Sunday, April 30, 2006

Switch Grass

With the beautiful weather this weekend, we finally got a chance to start working on our community garden plot. With that work, I got a good look at the biggest problem the other gardners had warned me about at the kick-off pot luck dinner for all of the gardners. Switch grass.

Whenever I asked anyone at the pot luck dinner if they had any advice for a newbie, they also sighed and said, "Watch out for the switch grass." I obviously know what grass is but wasn't quite sure about switch grass. However, I now feel quite familiar with the stuff after spending the last two days trying to get it out of our garden.

I guess it's a grass that is common to wetlands throughout the country which makes sense because our garden plots lie next to a river. The roots on this stuff is crazy. For just a few blades of grass, they'll have a thick root that runs for about a foot. All of those roots cross over each other lie an underground plate of spaghetti to make a thick clump of roots that need to be removed. The other nasty part of switch grass is its speed. According to my fellow garders, the stuff quickly invades any open space. We've been warned to stay on top of it or watch our plot perish. This also makes some sense since whoever had our plot last year stopped gardening in August and the plot was covered in witch grass by the time we arrived on saturday.

Our plot has five rows with each row about 15-20 feet long. So, I took a pitchfork and started breaking up the ground in the two outside rows since they seemed to be in the worst shape. Then I'd dig clumps out with my hands as I knocked as much dirt off as I could. Thankfully, the dirt is beautiful. Dark soft rich stuff without any clay or stones. So, it fell off the roots pretty easily. But it was still a long boring process. Finally after a few hours of work on saturday and sunday, we cleared about 2 3/4 rows of switch grass and other weeds. You can see one of the rows we finished in the photo next to one overrun with witch grass next to it. Quite the contrast. We'll take care of the other rows next weekend if the weather is OK.

We also managed to get some spinach, peas and carrot seeds in the ground. Knowing we planted something gave my wife and I a nice sense of accomplishment. Plus, it was a fun way to spend a beautiful weekend with the kids. Our kids loved playing in the dirt, looking for worms and sticking the seeds in the ground.

The other cool part of the garden we discovered was the swimming hole. To get water for the garden, we can take water from the North Branch river which runs past the plots. About 100 yards past the plots is a nice grassy cut in the woods that runs right up to the bank of the river. There's a bench there and a nice easy sandy entry into the water. The river was only a foot or two deep but I can imagine sitting on some of those large submerged rocks on a hot summer day in July. Our kids didn't need warmer weather though. They pull their shoes off and headed straight in. It certainly added to their enjoyment of the day. I'm glad they enjoyed it because we're going to being spending a lot of time over there fighting witch grass....and hopefully picking a few veggies.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Three For the Weekend

I wish I had time to type proper posts about each of these bands but I don't. So, I thought I'd just throw all of them into one post. Basically, the common theme between them is that they are recent darlings of the blogosphere. However, it isn't misplaced love. Each band is worthy of the praise.

The Raveonettes

Denmark's The Raveonettes are a current day version of The Jesus & Mary Chain (cira Psychocandy). Infectious pop hooks covered in thick layers of grinding fuzz. Both of their albums, their EP Whip It On and LP Pretty in Black, are packed with quality tunes.

The Raveonettes | Love In a Trashcan

Gnarls Barkley

Is any DJ hotter than Danger Mouse right now? From The Grey Album to Danger Doom to now Gnarls Barkley, the guy is a master of the catchy mix. I'm not even sure what genre to put Gnarls Barkley except for just calling it crazy delicious. The album, St. Elsewhere, isn't available in the US until May 9th but the tracks floating around the blogs are making me quite anxious to get the whole disc. The folks attending Coachella this weekend will be grooving to them...which will probably spur another new round of blogger talk about them.

Gnarls Barkley | Crazy


Speaking of being hot right now, Beirut is the number two most popular band on right now. Pretty good for a 19-year-old from New Mexico (now living in NYC). Zach Condon has musically connected various instruments such as a ukelele, glockenspiel and trumpet to create a initially rough but ultimately painfully beautiful sound. Beirut's Gulag Orkestar will also be available on May 9th. Do you think there's a band in Lebanon called Alburquerque?

