Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Rise and shine, all you gold digging mothers...

Feels like an ideal title for a post offering a live Kings of Leon bootleg...

Kings of Leon @ Big Day Out
Sydney, Australia || January 26, 2006

FM source: sounds great but there are a couple of radio promos thrown inbetween songs that distract from the 'live' ambiance... still crisp though...

1. Triple J Intro
2. Molly's Chambers
3. Pistol of Fire
4. Wasted Time
5. Razz
6. Soft
7. The Bucket
8. Milk
9. Four Kicks
10. King of the Rodeo
11. California Waiting
12. Spiral Staircase
13. Slow Nights, So Long
14. Trani
15. Head to Toe (out of order)

Great to hear a nice live version of "Trani." This song is rather surprising, in that it's a showstopper. I would generally assume the band would go out with a hard rocker, but the band picked well to make this their set closer... a slow burner, that just completely takes off at the end. Another reason why Kings of Leon is one of the best bands around right now. I'm anxiously awaiting the new album. The new songs they played when I saw them at Summerfest were already really strong.

(I've switched to using to host these songs. It is an easier DL process than and offers the same link activity, etc. I think you can only DL one at a time, but that appears to be the only drawback. In general you should find it an improvement. As always, if you're not already supporting this band by buying their music, you should be ashamed.)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bob Marley Live from Rotterdam

Back in the day, I had an amazing Bob Marley bootleg on tape from Holland's Ahoy Club. It was a a really crisp SBD -- especially considering it was recorded in 1978. Well, I lost the tape (left it in a friend's car and it got "lost") and vowed to try to get another copy of the show if at all possible.

After years of searching, I finally found it! I thought I'd post some highlights for anyone who wants to take a listen.

Bob Marley and the Wailers
Ahoy Hallen - Rotterdam, Holland
July 7, 1978

Setlist: Positive Vibration, The Heathen, Dem Belly Full, Concrete Jungle, Rebel Music, War > No More Trouble, Crisis, Running Away > Crazy Baldheads, I Shot the Sherrif, No Woman No Cry, Is This Love?, Jammin'.
Encore: Easy Skanking, Get Up Stand Up -> Exodus.

Friday, September 08, 2006

You do it to someone else...

Generally, I find tribute albums pretty unfulfilling. It is difficult for another artist to come in and recreate the brilliance of another's piece of work and most attempts just don't resonate. While the occasional cover can absolutely make a performer's live show, recording those versions are often a mistake.

That said, you have to hear this version of Radiohead's "Just" from the Exit Music tribute. DJ/producer Marc Ronson absolutely nails it. The song is completely reimagined with big band horns and Shaft guitars. It smokes... and is just the type of song that begs for mix tape inclusion.

Mark Ronson feat. Alex Greenwald || Just (Radiohead cover)

(Songs hosted by will be avialable until one month past the last download activity. Please support the artists and purchase the music if you enjoy it.)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Conan O'Brien 1864 Baseball

There should be no argument that Conan is the funniest man in late night television. As good as he is on the set, however, he's at his best in segments like this one where his ability to think on the fly and improvise really shines. The Onion AV Club had a great interview with Conan last week. Well worth a read.

Thursday, August 31, 2006


Thinking of hitting up the Brewgrass Microbrew & Music Festival in a couple of weeks. I haven't seen Keller and think this might be a good venue to accomplish that. Don't know much about a ton of the people playing, but this is the kind of thing that would probably be pretty cool irregardless of the music.

Patchchord has a contest for two free tickets (ends 9/6).

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Live Log 2006

A list of the concerts I've seen in 2006...

16. The Raconteurs - 12/30, The Riviera Theatre (Chicago)
15. Keller Williams - 9/9, Brewgrass Music Festival (Bircham Park, Lawrence, KS)
14. Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals/Damien "Jr. Gong" Marley - 8/25, Starlight Theatre
13. Rusted Root - 7/3, Harley Davidson Roadhouse (Summerfest, Milwaukee)
12. Kings of Leon - 7/2, Miller Lite Oasis (Summerfest, Milwaukee)
11. Constantines/Oakley Hall - 6/19, recordBar
10. Starlight Mints/Dios (Malos) - 5/20, recordBar
09. Gomez - 5/15, Grand Emporium
08. Martin Sexton - 4/28, The Bottleneck
07. Destroyer/White Whale - 4/2, recordBar
06. Soledad Brothers/Heartless Bastards - 3/31, The Bottleneck
05. Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah/The Brunettes - 3/30, The Bottleneck
04. Wilco/Mess Hall - 3/21, Uptown Theater
03. Arctic Monkeys/Spinto Band - 3/18, The Metro (Chicago)
02. Railroad Earth/Hackensaw Boys - 3/8, The Bottleneck
01. Robert Randolph and the Family Band - 2/10, Uptown Theater

Friday, August 18, 2006

Three More Days...

