Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Kasey Keller | US v. Poland

When we last checked in on the best goalkeeper in US history, Kasey Keller was body slamming his team's mascot. Now he's getting fined by the German Football Federation for leading his team's fans in a derogatory song following Borussia Mönchengaldbach 2-0 road win against their rival Cologne. You can watch a video from a fan here. It isn't the best quality but it gives you a sense of the scene. Plus, his fine goalkeeping has kept M'gladback out of the relegation zone despite the fact that there are only five teams that have scored fewer goals than M'gladbach this season.

So, when you add this incident to the mascot deal and a long run of good form in goal, Keller has become a big fan favorite in Mönchengladbach. How do you add to that mystique? That's right...you move your family into a 1,000 year-old castle with a moat. The guy is great. You can watch US Soccer's version of Cribs here as they visit Keller's castle. Just click on the picture of the gates.

The other video on that page shows the US team's visit to the wounded soldiers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Hospital in Kaiserslautern. The US is in Germany for Wednesday's World Cup warm-up match against Poland. The game will be on ESPN2 at 2pm EST. The trip to the hospital was a nice touch. Hopefully, a lot of the folks on the base will turn out for this game and the US' first-round match against Italy in June (which will also be in Kaiserslautern).

Over the last month, the US' B-team has crushed Norway, Japan and Guatemala by a combined score of 12-2. So, we should feel pretty good about our depth. Now the question is how our starters look. This match against Poland and the match against Germany in Germany on March 22nd should shed some light on those starters as a lot of the European-based players will be available.

The US has historically played poorly in Europe so that will add to the challenge of the match. The US has split its last three matches against Poland. The US won in Plock 1-0 in 2004, drew 1-1 in Chicago and lost 3-1 to the Poles in the 2002 World Cup.

The US' other first round opponents will also be playing tomorrow. Czech Republic will be playing Turkey. Italy faces Germany and Ghana plays Mexico. Those are all good challenges for those clubs which will make them interesting to follow.

To follow all of the events, du Nord is a great soccer blog to find articles surrounding the game (before and after).

Sex Pistols | Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

I can't stand the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It's the perfect embodiment of how Baby Boomers have sold out their ideals for crap. Rock is the music of revolution and creating an institution like the Hall of Fame neuters those forces for change. The same people who once protested against institutions that separate a chosen few above everyone else went ahead and created one themselves.

Well, I guess the Sex Pistols agree with me because last week they flipped the Hall of Fame the bird. In a simple (if not rambling with a hint of derangement) note, they have rejected the hall's invitation to them to attend their own induction ceremony. Thank goodness someone finally rejected the "honor" in order to call attention to what horseshit the place is.

Actually, the Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments called this one back in 1995 in their song "RnR Hall of Fame". One of the lyrics goes "Blow it up before Johnny Rotten gets in." Who knew those guys would be so prescient? It's a pretty rough tune to listen to but the lyrics (while crude) are spot on.

RnR HALL OF FAME (from Bait and Switch)

Bombs away on the Rock 'n Roll hall of fame
Even if I get inducted I'd probably feel the same
I don't want to see Eric Clapton's stuffed baby
I don't want to see the shotgun of Kurt Cobain
Bombs away bombs away

Cleveland's cool, Cleveland's cool
I don't want to see the liver of David Crosby
I don't want to see all the drugs I couldn't take
I don't want to see collector scum pay

Blow it up, blow it up
Blow it up before Johnny Rotten gets in
Blow it up before Paul Westerberg sits in
Blow it up before Steve Albini gives a speech
Bombs Away Bombs Away

Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments | RnR Hall of Fame

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Spinto Band Opening for Arctic Monkeys | Mar 22nd

I've been meaning to post about this for a few weeks but life keeps getting in the way. Last fall, I was raving about The Spinto Band and their debut album Nice and Nicely Done. Well, all of the guys have either graduated or dropped out of college now and they are taking the album on the road. The cool thing for them is that they landed the opening slot for Arctic Monkey's North American tour. That's a pretty sweet slot for a bunch of guys who were playing the student pub at Bennington College two months ago.

Despite all of the crazy hype surrounding Arctic Monkeys, there are still tickets available for the March 22nd show at Le Spectrum in Montreal. I'm going up for the show with four friends and was excited about it even before The Spintos were announced. Now, it's shaping up to be a great night.

