pop | Burlington
1. Grace Potter & the Fuckin' Nocturnals - Nothing But the Water
2. My Morning Jacket - Z
3. Bright Eyes - Motion Sickness
4. Wilco - Kicking Television
5. Talib Kweli - Right About Now
6. Johnny Cash - The Legend of Johnny Cash
7. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - s/t
8. Nickel Creek - Why Should the Fire Die?
9. Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run (box set)
10. Atmosphere - You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We Are Having
Exile on Main St. | Barre
1. Korn - See You On the Other Side
2. Susan Tedeschi - Hope and Desire
3. Scott Stapp - The Great Divide
4. Johnny Cash - The Legend of Johnny Cash
5. Guns N' Roses - Greatest Hits
6. Green Day - American Idiot
7. System of a Down - Hypnotize
8. John Mayer Trio - Try! Live in Concert
9. Shakira - Oral Fixation Vol. 2
10. Diana Krall - Christmas Songs
So, it looks like jds over in Barre is getting some Korn and GNR for Christmas while Casey is getting hooked up with some Grace Potter in Burlington. However, the oddest list to me this week is the one for Buch Spieler.
How friggin' parochial was Montpelier last week? Seven of the ten albums were from local artists. It seems like a bunch of Montpelierites were listening to VPR Switchboard's "Best Music of 2005 For People in Menopause" last week and decided to pick up those hideous albums from milquetoast female Vermont hippies like Patti Casey, Kristina Stykos, Susannah Clifford-Blachly and Grace Potter.
The other odd thing about the Buch Spieler list is that the top three albums are Christmas albums. That alone isn't weird considering the calendar. The strange part is that I tried picking up a copy of the finest Christmas album ever last week at Buch Spieler; Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas. However, they didn't have a copy of it. But they obviously had enough copies of Bobby Gosh, Capital City Concerts and Diana Krall to get those albums to the top of the list.
Let's review...zero copies of Vince Guaraldi and a boatload of copies of Bobby Gosh, Capital City Concerts and Diana Krall. That just seems really weird to me. However, that's why write a stupid blog and don't run a music store. I really have no idea what people want.
One last note, it's nice to see Clap Your Hands Say Yeah make the top ten at Pure Pop. Maybe they are building a following in the area finally. It would be nice if they played a local show this spring or so. Oh, such dreams!
Now, let's look at what the folks over at the Vermont group on Last.FM were listening to last week. We are now up to 31 members or 0.005% of the population of Vermont. However, I seem to remember something from stats class that said that you need a population size of at least 30 in order for the results to be statistically significant. Therefore, we are now statistically significant; if not significantly smelly.
The top ten most listened to bands over the last week were:
1. The Shins
3. Sufjan Stevens
4. The Decemberists
5. Yo La Tengo
6. Sigur Rós
7. Bob Dylan
8. The Velvet Underground
9. The Beatles
10. Iron & Wine
The only band in my Last.FM account's top ten and the VT group's top ten is Yo La Tengo. However, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was in my top ten and tied for eleventh in the VT group.
Yo La Tengo seems to consistently appear in the VT group's top ten list. I think they may have an album of new material due next year. Hopefully, they'll decide to include Higher Ground on their touring itinerary. When they played at the old Higher Ground a few years ago, the show was fairly packed. Not "Rusted Root Packed" but better than any other indie band I've seen at Higher Ground (although the Secret Machines show last January had a big crowd too).
As always, to be fair and open myself to as much ridicule as I give to the lists above, here are my top bands for the last week:
1. Palace Music
2. love letter band
3. Palace Brothers
4. Eux Autres
5. Sons and Daughters
6. Yo La Tengo
7. M. Ward
8. The Clash
9. Neutral Milk Hotel
10. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
My top track for the week was Oh No! Oh My!'s "Walk in the Park". It's a poppy number that is destined for a car commercial some day.
Oh No! Oh My! - Walk in the Park
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Imagine showing up to play a pick-up game of basketball at a local court and finding Kevin Garnett lacing up his boots. Well, that's a fair comparison to this video of the great French midfielder Zinedine Zidane playing five-a-side futsal in a gym.
In the clip, Zidane is the tall balding guy (just in case his unbelievable footwork doesn't give him away). Check out the moves and passes he makes across the front of the goal. Plus, I like the fact that he's sliding into the goal to knock one home in some cruddy gym.
Actually, Google Video is packed with videos of Zidane:
Here is one where he fakes out three defenders on the dribble to net a goal.
This one is the amazing goal he scored off the volley in the Champion's League Final for Real Madrid.
This one is an eight-minute highlights package of the man.
And while I'm on the subject of soccer videos, this is always a good one. Phil Babbs meet post. Post Meet Phil Babbs.
Thanks to cj for the original link.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Offsetting my happiness for the news of the Silver Jews tour and the mad ravings of a bunch of teenage drummers, has been the news that the Swedish King of Pop, Jens Lekman, is taking a break from the music business.
Apparently, he's burned out on touring and unhappy with the songs he has recorded for his next album. The burn-out is understandable. He just completed 200 shows during a world tour (including a stop in Bennington in October). That would be enough to crush the spirit of most people. Here's what he's saying about it:
"Tomorrow I will start looking for a job," Lekman wrote, "maybe I'll be a telephone interviewer again... at least that's what I've been telling the customs when they ask what my profession is. The recordings I've been working on have been put on the shelf. I am not happy with them and so I can't say that there's a new record on its way. I actually can't say that there's ever gonna be a new record at all. Although deep inside I know that as long as there's a heart in this chest there will be new songs..."At least it doesn't sound like his trip to Vermont was the culprit of his misery. This is what he wrote in his blog regarding the show:
"I think it's necessary. It doesn't take a psychologist to tell me that I need a break after 200 shows. I love the shows," he admits, "but it's 22 hours of pure misery and then two hours of being euphoric."
Oct 13th - BenningtonI'm guessing that after a good long break, Lekman will be back and we'll eventually hear those songs he's recorded. They'll either appear as the next album or as a future "rareties" release. The guy just needs some space for a while.