Beirut | Postcards From Italy

Yo La Tengo Is Murdering the Classics

One of the many things I've always loved about Yo La Tengo is their love of music in all of its forms. They've always seemed to be as big of music fans as the folks showing up at their shows. That zeal has always been prevalent during their annual fundraising effort for Jersey City's WFMU. If you've missed their WFMU performances in the past, you now can hear it for your self on their new album Yo La Tengo Is Murdering the Classics.

Here's how they raised money for the cutting edge radio station. For a few hours each February, YLT would drag their equipment down to WFMU's studio. Donors would call the station and pledge money to get YLT to play various songs. If you donated less than $100, you could request a non-YLT cover. For $100 to $200, you could request a YLT song. For more than $200, you could request any song and play along with the band over the phone. Now, that's putting the fun in fundraising.

The thing that makes the shows so enjoyable is YLT's complete willingness to dive head first into any song regardless of how cooky, dorky or unknown it is. They'd treat "The Night Chicago Died" with the same respect as Iggy Pop's "Raw Power". They'd often screw the song up but they never take themselves too seriously.

The disc contains thirty tracks of various quality. However, the thing that keeps you smiling during the entire 66 minutes of music is that love for music that bubbles up throughout the songs.

The disc is available through Yo La Tengo's website.

Yo La Tengo | Tighten Up (Archie Bell)
Yo La Tengo | The Night Chicago Died (Paper Lace)
Yo La Tengo | Raw Power (Iggy Pop)
Yo La Tengo | Mama Told Me Not To Come (Three Dog Night)
Yo La Tengo | You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet (Bachman Turner Overdrive)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

VPR Community Forum

Guess who's been invited to be a member of the newly re-seated VPR Community Forum? Me.

That's right. Along with about 33 other Vermonters, I'll be giving my opinions to Vermont Public Radio on various programming issues for the next two years. There are only two meetings a year but each one runs for four hours. How many times do you think I can say "indie rock", KEXP and The Current in four hours?

Seriously, a few months ago, I saw an announcement on VPR's site about them accepting applications to become a member of the next community forum (it's entirely re-seated every two years). So, I sent in my application. On the application, I had to explain why I wanted to be a member of the forum. I clearly explained that I felt the endless hours of classical music programming skewed their demographics heavily towards the geriatric alzheimers clans and wanted to join the forum to express a younger view of the community's programming wishes. aka...more Art Brut. I never heard anything from them and as time passed, I had forgotten about it. Then this weekend, I received an email welcoming me to the advisory board.

Last August, I posted about encouraging VPR to add in a little indie rock into their programming since it wasn't represented on any other widely available VT radio stations. I'm not looking for a lot of programming dedicated to indie bands but a few hours a week would be nice and still leave plenty of time for classical. Plus, they can buy the programming from other public radio stations such as KEXP and The Current so they don't have to create it themselves.

So, the two things I'm going to push for are 1) some time dedicated to indie rock and 2) for VPR to pick up the Exposure program (a live showcase of local bands) from WRUV since I heard it'll be discontinued when WRUV moves to their new smaller studio. Obviously, I can't go into these meetings ranting and raving like a jerk or my pleas will be dismissed as the ramblings of a madman. So, I'll work them into the general discussion in an orderly manner.

Here's where everyone can help. Send VPR emails supporting the inclusion if indie rock in their programming. It's one thing for me to stand up at an advisory meeting and say that there is a market of younger listeners in Vermont that want to hear indie rock. It's even better though if they see emails from listeners supporting my point. So, with that in mind, please contact VPR and let them know. Polite, cordial and direct emails get the best results.

VPR's Contact Page

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Hero Cycle

As I've mentioned many times before, my resolution this year is to get more into the local music scene. So far, I've been excited about what I've heard from Fire the Cannons, The Jazz Guys, Neil Cleary and Kyle the Rider. That trend continued this past week when I saw a blurb in Seven Days about a brand spanking new Burlington band called The Hero Cycle. Casey's description of the band is spot on. So, here it is:

Anyway, there's another new group that I want to tell you about. Burlington's The Hero Cycle is something of an indie-rock big band, with seven members contributing to their multilayered sound. THC (how's that for an abbreviation?) features three guitarists, two keyboardists, a drummer and a bassist. Yet somehow the music never sounds cluttered.

