Friday, March 31, 2006

VINS Community Garden

A few years ago, as a result of buying a house with flower beds, I got into growing perennial plants. I've enjoyed the DIY spirit of it and how you really can't screw it up. Make sure the soil has a lot of compost and hummus and stick a bunch of plants in the ground. Nature does the rest and it looks pretty good.

However, we have a small yard and no space for a vegetable garden. So, a while ago we put our names on the waiting list for a community garden plot over at the Nature Center where we could grow some veggies.

Last fall, we learned that there would be an opening for us this spring. So, now we have a plot. I took this photo of the plot last fall and we haven't touched it since. So, I need to get over there this weekend and start cleaning out the old to make room for the new.

As a kid, my family had a community garden plot. However, since then, I haven't done any vegetable gardening. Therefore, I really have no friggin' idea what I'm doing. Most of my memories of our childhood garden involve lugging a bunch of water buckets from our house to the garden every other night. Thankfully, there is a river that runs right along the gardens where we can get water.

We also need to decide what to grow. I want to grow spinach and snow peas. My wife wants yellow cherry tomatoes. My son wants peppers. My daughter wants carrots and cucumbers. I think we'll have enough space for all of that and a few other items. However, I think some of it will just depend on what starter plants and seeds we can find at the farmer's market and local garden shops.

I have a fear that I'll completely screw this thing up and piss off the other gardeners who know what they're doing. Everyone is there to take care of their own plot but I know they'll be checking out how the new guy on the block is doing. And they'll probably be dismayed. But I think it'll be fun and a good activity to do with the kids. The Nature Center is near their daycare. So, I'll be able to do some watering and weeding with them after work a few times a week and then hit it on weekends, as well. Hopefully, it'll rain a lot here when I'm in Germany in June.

There's a pot luck dinner for all of the gardners on April 11th. However, I have to be in Wheeling, WV on the morning of the 12th for work. So, I'll miss the pot luck, as well as the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah show that night. Major disappointment but that's a subject for another post. It would have been a fun contrast to go to a pot luck dinner with organic farmers and then to a hipster rock show later that night. Oh, well. Work sucks like that.

Most Valuable Players

Who the heck writes a song using a continous loop of crowd cheers and bugle blasts? And the crowd cheers are just clipped rather than faded out. It sound like the origins of a song that would be a complete train wreck. However, it's yet another tasty pop dish from a bunch of Swedes.

These guys are called Most Valuable Players and are from Nacka, Sweden. Unfortunately for them, they share their name with some big wedding band from southern California which gets top billing when you google "Most Valuable Players".

The song is called "Stockholm Doesn't Belong To Me" and is off their debut album, You In Honey, which came out last month. It's a simple mellow little pop number with this goofy loop rolling in the background. It almost has a bit of Olivia Tremor Control to it.

Most Valuable Players | Stockholm Doesn't Belong To Me

Thursday, March 30, 2006

First Bloom

We had our first bloom of the year today. Just a tiny crocus but it's still the earliest I've seen anything bloom in our yard since we bought the place five years ago.

Unreleased Dylan & Cash Tunes

If you're a fan of either Bob Dylan or Johnny Cash, you may want to stop what you are doing and head over to Aquarium Drunkard. The guy has posted all of the tracks from the recording session Dylan & Cash did together for Nashville Skyline.

The tracks were originally posted on Mar 24th. So, I'm not sure how much longer they'll be up on the site.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Urinal Soccer | Brazilian Style

I thought I was done blogging for the night but then I stumbled across this spicy dish of a story.

Brazilians love their soccer and now they've figured out how to play it during halftime too.

Not much else to say here. The picture says it all.

More Montpelier Music Blogs

On a per capita basis, we must be approaching Brooklyn-like proportions of music bloggers. Between this blog, Latitude 44.2N, Analog Giant, Tiny Meat and Mindless in Montpelier, there are now five blogs talking, at least in part, about music in the area.

For the Barre/Montpelier area, that's about one music blogger per 3,400 people. In order for Brooklyn to match that rate, there would have to be 725 music bloggers in Brooklyn. Actually, I take that back, Brooklyn may very well have 725 music bloggers.

Regardless, I just recently learned of Tiny Meat and Mindless in Montpelier. Both are fun blogs.

If you've ever been to the Montpelier farmer's market, you've seen the Tiny Meat folks selling their cool hipster iPod covers, wallets, card cases and wristbands. The urban artsy designs and colors are very un-Montpelier which makes their booth at the market so eye-catching. It's a fun contrast to all of the sun-faded-color of the organic farmers. Well, in addition to their online store, they also keep a cool blog. My favorite part of is the indie rock Tuesday posts with downloads. Lots of bands I haven't seen on other indie blogs.

Mindless in Montpelier is written by one of the Tiny Meat folks except it isn't a part of the Tiny Meat site. And while it isn't your typical music blog, it comments on pop culture and occasionally that includes music.

By the way, as I've been typing this post, Stevie Wonder's cover of The Beatles' "We Can Work It Out" has been playing. Such a smokin' little number.

Stevie Wonder | We Can Work It Out (from Shared Vision - The Songs of the Beatles)

I Am a Cold Rock. I Am Dull Grass.

Back in November, I posted about the upcoming re-issue of the Will Oldham tribute album, I Am a Cold Rock. I Am Dull Grass. Well, after a bit of a wait, the disc finally arrived a few weeks ago.

As with every tribute album, it's a bit hit and miss. However, the highs here are pretty damn good. I knew the covers from Mark Kozelek, Calexico and Iron & Wine be good stuff. However, the question was how good the other unknown artists' covers would be. Well, I'd say they're pretty damn good. Some are poor but most of them are good enough to make it a fun album to listen to.