By the way, jds and I are going up to Montreal tomorrow night to catch Belle & Sebastian and The New Pornographers at Metropolis (tickets still seem to be available). I've never been to Metropolis but I hear it holds 2,500 people. This may be the biggest (in terms of fans) show I've seen since either Pavement at Roseland in NYC or Dylan at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, PA. Both of those shows would have been in the late 90's. It'll be kind of weird being in such a big crowd again.

The Spinto Band | Crack the Whip
The Spinto Band | Oh Mandy

Belle & Sebastian | Don't Fear the Reaper (live)
Belle & Sebastian | Another Sunny Day (live)

Friday, February 24, 2006

Old Time Baseball

Normally, I'm pretty skeptical when I hear people older than me talk about how much things have changed. Frankly, I don't think things change very often. It's just people's perceptions that change for whatever reason.

However, with regards to baseball, I may have to rethink that philosophy. Last week, my father sent me a bunch of old newspaper clippings from one of his childhood scrapbooks. I'm not sure why but I think he was just cleaning up a little.

Regardless, this picture on the right caught my attention. The caption, which got cut off on the scan, says "Two-for-One Play Busted Up" and "Dodgers' Ramazotti is forced at second on Golan's third-frame grounder, but his slide into base throws Rigney out of position enough to halt possible double play."

The mater-of-fact nature of the caption makes me think this was a routine play back in the 40's. However, that play is anything but routine today. Players certainly try to break up double plays today with hard slides into second but that picture is ridiculous. Look where the guy is sliding in relation to the base. The guy is almost into centerfield. If a baserunner slid that far out of the baseline to take out an infielder today all hell would break loose. There'd be fights, suspensions, and lengthy diatribes from pundits on ESPN and sports talk radio.

I've heard older folks talk about how much tougher ballplayers were "back in the day" but I've always dismissed those comments as intentional delusions to degrade succeeding generations. However, that picture is making me think that it truely was a different game back in the 40's.

By the way, there were two other interesting items in the package from my father. The first one is a football schedule from his high school, St. Cecilia's in Englewood, NJ. Check out the name of the coach.

Before he went on to coach Fordham, West Point, NY Giants and Packers, Vince Lombardi was a successful high school football coach. In addition to coaching football, Lombardi taught latin, physics, algebra and chemistry. My father said he also coached the basketball team and led the team to a regional championship. The guy was just an amazing coach.

In exchange for doing all of that coaching and teaching, Lombardi was paid $1,800 per year. Even if you adjust that salary for inflation, it would still only yield $19,830 in 2006. I guess teachers were paid crappy salaries back then too.

My father also has a few programs from his high school games that show Lombardi as coach. One of these days, we should probably donate them to the NJ Sports Hall of Fame. Although, I would hate it if we gave them to the hall and they just archived the stuff.

The last item is a clipping from his high school newspaper discussing an upcoming play at the school. The school's drama coach was John Travolta's mother. Perhaps I'm trying too hard but I see a resemblance with he famous son. They both have that long face.

It seems odd for a tiny catholic school to have two coaches/teachers with rather famous names.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Justin Levinson

In this week's issue of Seven Days, I wrote a review of Justin Levinson's debut album, 1175 Boylston. I thought the review was fairly middling but it hit upon an issue that I feel strongly about.

In the review, I stated how I thought the album was well crafted but felt that it failed to make an emotional connection with the listener. Music isn't a beauty contest. It doesn't matter how polished or well arranged a song is if it doesn't make you feel anything emotionally. The delivery of emotion is the entire reason we are music fans. People want to feel something...joy, anger, rage, love, etc. They want something to prick them from their daily numbness. Good songs puncture that veil of passionless detachment.

I'm not a musician so I have no idea how a songwriter or musician goes about conveying those feelings through song. However, as a music fan, I'm confident that I know it when I feel it. I also know that it doesn't necessarily require a perfectly orchestrated studio and mixing session to generate that passion. Sam Beam can pull it off sitting in house with just an acoustic guitar and a microphone. And conversely, Sigur Ros can do it with grand choreographed flair.

My point is that just because a song or album is well written, sung in perfect pitch, expertly arranged and flawlessly executed doesn't mean it's a good song. As David Berman sang, "All my favorite singers couldn't sing." Production quality isn't good or bad...it just doesn't matter.