Led by guitarist/vocalist Frank Smecker, the group combines shoegazer haze with yearning vocals and intricate arrangements. It's a bit of a departure for Smecker, who once skinned 'em alive as a member of on-again, off-again metalcore giants Drowningman.
From what I've heard about Drowningman, THC is a completely different direction for Smecker. THC reminds me a lot of Broken Social Scene with it's broad varied textured sounds. In fact, since I downloaded their three songs from their myspace site (which Smecker says will be on the debut EP they are working on), I've been playing them constantly. SOme of my favorite stuff at the moment. The other thing I like about THC is that they list an art designer as a band member. Nice artsy collective touch.

I know it's tough to judge a band from just three "unreleased" tunes but I'm certainly excited to hear more from them. So, add THC to a growing list of solid Burlington indie rock bands.

By the way, THC shares bass player, Shawn Flanigan, with Fire the Cannons. That means Flanigan is going to have a busy night on May 19th when The Hero Cycle will play their debut show at Positive Pie 2 with Fire the Cannons, Carrigan and Sharon Van Etten. I don't know anything about the last two bands but having THC and Fire the Cannons in Montpelier is a fun easy night of good music.

The Hero Cycle | Breathing In
The Hero Cycle | You vs Them
Fire the Cannons | Nowhere Feels Like Home

Airport Music

Coming back from Cleveland on Friday, I had to pass through Philadelphia Airport. Any airport on a Friday afternoon is a cauldron of stress as people hustle to get home after a long week while others head out for vacations and weekends away. In general, it's a miserable time to be traveling.

Well, Philadelphia is doing something kind of cool to alleviate some of that stress. From 4-6pm every Friday, the airport is hosting concerts from local musicians in the terminal. I caught some local jazz band called Freedom of Expression and while I'm not a big jazz fan, I enjoyed sitting there for 45 minutes listening to them roll through some Herbie Hancock and Duke Ellington tunes. I felt much more relaxed than if I had spent the time sitting at the gate listening to an endless parade of messages about other flights and unattended bags.

Burlington Airport should do this too. It's so simple yet so beneficial. They could get local musicans to play upstairs outside the restaurants in that little lounge area. People could hang out there to listen but the music would also tumble down over the railings to the large ticketing space below. I'm sure folks would enjoy it and it would give some nice exposure to local musicians.

I thought I'd send an email over to Burlington Airport suggestig the idea. However, the airport doesn't even have a website. They have just a page that says the site is being constructed and directing you to a general VT aviation site. Geez-louise! Only in VT could the main airport not even have a website in 2006! I guess if they don't even have a website, I can't expect them to be able to put together a live performace space.


When I was in Cleveland this week, my co-workers and I were trying to decide where to go for lunch. A few of them wanted to go to Alice Cooper's restaurant and I didn't know of any alternatives. So, we had lunch at Alice's Cooperstown. The place is basically a sports bar with some memorabilia from Cooper and his cronies like Ted Nugent.

If Alice Cooper had any coolness left to his persona, it's gone now. The place stinks.

However, that isn't very surprising. What I'm wondering about is whether in twenty years we'll be seeing equally hideous Marilyn Manson restaurant. Cooper was a pretty freaky figure in the 70's; much like Manson was in the 90's. Will Manson eventually fully abandon his persona to sell out to the future frat boys of America who bought his CDs as kids?

My guess....yeh, probably.

Wolf Parade | Higher Ground | Apr 18th

A year ago, I saw Wolf Parade open for Arcade Fire in Montreal. It was the first time I had heard them before and my general impression was that their sound was particularly jarring but their energy gave them a significant stage presence. On Tuesday night, I caught them at Higher Ground in Burlington for the first time since that show in Montreal. My impression this time was 180 degrees different.

I missed the first band but got to Higher Ground in time to catch most of Holy Fuck's set. I hadn't heard of the Toronto electronic instrumental improvisors before walking into the grand ballroom so I had no idea what to expect. They were basically bass, drums and three guys hunched over various keyboards and synthesizers Including Hadji Bakara of Wolf Parade) knocking out some exciting trance-inducing electronica drone rock. They performed a bit like a jazz band as they seemed to float from beat sequence to beat sequence. It was really engrossing stuff. Not my usual cup 'o tea but an unexpected delight as an opener.

