Tuesday, December 29, 2009

End of a Decade.

I know everyone's tired of all the Y2K jokes, but I thought it would be hilarious to have a 1999-themed party, complete with a rice and beans menu, a marathon of my favorite movies of the year (Fight Club, American Beauty, Being John Malkovich), as well as a soundtrack of the self titled Le Tigre album, Wilco's Summerteeth, Blaster The Rocketman's The Monster Who Ate Jesus, and Damien Jurado's Rehearsals For Departure. But, being the procrastinator that I am, I didn't give myself the time to plan such an event.

Instead, I went to a bonfire, spent time with some good friends, and went home the next day and finished up my albums-and-movies-of-the-decade lists.

You won't find a Pitchfork-esque "cream of the crop" list here, but more of a list of albums and movies that moved me, influenced my songwriting, changed my life, etc. I know there are a lot of repeat offenders, don't knock me.

Here they are.


100. The Juliana Theory “Emotion Is Dead” (Tooth And Nail, 2000)
99. Bob Dylan “Modern Times” (Sony, 2006)
98. Jack Johnson "On And On" (Brushfire, 2003)
97. The Kills “No Wow” (RCA, 2005)
96. Arctic Monkeys “Humbug” (Domino, 2009)
95. Wolfmother “Wolfmother” (Interscope, 2006)
94. Brand New “Deja Entendu” (Razor And Tie, 2003)
93. The Horrors "Strange House" (Stolen Transmittion, 2007)
92. Murder City Devils “In Name And Blood” (Sub Pop, 2000)
91. The Builders And The Butchers “The Builders And The Butchers” (Bladen County, 2008)
90. The Exploding Hearts “Shattered” (Dirtnap, 2006)
89. The Arcade Fire "Neon Bible" (Merge, 2007)
88. Loretta Lynn “Van Lear Rose” (Interscope, 2004)
87. Rilo Kiley “More Adventurous” (Brute/Beaute, 2004)
86. Bob Dylan “Love And Theft” (Sony, 2001)
85. Tim Easton “Break Your Mother’s Heart” (New West, 2003)
84. Showbread “No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical” (Tooth And Nail, 2004)
83. The Blood Brothers "Burn, Piano Island, Burn" (V2, 2003)
82. Modest Mouse "Good News For People Who Love Bad News" (Epic, 2004)
81. Yo La Tengo “I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass” (Matador, 2006)
80. Black Lips "Good Bad Not Evil" (Vice, 2007)
79. Tegan And Sara “Sainthood” (Sire, 2009)
78. Against Me! “New Wave” (Sire, 2007)
77. Air "The Virgin Suicides: Original Motion Picture Score" (Astralwerks, 2000)
76. River City Rebels “In Love/Loveless” (self released, 2009)
75. Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Fever To Tell” (Interscope, 2003)
74. The Black Keys "Rubber Factory" (Fat Possum, 2004)
73. Fucked Up “The Chemistry Of Common Life” (Matador, (2008)
72. The Juliana Theory “Music From Another Room EP” (Tooth And Nail, 2001)
71. The Killers "Hot Fuss" (Island, 2004)
70. Blenderhead “Figureheads On The Forefront Of Pop Culture” (Tooth And Nail, 2001)
69. The Filthy 42s “Positively South Jersey” (Boot To Head, 2007)
68. mewithoutYou “[A-->B] Life” (Tooth And Nail, 2002)
67. The Avett Brothers "The Gleam" (Ramseur, 2006)
66. The White Stripes "Elephant" (V2, 2003)
65. Blindside "Silence" (Elektra, 2002)
64. Squad Five-O “Late News Breaking” (Capitol, 2004)
63. The Strokes “Is This It” (RCA, 2001)
62. Queens of the Stone Age "Songs For The Deaf" (Interscope, 2002)
61. Interpol “Turn On The Bright Lights” (Matador, 2002)
60. Karen O And The Kids "Where The Wild Things Are: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" (Interscope, 2009)