So, whether or not I explained my point well in the review, that was the main issue surrounding this album. Levinson is obviously an incredibly talented fellow and exhibited that talent on this album. And in my brief exchange of emails with him, he appears to be a very nice guy. Being talented and kind will certainly serve him well in the future.

The odd twist in this story occurred today when someone from Levinson's record label OutTake Records (I couldn't find a link; if anyone knows their url, please let me know) sent me the following email:

Mr. Murphy,

Thank you so much for taking the time to review Justin's debut album, 1175 Boylston. Minus the typos regarding song names and band references, and the misinformation regarding Justin's father and his work with Tod, I thought it was a really well thought out review with well-supported arguments as to Justin's "total lack of emotion." Thank you so much for dumping on a local songwriter trying to put together a first album. Whether it's your prejudice against Berklee and how they teach, or your prejudice against mainstream powerpop music in general, you really did a great job of making both show through your writing. We realize that an artist takes a chance by first making a record, and second sending it out to get reviewed by people who may not like it for a multitude of reasons. However, I think you unfairly criticized Justin's songs by emphasizing his lack of musical passion throughout the CD. It was a two-year-long process of love that made the record happen, and you crapping all over it was just not justified.

much love

OutTake Records

Quite frankly, I was surprised they thought the review was so harsh to the album. I felt I had spent a fair amount of time praising Levinson's craftmanship. The big negative point I made was the issue I discussed above. It's an honest portrayal of my opinion of the album.

So, I wanted to respond to a few of the points OutTake raised in their email:

Minus the typos regarding song names and band references

You're right. Typos are sloppy but they happen. It's OK. The important thing is whether or not I got my point across. It's like songs. They don't have to be beautiful to be good.

the misinformation regarding Justin's father and his work with Tod

What were you saying about typos? Sorry, that was a cheap shot.

Seriously, I had exchanged emails with Justin prior to the review regarding his father's music experience. Based upon those emails I thought Levinson's father had played with Todd Rundgren. I'm sorry about the mistake.

Thank you so much for dumping on a local songwriter trying to put together a first album.

Just because a songwriter is local or releasing their first album doesn't mean that they are immune from criticism. In fact, I think it's probably best for a new artist to hear the truth about their music at the beginning of their career. How would it help Levinson if I had not suggested an area of improvement simply because he is from Vermont and was releasing his first album? Wouldn't you rather have him hear these comments now?

Whether it's your prejudice against Berklee and how they teach

For good or bad, I really don't know much about Berklee or how they teach. I know it's a music school in Boston but that's about it.

or your prejudice against mainstream powerpop music in general

This one is crazy. If you read through this blog, you will see that I love, love, love pop music. You can also check out my Last.FM page to see further evidence of my enchantment with pop music. To say that I didn't like 1175 Boylston because I don't like pop is like saying Johnny Cash didn't like a shirt because it was black.

I think you unfairly criticized Justin's songs by emphasizing his lack of musical passion throughout the CD. It was a two-year-long process of love that made the record happen, and you crapping all over it was just not justified.

Your last statement is the perfect synopsis of my entire issue with the album. Just because it took two years to make the album doesn't mean that it's a good album. Effort and expert musical manufacturing are not vital ingredients in good music. The history of rock music is littered with songs that were written and recorded in one day and went on to blow fans away.

Finally, as a record label, I'd suggest not sending reviewers angry emails everytime one of your artists receives a less than gushing review. Over the course of anyone's career there are going to be good and bad reviews. You should look upon all of them as publicity. They got your artist's name out there which is still valuable. Sending an angry email will only cement the reviewer's opinion against the artist. Thankfully, I won't hold it against Levinson since I like him. Plus, I thought your email was pretty funny.

You can stream a few songs from 1175 Boylston here and here.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Jazz Guys | Club Metronome | Feb 17th

Ever since Underpants Records introduced me to The Jazz Guys, I've been hitting repeat on the songs I pulled down from their site. Good pop songs with a big guitar attack softened by four-part vocals.

So, jds of Latitude 44.2N and I headed over to Burlington Friday night to catch them at Club Metronome and see how their sound held up live. We got there just before the opening bands started. Enough time to grab a drink (they have those big-ass bottles of Newcastle there) and check the place out a little. Good space. Lots of room with some lounge area to one side. Despite being right above the Phish-famous Nectars, I didn't hear any sound bleeding up the stairs.