This is the first time I've been to an artschool college party. I've seen stuff like this in movies, I never realised it was even crazier in real life. Everytime you'd open a door to a new room there was something weird and / or illegal going on. Those kids were so drunk or stoned. A guy named Tony , who called himself Stoney, came up to Honeydrips-Mikael and asked him "is there a swedish word for the pain of living?". The show was great though, so many people dancing and jumping around. And we sure picked the right time to go to Vermont. All those colours of the fall, they made me happy.
In the meantime, we have a few great concert videos to enjoy courtesy the Italian blog, Low Noise. The videos come from a DVD called Live in Gothenburg 2003. There are five videos to enjoy on the blog but here are links to my two favorite. The videos are large files and load slowly. So, be patient.
Video - Jens Lekman - Maple Leaves (unfortunately, the links for both videos are now gone)
Video - Jens Lekman - Black Cab
Christmas is coming early this year. First, I get the gift of angry drummer boys and now I have learned that The Silver Jews will be playing at The Middle East in Boston on Sunday, March 19th. The amazing thing about this tour is that The Joos have never toured in their decade-plus existence due to the main Joo, David Berman's stage fright.
So, the question is what happened to change Berman's feelings about playing live. One possiblity is that it is related to his finances. Last summer, in a lengthy interview with Pitchfork, Berman discussed touring and his finances:
The other thing that may have had an impact on his decision to tour was his nearly successful suicidal overdose and resulting rehab stint in 2003. Surviving those kind of events can change a person's perspective on what is worth fearing.
Pitchfork: Does a new record that's more consistently upbeat rock 'n' roll than previous ones makes you want to perform live or tour?
Berman: I don't know if the record makes me want to play live so much as it makes me want to play the songs again through a loud amp with a drummer there and some other players going off around me. Whether or not you plan some big "event" around that. I don't know.
Pitchfork: Financially, how do you afford not to?
Berman: Last year, I made about $16,000 from the four records that are in print. Drag City takes care of its own. Everybody who makes records for Drag City is getting the most money possible. The Silver Jews have never bought an ad. Ever. Well, once in Alternative Press in 1994, for The Arizona Record, but it was in the back and...
The last year I made a record, 2001, I made $45,000 from Drag City. This upcoming year I hope it will go up to that level again. In addition, I read at colleges multiple times a year at $1,000 a shot. Various writing projects bring in money. Actual Air brings in $1,000 a year nowadays. I get a dollar a copy, and they've sold a goodly number. And Rob Bingham gave me a $10,000 advance to finish it.
BMI checks are a couple thousand a year. Another couple thousand from foreign licensees. I made a movie with the artist Jeremy Blake last year. There are a couple movies with [Silver Jews'] songs in them that keep playing on Scandinavian cable at 3 a.m., apparently for the last four years.
I've never gotten a grant. Well, that's not true. I had a fellowship to go to graduate school. I never had to pay for tuition while I was there and teaching paid your other living expenses. My father paid for my undergraduate tuition. There's this famous story in my family of when my father took me out to eat when I was 18. I had been too lazy to apply to college so he'd had his secretary apply for me late. To the University of Texas and the University of Virginia (because I romanticized Virginia as a kid).
Well, I got into both (Texas was automatic). The tuition difference was large. UT back then was $350 a semester. Virginia was, what $12,000 a year? My dad likes to make games of things. He told me he wanted me to go to UT so I'd be closer to home and said that if I went to UVA he'd pay my tuition but that would be it until death. And four years of health insurance, I guess. Instead, if I chose Texas he'd pay for that plus give me the difference between the two schools' tuitions to live on. I am frankly amazed I chose Virginia. I don't remember my reasoning.
I worked in the morgue at the UVA hospital all through college to pay my rent. In the 15 years since I've graduated he's loaned me $5,000 two times when I was in trouble. The first one in my 20s, which he kindly absolved, and a second one last year trying to get back on my feet. I still owe him that one and I hope this album will enable me to pay him back because he holds it over my head every single time we get into an argument.
I guess I should add that he did pay for my rehab, which I let him, figuring at the time it was his fucking idea, and what did I care? Also, when I got out, this organization called Music Cares at [The National Academy of the Recording Arts and Sciences] helped me pay bills. It's a charity, and hopefully I'll be able to send some money back their way once America starts paying me a living wage. It probably goes without saying that I've got a credit card rotisserie system that would dazzle the ancients.
Regardless, I'm glad this is going to happen. Perhaps to lessen the glare of the spotlight on himself, Berman seems to have built a Rolling Thunder Revue type of tour around The Joos. This is how the press released described the upcoming tour:
The "Love With the Lights On: Ballroom J Tour" will feature "a fiery oratorical performance" by ex-Pavement percussionist Bob Nastanovich, a "‘professional style' multimedia stageshow", and "country comedy" by Kevin Guthrie and Corny Crow.
Bob N. was always my favorite member of Pavement so that's a plus and while I don't know anything about the other guys mentioned, I like the idea of a variety of acts. Tickets go on sale on this Thursday 12/22. I have a feeling that tickets are going to go fast so I'm a bit scared of getting skunked.
Here are the other tour stops:
3-10 Athens, GA - 40 Watt
3-11 Atlanta, GA - The Earl
3-12 Asheville, NC - Grey Eagle Tavern & Music Hall
3-16 Charlottesville, VA - Satellite Ballroom
3-17 New York, NY - Webster Hall
3-19 Cambridge, MA - Middle East
3-21 Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church
3-22 Baltimore, MD - Ottobar
3-24 Columbus, OH - Little Brother's
3-25 Ann Arbor, MI - Blind Pig
By the way, the video for The Silver Jews' "How Can I Love You If You Won't Lie Down" is available on their page of Drag City's site.