My two favorite tracks are Pinetop Seven's "Sufjan Stevens-like" cover of "A Minor Place" and Sodastream's country folk version of "Southside of the World". If you are a fan of Oldham, it's a good disc to pick up. I'm not sure how long the offer will last but for the first several orders, Tract Records was also including a compilation disc of the artists that performed on the tribute album.

Pinetop Seven | A Minor Place
Sodastream | Southside Of the World

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Red Bull New York

This weekend Major League Soccer starts its eleventh season. Among the many changes that occurred during the off-season, my favorite team, MetroStars, were purchased and renamed by the folks who sell Red Bull soft drinks. I held off on posting about this and am glad I did because my opinion has swung a bit since my initial reaction.

Before I moved to VT in 2000, I was a season ticket holder for MetroStars for their first four seasons (96-99). Despite the team being one of the crappiest franchises in the entire world of soccer, on and off the field, I stuck by them. Then out of the blue, they had been sold to Red Bull and had their name changed to Red Bull New York.

Red Bull had done this before when they bought a team in their native Austria and changed the team's name and declared it a new franchise with no history. That team had been around since 1933. So, the fans were pissed. Based upon that story and the idea of having the team name being an soulless advertisement for a soft drink, I wasn't too crazy about it. Then there were rumors that former Cosmo Georgio Chinalgia was going to be involved in the team. The guy is an idiot and would have run the place even further into the ground.

At that point, I was down on the new owners. However, since then, things have gotten much better. Now, I'm actually excited about the new team (even though I still won't wear a t-shirt or hat with that logo/advertisement on it). Here's what Red Bull has done to prove to me that they are going to be better owners than the prior ones:

  • They spent $100M for the team, a 50% stake in the team's new stadium and the naming rights to that stadium. Anyone dropping $100M on soccer in the US is a bit of a nutter but ultimately A-OK with me.
  • They said they weren't going to wipe clean the MetroStars history books like they did with Red Bull Salzburg. It's nice to know Roberto Donodoni's and Giovanni Savarese's time with the team counted for something.
  • They asked the players what they wanted in their locker room and over one weekend painted and refurbished the entire locker room. New furniture, plasma screen TVs in all the rooms, new name plates. The whole works. It shows a nice committment to the players and the fact they accomplished it over one weekend shows they can get stuff done quickly. They have their shit together; unlike prior management.
  • They have announced that they are going to put grass down over the FieldTurf and admitted that FieldTurf is dangerous for the players. Once again, it's a nice committment to the players and the fans. It's so much nicer to watch a game on grass than on turf. The ball just bounces and rolls so differently on grass than on turf.
  • For Red Bull New York's first game this year (away at DC United), they are offering a free bus trip to the game for any fan that wants to go. You just have to show up at Giants Stadium and they'll provide you with the bus and a ticket for the game. I don't know how many people they will get but it's a fun way to start the season and a nice reward to the hardcore fan base.
  • They want to sell out Giants Stadium for their home opener on April 8th (vs New England Revolution). It probably won't happen but I like that they think big and are trying different things. One rumor was they were trying to get Springsteen, Bon Jovi or Maroon 5 to play at halftime. It probably won't happen but at least they are trying. One thing they are definitely doing is offering free bus service for Revolution fans from Boston to Giants Stadium. It sound nuts to bus in your opponents fans but it'll generate more excitement in the crowd. Better atmosphere.
  • They got every game on TV for the season. In the past, the vast majority of MetroStars games would be on TV but there would always be a few dead games with no coverage. Once again, a nice move that shows respect for their bigger fans.
  • They have also announced that they are asking the architect of their new stadium to add in a retractable roof. I'm guessing some financial analyst has figured out that having a retractable roof will pay for itself by allowing them to host concerts and other events in bad weather. However, it still shows they are serious about soccer in the US and here for the long haul.
  • Plus, it doesn't look like Chinalgia is going to be much of a presence around the team. Thank goodness.
That's a lot to accomplish in less than the one month since it was announced they had bought the team. If they can organize that much crap in such a short period of time, this franchise is much better off with them as management.

Having said all of that, I still can't get myself to drink a can of Red Bull. I saw the stuff when I was filling up with gas on the way back from the Silver Jews show. It was late and my ass was dragging but I still couldn't do it. I went with iced tea instead.

Ludella Black

I don't have much to say about Ludella Black because I don't know much about her. I accidentally stumbled upon this song on iTunes but I love it. It's half 60's girl group, half country/western twang and half garage band. And catchy as hell.

It's from a compilation album album called Alright, This Time Just the Girls Volume 2.

Is that really the best publicity shot her label could come up with?

Ludella Black | I've Just Seen a Face

Album Draft | Tenth Round | 3rd Place

I'm a little behind on things. So, what should have been two posts is now going to be one.

In the tenth and final round of the album draft, I took the unreleased mp3 files of Ironpaw which is the former band of one of the other people in the draft. I was thinking of taking N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton or Dexter Gordon's Go since I didn't have a hip-hop or pure jazz album in my list.

However, I decided to go with Ironpaw because I wanted to make a statement about the universal nature of music. The goal of the draft was to select ten albums that best represented the art form of music. Well, a large part of music is the fact that it's everywhere. There are instruments in every home and only pointing to the elite few with recording contracts distorts the overall view of the art of music. So, I thought selecting some good tunes from home recording sessions of someone in the draft, would support that point.

The other part of the reason why I liked this idea is that I like Ironpaw's music. It's mainly guitar and ukelele driven music with a slew of other instruments twirling around the main melody. It all feels very Elephant 6 inspired. Unfortunately, Alex & Ryan, the two guys in the band (in the picture), have decided to go their own way. But if you want to hear what Alex (the one who competed in the draft) is up to these days, you can check out his myspace site.