59. Bright Eyes "Cassadaga" (Saddle Creek, 2007)
58. Death From Above 1979 "You're A Woman, I'm A Machine" (Vice, 2004)
57. Kings Of Leon “Because Of The Times” (RCA, 2007)
56. Element 101 "Stereo Girl" (Tooth And Nail, 2001)
55. The Muffs “Really Really Happy” (Five Foot Two, 2005)
54. Palomar "Palomar II" (Self-Starter, 2002)
53. The Killers "Sam's Town" (Island, 2006)
52. Pedro The Lion “It’s Hard To Find A Friend” (Jade Tree, 2001)
51. Matt Costa "Songs We Sing" (Brushfire, 2006)
50. Ben Kweller “Changing Horses” (ATO, 2009)
49. Mates Of State "Bring It Back" (Barsuk, 2006)
48. Joe Strummer And The Mescaleros "Global A Go-Go" (Hellcat, 2001)
47. The Bronx “The Bronx” (White Drugs, 2003)
46. Sarah Carter “Sarah Carter” (self released, 2009)
45. Interpol "Antics" (Matador, 2004)
44. Ryan Adams “Easy Tiger” (Lost Highway, 2007)
43. One 21 "One 21" (Facedown, 2001)
42. Monsters Of Folk "Monsters Of Folk" (Shangri-La, 2009)
41. Titus Andronicus "The Airing Of Grievances" (Beggars/XL, 2009)
40. This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb "Front Seat Solidarity" (Plan-It-X, 2006)
39. Squad Five-O "Bombs Over Broadway" (Tooth And Nail, 2000)
38. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club "Howl" (Red Int/Red Ink, 2005)
37. Frank Turner "Poetry Of The Deed" (Epitaph, 2009)
36. mewithoutYou "Brother, Sister" (Tooth And Nail, 2006)
35. My Chemical Romance "The Black Parade" (Warner, 2006)
34. Destroy Nate Allen "Take It Easy" (Quiver Society, 2007)
33. Huntingtons "Songs In The Key Of You" (Tooth And Nail, 2001)
32. Gasoline Heart "You Know Who You Are" (Mono Vs. Stereo, 2006)
31. She And Him "Vol. 1" (Merge, 2008)
30. Wilco "Sky Blue Sky" (Nonesuch, 2007)
29. Ryan Adams "Gold" (Lost Highway, 2001)
28. The White Stripes "De Stijl" (Sympathy For The Record Industry, 2000)
27. Tegan And Sara "If It Was You" (Sanctuary, 2003)
26. Fucked Up "Hidden World" (Jade Tree, 2006)
25. Pinback "Summer In Abaddon" (Touch And Go, 2004)
24. The Sounds "Living In America" (Watertower, 2003)
23. Paul Baribeau "Grand Ledge" (Plan-It-X, 2007)
22. Modest Mouse "The Moon And Antarctica" (Epic, 2000)
21. The Gaslight Anthem "The '59 Sound" (SideOne Dummy, 2008)
20. The Hives "Veni Vidi Vicious" (Burning Heart, 2000)
19. The Raconteurs "Consolers Of The Lonely" (Warner/Third Man, 2008)
18. The Avett Brothers "Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions" (Ramseur, 2006)
17. Neko Case "Middle Cyclone" (Anti, 2009)
16. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club "Baby 81" (Red Int/Red Ink, 2007)
15. The Everybodyfields "Nothing Is Okay" (Ramseur, 2007)
14. Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Show Your Bones" (Interscope, 2006)
13. Ben Kweller "Sha Sha" (ATO, 2002)
12. The Hives "Tyrannosaurus Hives" (Interscope, 2004)
11. Neko Case "Blacklisted" (Anti, 2003)
10. The Avett Brothers "Emotionalism" (Ramseur, 2007)
9. Against Me! "Searching For A Former Clarity" (Fat Wreck, 2005)
8. Tegan And Sara "So Jealous" (Sanctuary, 2004)
7. Kings Of Leon "Youth And Young Manhood" (RCA, 2003)
6. Gillian Welch "Time (The Revelator)" (Acony, 2001)
5. Ryan Adams "Heartbreaker" (Bloodshot, 2000)
4. Ben Kweller "On My Way" (ATO, 2004)
3. The Avett Brothers "I and Love and You" (American, 2009)
2. Wilco "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" (Nonesuch, 2002)
1. The White Stripes "White Blood Cells" (V2, 2002)


