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 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.