Ironpaw | Science
Ironpaw | Elephant
Ironpaw | Haley
Ironpaw | Mia Clarke
Ironpaw | Anonymous
Ironpaw | Exclamations

My final list was:

1. Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited
2. The Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy
3. Buena Vista Social Club - Buena Vista Social Club
4. Otis Redding - Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul
5. Koop - Waltz for Koop
6. The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs
7. The Who - Live at Leeds
8. The Swan Silvertones - The Swan Silvertones/Saviour Pass Me Not
9. Alton & Hortense Ellis - Studio One: Alton & Hortense Ellis
10. Ironpaw - Various Unreleased mp3s

My pick was the last pick in the whole draft. The judges then started working up their ballots. Ultimately, I came in 3rd (out of 25). Here were the top five lists (there was a tie for fifth):

First Place
1. The Beatles - Abbey Road
2. American Graffiti - Soundtrack [Compilation Pick]
3. Charles Mingus - The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
4. Fela Kuti - Zombie
5. Bob Marley and the Wailers - Catch A Fire
6. Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols
7. Ravi Shankar & Ali Akbar Khan - In Concert
8. Albert King & Stevie Ray Vaughan - In Session
9. Moby - Everything is Wrong
10. Sergio Mendes - Brasileiro

Second Place
1. Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life
2. R.E.M. - Lifes Rich Pageant
3. The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
4. Bob Marley - Exodus
5. Celia Cruz & Tito Puente - Tito Swings, The Exciting Lupe Sings
6. Patsy Cline - The Patsy Cline Story
7. Kanye West - The College Dropout
8. Elmore James - The Sky Is Crying
9. Ben Folds Five - Ben Folds Five
10. Ella Fitzgerald - Ella At Juan-Les-Pins

Third Place (mine)
1. Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited
2. The Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy
3. Buena Vista Social Club - Buena Vista Social Club
4. Otis Redding - Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul
5. Koop - Waltz for Koop
6. The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs
7. The Who - Live at Leeds
8. The Swan Silvertones - The Swan Silvertones/Saviour Pass Me Not
9. Alton & Hortense Ellis - Studio One: Alton & Hortense Ellis
10. Ironpaw - Various Unreleased mp3s

Fourth Place
1. John Coltrane - A Love Supreme
2. Pulp - Different Class
3. Miles Davis - Sketches of Spain
4. The Doors - The Doors
5. The Girl from Ipanema: The Antonio Carlos Jobim Songbook [Compilation Pick]
6. Astor Piazzola - The Rough Dancer and the Cyclical Night (Tango Apasionado)
7. Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You
8. Primal Scream - Screamadelica
9. A Bing - Erhu Legend
10. Mouse On Mars - Idiology

Fifth Place (tie)
1. The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground and Nico
2. Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks
3. Miles Davis - Bitches Brew
4. The Stooges - Fun House
5. Funkadelic - Maggot Brain
6. Kraftwerk - Autobahn
7. Eric B. & Rakim - Paid in Full
8. Gang of Four - Entertainment
9. Curtis Mayfield - Superfly
10. Can - Tago Mago

1. Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
2. Robert Johnson - King of the Delta Blues Singers Vol. 1
3. The Smiths - The Queen is Dead
4. Prince & The Revolution - Purple Rain
5. Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
6. Minor Threat - Complete Discography
7. Queen - A Night at the Opera
8. Honky Tonk Heroes - Waylon Jennings
9. Al Green - Call Me
10. Jane's Addiction - Nothing's Shocking

In the end, it was a fun exercise to go through. It certainly exposed me to some albums I had never heard of before and that I had forgotten. But more importantly, it was fun.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Kyle the Rider

Underpants Records has posted the first track to Kyle the Rider's debut EP, Who Brung the Shits. It's a country-twinged mellow beauty called "The Last Day of August". Kyle the Rider is a one-man band like Smog or The Gunshy. So, recording a subtlely textured song like this takes a long time. Hopefully, we'll get the rest of the EP before we reach the next last day of August.

By the way, there is also a Bobby Domino song over on Underpants Records called "Boregard" which is also worth downloading. It has a sweet dreamy feel to it and when the drums and organ kick in around the 1:42 mark, you'll be gald you grabbed it.

These downloads are from myspace pages. Therefore, don't right-click. Just left-click and then save them to your disk.

Kyle the Rider | The Last Day of August
Bobby Domino | Boregard

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sebastian Fors

Time for another Swede. Although this guy isn't a popster. He's a folkie. He's isn't signed to a label but he has a few tunes up on his website and one of them has been bouncing around my current Best of Q1 playlist for the last month.

The song is called "Avenues" and it's very catchy. I don't know what is going to come of this guy but if he keeps writing tunes like "Avenues", he'll be a success.

Sebastian Fors | Avenues

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Silver Jews | Middle East | Mar 19th

There are certain things in life that I've always accepted as fact regardless of whether they are true absolutes...I'm never going to be the centerfielder for the Yankees, Preki is going to shoot with his left foot, Yo La Tengo is going to close their main set with "Blue Line Swinger" or "I Heard You Looking", I'm never going to be a millionaire, etc. I just accept things like this and move on.

Well, a few months ago, I included "I'll never see the Silver Jews play live" on that list. However, after last Sunday night I could erase that one from the board...and erase it with vigor. I had seen the Joos blow through an hour plus set and promise to come back for more.

I was meeting a my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and friend in Cambridge for dinner and the show. So, I made the trek down solo as I battled all of the weekend skiers heading home to Boston. It wasn't too bad though because I made the trip in a breezy 2 hours and 40 minutes. By the way, it's amazing how few VT plates you see on I-89 on late Sunday afternoons in the winter.