Apparently Ray Lamontagne is a bit of a Sensitive Sally, but his new song is the balls.

Ray Lamontagne || Three More Days (from the upcoming Till the Sun Turns Black LP out on Aug. 29)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

From my computer to Graham's...

Here's a mix (mostly of some crisp live tracks) to celebrate the new design of I Wonder Why We Listen to Poets...

Gold To Me > Fight For Your Mind || Ben Harper
(Summer '96 Mix)

Here Comes the Breeze || Gomez
(Live from Chicago '98)

Twist || Mike Gordon & Leo Kottke
(Live from World Cafe, Phish cover)

Blue Ridge Laughing || Carbon Leaf
(Ether... the first CL song I really got into)

The Weight || Travis
(b-side from the Coming Around single)

Astral Weeks || Secret Machines
(Van Morrison cover, Road Leads Where It's Led EP)

Staring at the Sun || The Subways
(live, TV On the Radio cover)

Better Man/Save It For Later || Pearl Jam
(live 9-11-98)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

More on the Whigs

Scratch that "Southern Strokes" thing from yesterday ("Technology" does ape "Take It Or Leave It" though). If Parker Gispert was Britt Daniel, you would have already heard this:

The Whigs || Half the World Away (from Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip)

I had the chance to give Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip a listen last night and it has some pretty good parts. The middle gets a little same-y, but the two closing tracks and a couple of other stand-outs (see above) are really solid and show that the band has the potential to grow into its own style.

If they sound a little like Spoon in the meantime, that's not that bad either.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tracking: The Whigs

Rolling Stone calls them:
"A fiery, young and timelessly tuneful rock trio from Athens, Georgia -- may well be the best unsigned band in America."

ATO Records took care of that last part, by signing them and re-releasing their debut Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip. ATO generally doesn't go wrong with its artist roster (Mike Doughty, North Mississippi All-Stars, etc.) so you know they're worth a listen.

Sometimes it just takes a week.

Every once in awhile while I'm actually hard at work, my iTunes will wander. Most of the time I know where it goes, however, sometimes a song from uncharted territory will find its way into the queue. The Whigs, specifically "Technology" found the balance between being instantly familiar and being unable to place the song/artist playing from my computer.

I never thought Kings of Leon's "Southern Strokes" label fit the Followill brothers all that well, but the Whigs of Athens, Ga., might be the band that wears that brand well -- at least with "Technology." The song is a looser take on "Take It Or Leave It," full taut guitars, vocal distortion and that rhythm the Strokes practically invented back in Ought-one.


The Whigs || Technology (Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip)
The Whigs || Don't Talk Anymore (Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip)

(Songs are for sampling purposes only. Hosted by and are available until 30 days after the last download. Please support the band however you can. Thanks.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Dude, I missed July...

Sometimes it takes a break to show you who your readers are... because they yell at you and tell you that you had better stop being such a slacker and post something soon... or else. Well, no promises on discontinuing my slacker ways, but here's some good stuff I've been checking out recently.

Drive By Truckers || Gravity's Gone

Great chorus:
"So I'll meet you at the bottom if there really is one / They always told me when you hit it you'll know / But I've been falling so long / I feel like gravity is gone / And I'm just floating"

The Black Keys || Have Mercy On Me

From the Keys' Chulahoma tribute to Jr. Kimbrough. A bit of a break from the Black Keys' minimalist two-man blues stomp, the songs on this album see the guys stretch out a bit more. I wish there were more than six songs on this one. Hopefully you'll see some of this vibe work its way into the upcoming release of Magic Potion (due out Sept. 12).

Well, I've got to run out for the day. I have a working computer at home now, so maybe I'll try to post more from there. Enjoy for now!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Secret Machines

I've become a big fan of the Secret Machines' latest effort Ten Silver Drops of late. The Brooklyn-via-Austin three-piece has been burning up my iPod for the last few weeks.

A perfect soundrack for traveling -- or perhaps, time traveling -- TSD makes any trip feel epic, be it flying home for the weekend or heading out to the grocery store. Every time I hear "Lightning Blue Eyes" I feel like something significant is poised to happen.

Thanks to the Live Music Blog for championing the band and posting the picture (second one down) that made it essential I check them out. Sometimes getting turned on to new music takes the perfect synergy of strong reviews, positive endorsements and a stunning visual hook. Secret Machines seem to have all of that and more.