There were two opening bands before The Jazz Guys took the stage. I'm not sure which band was Old Lite and which was The Breaking In (what a lousy name; I've had to check The Jazz Guys site four times trying to remember that band name; it's completely forgettable) but I know the first band was pretty damn good while the second stunk. Like so many current indie rockers, Band #1 was a two-person deal with a guitarist and drummer. They reminded me a lot of Eux Autres which was a pleasant treat since I've been loving that sound lately. Twangy but rocking guitar with a tapping beat. If anybody could set me straight about the name of these guys, I'd appreciate it.

jds and I couldn't even make it through two songs of the second band. Just a blah boring sound with the occasional 70's-styled guitar solo puncturing the boredom with pain. So, we decided to go downstairs to see who was playing downstairs at Nectars. It was some jam-band with about eight members packed like sardines onto the stage. I think they're name was Pookie or something like that. They sounded OK and the crowd was doing their hippie dances so I guess they were OK but others would be a better judge of them.

We then grabbed some fries to wait out the rest of Band #2's set upstairs which wound up be a good call since it was about midnight now and I hadn't eaten anything since dinner with the kids around 5:30pm. It's not exactly The South Beach Diet but it hit the spot.

When we got back upstairs, they crowd had grown to about 100 people including some hardcore Jazz Guys fans who had taken their positions right in front of the stage; including one guy in a big black stetson cowboy hat, tweed sportscoat and Jazz Guys t-shirt. You don't see that sort of outfit in VT very often.

After a couple of hours of waiting The Jazz Guys had finally hit the stage. jds and I unintentionally parked ourselves on the right side of the stage in front of Max Schwartz. It wound up being a great spot to watch him just rip into that guitar of his. The kid is a blast to watch. He's got all of the rockstar moves down as he blisters through the tunes. The guy is just a blur while he's playing. However, then he stops and between that big grin and Lief Garrett haircut, he looks like a little kid at a skatepark. It's an amusing contrast.

Sonically, The Jazz Guys sound more like The Ramones when they are playing live than they do on the tracks available on their website. However, that heavy sound is softened by having all four band members singing in unison. And they are damn tight. Each guy hits all of the marks everytime which really accentuates the hooks in their songs. It's a great sound.

The odd part of the show was the crowd and The Jazz Guys' banter with them. The Jazz Guys chat with the crowd like they know all of them personally, which perhaps they might. But if you aren't part of that crowd, then you are left with the feeling that you are intruding on a private party. However, their fans seem to feed on that familiarity with the band. People seemed to feel comfortable enough to throw things at the band, jump on stage, do semi-strip shows, fall over into the drumset and pull the monitors over. All the while, The Jazz Guys just seemed to laugh it off as the usual routine.

In fact, the whole attitude of the show seemed half "good rock show" and half "rock parody performance art". Depsite the fact that there was some solid music being played, nobody (the fans and The Jazz Guys) seemed to be taking the show seriously. That's a tough line to walk. It felt like a "local band show" rather than "national band show". I don't know if The Jazz Guys are looking to break out of Burlington or not but if they do want to get better, they need to take their shows a little more seriously. If they don't take themselves seriously, nobody else will. They're a very good band with an addictive sound but they can't leave 80% of the crowd feeling like they are playing to the 20% that's their friends.

jds and I both have little kids at home and knew we'd be getting up in few hours. So, around 1:30am, we called it a night even though the show was still going on. It was a good night out and I'm looking forward to seeing The Jazz Guys again. It'll also be interesting to hear their full EP when they finally release it.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Like most people, you aren't going to SXSW music festival. Like most music fans, you probably wish you were going. The combination of those two points makes this SXSW webpage that Jim from 11 A.M. Air Raid tipped me off to today a great find.

The page is basically the schedule for all of the shows that'll take place over the week next month down in Austin. The beauty of the page is that most of the bands have mp3 files available for downloading. It's a great way to sample the bands that most of us will be missing.

The bands with a cassette tape next to their name have a mp3 file available. Just click on the band's name to go to the page with the link to the file. You can also click on the other days of the week across the top to see that day's schedule and sample more mp3 files.

Damn, I really need to move up to a 40GB iPod.