After meeting my friends, we grabbed some dinner at Central Kitchen. Good food and the mussels were pretty friggin' fantastic. Plus, it was right across the street from Middle East which made it very convenient. After dinner, I said goodbye to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and headed down to the Miracle of Science Bar with my friend for a few pre-show beers. The idea of the bar is that it's set up as a school science lab. MIT is right down the street...Get it! Actually, it was a good spot to have a beer before seeing Mr. Berman

We managed to make it into Middle East about halfway through Ketman's set. Apparently, the band's bass player is the brother of David Berman's wife, Cassie. Regarding their music, let me put it this way...without the nepotism, Ketman wouldn't have gotten a whiff of an opening slot at a sold out show at Middle East. They're some sort of metal-inspired mush-mouth indie rock trio.

Since Ketman wasn't doing anything for me, I took the opportunity to step out for a second. Thankfully, when I came back they were gone. So, my friend and I took a moment to check out the merchandise table. That's where I found former Pavement drummer Steve West hanging out. He looked just like he did during the Pavement years. So, I asked him if he was Steve West, thank him for a lot of great music and asked him if he was playing drums tonight. He said he was just doing sound for the tour. I never knew Westie was a sound guy but, considering Berman's situation, it's probably best that he packs the tour with as many friends as possible.

By the way, Pavement's other former drummer/moogist, Bob Nastanovich, was the MC for the evening (along with a comedian). Nastanovich also looked like he hadn't aged a day since Pavement broke up. Good to see so they won't look so akward when Pavement eventually gets around to a reunion tour. Bob even snuck on stage and reprised his wild back-up vocals role for Berman during the main set closer "There Is a Place".

I forgot the name of the comedian who assisted Bob with the MC duties. However, he was largely lame. His best line was saying that CNN's Christiana Amanpour looks like an amalgamation of all The Rolling Stones.

New Radiant Storm Kings took the stage next. I haven't listened to these guys since 1996's August Revital. They still sounded good but since their sound isn't wildly different than a lot of indie rock bands, they are probably a lot more enjoyable if you are familiar with their songs. Nothing compellingly ground-breaking but good well-built tunes from a tight band.

Sometime during NRSK's set, I saw David Berman pop out of the side door with a guitar case slung over his shoulder like he had just arrived. Considering all of the demons he's battled over the years, I was happy to actually see him at the show. When you never thought you'd see a guy play live and then learn that he's been battling addictions and depression, you are never 100% certain that you are going to hear him perform until you actually see him in the club.

A short while later, Berman took the stage with a five piece band including his wife Cassie on bass. The crowd cheered mightily like a long lost friend had just entered the room. It had a much more personal welcome to it than the usual band appearence.

Berman had a music stand to the side of him with lyrics sheets. As he explained, he needs the stand since his memory isn't very good any more and his eyesight is poor. The post-show review in the Boston Globe said the music stand placed a barrier between Berman and the audience. However, that is friggin' simplistic and idiotic. The fact is that, as my friend pointed out, it made him appear vulnerable which has always been an underlying theme to his music. It immediately gave you the sense that you wanted to root for the guy to have a good show and slay his demons.

His set touched each album except for the obscure Arizona and Dime Reef Map records. I can never remember all of the songs from a show (particularly a week later) but he knocked out, "Trains Across the Sea", "Black and Brown Blues", "Random Rules", "Smith & Jones Forever", "Buckingham Rabbit", "Horseleg Swatsika", "Pet Politics", "Punks In the Beerlight", "Animal Shapes", "There Is a Place" and "How Can I Love You (If You Won't Lie Down)". Berman also stepped off the stage for a moment while Cassie sang, "The Poor, The Fair, And the Good".

Berman's voice was it's usual deep monotone self which sounded great to a Joos' fan's ears. The band was nothing spectactular but did a good job with the tunes. Besides the music, the fun part of the show was watching Berman grow in confidence throughout the night. Initially, he seemed a bit timid on stage but as the crowd's applause grew with each song, Berman seemed to realize he could do "this touring thing". About halfway through the set, he said, "I'm sorry it took me so long to get here. I had a few things I had to deal with before I could do this." Then later, he said that he knows he can do this now and plans on being back again next year. By the end of the show, he was a full-fledged rock star as he pulled his band back onto stage for a surprising second encore. Guitarist Peyton Pinkerton even seemed surprised as he shrugged his shoulders trying to figure out what was going on. People who feel intimidated on stage don't improvise or extend the lenghts of their shows. So, I took the second encore as a good sign for Berman.

They finally finished around 12:15am with a cover of a T.G. Sheppard song. As much as I wanted to hear more and more songs, I knew I had a long drive home (pulled into the driveway at 3am) and felt confident that I would see Berman in concert again.

UPDATE: Here's the link to that hideous Boston Globe review I mentioned. The guy was obviously unaware of Silver Jews and Berman's history before he was asked to review the show.

To complain about his voice is silly. It sounded just like it did on all of his albums. Any person interested in attending one of his shows would already be familiar and at peace with his voice.

I mentioned earlier about his mistaken take on Berman's music stand.

He also questions how many fans in the sold out show would see him next year if he returned, as promised. Did the reviewer not hear the constantly applause and screaming? Did he really get the impression that people weren't enjoying the show?

It just seemed like the day before the show, the music editor asked some guy who is used to reviewing Aerosmith shows to go check out some band he had never heard of before. The guy spent a half-hour with Google doing his prep work and then headed down to Cambridge. Thankfully, I don't think many indie fans are reading the Boston Globe for music guidance these days. Too many better options for indie fans.