Silver Jews - Random Rules (courtesy of Domino Rally)
Silver Jews - People
Silver Jews - Advice To The Graduate
Silver Jews - Black and Brown Blues
Sunday, December 18, 2005
When I read the post on Music Thing about the World's Fastest Drummer competition, I figured the contest would resemble some sort of heavy metal head-banging drumming. Then when I saw that there are even "Girls of World's Fastest Drummer" I was certain the competition would resemble some sort of "Tommy Lee spinning in a cage" slamfest.
Boy was I wrong! What has all the trappings of a machismo freak scene is just a wimpy drumming freak scene. The world record holder is a guy named Mike Mangini who hit 1,200 beats in a minute. However, they are the wimpiest little beats ever. What the hell is the purpose of this competition? To see who can tap a stick the fastest or to see who is the fastest while actually playing music? Unfortunately, the organizers seem to prefer the former.
Check out the video of Mike Mangini's record breaking performance (which seems to have been done in a hallway or something):
UPDATE: This post was originally from November but for some reason, I got four amusingly negative comments on it yesterday. I thought the comments were pretty funny so I decided to bump the post.
Some fans of the competition must have discovered my post and told their friends that someone was dissing the great Mike Mangini. So, they stopped by to show that they take their silly little competition waaaaay too seriously.
My favorite comment is the one where the guy thought the picture in my profile of Ira Kaplan was me and mocked me for not standing up straight. It's just such an odd reason to mock someone.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
This video is amazing. I don't know who this kid is or whether he's a trained gymnast or not but the kid is just unbelievable. If Olympic gymnastics was more like this video, perhaps I'd watch it every fourth summer.
By the way, the video certainly wasn't shot by the Russian Tourism Board. The place looks pretty damn bleak. I know every country has their good and bad neighborhoods but this place looks like hell.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Over the last few days, I've started working on my list of top albums for 2005 (I'll probably roll it out next week). One album that I've been loving and wanted to add to the list was Les Breastfeeders' Déjeuner Sur l'Herbe. However, I was finding conflicting info regarding the release date.. iTunes said it was 2005, their website didn't say and Wikipedia said it was 2004 (thanks Jim for tracking that down for me). I eventually decided that iTunes is probably wrong and sadly had to scratch them from the list.
The upside of the search (and ultimate scratching) was that I found a video of them performing "Ostrogoth-à-Gogo" in Boston earlier this year. The sound quality isn't very good but it still gives a good sense of what their shows look like. It seems, as I suspected, that the tambourinist, Johnny Maldoror, livens up the stage show a lot with his shirtless antics. As you watch the video he pops up in all sorts of spots on stage including between frontman Luc Brien's legs.
I haven't had a chance to see them live yet and this video has only made me more eager to catch them. That's why I was excited when I saw that they had four concert dates set for the next month. I noticed that none of the shows were in their hometown of Montreal so I spent some time trying to figure out where these gigs were gonna be. Boy, was I disappointed.
None of the four shows is within four hours of Montpelier. The worst is almost a seven hour drive. I like their album but not that much. To give you an idea of how far north Les Breastfeeders are going in Quebec provence, I put together this Frappr! map with pins in the locations of the four shows. Who the hell lives way up there? Are there really that many fans of the band up there?
Oh, well. I guess I'll just have to wait until they announce some more dates. Hopefully, there'll be a few Montreal shows next time.
Les Breastfeeders - Mini-jupe et watusi
Les Breastfeeders - Laisse autant le vent tout emporter
Les Breastfeeders - Ostrogoth-à-gogo
There is a cool website called the New England Lost Ski Areas Project that celebrates all of the goofy little ski areas that used to dot the old north woods. These days the majority of skiing occurs in a handful of large resorts. However, as recently as 30 years ago, skiing was much more spread out and a part of the local communities.
In the Montpelier area, there used to be a rope tow on Sabin's Pasture that was run by the Montpelier Recreation Department. It cost $0.25 a day to used the lift up till the late 70's. Imagine how much worse the current conflict over Sabin's Pasture would be if the Rec Dept was using it as a ski area.
There was also a rope tow out at Morse Farm (less than a mile from the current Morse farm tourist trap and touring center). According to the site, it sounds like one of the Morses built the engine for the tow themselves and Burr was the king of the mountain.
There was an actual for-profit ski area in Barre called Skyline Ski Center. You can see the remnants of it as you drive down the beltline from the hospital going down into Barre. It's located above the road on the hill. I haven't noticed it but I was told that you can still see the poles from the poma lift. The place even had a 35 meter ski jump.
The other significant ski area near Montpelier was the one in Northfield run by Norwich University. The double chair lift was still operational as recently as the early 90's. Someone told me that the base lodge was located across the street from Norwich University but I haven't noticed it in the past. It would be fun to have the place still running but the fact is that the drive to Bolton is only about ten more minutes than the one to Northfield and Bolton Valley has a lot more skiing available than this place appeared to offer.
Sometimes it seems like nothing has changed in VT for a long time but when you hear about all of the little areas where communities skied, you realize how different things are today.
Boss Hog - Ski Bunny
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Oh, this could be a lot of fun.
Starting next November, Vermont is going to have a professional minor-league basketball team called the Vermont Frost Heaves. The team will play in a division of the reincarnated American Basketball Association with Montreal, Boston, Newark and Harlem.
The team's 18 home games will be split between the Barre Municipal Auditorium where the high school state championships are held every year and Memorial Auditorium in Burlington where I saw Wilco last year. I remember Jeff Tweedy joking about the antique gym saying something like "I feel like I'm playing at a prom. Has anyone snuck any MadDog under the bleachers yet?" Both places look they came straight out of central casting for a "Hoosier-style Gym".
The team will be owned by long-time Sports Illustrated writer and Cornwall, Vt resident Alexander Wolff. SI isn't investing in the team (the franchise cost less than 3-year-old Subaru) but they are asking Wolff to write articles about starting and running the franchise. However, the uniqueness of this franchise doesn't stop there. Wolff said that the team is going to be part town hall meeting where fans will be able to vote on the team's transactions. And to satisfy the fans concerned about the environment, the team will purchase renewable energy credits to offset the "emissions" the team produces when traveling to away games. Along the same lines, all of the concessions will be from local growers and producers (hopefully, they'll stock Pop Soda). Plus, if that wasn't enough to get people talking about the team, Wolff eventually wants to sell shares in the franchise to the fans a la the Green Bay Packers to prevent it from ever leaving the area.