100. Cast Away (Robert Zemeckis, 2000)
99. Mean Girls (Mark Waters, 2004)
98. Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe, 2000)
97. Frida (Julie Taymor, 2002)
96. Lost In Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)
95. Into The Wild (Sean Penn, 2007)
94. Walk The Line (James Mangold, 2005)
93. The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, 2007)
92. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Shane Black, 2005)
91. Team America: World Police (Trey Parker, 2004)
90. Whale Rider (Niki Caro, 2002)
89. Hot Rod (Akiva Schaffer, 2007)
88. 50 First Dates (Peter Segal, 2004)
87. Avatar (James Cameron, 2009)
86. Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003)
85. Equilibrium (Kurt Wimmer, 2002)
84. Vanilla Sky (Cameron Crowe, 2001)
83. 3:10 To Yuma (James Mangold, 2007)
82. Once Upon A Time In Mexico (Robert Rodriguez, 2003)
81. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, 2009)
80. Pay It Forward (Mimi Leder, 2000)
79. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (Garth Jennings, 2005)
78. Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle, 2008)
77. Juno (Jason Reitman, 2007)
76. Star Trek (J.J. Abrams, 2009)
75. Blood Diamond (Edward Zwick, 2006)
74. School Of Rock (Richard Linklater, 2004)
73. Spiderman 2 (Sam Raimi, 2004)
72. A Mighty Wind (Christopher Guest, 2003)
71. Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff, 2001)
70. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Alfonso Cuaron, 2004)
69. Iron Man (Jon Favreau, 2007)
68. American Gangster (Ridley Scott, 2007)
67. Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005)
66. Monsters, Inc. (Pete Docter, 2001)
65. Thank You For Smoking (Jason Reitman, 2006)
64. Sin City (Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez, 2005)
63. Ocean’s Eleven (Steven Soderbergh, 2001)
62. Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2006)
61. Snatch (Guy Ritchie, 2000)
60. Hellboy (Guillermo Del Toro, 2004)
59. Where The Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze, 2009)
58. The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, 2008)
57. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006)
56. Elephant (Gus Van Sant, 2003)
55. District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009)
54. Catch Me If You Can (Steven Spielberg, 2002)
53. Requiem For A Dream (Darren Aronofsky, 2000)
52. Garden State (Zach Braff, 2004)
51. The Gangs of New York (Martin Scorsese, 2002)
50. A Beautiful Mind (Ron Howard, 2001)
49. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (Judd Apatow, 2005)
48. The Bourne Identity (Doug Liman, 2002)
47. O’ Brother, Where Art Thou? (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2000)
46. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson, 2004)
45. WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)
44. Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly, 2001)
43. Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie, 2007)
42. V For Vendetta (James McTeigue, 2006)
41. The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)
40. Amelie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)
39. Grindhouse (Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino, 2007)
38. Napoleon Dynamite (Jared Hess, 2004)
37. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
36. Blow (Ted Demme, 2001)
35. The Aviator (Martin Scorsese, 2004)
34. Everything Is Illuminated (Liev Shreiber, 2005)
33. Munich (Steven Spielberg, 2005)
32. The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, 2006)
31. X2: X-Men United (Bryan Singer, 2003)
30. Knocked Up (Judd Apatow, 2007)
29. Saved! (Brian Dannelly, 2004)
28. Cold Mountain (Anthony Minghella, 2003)
27. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy (Adam McKay, 2004)
26. Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007)
25. Coffee And Cigarettes (Jim Jarmusch, 2003)
24. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher, 2008)
23. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)
22. The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004)
21. Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood, 2008)
20. Punch Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)
19. Kill Bill Vol. 2 (Quentin Tarantino, 2004)
18. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Peter Jackson, 2003)
17. Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2005)
16. City Of God (Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, 2002)
15. No Country For Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
14. Adaptation. (Spike Jonze, 2002)
13. I’m Not There (Todd Haynes, 2007)
12. 28 Days Later (Danny Boyle, 2002)
11. Idiocracy (Mike Judge, 2006)
10. Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004)
9. Big Fish (Tim Burton, 2003)
8. High Fidelity (Stephen Frears, 2000)
7. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (Quentin Tarantino, 2003)
6. Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000)
5. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Peter Jackson, 2001)
4. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
3. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
2. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michele Gondry, 2004)

I'd love to hear any comments, films/albums I missed (there were a lot I never got to see and hear), and the like.