They even showed off their musicanship when one of their synths broke at the beginning of a song but kept making this weird pulsing static beep. Rather than unplug it or ditch the tune, they built a song around the beep that got the crowd going. At the end of the song, the guy finally unplugged it and said something like "I guess we'll never play that song again". Judging from the chants of "ONE MORE SONG!" at the end of their set and the activity (including me) around their end of the merch table after the show, I don't think I was alone in my joy for Holy Fuck. Responding to the chants, one of the guys in Holy Fuck came back on stage and said they couldn't play anymore but would promise to come back for another show. Hopefully, they will.

While waiting for Wolf Parade, I spotted the first couple of Vermont blogging, Greg (of Pages Within) and Jessamyn (of and Jessamyn), who had also just picked up a copy of Holy Fuck's self-titled debut at the table. We had never met before but we all share similar tastes in music and blogging. So, it was fun to chat for a while we waited for Wolf Parade. Jessamyn has been writing her blog since 1997 which in "blogging years" is the equivalent of about 367 years. In 97, I was still trying to figure out how to use AOL; little less even having the foresight to envision something like a blog. So, blogging since '97 is impressive.

After a while, Wolf Parade hit the stage. I thought they only had four members when I saw them last year but they now seemed to have five. The first thing that is so noticeable about Wolf Parade is how different each band member is. Dan Boeckner plays his guitar and holds posture like a 70's punk. Spencer Krug swings between and huddles over various keyboards like John Medeski. Hadji Bakra is almost motionless as he does his 21st century electronic noodling thing over there on his synths. And the new guy is banging on his guitar/bass strings and wind chimes with a drumstick like some classic rock dinosaur. Visually, it all seems so disparate. However, musically, they combine into a sharp driving pulsating rock chorus.

Since I saw them last year, they've released an EP and LP. Both of which are stocked with knock-down tunes. As a result of having listened to these albums over the last nine months or so, I no longer find their sound to be jarring. I'm conditioned to their voices and electronic squeeks such that now I only hear the strong underlying melodies and hooks. Therefore, this time I greatly enjoyed listening to them. The highlights for me were "This Heart's On Fire" and "Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts" which have two of my recent favorites of theirs and sounded great live.

Conversely, they didn't seem to have the same fiery puppy-like energy they exhibited in Montreal. It seemed like a year of constant touring had taken a toll on their liveliness. It's understandable because 1) headlining a show in Burlington on a Tuesday night isn't as exciting as opening for Arcade Fire in a packed theater on a Saturday night and 2) a year of touring would kill the zeal in most people. I know my ass is dragging after just travelin for work for two days; let a lone a year of it. So, I'll cut them a bunch of slack. However, it still dimished their stage presence significantly.

After the show, I tried to find Greg and Jessamyn to get their impressions of the show but couldn't. Hopefully, they'll post their thoughts to their blogs.

Thanks to metal guru for the use of her WP picture from their Apr 9th show in NYC. My wife and son are out of town with our camera so I couldn't take any pictures of the show.

Holy Fuck | Tone Bank Jungle

You Ain't No Picaso has live tracks of two new Wolf Parade songs up on his site.

Here's the video for Wolf Parade's "Modern World".


Thanks to mr. extrawack!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Happy Easter

I'm off to Binghamton for a long weekend.

Happy Easter. (courtesy of found_drama)

Silver Jews | Boston | mp3's Galore

If you missed the Silver Jews' tour, you can get a sense of what Mr. Berman sounds like in concert by visiting Bradley's Almanac. Brad has posted all the songs from the show I caught down in Boston last month. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Neil Cleary | Langdon Street Cafe | Mar 8th

Last Saturday, I finally got a chance to see one of the kingpins of the Burlington scene, Neil Cleary. Cleary played drums in the now legendary Burlington band The Pants back in the 90's. Since then he's played with various bands such as The Essex Green and released a few solo albums. Plus, back in the 90's when he was living in NYC, he occasionally sat in as the drummer for Saturnine which featured bass player, Michael Donofrio who now lives in the area up here. See how Cleary runs through the Vermont music scene?

I've said this before but I love seeing shows at Langdon Street. It's right in town, easy to get to and has a fun relaxed vibe to the place. You feel like you're just hanging out in a friend's living room. Plus, they now serve Allagash's Belgian White which is my latest fave beer.