I've never used emusic but I love their commercials. Just great, great stuff. Nice combination of images and music.

I've only seen them on Fox Soccer Channel. So, I don't know how much attention they are getting. However, if you haven't seen them, you can watch them on emusic's site.

There's two of them and while I prefer the one titled "They Don't" more (no voice-over and it uses The New Pornographers' "The Bleeding Heart Show"), they are both worth watching.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Album Draft | Round Nine

I'm not a reggae guy but I love this album. So, with my ninth pick in the album draft, I took the Studio One compilation album of Alton & Hortense Ellis.

The sound is rocksteady which lies somewhere between soul and reggae. The voices on these siblings sell the album. His is deeper and vibrates a bit while his sister's is smooth as smooth can be.

The album came out in 1990 but the recordings are from the 60's and 70's. So, some of the production quality is a bit muffled and rough. However, it doesn't distract from the album.

A bunch of reggae albums had been taken in the draft and someone had snagged a ska album. However, nobody had touched rocksteady. It's not a large genre of music but since it was untouched and this is such a good album, I thought it would be a decent pick at this point.

There's one final round to this album draft but things drag really slowly over the weekend. So, I probably won't pick again until next week.

So, here's where my list now stands:

1. Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited
2. The Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy
3. Buena Vista Social Club - Buena Vista Social Club
4. Otis Redding - Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul
5. Koop - Waltz for Koop
6. The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs
7. The Who - Live at Leeds
8. The Swan Silvertones - The Swan Silvertones/Saviour Pass Me Not
9. Alton & Hortense Ellis - Studio One: Alton & Hortense Ellis

Alton Ellis | Lord Deliver Us
Hortense Ellis | Cry Together
Alton & Hortense Ellis | Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Album Draft | Round Eight

In the eighth round of the album draft, I dipped into the gospel pool with The Swan Silvertones. I don't know where these guys rank against other gospel acts but I thought it would be a good pick since nobody had touched that genre yet and The Swan Silvertones put out some crazy-good music back in the 50's & 60's.

I don't care what your feelings are towards religion. You should give these guys a listen. Their sound is part soul, part R&B, part blues and even a touch of doo-wop. Killer stuff.

So, here's where my list now stands:

1. Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited
2. The Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy
3. Buena Vista Social Club - Buena Vista Social Club
4. Otis Redding - Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul
5. Koop - Waltz for Koop
6. The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs
7. The Who - Live at Leeds
8. The Swan Silvertones - The Swan Silvertones/Saviour Pass Me Not

The Swan Silvertones | Mary Don't You Weep
The Swan Silvertones | How I Got Over
The Swan Silvertones | Feed Me Jesus

Thursday, March 23, 2006

US - Germany | Mar 22nd | UPDATE

Quick programming reminder. The US plays Germany in Dortmund on Wednesday. It'll be on ESPN2 at 2:30pm EST.

The match is just another warm-up match for the World Cup. However, any match involving a historic powerhouse like Germany is always a little more interesting.

Due to injuries, suspensions and club commitments, The US has sent a "B team" to Germany. So, don't expect any great results. Plus, after getting throttled by Italy 4-1 last month, the game means a lot more to Germany. In fact, Juergen Klinsmann's (the German coach) job may be on the line.

UPDATE: As expected, it wasn't pretty as the US went down 4-1 on Wednesday. It's tough to take much from a game like this because it was our B-team against Germany's A-team. It was more of a display of which US players are not ready for this level rather than who is capable. The US played Germany even for the first half but things fell apart in the second half as Germany knocked in three goals during a miserable six minute span. The best thing you can do with a match like this, as a fan, is not linger on it for too long. It didn't mean anything and the US had some bad outings in the months preceding the last World Cup too. I think they even lost a closed-door scrimage to the Division 2 Richmond Kickers back in 2002. So, don't read too much into this result.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Out of 5 | They're Back!

Last summer, I was raving about a new site called Out of 5 which featured a new 10 song mix each week with a different theme. It quickly became very popular and maxed out its bandwidth. So, the site shut down until it could find a new home.

Well, I guess they found that new home because I just checked and the site is back up. This week's theme is "To Hell With Poverty! Songs About Money". Dylan's "Million Dollar Bash" didn't make the cut.

The streaming feature seems to be gone but I wonder if that is temporary since they have that big-ass LISTEN image right above the song list. Hopefully, it'll become active. Regardless, you can still download the mix in a zip file.

Bennington College Shows | UPDATE

I received an email from the student who promotes the shows at Bennington College. He sent over the list of shows for the rest of the semester.

Mar 25 - Jackie-O-Motherfucker w/ Richard Bishop
April 8 - Threads w/ Micah Blue Smalldone
Apr 13 - Half-handed Cloud w/ Vollmar
Apr 20 - The Dirty Projectors w/ Nat Baldwin
Apr 21 - Michael Columbia w/ Big Bear
Apr 22 - Order of the Dying Orchid w/ Truman Sparks
Apr 24 - Thanksgiving w/ Jason Anderson
Apr 25 - John Vanderslice w/ Wooden Wand
Apr 27 - Sound and Shape
Apr 29 - Two Gallants
May 14 - TBA
May 20 - Sunfest (Music Festival - Lineup TBA)

John Vanderslice is interesting. Perhaps worth the drive down there.

The shows generally cost just a few bucks and you pay at the door. If I here anything about the lineup for the Sunfest, I'll post it later.

UPDATE: And right on cue, extrawack! has a post up spreading love for Two Gallants (Apr 29 @ Bennington). The fact that it's a Saturday night makes that show more attractive than Vanderslice's Tuesday night show.