Friday, February 17, 2006

iTunes Survey

Nico over at Eccentric Southern Gentleman did this last week and I thought it was kind of interesting. Feel free to post your iTunes survey in the comments.

How many songs: 4,622

Sort by song
First Song: “'78 Style” - John Spencer Blues Explosion
Last Song: “Zurich is Stained” - Pavement

Sort by time:
Shortest Song: “The Sky Is a Harpsichord Canvas” (0:04) - The Olivia Tremor Control
Longest Song: “Providence” (29:02) - Godspeed You Black Emperor
(not including podcasts or Yo La Tengo's WFMU Pledge Drive)

Sort by artist:
First Artist: 13ghosts
Last Artist: The Zincs

Sort by album:
First Album: '63 - '67 The Essential Ride - Paul Revere and the Raiders
Last Album: Z - My Morning Jacket

Top Three Most Played Songs:
1. “Green Hornet” - Al Hirt (47 times) (my kids play a favorite game that we call "Chase" to this one)
2. “Huddle Formation” - The Go! Team (34 times)
3. “Too Drunk To Fuck” - Nouvelle Vague (34 times)

First song that comes up on Shuffle:
“Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime” by Beck

Search ….
“sex”, how many songs come up? 13
“death”, how many songs come up? 28
“love”, how many songs come up? 268
“you”, how many songs come up? 494

Number of Songs Starting with "I", "I'm", "I'll", "I've", etc.? 48

Song With the Most Different Versions:
“Tangled Up in Blue” by Bob Dylan - 4 versions

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

More Concert Updates

Ready for some more concert announcements? On top of all the other shows that have been announced lately, here are four more. Thankfully, all of these shows are in Burlington.

Feb 17th | The Jazz Guys | Club Metronome

I wrote about these guys a week or so ago and am looking forward to seeing them live. It may be a late night though. The show is listed as 10-2 with an opening band. Regardless, it's a Friday night and I'm digging that tune "The Best Five Minutes of Your Life".

Mar 21st | Editors | Higher Ground

In a weird twist, I wrote about Editors right after writing about The Jazz Guys. It's nice when you write about a band and then they play locally. Unfortunately, this date stinks for me. I already have tickets for Silver Jews in Boston on Mar 19th and Arctic Monkeys in Montreal on Mar 22nd. With kids, family, job, etc., three shows in four nights isn't a possibility. However, if you aren't going to the other shows, I'd strongly suggest catching this show.

Apr 30th | Built to Spill | Higher Ground

Built to Spill is a band I've always felt I should like but don't. A lot of people who like the same bands I do love Built to Spill. However, I've never seen them live so I'm hoping this show will finally open my eyes to their greatness.

May 27th |
The Pants | Higher Ground

I've read and heard people reference The Pants locally with great reverence. I guess before we moved up here, The Pants were the kings of the scene. Well, they are reuniting for a show over Memorial Day weekend at Higher Ground. They are even being booked into the big room there which is a good indication of the attention they used to receive within the local scene. It'll be fun to finally hearing what all of the hoopla is about.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Happy Valentines Day! to those who celebrate it. My wife and I skip on this "corporate-marketing-driven" holiday. I think it's healthier to express your love all year round rather than bottling it up for one day of "love avalanche".

Regardless, it seemed like a good opportunity to write about another Swedish pop band, Loveninjas. These knuckleheads take the stage dressed as they are in the photo. Or at least they did until someone recently mistook their costumes for garbage and threw them in the trash following a show in Germany.

Costumes or not though, they put together an EP of fun pop tunes about death, sex and Japanese girls. Hey, what else is there to life than death, sex and Japanese Girls, right? The EP is titled after the single, "Keep Your Love" and is available via their Swedish uber-label, Labrador.

Loveninjas | Keep Your Love
Loveninjas | Meet Me Here

Monday, February 13, 2006

Montpelier's Connection to the Olympics | UPDATE

Generally, I show about as much enthusiasm for the Winter Olympics as I do for renewing my driver's license. I know it's going to happen every few years but until the event is upon me, I can barely acknowledge its existence.

This year, however, I have a rooting interest in the games. Many people in Montpelier know Bo Muller-Moore, the man behind Eat More Kale t-shirts, blogger and all around good-guy, but do they know that the cousin of Bo's wife will be snowboarding for the US Olympic Team this year?