I got down there around 9pm and saw a bunch of police cars scattered all over School Street. It's kind of odd to see that much police activity in Montpelier but I had no idea what was going on. It was only on Monday that jds tipped me off that it involved a drunk driving road rage shooting at the intersection of State St. & Bailey St. That was kind of freaky to learn about because I had gone through that intersection right around that time on my way to the show. Certainly a peculiar event for Montpelier.

Before jds arrived, I had the chance to meet Cleary and Bill Simmon of Candleblog fame. I've been reading Candleblog for a while but had never met Bill. I'm glad I did though because he was a fun guy to watch the show with. He's a great resource for piecing together the history of the local music scene. Plus, he's a really nice guy. He was there filming parts of the show for a project he's working on. I hope his footage came out better than my photos.

So, after chatting about the local scene, the phenomenon that is The Pants and random Swedish pop bands, Cleary took the stage with his band (Herb & Frank from The Jazz Guys and Bill Mullins). It was a brief (40 minutes) but fun set consisting of a lot of his more rocking tunes such as the ones up on his myspace page. As Bobby Domino pointed out, it was just great to hear tight guitar melodies being knocked out in Langdon Street rather than some hippie jam drivel. The thing I didn't appreciate from listening to Cleary's studio versions was how much he reminded me of Elvis Costello; particularly on "Good Feeling".

Now, I'm even more interested in seeing The Pants in May. By the way, The Pants' album Eat Crow is available from emusic. I just realized that last week and grabbed it with my free introductory downloads.

Neil Cleary | Good Feeling
Neil Cleary | That Girl's In Love
The Pants | Never Too Late

Calexico in Montpelier

On the plane the other day, I was flipping through Magnet when I nearly fell out of my seat in shock. I was reading the tour diary from Joey Burns during Calexico's east coast tour last December with Iron & Wine when Burns dropped this one on me:

December 8, Montreal

I love Canada. On the drive up, we got hit by a car on an icy Vermont highway; luckily, no one was hurt. We stop for soup and check out the damage in Montpelier.

WHAT?!?!? Calexico was in my tiny town eating soup and I missed them? Crap! Who sold them the soup? I'm guessing Coffee Corner or Capitol Grounds. Nini's Wrap Works, McGillicuddy's and Main Street all sell soup too but I can't see Calexico in any of those places. Regardless, it would have been hilarious to have bumped into them in town.

Did anyone see these guys walking around town?

The odd thing is that neither jds nor I recall there being a storm that day. I even went back and read my review of the show but I didn't make any reference to a storm that day (and I throw all sorts of minutia in my show reviews). But that three mile hill coming down I-89 from Berlin can be a pain-in-the-ass even on nice days. I'm glad everyone was OK and it didn't interfere with the show.

Calexico | Letter to a Bowie Knife
Calexico | Tulsa Telephone Book
Calexico | Love Will Tear Us Apart

Help the Frost Heaves Pick a Coach | UPDATE

When Alexander Wolff announced the creation of the ABA's Vermont Frost Heaves, he promised that the fans would have chances to make decisions for the franchise. Basically, we could all have a say in the GM's role.

Well, the first opportunity to vote on something significant has arrived. Wolff is going to let the fans choose the head coach of the Frost Heaves (who start playing games in November).

Wolff has interviewed several candidates and narrowed the list. Now, it'll be our chance to vote. In order to be eligible to vote, you have to register with the club by Monday, Apr. 10th @ 3pm. You register by joining the Bump In the Road Club (free; you also get Wolff's press releases emailed to you). You'll then receive an email introducing each of the candidates and instructions on how to vote.

This is campy and dorky but also a lot of fun. It's a good way to get a community involved in the team. And quite frankly, whether this team survives or not has less to do with how good they are and more to do with how much they are a part of the community. So, it's a good move by Wolff.

UPDATE: We have a coach! Will Voigt will be the Frost Heaves first head coach. He recieved 65% of the 739 votes which seems like a landslide. Since I can't imagine that many people knew of either of the candidates and their resumes were very similar, it looks like voters gravitated towards the local guy.

Voight is currently coaching in that basketball hotbed...Norway. However, a dozen years ago, he graduated from Cabot High School. It'll certainly add to the community feeling of the club.

I actually voted for the other guy but that was only because I had missed this key piece of information about Voight...according to Alexander Wolff, "As for Will, my SI colleague Grant Wahl ran into him a couple of years ago at a big man’s camp in the Nigerian upcountry". Whoa! A friend of Grant Wahl's is a friend of mine. Wahl is a super-duper kick-ass soccer journalist. So, if this guy knows Grant Wahl, he's A-OK by me.