By the way, the Apr 30th Built To Spill show at Higher Ground has been postponed. The make-up date hasn't been announced yet.

Album Draft | UPDATE

While I haven't had a lot of time for blogging recently, I have had time to participate in an album draft. It's geeky in a High Fidelity kind of way but also entertaining.

Here's the idea: There's 25 of us drafting albums that we think best represents the art form of music. The draft goes in order from 1-25 and once an album is chosen, it can't be taken by anyone else. So, nobody is going to have a list of the top ten albums of all-time but it's a challenge to build a good list despite everyone else taking your favorite albums. In the end, a few guys will decide who has the ten albums that best displays this art form.

I have the last pick in each round. However, it hasn't been much of a handicap since I've been able to find decent substitutes for the albums that I wanted but were already taken.

Here is my list so far:

1. Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited
2. The Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy
3. Buena Vista Social Club - Buena Vista Social Club
4. Otis Redding - Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul
5. Koop - Waltz for Koop
6. The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs
7. The Who - Live at Leeds

You can see everyone's selections here. There is also a thread where people actually make their picks and folks comment on the quality of those picks. However, it goes slow and you have to wade through a lot of comments between picks. So, it's easier to check out the Big Board to follow it.

So far, I have a little rock, some latin sounds, soul, electronica and 69 love songs. I'll try to hit on a few different genres with my last few picks so if anyone has any suggestions, pass them along.

UPDATE: With my seventh pick, I took The Who's Live at Leeds. I wanted to get a good live album on my list and have always loved this one. If I had been a better player, I would have come up with a good live album that was in a genre that I hadn't already touched upon. However, I couldn't think of any that were as good as Live at Leeds.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Viva! Bruce!


Brand new from Blue Sky Soccer.

Wait till the Germans get a load of this one.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Green Mountain Film Festival

I'm a bit late on this one. Yesterday, the ninth annual Green Mountain Film Festival started in Montpelier. It runs until Sunday, March 26th. As usual, it looks like Rick Winston has chosen a bunch of interesting movies and documentaries; particularly After Innocence, Commune, I Like Killing Flies, Isn't This a Time! and Touch the Sound.

I hope to catch one or two films but a lot of the showings are during the day and early evening. Plus, between tomorrow's Silver Jews show and Wednesday's Artic Monkeys show, this week is kind of busy. So, I'm not sure how many or what I'll be able to see.


Courtesy of Mr. extrawack, this video is a hilarious spoof on pretentious and arrogant indie store clerks. Plus, it's shot at my favorite record store, Other Music in NYC.

Having laughed at that, I think indie store clerks get a bum rap. Some of my favorite discs are courtesy of tips from clerks. Some can be arrogant but most of them are just big goobers for music like me.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Germany Bound!

The big news over the last week is that my friend, Todd, has gotten me tickets for the US vs. Czech Republic and US vs. Italy matches during this summer's World Cup in Germany.

This is friggin' unbelievable for me. I got into soccer as a kid by playing youth soccer and going to Cosmos games. However, it didn't completely suck me in until I watched the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Everything about the event looked like a blast. For reasons of geography and poverty, I didn't get to any of the games when the World Cup was played in the US. Disappointing. But my interest in going to the tournament only grew.

Now I have the chance to go to the US' first two games of this tournament and I didn't hesitate for a second. I'm going to fly from Burlington to Frankfurt and arrive the day before the Czech match in Gelsenkirchen. Then I have Tuesday to Friday to soak in the World Cup atmosphere around Frankfurt and perhaps find another game or two to see. Then I'll go to the US-Italy match in Kaiserslautern on Saturday before flying back on Sunday. It's going to be phenomenal.


This is my first post in a long time. In fact, this ends my longest dry spell since I started writing this thing last July. However, calling it a dry spell is a misnomer. Calling it a dry spell implies that I haven't had anything to write about. However, that isn't true. In fact, while I was driving back from NJ this week, I started scribbling down a list of items I wanted to post about. That's the list over there >>>. It's full of good stuff (although illegible). The problem has just been finding the time to type them up.

The biggest problem has been work which isn't going to let up for a while. Therefore, for the next few months, I'm going to keep up with things by shortening my posts. Rather than typing a few paragraphs about a band, site or issue, it'll just be a sentence or two. Hopefully, that'll allow me to keep up better than I have recently.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Carny

If you are already a believer of the potentcy of Swedish pop, just stop reading here and go listen to the songs at the bottom of this post. You'll love these guys.

If you need some more info before you invest a few MBs of disk space and a minute of your time, here's the deal. The Carny is a nine piece outfit out of Halmstad, Sweden. Imagine Nick Cave fronting Belle & Sebastian and you have a good idea of the pop goodness that is The Carny.

Economic and political themes dominate a lot of their songs with them falling on the Billy Bragg side of the fence. They also seem to practice what they preach because they have made every song they've ever recorded available for free on their site. That's kind of crazy but maybe that social welfare net in Sweden is pretty damn good.

The Carny | Bestseller
The Carny | Blame It On the Rich Man

Positive Pie To Show the World Cup

Yankunian, who writes two great blogs, The Vermizzle and The Manchizzle, depending on what continent she's on, asked a good question in a comment on the post about the US-Poland match. She wanted to know if there would be any bars in the area showing the World Cup this summer. I had actually checked into this earlier and forgotten to post about it.

I spoke to Carlo, the owner of Positive Pie and soccer fan, about showing the games. He said he was planning on having a large flat screen TV installed over the back of the bar in time for the World Cup. He wasn't sure if they'd be open for the 10am matches but was certain they'd be rolling for the noon and 3pm matches.