Her name is Hanah Teter. She's just 18, from Belmont, VT and will be competing in the half-pipe (along with 2002 gold medalist and fellow VT resident, Kelly Clark). Both, the qualifying rounds and finals of the women's half-pipe, will take place on Monday, Feb 13th.

NBC's Olympic website has a nice page on Teter. If you click on "Video" they have some interviews and action montages of her you can watch. What's up with the burberry coat? Those crazy kids these days.

You can also catch Teter in the 2005 snowboarding documentary, First Descent. I've never heard of the movie but it has a sweet website where you can watch the trailer featuring Teter. The clip at the end of the trailer where the snowboarder is trying to outrun the avalanche is insane.

So, now when you tune in to Bob Costas in a turtleneck sitting by a fireplace in a faux ski lodge, you have a good reason not to flip the channel.

UPDATE: Hanah Teter won the gold medal today in the Women's Halfpipe. Two people not from Vermont took second and third while Kelly Clark of West Dover, VT took fourth. Congratulations to Bo, his wife and the entire Teter clan.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Jens Lekman Update | UPDATE

Back in December, I posted about the Swedish King of Pop, Jens Lekman, leaving the music business for a while. Well, guess what? He's back, baby!

I didn't think his sabatical would last forever but I certainly thought it would last longer than a month. That's what you get for hanging on his every word. From now on, I'll stick him in the "moody high drama guy" category and not react too strongly to his statements.

Despite claiming to have been burned out from playing 198 shows in two years, he's back on the road. According to his blog, smalltalk, and Yankunian's comments in a post from last week, Lekman is touring the UK and doing one-stop shows in Paris and Gothenburg this month. In March, he's going to Australia to play some festivals.

I'm guessing the guy has a love/hate relationship with touring. It's just odd to book a bunch of shows just a month about complaining publicly about the misery of touring.

In addition to touring, last week, Lekman debuted a short film at the Gothenburg Filmfestival called Kullaberg. It's not entirely clear what the film/video is but it seems to be Lekman performing songs by himself deep in the woods of Kullaberg. The trailer for it doesn't offer much. It's basically Lekman walking through the woods with the sounds of his ukelele and the ocean in the background. At this time, there doesn't appear to be any plans to release the film on DVD but then again...he said he was done with touring for a long time also.

Lekman also popped up on NPR last month where he gave an interview to Scott Simon. Somehow, Simon fails to ever ask him about his short-lived hiatus. Lekman brings it up briefly but Simon largely glances over it. But he did manage to ask Lekman about being voted one of the sexiest men in Sweden and how to pronounce Gothenberg. Oy vey! Having mocked it, the interview does show a bit of Lekman's humor and charm.

Lastly, Lekman stuck a present on his site for his fans. He posted the mp3 files for all of the songs from his last three tour-only limited edition EPs. As with a lot of EPs, the songs are hit-and-miss. However, the ones I linked to below are pretty good; particularly "I Don't Know If She's Worth 900 KR". Thanks to Chad for tipping me off to the page with the presents.

That's a lot of activity for a guy that was done with music in November. Regardless, I'm glad he's back and enthusiastic about making music again.

UPDATE: This post wasn't even up for 12 hours before Chad pointed out that Pitchfork dropped a lengthy interview with Jens on us today. In perfect contrast to the NPR interview, Ryan Schreiber immediately dove into the issue of his mini-break from music. I guess it just took a few days of working in a bingo hall to make Lekman realize the upside of being a beloved musician.

Jens Lekman | I Don't Know If She's Worth 900 KR
Jens Lekman | Run Away With Me
Jens Lekman | REC (the song doesn't kick-in until the 0:37 mark)
Jens Lekman | Hultsfred 98 (the song doesn't kick in until a little after the one minute mark)
Jens Lekman | Jag tyckte hon sa Lönnlöv (Swedish version of "Maple Leaves")

Friday, February 10, 2006

Greg Davis & Sebastien Roux

Here's a perfect example of why I have a New Year's Resolution to learn more about the VT music scene. Not only are there some good musicians in VT, but there are musicians in VT that are pulling down 7.8 ratings from Pitchfork...and I've never heard of them.

I caught this on solidstate today and was pleasantly surprised to read about it. Say what you will about Pitchfork but it's some nice exposure for a local musician.