So, what will we get to vote on next?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Want a Ticket to Clap Your Hands? | UPDATE

When Higher Ground announced Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was going to play in Burlington on Apr 11th, I was pretty damn excited. So, I immediately went out and grabbed a ticket. Flash forward two months and now I can't go.

Unfortunately, I have to be in Wheeling, WV for a 9am meeting on April 12th and there aren't any direct flights between Burlington and Pittsburgh. So, I need to fly in the night before. That means I can't see the Clap Your Hands show. It sucks and is depressing but I can't do anything about it. However, it makes me particularly happy that I caught them down in Northampton last summer.

So, if anyone wants my ticket, let me know and you can have it. No charge. I'd just be happy to know someone is using the ticket.

If you want the ticket, email me (jamkids (at) gmail (dot) com). You'll have to pick it up in Montpelier.

CYHSY | Details of the War (courtesy of Out The Other)
CYHSY | In This Home On Ice (courtesy of The Deli Magazine)
CYHSY | Cigarettes (demo)

UPDATE: As expected, I missed the show and had a crappy time in West Virginia. However, I was glad to hear that my ticket was used by one of The Jazz Guys. Since I'm a fan, I'm glad the ticket was well used.

According to Bobby Domino at Underpants Records, the sound was horrible. However, jds says the sound got better after a rough start. You can see jds' photos via a flickr slideshow here.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Want To Win a Free T-Shirt?

Bo, over at Eat More Kale shirts, is having a contest on his blog. He's thinking of a number between 1 and 100. If you guess what it is, you win a free t-shirt. It doesn't get any easier than that.

And his t-shirts are the best ones I own. Thick cotton and cool prints.

I guessed 22. I was wrong.

UPDATE: As of Friday morning, there doesn't appear to have been a winner. So, there's still time to make a guess.


I knew that Bayern Munich had a new stadium and suspected that it would be used for this summer's World Cup. However, I didn't know how striking its design was until I saw a post about it on the architecture blog Tropolism.

The stadium will host the opening game of the World Cup between Germany and Costa Rica (good luck, Ticos), Tunisia v Saudi Arabia, Brazil v Australia and Ivory Coast v Serbia & Montenegro. A second round match and one of the semi-finals will also be played there.

The use of light, curvature of the exterior wall and trapeziodal sections certainly make it stand-out among other stadiums. The downside to the stadium is that it was built north of Munich rather than in the city itself.

It's odd because they seemed to have copied the idea from the US of building large stadiums outside of major towns. However, currently, in the US, Major League Soccer is trying to copy the European model of building stadiums in urban areas rather than in the suburbs. We seemed to have swapped ideas.

UPDATE: In the comments, Flo and cj have posted links to more info and photos of the stadium. Thanks for the tips, guys.

Also from Tropolism, I wanted to post this picture of the new swimming center in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics. The guy who writes the blog put it best: "Wacky in a way only state-sponsored architecture can be".

I like how the illuminated exterior walls cast bubble-like images out into the parking lot.

UPDATE: cj sent over a link this afternoon to an architectural review of the Allianz Arena in The New Yorker this week. The New Yorker doesn't keep links active for very long. So, here's a little clip about a part of the stadium that isn't obvious from the photos and links above.

Unlike most American stadiums, the Allianz Arena is not surrounded by acres of parking lots, and the visual approach to the arena is as meticulously designed as anything within the building itself. Parking space is embedded in a partially sunken multilayered structure, atop which is the main pedestrian entry path to the arena. The path is lined with enormous lamps that look like hot-air balloons—whimsical echoes of the façade—and it begins at a train-and-bus station, so that people who arrive by car and those who take public transportation merge together as they walk along the elevated boulevard.

When you enter the arena, you go up one of several monumental staircases tucked between the pillowy exterior and the concrete inner structure of the stadium. The staircases curve as they rise, reflecting the rounded shape of the stadium. The stairs are one of the best things in the building. You get enticing glimpses of the angular metal framework that supports the façade as you walk up, and, at night, the colored lights create a lurid atmosphere that bears a beguiling resemblance to German Expressionism: “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” transported to the realm of sport.

I wish the US was playing there this summer. It would have been cool to visit. How far is it from Frankfurt to Munich?