I'm sure McGillicuddy's will have the matches on also. However, I'm not sure how open-minded the crowd there will be to watching the matches. They've put the qualifiers on for us in the past but usually on just one TV in the corner. Given the choice between that and watching a the games on a large flat screen at Positive Pie, I think I'll go with the latter.

By the way, this Friday, March 10th, Positive Pie is hosting a Big Heavy World Benefit show with four indie rock bands. On March 17th, they are doing that hippie-trippie thing of showing The Wizard of Oz set to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. I can just imagine the smells.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Tuesday is Town Hall Meeting Day | UPDATE

UPDATE: Montpelier voted yesterday to keep fluoride in its water. About 60% of the people vote to keep the fluoride.

By the way, as you may have noticed, I haven't been posting as often lately. This is just due to me being very busy with work. February to June is the busy time of the year for me. So, it'll chug along at a slow pace for a while here but I'm not stopping. Eventually, work will let up and I'll be able to post regularly again.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Kamikaze Hearts | Langdon Street Cafe | Mar 2nd

After a long hike for live music on Sunday, it was nice to be able to catch a show last night right in Montpelier. What made it even better was hearing a good band like Kamikaze Hearts shake the walls of Langdon Street with their dirty folk.

The Kamikaze Hearts are a quintet out of Albany. Two acoustic guitars. Bass. Mandolin. Small kit drums. They refer to their sound as upstate porch music but I'd throw them in the category of dirty folk with Lullaby for the Working Class, Mohawk Lodge and Sebastian Fors. It's a great sound that's accessible yet not boring. Heavy on rhythm and harmonies with a chugging folk melody. At times, I could see bluegrass fans digging them. At other times, I could see folkies loving them. But their vibe fits right in with the indie crowd. They keep their songs tight and of determined lengths; no directionless jams. There is even a hint of REM on their tune "War Horse".

One other nice part of the show was the mix they acheived. As a friend pointed out during the show, you could cleanly hear each of the instruments which was a pleasant surprise for a club known for rougher soundscapes. I'm not sure what they did but it sounded really good.

For the next two months, they'll be playing throughout the northeast and then they'll hit the midwest and south in May.

fri. march 3: union pool - 184 union st. (williamsburg) brooklyn, ny
w/micah blue smaldone and apothecary hymns
a plus ultra production.

thurs. march 30: bowdoin college brunswick, me
w/ brent gorton & the tender breasts

fri. march 31: the grow room providence, ri
w/deer tick and baskettree

sat. april 1: elevens northampton, ma
w/whiskey ina & the lonesome brothers.

fri. april 7: sin-é new york, ny

fri. april 14: pickled onion beverly, ma
w/blythe hollow. 10PM.

The opener for the show was Micah Blue Smaldone who strummed out some beautiful early folk blues on guitar and banjo. Everything from the guy's song choices to voice to mannerisms to even his mic delivered the feel of another time. Great opener.

Then the capper to the night was being home in less than five minutes after saying goodnight to my friends. I love local shows.

The Kamikaze Hearts | War Horse (live on WSPN)
The Kamikaze Hearts | Boston Whaler (live on WSPN)

US 1 Poland 0

They came. They saw. They shoveled some snow.

On Wednesday the US topped Poland 1-0 in Kaiserslauten, Germany. It was a nice result but a tough game to take much from due to the weather conditions. The temperature was below freezing from the kickoff and it snowed very heavily during the second half. Therefore, it's tough to say whether any player played well or poorly or if they were just affected by the weather.

Clint Dempsey scored the only goal when he used his head to clean up a deflected ball off of a long cross. The goal was like the game...not pretty but a good result.

In other matches on Thursday, Italy (who will be in Group E with the US this summer) throttled Germany 4-1. This is significant for two reasons. 1) It looks like Italy is really clicking these days and 2) Germany will be out for blood in their next game. Here's the kicker...Germany's next game is against the US on March 22nd (ESPN2 2:25pm EST). The US will be without most of its European players so, it'll be playing an angry stacked German side in Germany with a squad made up of MLS and German-based players.

If Germany doesn't do well in that game, Coach Juergen Klinnsman's job may be on the line. He's been taking a lot of heat for continuing to live in Los Angles since taking the job. People will cut him slack if he gets good results but if the team is tanking and you are living 8,000 miles away, you're going to get fired; particularly if your country is hosting the World Cup this summer.

In other games involving Group E teams, Czech Republic gave up two goals in the last four minutes to Turkey and tied 2-2. Quite frankly, I'd count this as a 2-0 win for the Czechs. This is a friendly and I'm sure the players let up towards the end of the game. The reality is that the Czechs outplayed Turkey in Turkey for 86 minutes. Therefore, I'm considering them to be playing well also.

Ghana continued to sputter though. After a miserable performance in the African Nations Cup, they lost 1-0 to Mexico in Texas. Since the US hasn't lost in the US to Mexico in a long time, that 1-0 loss doesn't serve Ghana very well as a benchmark match against the US.

There's still a long way to go until June but right now it looks like the Czechs, Italians and Americans are going to have a pretty good battle for the top two spots in the group.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Belle & Sebastian | Metropolis | Feb 26th | UPDATE

Sometimes it's fun to catch a hot new band with a hot new album. Other times, it's fun to see an old favorite with a large familiar catalog. On Sunday night, it was the latter as jds and I went up to Montreal to catch Belle & Seabastian and The New Pornographers at Metropolis.

The drive up was uneventful except for the new questions from the Canadian border police. The new questions were:

When was the last time you were in Canada?
How much money do you have on you?
What do you do for a living?

Rather personal questions, don't ya think? I dared jds to tell the border guard we were going to see some new pornographers in Montreal but his better sense prevailed and he just told the guy we were going to see Belle & Sebastian. As usual, the guard just shrugged and said, "Huh. Never heard of 'em."