Or if anyone's interested in having a Y2K theme party, let me know.
I'll be here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


It's been -30 degrees and and my car hasn't been too happy running in that temperature, so I'm trying to stay inside a good amount this weekend and knock out my to-do list. I got some comics and Frank Turner's new album, "Poetry of the Deed" to keep me company.

I don't know how I am just finding out about him, but he is awesome. This album flows from traditional english folk to modern folk to punk to pop and back and everywhere in between, and has catchy sing-alongs all over the place.

Check it out: www.frank-turner.com

I finally did get my Christmas tree up this weekend, and also saw Avatar in 3D, and thoroughly enjoyed what I thought would be needless sensory overload (note the sweet 3D glasses).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

And we will drive these warlords out.

The other day I was listening to Gasoline Heart's first album, You Know Who You Are at work, and it brought back great memories of riding a bike in East Atlanta and made me long for the city and warm weather.

It's been snowing, below zero degrees, and although I'm enjoying this Alaskan winter, I'm looking forward to moving to Minneapolis this coming February.

Looking forward to the springtime, the city, and plenty of music.

I miss being able to see the bands I listen to everyday, like I did when I was in Atlanta, and I'm hoping to do plenty of that when I move.

Once, I rode bikes with some friends to a Ghost Mice show at this cool art space called Wonder Root in Atlanta, sometime around my birthday this last March.
I walked in the door, happy to see my friends Chris Johnston and Eric Ayotte, who I'd met on an aforementioned trip to Gainesville, who welcomed me with warm smiles and hugs.

It was a great night, and I was pleased to catch one of the opening bands, Atlanta's own The Wild. The burst of folk-punk joy coming from these 4 kids was not much different stylistically than Ghost Mice, apart from the added drumkit and extra pair of voices, and they played with such solid confidence, bravado and stamina, you'd have figured they were co-headlining.

One of the things I loved about this band was the lyrics, which were decidedly upbeat, clear, and sung with a big smile. I got a 7" from them, which came on brown vinyl that boasts great renditions of the songs I heard that night, which play like most feelgood basement anthems: full of cheer, acoustic guitar, and the combined voices of girls and boys singing about staying positive in a sad world.

Here's a snippet:

"Well the answers are still blowin' in the wind, despite all the efforts of politicians. But no breeze will ever loosen our grip, we'll rise our fist with a grin! 'Cause who wouldn't die for their best friend? We'll wipe the sweat from our brow, and we'll drive these warlords out".

By the time I write this, the second pressing of said 7" will probably already be sold out, because these are the kinds of songs you want to listen to over and over until you know all the words. Based on the solid performance I saw and their great attitude, these boys and girls should be going places.

Good places.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


For being sick sometimes so I can remember what it feels like to be well.
For cheetah and zebra print snuggies and robotic reading lights.
For families and friends and peace.
For tap dancing and Melissa Etheridge singing about global warming.

And mostly, for the awesomeness of this video.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

American Graffitti II

Found in the bathroom at Fred Meyers. This shit just cracks me up.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On Maturity

Sometimes I anticipate an album by one of my favorite bands, and it lets me down, and even though I don't like it nearly as much as the band's earlier albums, I continue to listen to it bit by bit. I'm not quite sure why I do this; maybe it's hard for me to let a band go, that I'm not content to just ignore them.

In some cases, I continue to dislike the album, and eventually quit listening to it, or something else magical happens.

It grows on me, and (gasp) even becomes one of my favorite albums!

I wonder if (and I'm sure its a case-by-case basis) it has to do with my ears maturing to the point of enjoying the music, or my brain coming to the point of absorbing and eventually accepting the sounds coming from the stereo.

This year has surely had it's share of winners, duds, and growers.