Secret Machines || Lightning Blue Eyes
Secret Machines || 1,000 Seconds

I've recently purchased the group's spectacularly-titled debut Now Here Is Nowhere, so hopefully I'll have the chance to dig deep into that one soon as well. From what I've read, it is a pretty stellar effort and I'm excited to check it out.

(Songs hosted by until they have been inactive for 30 days. The intent is to preview, so please support the band any way you can.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Live: The Constantines/Oakley Hall

recordBar || Kansas City, MO
Monday, June 19, 2006

While some people in the Windy City got to see a life-affirming Radiohead show last night, those of us who weren't able to score tickets had to find other things to keep us occupied. For that I turned to Canada; taking solace in the season finale of our northern neighbors' national sport and a show by the Constantines, who -- if they are not already -- should be the country's national rock band, Tragically Hip be damned.

The Constantines are the current torch-bearers to the legacy of Joe Strummer, creating earnest, driving rock music for the people. Despite the intimate crowd, there were the makings of an epic experience from the beginning. Lead vocalist Bryan Webb sounds like he's singing through gravel, and the hard-won vocal style fits the band's blue collar persona.

Lyrically, the band's songs play populist. One of the night's standout moments came in "Sub-Domestic." Behind a loose delta blues vamp, Webb's line "seeking out a living through the postures of politics" is weighted with sharp contempt for a political system that rewards fake and ineffective politicos to the detriment of anyone else.

Seriousness aside, the Constantines really only seem to care about one thing: the rock. Up close you can appreciate the constant comparisons to Springsteen the band receives. It is not necessarily the music, but more the band's work ethic that draws the more potent parallel. Keyboardist Will Kidman and bassist Dallas Werhle play convincing rock star roles, providing energy and excitement to the stage show, while Webb inhabits the more austere role of the serious artist. Combined they create a force to reckon with, a band that sounds much larger than their venue.

The Constantines || Shine a Light [from Shine a Light LP, 2003]
The Constantines || Nighttime/Anytime (It's Alright) [from Shine a Light LP, 2003]
The Constantines || Sub-Domestic [from Shine a Light LP, 2003]

(Songs are hosted by and are available until they have been inactive for 30 days. Songs are provided for sampling purposes and those that download should try to support the bands in any and every way possible.)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Live: Starlight Mints/Dios Malos

Record Bar || Kansas City, Mo. || May 20, 2006

Went for Dios, was redeemed by the Starlight Mints. Saturday night's set at the recordBar was a study in contrast. I had known a little about Dios Malos going into the night and was looking forward to seeing how they played out; my feeling now is that Dios is one of those bands that is well suited for the recording studio with their brand of melodic, too-indie-for-The OC Cali rock. Live, the vocal melodies that define the records take a back seat to the muddled sounds of the band's playing. I've come to trust recordBar's sound system for its quality, so there was something in the Dios mix that didn't quite gel.

The kicker is that there are some really interesting songs I've heard on the albums, so it was dissapointing to have them sound so one-dimensional at the show. On the plus side, I've never seen rhythm guitar played exclusively on a 12-string.

The feeling of dissapointment was short-lived, however, as a band I knew nothing of before their set, proved to be immensely entertaining. The Starlight Mints play light-hearted indie pop, that is too weird to be mainstream, but too infectious to be dismissed. The stage show was impressive, as the Norman, Okla., five-piece played with multi-colored background images that moved and changed to the music, turning the recordBar from intimate dive to de facto art house.

The Mints' energetic pacing played nicely following Dios' stoner-friendly plodding, making the Mints' set feel that much more fresh. However, while Dios is a band I'll still check out on CD (okay, download), I'm nervous that the Starlight Mints lose something in a singular-media format. The songs were good, but the mixed-media presentation gave them more depth.

In all, it was a night that inspired compound adjectives, good and bad. In the end, that's all you can really ask for from your $8.

Hear the Starlight Mints on myspace
(check "The Bandit").
Hear Dios Malos on myspace (check "Feels Good Being Somebody").

Friday, May 19, 2006

Gomez on KEXP

I failed in ripping Gomez on Morning Becomes Eclectic this morning (ugh!), but I did capture the Ben, Ian and Tom's in-studio performance on Seattle's KEXP a few weeks ago. The set is pretty standard, but does showcase a good portion of How We Operate. I'm a big fan of "Chasing Ghosts With Alcohol."