I had spent the afternoon at the Vermont Flower Show with the kids which left me with visions of spring dancing in my head. Those visions got completely smashed though as I stepped out of the car in Montreal. It was cold, cold, cold with a strong wind. I only had a fleece since I didn't want to deal with coat check so it felt pretty rough and certainly not like spring.

By the way, I have to applaud the Canadians for their use of mass transit and willingness to walk in such weather. We parked in a lot across the street from the theater and, despite there being over 2,000 people in the theater, there were only about two dozen cars in the half-filled parking lot. That ought to make the city planners happy.

Back in December, jds and I had missed about 20 minutes of Calexico's set because we had arrived a little late for the show. Knowing that, we quickly woofed down some pizza and headed into the club. We got there at 8:05 for an 8:00 show and The New Pornographers were already playing. Damn! Those Canadians are prompt! Say what you will about the Germans but they have nothing on our neighbors to the north. And, it's not just the venue, because all the fans were already there too. The place was packed. We got there five minutes late and the best spot we could get was in the last row of the balcony. For Arctic Monkeys and The Spintos, I'm geting in there well before the show.

I'm fairly new to The New Pornographers. I got Twin Cinema over Christmas (Thanks, Tom) and it's grown on me. There are a lot of good tunes on the album and the diverse range of sounds they throw at you keeps the album fresh. Unfortunately, in concert, they lose a lot of that diversity. The songs all seemed to have gone through some sort of "calssic rock sausage grinder" and came out sounding the same. Having said that, I still enjoyed hearing "The Bleeding Heart Show" and "Sing Me Spanish Techno". Good tunes.

Metropolis is another old large theater that's been renovated for concerts. The balcony is huge holding about 500+ people. Being in the last row of that balcony though gave us a very distant view. So, between bands, we headed down the steps on the side towards the front of the balcony. That dropped us at "stage right" about 25 feet back from the stage. Considering the size of the crowd, it was a pretty good spot to catch B&S.

On the way down the stairs, jds noticed that the door to the VIP balcony was open so he popped in. When he didn't return, I went back up and stepped in myself. It was a pretty good view of the stage and crowd. Nobody was bothering with us so we just hung out for a while hoping that B&S would start before anyone kicked us out. Unfortuantely, just before they came out, the "balcony police" came by to ask jds who he was. He said he was a guest. "Of who?" asked the guy. "Of the venue" replied jds. Aren't we all guest there, right? It didn't work. We got booted. But it was OK because we were able to largely get our spots back down on the floor; maybe just a little further back.

B&S took the stage and burned through one of the best openings I've heard in a long time. They started with "The State I Am In" which I never expected to hear. They then went into "Another Sunny Day", "Seeing Other People" and "Sukie In the Graveyard". I love all of those songs and the new tunes sounded great live. The album versions are very good but B&S played up their rock'n'roll side with the concert versions.

The huge crowd was packed with hardcore B&S fans. With just the first two notes of a song, they would erupt with screams, clapping and cheers of joy. It was fun to be among such an enthusiastic crowd after seeing so many hipster crowds that remain emotionally distant from the band during the show. Lots of pot waffing through the crowd. Basically, they're a bunch of stoners who have their shit together to get there on time; unlike us.

The only time I had ever seen B&S before was almost a decade ago at The Supper Club in NYC. B&S frontman Stuart Murdoch has changed a lot since that show. I remember him being very shy and timid. It seemed he was trying to just be a part of a broader ensemble. He certainly didn't seem comfortable in the spotlight. However, on Sunday night, he was "Mr. Belle & Sebastian". He was relaxed, outgoing, happy, charismatic, self-effacing, joking with the crowd, etc. Perhaps it was the departure of Isobel and Stuart David that pushed him to accept that it's his band and he's the main man. I don't know but it added a lot to the show.

At one point, to sing "Piazza, New York Catcher", he even felt comfortable enough to pull out a sheet with lyrics after admitting he had forgotten the words. At another amusing moment, he pulled a $20 Canadian bill out of his pocket and asked if he could buy anything from the folks in the front row. He said they were leaving for Boston right after the show and the money would go to waste if he couldn't buy something right then. He talked to a few people and then stopped, pointed to a guy in the front row and said "Hey, aren't you the drummer from The New Pornographers? What are you doing down there?" The drummer from The New Pornographers seemed like a bit of a nut during their set so I wasn't completely surprised he was in the front row for the show. But it was still a funny moment.

The rest of the show was packed with a bunch of songs from The Life Pursuit (particularly the first half of the album) along with "Mayfly", "Judy And The Dream Of Horses", "String Bean Jean", "Dog On Wheels" and a rocking version of "Sleep the Clock Around". It's always fun to go to a show where you know so many of the songs that are played. It's like wearing an old broken-in pair of sneakers. Nothing particularly edgy but fun and comforting.

The crush of people trying to leave after the show made me very happy there wasn't a fire during the show. Most of us would have been cinders. It was packed and difficult to move on the way out. The one last bonus of the show was that we were across the Pont Champlain by 11:30pm. When you have a long drive back, it's nice to get going a little earlier than normal.

By the way, as always, I apologize to the art of photography for my crappy photos. I really need to upgrade to a better camera. The Canon Powershot A40 is just not cutting it. Thankfully, jds has a bunch of nice shots up on Flickr. However, I don't know where that slacker's show review is. Ha!

UPDATE: jds now has his show review up. Also, a fellow named Jim in Burlington was also at the show and has some nice photos from the other side of the venue on his site. His shot of the crowd gives a good idea of the number of people and how packed it it was.