Here is the list (including a few albums from late last year):


1. Tegan and Sara "Sainthood"
2. The Avett Brothers "I and Love and You"
3. Karen O and the Kids "Where The Wild Things Are (Soundtrack)"
4. Arctic Monkeys "Humbug"
5. Neko Case "Middle Cyclone"


1. mewithoutYou "It's All Crazy! It's all False! It's All A Dream! It's Alright"
2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs "It's Blitz!"
3. Bruce Springsteen "Working On A Dream"
4. Bob Dylan "Together Through Life"
5. The Killers "Day And Age"


1. The Dead Weather "Horehound"
2. Kings Of Leon "Only By The Night"
3. Wilco "Wilco (The Album)"
4. Black Lips "200 Million Thousand"
5. Ben Kweller "Changing Horses"

Though the monotony and lack of passionate screams on the mewithoutYou album, and the fuzz-charged garagey direction on the Josh Homme-produced Arctic Monkeys album came as a surprise, the biggest surprise of all these is the stark differences between Karen O's fun, charming, cute, and sentimental "Where The Wild Things Are" soundtrack, and the bland, slow, radio friendly Yeah Yeah Yeahs album.

Maybe in a year, I'll start loving it like I did lately with the newest Kings of Leon album. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for untrained childrens' choirs and Daniel Johnston covers.

Honorable (grower/winner) mentions:
1. Fucked Up "The Chemistry of Common Life"
2. Gasoline Heart "Nostalgia Ain't What It Used To Be"
3. Endless Mike and The Beagle Club "We Are Still At War".

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Trilogy of Summers

After deciding with my friend Sarah that the so un-pc term "indian summer" needed to be changed, I thought, why not Second Summer (like Pippin from Lord of the Rings suggests to Gandalf "what about Second Breakfast?"), as if it was the sequel the original.

Well, in Alaska this might seem like a bad joke, because our summers, which are short, are then sabotaged by a bout of rain in August. The rain heralds the end of the first part of the season, and our "second summer" feels like just a few days long.

There's a saying here that there are two seasons: Tourism and winter.
Which is pretty accurate, considering the autumn and spring each barely have a month to call thier own. However, the past two years have thrown us Alaskans for a big loop weather-wise, as we had the coldest summer in over a hundred years in 2008, and a record-breaking 100 degree (literally) turnaround in January of this year (from 50 below to 50 above in just 3 days). I was in Atlanta during this particular heatwave, and while I was biking to my part-time dishwashing job all bundled up, I was informed by a friend back home that in the dead of Alaskan winter, it was warmer in my hometown than the 30 degree "HOTlanta".

Whatever, man, whatever!

Which brings us to Summer of 2009, which is the hot version of last year. We've had beautiful sunny days, and it even got up to the mid 90s in July (again I was traveling out of state, why am I always gone for these things?).

After our usual half month of rain in August, the second summer seemed to have legitimacy this time, but like every year, had to end at some point. By the end of September, the frost and the snow came once again, and I broke out the long underwear and scarves. But just as it started to get really cold, summer seemed to be screaming "I'm melting! I'm melting!!!", and wouldn't go down without a fight.

So we've had another round of beautiful, warm days for the last two weeks, and are expected to have another solid week of this stuff. It appears we are in for a third summer this year, which I think is God's personal way of telling me he loves me (I do not enjoy cold weather, snow or the necessity of long underwear).

Here's my Summer Sequel Soundtrack:

1. American Music by The Violent Femmes
2. David Comes To Life by Fucked Up
3. Boom Swagger Boom by Murder City Devils
4. Kick Drum Heart by The Avett Brothers
5. Sentimental Heart by She and Him (Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward)
6. At My Window Sad And Lonely by Billy Bragg and Wilco
7. Slow It Down by Larry And His Flask
8. Back Into Eden by Endless Mike and the Beagle Club
9. Poor, Poor, LA by Tim Easton
10. You Never Know by Wilco
11. St. Joseph's by The Avett Brothers
12. Lonely Anywhere by The Everybodyfields
13. When You Wake Up Feeling Old by Wilco

Looks like the little posse of leaves hanging out on the tree are chilling out, staying tune 'til winter finally kicks them off.

Me too, I guess.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

American Graffitti

My band played an acoustic show at the mall. I found this funny stuff people wrote.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I miss that band.