You can read Wolff's inaugural article on the team here. Seven Days also has an article on the team.
As for the ABA, the league seems to have captured it's 1970's predecessor's loosey-goosey traits. There are a boatload of teams and each year some of the teams go under just like the old ABA. However, the old ABA had a sparkle of mischeviousness to it that stuck a shiv in the uptight ass of the NBA. With it's three-point line, red, white and blue balls and maverick players, the ABA was a fun league to follow. This version of the ABA seems to have captured some of that fun. The league's rules state that if a team generates a turnover in the backcourt, any ensuing buckets that are scored are worth an extra point. Hence, there is a big incentive for teams to press for the full court which makes for a run-and-gun style of basketball.
The other amusing league rule is the 11th man rule. Teams are allowed to dress and play a local amateur player every game. This rule has great potential. It can be used for anything from giving a shot to a local playground hot shot to rewarding a local hero to raising money for a local charity. Regardless, it keeps the team connected to the community.
If you are unfamiliar with the old ABA, I'd strongly suggest the great book Loose Balls. It's probably my favorite sports book ever. A detailed account of the hilarious highlights and lowlights of the ABA as told by the players, coaches, administrators and broadcasters. Bob Costas can be a smarmy little dork but his stories in this book about announcing games for The Spirit of St. Louis are fantastic.
Well, between the Mountaineers in the summer and now the Heaves in the winter (which dopey local sportswriter is going to be the first person to refer to them as the Dry Heaves when they lose a few games in a row?), we are going to have a lot of fun around here.
UPDATE: I got a nice email from Alexander Wolff and he pointed out two things that I had missed:
1) Regarding K's comment about the Heaves ever playing the Bellingham Slam:
Just fyi, we COULD play the Bellingham Slam if we were to make the playoffs from our division, and they from theirs, and we made it all the way (in an NCAAs-style, single-elimination bracket) to a final or semifinal.2) Regarding the fans voting and keeping abreast of everything going on with the team:
If you're interested in keeping right up to date with every post I make on the Heaves' birth and life, sign up for our Bump in the Road Club and you'll get the dispatches directly.The link to sign up for the Bump in the Road Club is here.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Since I don't really have any sort of a commute, I do most of my music listening while sitting at my desk doing work. That setting doesn't really lend itself so some varieties of music; generally, high energy stuff. Therefore, two bands that folks have been raving about and not clicking for me have been Sons & Daughters and Arctic Monkeys. However, I found the right setting for them on Monday and they started to groove for me.
Every once in a while for work, I have to drive down to northern NJ. It's about a five hour drive with the last hour being the worst. After four hours in the car, I start getting achy, stiff and worst of all...tired. However, around this point, I reach the southern end of the Merritt Parkway in CT and the stretch of I-287 in NY leading up to the Tappan Zee Bridge. It's a miserable length of roadway where everyone is flying at about 70 mph, constantly shifting lanes and close enough to each other that we could roll down our windows and join hands. Certainly, not a good time to be achy, stiff and tired.
Needless to say, this isn't an "Iron & Wine" moment. You need something roaring out of your speakers with a lot of kick to it to keep your focus on the near-fatal-crash situation you are constantly experiencing. Well, this week, my iPod was rolling through a playlist of recent downloads when it came upon Sons & Daughters' "Johnny Cash" and "Hunt". Holy crap. They were the perfect tunes. Both songs have a surging beat, frantic vocals and sonic western-style guitar that drives your adrenaline up a dozen notches.
Those tracks were followed by English blog darlings Arctic Monkeys with "Fake Tales of San Francisco", "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" and "Scummy". These tunes live in the border town between discoville and punktown. Big booming bass lines, neck-breaking guitar hooks and unyielding beats. Hell, they even sneak in a "Clearmountain Pause" or two.
Like Underdog after woofing down his energy pill, I was cruising through the last leg of my drive with zeal. I never would have understood the fun behind these songs if I hadn't ever listened to them in the right setting. Somehow, the right setting just happen to be a soul-crushing nerve-wracking stretch of highway.
Insound is taking pre-orders for Arctic Monkeys' January release and the Sons & Daughters' albums are available here.
Sons & Daughters - Johnny Cash
Arctic Monkeys - Fake Tales of San Francisco
Arctic Monkeys - I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
Arctic Monkeys - Scummy
Feeling jolly yet? If not, here are a few links to get you fired up for the big day.
The first is a fantastic cover of "Can You Hear What I Hear?" by a NJ band called Spiraling. You can't download it but you can stream it on their MySpace site. Thanks to Mr. Extrawack! for the tip.
The next link is a fun collection of photos with kids sitting on Santa's lap. It's a good reminder of how damn scary big garishly-dressed old men are to children.
Longing for that first big snow storm of the year? Enjoy this time-elapsed film of a storm in Burlington.
The last link is a dazzling display of Christmas lights set to music. After watching this video, my son now wants us to do our lights like this next year. He doesn't think our single wreath wrapped in lights compares very well to this electrical masterpiece.
Now, are you ready for the magic of Christmas morning?
Monday, December 12, 2005
Quick programming note.
On Tuesday night at 7pm, VPR's call-in program Switchboard will focus on the best music of 2005. You can submit your favorite albums via email here or you can just call into the show. Unfortuantely, I have to be in NJ for a holiday luncheon for my company tomorrow and probably won't be back in time to call into the show. However, if you want to stream the show, you can link to the stream on the front page of VPR's site. Hopefully, the show will be available via podcast after the broadcast too.
I'm hoping a few of you fine folks call in to offer a counter opinion to the majority of callers who will claim that Trey's Shine is the album of the year.
The phone number for calling in is (800) 639-2211.
One last comment, I want to use this post to remind everyone to write to VPR requesting an indie rock show on the new all-music station they are creating. You can find my original post about it here.