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Just to prove that I'm not the only person obsessing over this new stadium, check out this site. Somebody has built a replica out of the stadium using Legos. And a nice one at that. I particularly like the smoke coming from the supporters section behind the goal. Nice touch.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Neil Cleary | Coming to Langdon Street | Apr 8th

One of the godfathers of the Burlington indie scene will be playing at Langdon Street Cafe on Saturday, Apr 10th. Neil Cleary will be making the trek down I-89 to knock out a collection of rock tunes; diverting from his alt-country recent past. Playing the part of his band will be Frank (drummer) and Herb (bass) of The Jazz Guys and Bill Mullins. So, it should be a pretty entertaining show.

Cleary spent the 90's playing in The Pants which I've never heard but constantly hear ravings about. It's almost bizarre. If you mention The Pants to anyone into indie music around here, folks start raving about them like they saw the Beatles at The Cavern Club. So, I'm particularly excited to hear Cleary's set on Saturday night.

Since The Pants split up, Cleary has played with other bands such as Essex Green and released some solo material. The material has been more folky and alt-country than the pop punk of The Pants. However, at Langdon St. on Saturday, his set will be more rock oriented. And with Herb and Frank along for the ride, it should be pretty entertaining.

Cleary is scheduled for 9:30ish and the folk group of Austin & Elliot will be kicking the night off at 8:00pm. For those of you in the NYC area, Cleary will be playing the Mercury Lounge the night before (Apr 7th).

By the way, The Pants will be playing a reunion show at Higher Ground on May 27th. I feel I need to see this show to understand the look in everyone's eyes when they start talking about The Pants.

Neil Cleary | That Girl's In Love
Neil Cleary | Good Feeling
Neil Cleary | I'm Not So Sure

Out of 5 | Songs Without Words

Quick note. Out of 5 this week is all instrumentals.

Unfortunately, they didn't include The Young Holt Trio's sizzling live version of "Wack Wack".

Young Holt Trio | Wack Wack

Monday, April 03, 2006

Arctic Monkeys | Le Spectrum | Mar 22nd

It's been almost two weeks since the show and I still haven't gotten around to posting a review of this show. So, I've decided to toss in the towel and just post the pictures and a few words.

I caught the show with jds and three other friends from Montpelier. We grabbed some sushi at Jun I before the show which was pretty good. A bit pricey but the fish was buttah.

I love The Spinto Band's debut album Nice & Nicely Done but their sound was a bit thin for a large space. They need to work out their sound issues but otherwise, they were fun to watch. They have that Beatles head shake and torso swinging down pat. After their performance, I spoke to one of the guys from the band that had just graduated from Bennington College. Nice guy although he seemed shocked that there were people from Vermont at the show.

We moved a lot closer to the stage for Arctic Monkeys' set. It worked out well because we were close to the stage but just outside the pit of McGill fratboys that were bouncing around and crowd surfing. Arctic Monkeys don't have a wild stage show but those songs sounded sooooo good live. I love that album but the songs sounded even better live. It was obvious that the songs had been minted and polished while playing an endless string of pub dates before hitting it big. In fact, jds made a keen observation about the difference in sound between Arctic Monkeys and The Spintos. He pointed out that you could tell which band had guys who grew up in a working class world and which band grew up with home recording equipment and the time to explore soundscapes.

The cool part of Arctic Monkeys set was that they blasted through their set; knocking down every big song off their album. Then they said godnight and left the stage. That was it. No encore. No silly faux orchestrated return to the stage. They just banged out their songs and let us get home. With a two hours drive ahead of us, it was greatly appreciated. I wish more bands would do this. If the crowd truely goes nuts and surprises the band, go ahead and play an encore. Otherwise, just play your full set straight through and be done. Well done, Arctic Monkeys. We were home by 1:15am which is great for a Montreal show.

Oh, One other thing. I couldn't understand a single friggin' thing Alex Turner said to the crowd. That accent is thick as can be; worse than any interview with a Scottish soccer player on Sky Sports. But hilarious at the same time.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Quick post.

extrawack! was guest blogging on spinachdipnyc yesterday and he left a link to a tune called "Situation" off Irving's new album Death In the Garden, Blood On the Flowers. It rocks and is immediately infectious. Fun song for a nice spring day.

Get it here.