Once my band was on tour and played a show in Gainesville, Florida. I was really sick, and I had to throw up before and after we played. I was really sad, because I was so excited to be there, and did not plan on feeling miserable the whole time. The next day, we were supposed to play in Tampa, but the show got canceled so we stayed an extra day in G-ville. I'm so happy we did, because I got to see this guy Paul Baribeau, who had been at our show the night before, play a little house show. He was part of a three-artist tour with Eric Ayotte and Super Bobby (both of which were also involved in a screening of a video compilation they had put together).

I'd never heard of Paul Baribeau before, but he became one of my favorite artists that night, which is really rare for just a guy sitting on the floor with a guitar. Most of his lyrics deal with breakups or happy memories of playing in punk rock bands or being in a girls arms, which, as simple as it sounds, causes my heart to jump a little.

I picked up both of his two albums, and they are little nuggets of solid gold. He also did an album with Ginger Alford (of Plan-it-x records labelmates Good Luck), comprised of all Bruce Springsteen covers. I really need to get that album. This is the Amazon.com review of his second album, Grand Ledge.

"Paul is from Grand Rapids Michigan, he plays guitar and sings from the soul. If his words don't move you then you can't be moved. He is honest and amazing."

There isn't much to add to that.


Friday, September 11, 2009

New York, New York.

I got in a conversation with my friend about patriotism the other day, and how we are taught to be patriotic from a young age. It made me wonder why people want to be proud to separate themselves from other people in different places around the world and hold themselves above others. Although I believe it derives from mankind's pride and selfishness, it also results in beautiful culture. I doubt that without slavery we'd have the blues, and I'm sure that without the wars, we wouldn't have the beautiful protest songs.

It's bittersweet to me, as an American musician, to know that the only reason we as a culture are able to make the music we make is because we were so focused on being an independent country, independent from other people groups, not accountable for the suffering of others. I don't want to bite the hand that feeds, and I am happy that I was raised in this country, but that's mainly because it's home, and it's what I know. If I was raised in another place, I feel like I'd be happier there than anywhere else.

I know I don't have the same scope and perspective as others, but for me, I think the only thing that would make me proud to be American (or patriotic) is American music. I just hope that I don't perpetuate the things I see as being wrong.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I and Love and New: The Missing Banjo

Rarely do I ever download music, but lately I have been enjoying getting free downloads with purchases of albums on vinyl, which I'm seeing offered more and more (this is a good thing!).

One such purchase was the new Avett Brothers album, "I and Love and You". The album doesn't come out for a few weeks, but I got a sneak peek via a friend's Torrent download (not squealing), which I didn't feel bad about since I'd already pre-ordered the record.

I was pretty skeptical of what the Avetts would do next, since they were working with producer Rick Rubin (best known for Johnny Cash's last few albums, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and the infamous Aerosmith/Run-DMC collaboration of "Walk This Way"). With Rubin's background in metal and hip hop and the Avetts' stripped-down americana sound, I was simultaneously excited and scared for what would come of it.

I heard 3 songs off the album, in the form of a downloadable EP, which eased my concern. Album tracks "I and Love and You", "Kick Drum Heart" and "Laundry Room" were just as good if not better than anything I'd heard in the Avett catalog.

There is just one thing I'm lamenting: the missing banjo.
The trademark sound the brothers are known for have has always been based on the banjo/acoustic guitar/upright bass/sporadic kick drum and high-hat percussion combination, but that has changed quite a bit on the new album.

Nearly every song features Scott Avett playing a full drum set, or sees him trading his banjo in for a piano-laden ballad (or both). I can hardly complain about this, because he plays both beautifully, and it's nice to hear him showcasing his other talents, but I can't help but hope he goes back to banjo on the next album.

I've heard several people say that they think it's too polished or overproduced, which I wouldn't argue with. It's definitely not "A Carolina Jubilee" or "Four Thieves Gone" all over again, but I'm OK with that. I don't mind the polish or the "perfectness" of it all. For musicians, making the same record over and over gets boring and I don't blame them for trying something different.

As for the album on the whole, the subtlety of the quieter songs and the raw energy of the louder songs are all there, the heartfelt and clever lyrics are all there, and although it's not quite one of my favorite of their records, I'm sure I'll warm up to it more with heavier listening.