UPDATE: I got to hear the show while driving back from Jersey tonight. I also managed to be the first caller on the show. However, I was on my wife's cell phone in White River Junction when I called. As I made my way up I-89, I knew I was going to run into bad cell coverage areas. Thankfully, they took me first but the hosts still said I started to fade out about halfway through my praising of The Go! Team's Thunder Lighting Strike. Hopefully, most of it got through. I think they also got my name wrong by calling me Ryan but that was understandable since I was on a cruddy cell phone.
The odd thing about the show was that the hosts kept focusing on crappy middle-aged female hippie folkies from Vermont. However, between my call and a few others, the callers were focusing more on indie rock from national bands (Arcade Fire, New Pornographers, Clap Your Hands). Meanwhile, Bob Kinsel and Steve Lind had no idea what any of us were talking about. It was a perfect example of how VPR is out of step with younger listeners.
There was a fantastic call from a guy named Jeff in Montpelier who started his call by talking about how much he likes The New Pornographers' Twin Cinema. He then smoothly transitioned into a plea to VPR to diversify away from just jazz and classical. He said the VPR needs to play more of "this kind of music". However, the knucklehead hosts completely missed his point about indie music and said something like "geez, with all of the different types of music we've been talking about tonight, I don't know what kind of music you are talking about". Basically, they stuck VPR's head back in the sand.
Regardless, it was a great call and if anyone knows Jeff give him a thumbs up.
If you want to see the songs that were played during the show or get the podcast of the show, the link is here.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
I'm a bit late in getting this review posted mainly because I had problems getting my photos uploaded and a busy weekend of holiday activities. However, it had nothing to do with any apathy towards the show.
Before going to the show, I had been most excited to see Calexico. While I liked both bands, I had always prefered Calexico over Iron & Wine. I was always drawn to the varied instrumentation and sounds of Calexico's tunes. However, the reason I enjoyed the concert so much was because of Iron & Wine. The re-interpretation of his songs that Sam Beam exhibited was amazing.
jds and I got a late start for Montreal due to a late work emergency for me and dealing with some stuff at my wife's office. However, we still managed to get up there in time to grab some sushi at Isakaya. Unfortunately, we don't have any sushi restaurants in the Montpelier area so we took advantage of being in a multi-cultural city to fulfill our raw fish cravings. Good place. The fish was really fresh and with the exchange rate, I think it worked out to be only about $25 per person for dinner.
We got to The Spectrum around 9:20 for a 9:00 show and Calexico were already about halfway through their set which was disappointing. Those Canadians are damn punctual. Plus, the place was big and packed. The size and shape of The Spectrum reminded me of Irving Plaza in NYC and unfortunately, we got stuck in the back of it for Calexico's set.
For the part of Calexico's set that we got to hear, "Alone Again Or" and "Crystal Frontier" sounded good. They did a few tunes that sounded new to me and featured a very non-Calexico three electric guitar attack. It'll be interesting to hear how the album versions turn out but they sounded a bit out of place coming from Calexico. For their final song, Salvador Duran joined them for a blistering version of "Guero Canelo".
Duran then stuck around to play a few of his own tunes while Calexico left the stage. Since I'm not a huge flamenco fan, I took this as my cue to go to the bathroom and grab Calexico's tour-only CD, The Book and The Canal. They had sold out of the CD but were taking people's address for later shipments if you wanted to give them your money now. I trusted them so, hopefully, it'll get here next week or so. (Nico, when your copy arrives, I'll forward it onto you. Email me your address again.) When I got back to the concert, Duran was just wrapping up. Amusingly, jds told me that a bunch of couples had started making out during his set. I guess those latin lovers spread the passion.
Speaking of the crowd, I haven't seen that many women at an indie show in a long time. Plus, the age range was much larger than normal. There was everyone from teenagers to folks who appeared to be in their fifties at the show. I'm guessing that it is Iron & Wine that attracts the wider demographics. However, it was a friend's father who introduced me to Calexico and he must have been in his sixties at the time. So, who knows.
After Duran's set, there was an intermission which gave us a chance to move closer to the stage. We ultimately got to about ten feet from the stage which was a huge improvement over our previous spot about 150 ft. back.
After the break, Sam Beam took the stage sporting a scarf despite it being damn hot in the club. I guess that's what happens when you put a Floridian in Montreal in December. Beam then proceeded to play a long set of I&W tunes with varying levels of accompaniment. On some of the songs, it was just Beam and his acoustic guitar. Sometimes he would be joined by just his sister Sara or Joey Burns and other times he would be joined by a bunch of different musicians. On some songs there would be ten people on stage including Beam. This created a really rich and varied set. Ultimately, none of his songs sounded like they do on the album. Either they were built up into grand textured pieces or stripped down in even more minimal versions. I love it when musicians show off their craftsmanship and performed re-worked versions of their tunes. It makes the live experience so much more exciting.
After an hour of so, all of Calexico joined Beam and his band on stage for the rest of the show. They played about two-thirds of In the Reins and did a nice cover of "All Tomorrow's Parties". For the encore, just Beam and Burns came out with acoustic guitar for one last tune.
The only downside to the night was the length of the show. It was about 12:15 by the time the show ended. Three hours is a long show for me. I'm used to shows running an hour to an hour and a half. Three hours of music sounded great but my feet and back were ready for it to end as they rolled through the last few tunes.
One last note, I think there were a number of other Vermonters at the show. I saw someone there with a Higher Ground t-shirt on and when we crossed the border back into the US, the border guard said a number of people had come through before us saying they had been "at some Iron and something concert up there". Good to see the love for I&W and Caleixco in Vermont.
Friday, December 09, 2005
The US drew a tough, tough, tough group today for next summer's World Cup in Germany. It's already being called "The Group of Death". The US will play the Czech Republic, Italy and Ghana (in that order) in the first round next June. The top two teams in that group will advance to the next round where it will only get tougher.