Greg Davis lives in Burlington where he combines acoustic guitar with a laptop of electronic sounds and field recordings. For the album, Paquet Surprise, Davis collaborated with Parisian Sebastien Roux. Obviously, since I just learned about Davis, the review and this album tonight, I can't make any strong statements about the album. However, I found an mp3 from the album on Swen's Weblog that I'm enjoying. It feels like a more atmospheric version of Hanalei.

I know I'm only a month into my resolution but so far, it's been bearing more fruit than I expected. I think I've underestimated the scene here.

Greg Davis & Sebastien Roux | I Never Met Her

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Black Lipstick

Do you like the rock and blues sound of The Stones but can't stomach the hideous geriatric sellouts they've become? Well, perhaps you would like to spend some time with Black Lipstick.

I don't hear a lot of bands copying The Stones' sound and I don't know why. Of the big classic rock bands, they seem to get the fewest mentions when bands are asked about their influences. Perhaps its related to the fact that The Stones have tarnished a lot of the coolness of their youth by their endless farewell/reunion tours and the fact they haven't done anything artistically exciting in over twenty years.

However, Austin's Black Lipstick doesn't seem to worry about following Mick & Keith's lead and writing melodic rock songs with heavy bluesy guitar and bass lines. Their songs don't ooze with the sexuality of The Stones but it's a different era for that and they aren't going to "out-sex" The Stones so it's best to not even try. They take the more 21st century indie rock approach to sex and have a cute female drummer. Plus, their 2005 release, Sincerely, Black Lipstick, seems to have more to do with death than anything fun like sex.

Black Lipstick | B.O.B. F.O.S.S.E. (follow the link & choose free download)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Prince Videos

I've never been much of a Prince fan but recently I've seen two cool Prince videos that give a good idea of the guy's showmanship and craft on stage.

Casey had the first one up on solidstate last month. The link to it on his site is dead now but you can still see it over on Daily Motion. It's a clip from a 1983 James Brown concert in LA. Brown calls Michael Jackson up on stage who then calls Prince up there too. Prince then arrives at the stage riding on the back of some big burly biker dude before doing some moves and freakouts on the guitar. Great concert moment. The quality of the video and audio on the clip is crappy but it's still well-worth watching.

The other video is from Prince's recent performance on SNL that cj tipped me off to. He's performing a tune off his new album, 3121 (due March 21st), called "Black Sweat". It's a good tune but what makes the video worthwhile is his guitar playing. The guy is all over the place which combined with the back-up singers makes for a pretty entertaining clip to watch.

Lastly, one more for good measure...Dave Chappelle's take Prince.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Gilles Peterson | Sharon Jones | Soul Sides

After rock, my next favorite genre of music is soul; particularly Northern Soul from the 60's and 70's. However, there aren't many new releases in this area. So, I haven't posted about soul over the last seven months. Due to a few new soul albums and a cool blog for soul tunes, that's changing right now.

The first recent soul album I came across was Gilles Peterson Digs America (Brownswood U.S.A.). Peterson is an English DJ who has become very influential among other European DJs. His influence comes from two things...his good taste and massive collection of obscure soul and jazz albums. In fact, the guy had to move his family into a new house because their first house was overrun by his collection.

In addition to DJing, Peterson releases compilation albums of his favorite tunes. Among these compilations, he has a few that focus on a specific geographic area such as Brazil and Africa. In 2005, he turned his sights on the US with Gilles Peterson Digs America (Brownswood U.S.A.). What the hell took him so long? It's not like we're Iceland or something. We're the home of jazz and soul for chrissakes!

But I'll forgive him for his tardiness since this album is so good. The disc includes sixteen tracks from artists you've never heard of before. However, after hearing them, you'll be asking yourself, why aren't these folks more famous? It doesn't make any sense; to be so good yet so unknown.

Bobby Cole's "A Perfect Day" is a jazzy piano-driven number that swings from the first note and never lets up. Darondo is an ex-pimp from Oakland that does a killer impression of Al Green on "Didn't I". Jon Lucien's "Search for the Inner Self" has more of than heavily produced soul sound we got in the 70's but it's hook is so smooth and sharp. To be fair, there are three or four duds on the album but that still leaves you with a dozen fresh soul tunes to add to your collection.

By the way, NPR had a nice segment on Peterson last year.

One last note, Peterson will be DJing during the second day of this year's Coachella festival.