Below is the track listing:

1. "I and Love and You"
2. "January Wedding"
3. "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise"
4. "And It Spread"
5. "The Perfect Space"
6. "Ten Thousand Words"
7. "Kick Drum Heart"
8. "Laundry Room"
9. "Ill with Want"
10. "Tin Man"
11. "Slight Figure of Speech"
12. "It Goes On and On"
13. "Incomplete and Insecure"

Key tracks: The Perfect Space, Kick Drum Heart, Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise, Laundry Room, January Wedding and Ill With Want.

To quote my coworker who listened to the album with me today: "The Perfect Space = The Perfect Song". I agree with him. I saw the Brothers play this song as the encore of a Chicago show a few months ago. I'd never heard the song, and after hearing favorite after favorite, The Perfect Space ended up being my favorite song I heard that night.

"I and Love and You" comes out 9/29.


Crunch Berries

With Halloween coming up soon, I got to thinking about what I'd dress as, and while I thought, I realized a regularly used costume prop was growing right on my face: my mustache (oddly, also spelled moustache. Like grey/gray!).

I figured I might as well use it as an accomplice to my disguise, so I came up with a few possible costumes.

Asterix the Viking

That dude from "Mythbusters"

Cap'n Crunch

I actually already have a Cap'n Crunch costume that I made for a previous Halloween, but never wore. While I was searching for an image of the esteemed captain, I found this funny article.

Share your comments on which I should pick.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

dilligence is brilliance

I've been pretty sloppy with my finances over the years, and decided it was time to NAIL it DOWN and get on my feet. So I'm taking this Financial Peace class, which is teaching me to write out and follow the dreaded B word. Budget. However, I'm learning that writing it all out and following it home is going to let me tell the money where to go, instead of wondering where it all went!

Writing things down and following through on these kinds of things always pays off in the end I've learned, so I'm pretty excited.

Speaking of writing things down, I just found this guy's blog, who is doing a review a day of every album in his collection, (1200 CDs and vinyls, and counting). Some of the reviews are pretty awesome, and he's about 172 albums through so far.


I took a cue from that and decided I'd write something, maybe not a review per se, but a memory or a story attached to various albums in my collection.

To start, I decided to tell about Air's 1998 debut "Moon Safari".
I first discovered this album while I was in a Youth With A Mission school in South Africa in 2005, and my friend Mary had it on her computer. Among the 18 other students, she was the only one with a laptop, which enabled her to use it as a stereo for us to all listen to during card games, reading or whatever quiet activities we did together.

This was one of the safe havens of living cooped up in a 6 story boys shelter in Johannesburg when there was nothing to do or nowhere to go (it wasn't a safe neighborhood to go exploring in).

This album is a masterpiece of chilled out electronic jamming and soothing vocoder-soaked vocals. I normally wouldn't be into this sort of thing, but I've got a soft spot for well-crafted pop albums like this. After I returned home to Alaska, I listened to this album all the time on my car rides to work or school, especially in the rainy or cold days. I haven't hardly listened to it in the last few years, but it remains one of those albums I can come back to anytime and still hear new things.

Key tracks: Sexy Boy, Kelly Watch The Stars, and Remember
Random fact: Sexy Boy was the song from 10 Things I Hate About You when they are tossing the flyers down the stairs.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

John the Baptist strikes again.

There's this homeless fellow in Fairbanks who most people in town have had some kind of encounter with. He pushes shopping carts all over town with stuff inside, collected from the transfer sites (dumpster heaven for those living outside the city limits where the garbage trucks don't circulate) and other places around town. These rows and stacks of shopping carts almost look like modern art displays (and very well may be). The cherry on top is that he always speaks in a King James vocabulary that is hard to follow, giving him the nickname John the Baptist.

Here is an example of one such artful installation seen around town.

The legend I've heard is that he is actually a genius and used to be a professor at the university here in Fairbanks, but gave it up to live a simple life and serve the Lord. I am unsure, but I'm sure I could do some digging and get the straight story. For now I'm happy to sit back and just appreciate his art.

Monday, August 31, 2009

it's really happening.

Today I realized how fast this year is going by, and how I need to savor it. And I need to catalog it too, not just in my head but on paper, online, with photos, with new songs, etc. Here is the online portion of that.