The team that finishes second in the US' group (Group E) will play the first place team in Group F which is likely to be Brazil. The winner of Group E though will have an easier match against probably either Croatia or Japan. However, winning a group that includes Italy, Ghana and the Czech Republic is going to be extremely difficult.
Italy is well-known as a powerhouse and their current squad is no exception. The US has never beaten Italy in their five matches. The odd thing about Italy is their habit of doing the absolute minimum to advance out of the first round. In the past, they have played below expectations in the first round but still well enough to squeak by. So, if Italy repeats this pattern, perhaps that'll open up the chance for one of the other teams to take first place.
The Czech Republic were one of the best teams in Euro 2002 before losing in the semis to eventual champs, Greece. They finished second in their qualifying group but the team that took first place was the high-flying Dutch squad. These guys will be tough for the US. My only optimism comes from my faith in Bruce Arena. Our first match will be against the Czechs and if you give Arena six months to prepare for any match, he'll figure out a way to be competitive. We'll still need some luck with injuries and whatnot but this will be a tight game and we'll have a chance of taking some points.
Ghana is a bit of a wild-card. They have a number of very good players playing for top teams in Europe like Michael Essien at Chelsea, Fenerbahçe's Stephen Appiah, Udinese's Sulley Ali Muntari and Vitesse's Matthew Amoah. However, we'll be playing them last and if Italy and the Czechs have already beaten them, Ghana may not have anything to play for, be dispirited and easier to beat.
So, basically, I'm hoping for a strong tactical perparation against the Czechs and unfocused, sub-par performances from Italy and Ghana for us to grab the top slot in the group. It's possible but it'll be very difficult.
By the way, the US came very, very close to getting into Group G or Group H which looked a lot like the "easiest scenarios" that I laid out in my post earlier this week. Group G includes France, Switzerland, South Korea and Togo. We almost got South Korea slot. Group H is Spain, Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. We almost got Saudi Arabia slot. Either of those groups would have been much easier than the one we drew.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
About 18 months ago, a friend in Montpelier moved him and his family back to his native South Carolina. Here's the weird thing, since he's moved, he and I have come to realize that we have been listening to similar bands all along. When he was living here, we never discussed music. It was always about kids and other stuff.
I always assume people aren't listening to indie bands and, hence, never talk about it. I guess he had done the same thing. Therefore, it never came up. It wasn't until I started writing this blog that we learned we were both enjoying the same crap.
At least now through gmail, we have been able to share music back and forth. And one of the cool artists he has tipped me off to recently is n.lannon.
n.lannon is a musician from San Francisco that reminds me a lot of two bands I've recently written about: David Pajo and Mark Kozelek (am I in a rut?). All three artists play minimal acoustic folk music but with atmospheric electronic backing sounds. And all three are recording beautiful tunes.
The other similarity between the three artists is the number of different names they record under and bands they play in. n.lannon, whose real name is Nyles Lannon, also records under n.Ln and plays in the bands Film School and Reizoko. n.Ln's sound is more electronic while Film School and Reizoko are more post-rock.
n.lannon's Chemical Friends is available via Badman Recordings which also puts out some of Mark Kozelek's solo stuff. Film School's alwaysnever EP is available via Amazing Grease.
So, who do you think had the abbreviation idea first? M. Ward, J. Tilman or n.lannon? And why are they all folkies? Hmmm.
n.lannon - Hollow Heart
n.lannon - Turn Time Around
n.lannon - Demons
Film School - Activated
Film School - PS
Reizoko - Redrawn (The Bird) (out of print)
On the eve of the World Cup Draw, du Nord (best soccer blog going) had a link to this amusing article from The Sydney Morning Herald. Apparently, Australians (ranked 49th in the world; US is 8th) are offended by the fact that US coach, Bruce Arena, said that the field of 32 teams in this World Cup is stronger than in the last World Cup because the two weakest teams Australia and Trinidad & Tobago are stronger than Saudi Arabia and China were in 2002.
Here are some of the choice quotes:
The article even got a quote from Dwight Yorke who is now playing for a team in Sydney (geez, has he ever slipped):
Foster laughed when told of Arena's comments. "I just wonder where he's coming from," he said. "He's got the right to voice his opinion, but it's laughable to suggest we rate that lowly. He'll have to eat his words if we come up against the US. There's no issue we can beat them. We can beat any team on our day."
Slater said he would be delighted if Australia and the US were grouped together. "I would rather the Socceroos got into a group with the US than any of the other teams that may be ranked in the top tier," he said. "And that's not being disrespectful, that's based on fact.
"We have nothing to fear from the US. I would back us against the US - any game, anywhere.
"Our squad has a lot more quality than theirs and I would back [Socceroos coach] Guus Hiddink against any coach.
"I think [Arena's] comments might just show what he knows about the real world. I find his comments naive, but it doesn't surprise me, coming from a US coach. I mean, where has he been?"
Trinidad & Tobago star Yorke last night bristled at Arena's suggestion. "The manager of the American team is entitled to his opinion," he said. "Hopefully when he comes up against one of us we can shove the words right back in his face. America was in our [qualifying] group. They know they were very fortunate to beat us. They are not a brilliant team like they are making out to be … we've been playing them for years, they are not that special."Just to be clear, the US beat T&T in both qualifying matches and in the 16 matches between the two countries over the last 20 years, the US has won 11, drawn 3 and lost 2 while outscoring T&T 21-9. Yorke is delusional to say we were fortunate to beat them.
It was probably a stupid thing for Arena to say until he was certain we wouldn't be facing Australia in the first round, but the fact is that Australia hasn't been in a World Cup since 1974 and in that cup they finished last in their group without even scoring a goal. For the last few cups, they have failed to qualify out of the easiest confederation, Oceania. While most countries around the world have to slug it out with other confederation heavyweights for about two years to qualify, Australia just has to be better than New Zealand and then beat the fifth best team in South America in a home-and-home playoff to qualify.