Sharon Jones is a lady out of Brooklyn who, when she wasn't working as a corrections officer at Ryker's Island, was singing in her church choir. In 1996, someone from Desco Records discovered her and put out a few singles with her. In 2002, she moved over to Daptone Records and released her debut album, Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Last year, she dropped her sophmore album, Naturally, on us.

If you like 70's soul with brass, strings, wawa pedal and a strong female singer, then Naturally is for you. The production is cleaner than on those early soul albums so you may miss the squeky floor boards, cracked voice screams and door slams but for the most part, Sharon Jones and her band, The Dap Kings, nail that fun soul sound.

You can watch her perform "How Long Do I Have to Wait For You?" on Conan O'Brien here.

If you haven't bailed on this post yet than you must be a big fan of soul music (with a high tolerance for crappy grammar). Therefore, you may enjoy the blog Soul Sides. There are a ton of mp3 blogs focusing on indie rock and pop but there are few that discuss great soul tunes. That's what makes Soul Sides such a fresh site. The writer seems to have a huge collection of old albums and isn't stingy with them. However, he doesn't keep the links up for more than a week or so. Therefore, it's worth checking the site regularly.

The guy who writes Soul Sides is even releasing a compilation album this spring based upon his favorite tunes (one of which will be Sharon Jones' "All Over Again"). If it's half as good as Gilles Peterson Digs America, it'll be a nice treat for the summer.

Darondo | Didn't I (courtesy of Feel Me Good Tunes)

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings | How Do I Let a Good Man Down? (courtesy of monkeySARS)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Wolf Parade | Coming to Higher Ground | Apr 18th

Holy Crap! Look what Higher Ground announced today...Wolf Parade will be playing the Grand Ballroom on Tuesday, April 18th. Between the heavy run of indie shows coming to Montreal and the resurgence in indie rock at Higher Ground, the next few months are going to be stellar...if not gruelling for the concert goer.

I saw Wolf Parade open for Arcade Fire up in Montreal last April. While they put a lot of energy into their live show, they didn't click for me until I heard their debut album at the end of the summer. If you have never heard Wolf Parade, I think they would be a tough act to just show up to and enjoy. However, now that I'm familiar with their songs, I'm looking forward to this show...stopping by Riverwalk Records to get tickets tomorrow morning after my son's basketball practice.

I love the fact that Higher Ground is booking top shelf indie acts again. My only fear with this show is that it's just a week after the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah show. Knowing how college kids are always short on cash, I'm guessing a lot of the college indie fans will have to decide between one show or the other; rather than hitting both. This could thin out both shows and signal to Higher Ground management that VT can't support indie rock shows.

So, here's a quick run down of upcoming shows that I'm planning on attending:

Feb 26th | Belle & Sebastian | New Pornographers | Metropolis | Montreal

Mar 19th | Silver Jews |New Radiant Storm King | Middle East | Cambridge

Mar 22nd | Arctic Monkeys | Le Spectrum | Montreal

Apr 2nd | Art Brut | La Sala Rossa | Montreal

Apr 11th | Clap Your Hands | Higher Ground | Burlington

Apr 18th | Wolf Parade | Higher Ground | Burlington

By the way, the Mar 6th Of Montreal show at Dartmouth's Fuel Rocket Club has been cancelled.

Wolf Parade | Shine a Light
Wolf Parade | I'll Believe in Anything
Wolf Parade | Modern World

Thursday, February 02, 2006


I saw this on Candleblog today and thought it was worth echoing over here.

Mophie is a company started by a freshman at Burlington's Champlain College. But this isn't some dopey school project. Last week, Mophie won the "Best of Show in Innovation" award at the MacWorld trade show for it's line of slick iPod accessories. When I think about what I was doing as a freshman in college, I have to tip my hat to the kid.

The accessories Mophie sells range from simple protective cases to protective cases with built-in FM transmitters to remote controls to slings for an iPod Shuffle. The stuff is a little pricey but with the price of college tuition these days, I guess we can't blame the kid.

I'm curious about the protective case with the FM transmitter. I have the iTrip but it's signal is so weak that I still get static. However, I also have another FM transmitter that is strong enough to block out any static but it only works on eight channels and needs to be plugged into the cigarette lighter; which is a hassle. So, if the FM transmitter from Mophie is strong enough, it might be worth the $39.99. If anyone has tried one, please let me know how well it works.