Australia has some very good European-based players and the team may prove to be better than Saudi Arabia or some of the new African teams but they have a lot to prove before they start getting uppity over Arena's comment. Commentators around the world used to say really nasty crap about the US team (and some still do) but we have at least proven ourselves somewhat by qualifying for five straight World Cups, going to the quarterfinals in the last cup and becoming the top team in our region. Australia needs to do a lot of hard work before they start demanding respect.
By the way, the Aussies have dug up the penalty spot where John Aloisi scored his spot kick last month to beat Uruguay and sent the Socceroos to the World Cup. They are going to auction off the clump of dirt with an opening bid of $100,000.
Yeh, that sounds like the behavior of a soccer team that wasn't surprised by their own success.
Oh, it could be a lot of fun if we draw Australia tomorrow.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
There is a new blog in Montpelier called art|whirled and it deals with the local art community. It's written by a local artist who is involved in a few different projects to inject more art into our downtown. The three projects she has been blogging about so far are 1) opening an art gallery downtown (this isn't the new gallery near the roundabout but a non-profit gallery organized by local artists), 2) RAGE (an acronym for Revolving Art Gallery Experience) which will place art in existing businesses downtown and 3) restoring the art walk that the now defunct Onion River Arts Council used to organize.
That's a lot to take on. Plus, she's the curator for Capitol Grounds and her own work is currently on display at Langdon Street Cafe. Hopefully, she'll still have time to maintain the blog and create some new pieces.
I've spoken to some local artists who poo-pooed the idea of displaying their art in local businesses but until there are a few galleries in town showing local artists, then RAGE sounds like a good idea.
The tough part of the old art walk was how spread out it was. You really had to drive the "walk" to get to a lot of the artist's studios. Perhaps they could compact it by getting downtown residents to open their homes to the artists and people participating in the walk. It might increase the number of people going on the walk.
I don't understand why but sometimes negative reviews are often more entertaining to read than positive ones. They are often packed with humorous put-downs so you get a bonus with the review. You learn about an album but you also get a few yucks.
With this in mind, a discussion on BigSoccer led me to two funny sites dealing with negative music reviews. The first site is called "I Despise You and I Hate Your Taste In Music". On the site, you enter the name of your favorite band/singer/album/song and it generates a review ripping the band. The lines in the review are pretty damn funny and the whole idea is a good mockery of hipsters' dour attitude towards other's musical tastes.
Here's what they had to say about my favorite album of the year:
The Go! Team? Oh my God. I thought The Go! Team's fans died out years ago. I remember Thunder, Lightning, Strike as being particularly awful...
Like the sickening crunch of fist into nose experienced nightly outside most nightclubs, track three, "Feelgood By Numbers" is a perversion that may actually appeal to a small group of sick fucks hiding in a basement somewhere in Illinois. The chorus of "The Power Is On" will haunt me for years to come, sounding as it does like the stomach rumblings of Miss 'Overweight Texas' 1994. The Go! Team will strike fear into your heart with possibly the worst song on a bad album, the appalling "Hold Yr Terror Close". It sounds like a road accident victim's squeal of anguish as he discovers he has only half a face.
The sound of Monica Seles' serve grunts looped repeatedly over three chickens attempting to play the drums that "Huddle Formation" so accurately reproduces is relieved only by the fact there are no pictures to go with it.
In fact, I despise every second of The Go! Team's creation.
I love that line about the sick fucks in a basement in Illinois.
It's just a silly and fun site to play around with.
The other site of negative reviews is Something Awful: Your Band Sucks. It's packed with cynical ruminations of bands and their music. Here is their take on indie fans:
Indie FansIdentification: Although far more subdued and tasteful that emo kids, indie nerds still clothe themselves in thrift-shop vestments, dishevel their hair, and slap on an annoyingly knowing smirk for maximum Malkmosity. They hate every band anyone else has heard of and hate every band they haven’t heard. They’re allowed to like a band that another indie fan likes, provided that they heard it before the other guy did. They loved The Shins until Garden State came out. They don’t dance, unless they’re dancing to hilariously ironic C+C Music Factory tunes (their music of choice, of course, is to be taken seriously, and should not be marred with the savage iniquity of dance). They have radio shows on college stations, and they do NOT take requests. They share a genus with the pop nerd, but with a narrower focus, an active social life, and a girlfriend. After fake punks, they’re the most likely hipster breed to be in a terrible band. But the indie fan’s band isn’t “terrible,” it’s “avant-garde.”
Musical Taste: The latest 7-inch from Bumfuck Records.
How to Tame an Indie Fan: When he’s raving about some great new band, pretend you haven’t heard of them, but that they sound really interesting to you. They love that. Let them make you a mix tape, and be prepared to give notes on it the next day.
Benefits of Friendship: Science has yet to reveal a compelling answer to this mystery.
Drawbacks of Friendship: Being friends with an indie fan is the only reason you’ll ever have to hear the words “Pitchfork Media” not immediately preceded by “boy do I ever hate…” Also, be prepared for some ill-conceived rants on “selling out” and “authenticity.”
I think I'm more of a pop nerd than an indie fan based upon their description. I like the line about indie fan's having a college radio show and not taking requests.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Every once in a while, I have a song pop up on my iPod that I have no idea how it got there but sounds great. This past weekend, PAJO's "Manson Twins" played that role.
I have no recollection of saving it to my hard drive. I'm sure it either came from a blog or someone emailed it to me. However, I can find neither the blog nor the email. The fact that it is an m4a file rather than an mp3, makes me think someone sent it to me. So, whoever turned me onto PAJO...thanks.
PAJO is the latest name that David Pajo is recording under. He does the Will Oldham thing and changes his artist name every few years for his solo work (Papa M, Arial M, PAJO, M, M Is The Thirteenth Letter). However, in addition to his solo work, Pajo has played with a boatload of influential bands. Slint, Tortoise, The For Carnation, Palace, Stereolab, King Kong and Royal Trux. Pretty damn impressive resume.
Well, in 2005, when he wasn't playing on the Slint reunion tour, PAJO released a self-titled album on Drag City. That album contains the beautiful acoustic number that I fell in love with this past weekend, "Manson Twins". It has that warm intimate feeling that is so prevalent on Iron & Wine's The Creek Drank the Cradle. Keys and percussions join in about halfway through the song but it's mainly carried by PAJO's soft guitar picking and vocals.
Like I said earlier, whoever sent me this thing, I appreciate it.
By the way, David Pajo also writes a blog called Pink Hollers. It's mainly filled with photos and his brief comments. However, he's been doing it since 2002 which is a long time to keep it going.
PAJO - Manson Twins (follow the link)
Well, I was wrong, as usual. FIFA announced the eight seeded teams for this summer's World Cup. The seeded teams are Germany, Brazil, Argentina, France, Spain, England, Italy and Mexico. I had thought that FIFA would tweak their formula to find a way to give Holland seed rather than Mexico. However, they seemed to have used the same formula they had in the past so I should FIFA some credit for not being shady.
Based upon the formula, the US had 43 points which left them one point behind Argentina and Italy. Holland was next with 38 points. So, the US would have been the next team to be seeded. Despite not being seeded, Bruce Arena deserves a lot of credit for taking the team from the disaster that occured in the 1998 World Cup in France to coming within a single point of being seeded in this cup. Pretty amazing turnaround.
The other teams will be placed in three different pots and drawn into the eight different first-round groups. The pots will be:
Pot #1: The seeded teams mentioned above.
Pot #2: Ghana, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Angola, Togo, Australia, Ecuador and Paraguay
Pot #3: Croatia, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine
Pot #4: Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago, USA and Serbia & Montenegro
In the last few cups, the US has been placed in the same pot as the African teams and therefore never been able to face any of the African teams in group play. So, this has the potential to give us some interesting new opponents to face. Also, by being placed in the same pot as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Serbia & Montenegro, we can thankfully avoid facing a team that we have political tension with right now. Political overtones are just distractions in these games and hurt us in 1998 when we had to face Iran and Yugoslavia in the first round.
Considering that there can't be more than two European teams in a group and the US can't be in the same group as Mexico, the easiest group the US could draw would be:
France has been in decline since Euro 2000 and, of the seeded teams, may be the most primed for an upset. Togo is a newcomer to the World Cup without many top-shelf players. Switzerland is the weakest team in a strong pot.
The toughest group I think the US could face would be:
Oh, that would be brutal. I'd look like that guy in the photo if we got a pool like that one. Brazil is Brazil but even more so this time around. They are looking unbeatable. Ghana has some great players like Michael Essien, Stephen Appiah and Samuel Kuffour (if he returns to the team) and the Dutch are everyone's darkhorse for the tournament.
The more likely scenario is that we'll wind up a group that's harder than the first but easier than the second. We'll probably be in a group where we have to beat one very good team to advance and there will be one team that we'd be favored to beat.
The draw will be on Friday at 3pm EST on ESPN2 live from Leipzig, Germany. And if the soccer isn't enough to get you to tune in, German supermodel Heidi Klum will be hosting the affair.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
There's a new record store online and it's called newenglandmusic.net. Coming out of Underhill, VT, newenglandmusic.net is dedicated to selling CDs of independent artists from New England.
Here's how it works: if an artist wants to sell their CDs through newenglandmusic.net, they have to fill out a form and send six CDs and a check for $35 to the operators of the site. They will then create a page for your CD, upload three sample tracks and handle the sales transactions. They then keep $4 from every sale and send the rest to the artist. The artist sets the price for the CD.
It's not a bad deal for an artist with a self-released CD or on a label that leaves the promotion of the CD to the artist. You can just create a link off your website to the webpage for your CD on newenglandmusic.net and let them take care of the sales. They don't require exclusive distribution rights and don't ask for any rights to your music. So, if an artist that is selling their CDs through their website doesn't want to deal with PayPal and shipping their own CDs, this isn't a bad deal.
The thing that needs to improve to make this work is traffic to the site. It doesn't seem to be getting much so far. I went through the different genres and only counted about 14 available CDs all together. A CD store with only 14 different records for sale isn't much of a record store. Plus, the music discussion board they've set up doesn't seem to have any activity on it at all. I only found out about the site by seeing a tiny blurb about it in the back of a Vermont business magazine; not exactly their target audience.
One of the promised features of the site is a periodic podcast featuring the latest new artists on the site. However, according to the site, that feature was promised back in September and has not shown up yet. It would be a nice feature and a good way to check out new local artists.
It'll be interesting to follow the site over time and see how it does. Hopefully, it'll work out well for them.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Since it's that time of the year, we get a few new catalogs in the mail eveyday. The one that arrived the other afternoon that caught my eye was from The Sharper Image. The thing that grabbed my attention was all of the different speaker systems that are now available to dock your iPod into. And it's not just the volume of them but all of the different shapes they come in. It's kind of bizarre. here are a few:
This is the phallic option. You rest your iPod on the top of long slender rigid pole of speakers.
This is the disco option. Rest your iPod in this sucker and any drab dwelling instantly becomes Studio 54.
This is the 70's option. It comes with a 1'x1' square of shag carpeting and a DVD of Maude: Season 1.
This is the hipster barcalounger option. When you are a lazy fat fuck and a music junkie, this chair comes to you in a dream.
OK. I have to admit that I like listening to music when I'm in the shower. Plus, I drag my iPod speakers from room to room. So, this one isn't too bad.
This is the cool industrial bachelor pad option. Paint your walls slate, cover your countertops in stainless steel, plug your iPod into this system and prepare to impress the ladies.
This is the "I'm Having Trouble Telling My Friends That I'm Gay" option. Yes, that is a remote control with a wrist band that comes with it.
This is the militant dog lover option. Who the hell looked at that Japanese robotic dog and thought, "Boy what would be cool is if I could plug my iPod into that!"
Hey! That's the one I have. Of course, this option is completely cool. "The best!" as Lazlo Toth would say.
This is the big turd option. Plus, it has elements of the 70's option in there too.
This is the Rockwell "Somebody's Watching Me" option. Not recommended for the paranoid.