Live on KEXP (March 21, 2006)
1. How We Operate
2. Hamoa Beach
3. Chasing Ghosts
4. girlshapedlovedrug

Check out the streaming performance from MBE here. The live, extended "How We Operate" is worth a listen. Songs played were: Notice, See the World, HWO, Interview, Hamoa Beach, gsld and Chasing Ghosts.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Live: Gomez

I've been really enjoying the new Gomez effort, How We Operate. The band has created a strong set of songs that sound very refined, but without sacrificing the essence of what has made them a great band -- the songs are polished, but Gomez sounds very loose. The band's signature diversity is still present, but is presented in a way that doesn't isolate a song or group of songs as prior albums had at times. After four proper albums, Gomez finally play to their stregths all the way through, namely Ben Ottewell's raspy vocal and a strong sense of melody.

ATO Records has done a strong promotional job behind the release as well, something Gomez deserves after Virgin glossed over it last two efforts. The title track, and lead single in the U.S., is one of the band's best songs to date. I'm still not sold on the lead U.K. single (and presumably the second U.S. release) "girlshapedlovedrug." The album's lone plateau, the song isn't catchy enough to make it stand out from its competition on radio, nor enough of the band's signature sound to further the Gomez brand. A fine song, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't shine like so much of the album. A record label wouldn't be brave enough to release it, but I think "Cry On Demand" would be a stellar choice to release to radio. It isn't Ben sung, but it's both interesting and poppy enough to be a player on the major rock radio formats. My release schedule would be as follows (planned U.S. releases in parenthesis):

1. How We Operate
2. All Too Much (girlshapedlovedrug)
3. Cry On Demand (See the World)

Grand Emporium || Kansas City, Mo. || May 15, 2006
On Monday night, I had the chance to see the band play live, packt like sardines in the tiny Grand Emporium. The band was dynamic as always and proved itself to be one of the better live bands around.

Setlist: Shot Shot, All Too Much, Silence, See the World, Nothing Is Wrong, Ping One Down, Notice, Blue Moon Rising, "Who's taping Grey's Anatomy?", How We Operate, Ruff Stuff, Hamoa Beach, Girlshaped, Detroit Swing 66, Tear Your Love Apart, Fill My Cup, Get Myself Arrested.
Encore: Chasing Ghosts, Devil Will Ride, Whippin' Piccadilly.

"How We Operate" is already an amazing live song, the band take it for a little walk when the song-proper winds down; it also served as the marker when the night really started to pick up some momentum and the Monday night crowd started to loosen up, a bit. "Ruff Stuff" and Ben's brilliant delivery on the "Come backs" was the tipping point and the remaining laggards in the crowd were overwon.

Tomorrow, I'll put up some live stuff from recent radio sets. I'll also try to update more steadily. It's hard to think what I'm listening to is post-worthy, since it's either Gomez or albums that I didn't dive into when they were released (Elbow, Bloc Party) or have covered already (Both Sides of the Gun).

Monday, May 15, 2006

Gomez Tonight!

I'm going to see Gomez tonight. Full report tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tuesday Boozeday...

At least, if you're from Detroit...

Steve Yzerman exits the ice after what may be his last NHL game.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Martin Sexton Bottleneck mp3s

As promised, here are some mp3s of Martin Sexton's amazing performance from Friday night. "Can't Stop Thinking 'Bout You" is one of those songs that has stayed out of the limelight for me off of Martin's Black Sheep album. It really demanded attention on Friday night. Martin really dug into the vocals and played up the blues angle. "Glory Bound > She Cries and Sings" was a huge highlight for me. One of my favorite songs, it was my first chance to see "Glory Bound" live. Thanks to KCMoeJoe for taping; please visit to grab the full lossless show.

Martin Sexton live at the Bottleneck
Can't Stop Thinking 'Bout You
Glory Bound >
She Cries and Sings

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Live: Martin Sexton

Friday night was Martin Sexton. I had almost forgotten how inspiring his shows can be, especially in the close confines of a venue like the Bottleneck. The last two times I had seen Martin were festival sets (at Wakarusa and opening for Robert Randolph/Los Lonely Boys at City Market) and didn't nearly do justice to the experience.

Among the best shows I have seen of late, I was amazed by the feeling of community Martin creates throughout the night. Part of it through awe -- in many ways his performance defies logic, with so many different sounds from just one person on stage -- but part of it through the active role you play as a member of the crowd. I don't know if I've had more fun singing, clapping and echoing. There's something about it that's just sublime. My friends hadn't seen Marty before and they were blown away as well. It is one thing to hear, but another thing to see and feel.

A performance of "Hallelujah" from Martin's Earth Day set outside of Grand Central Station as part of the Green Apple Music Festival:

One of our great local tapers, KCMoJoe, has already uploaded the show to I will be downloading from work first thing tomorrow and will try to post some highlights here after that.

Martin Sextin at the Bottleneck (Lawrence, KS) - April 28, 2006
Setlist: Angeline, Diggin' Me, Freedom Of The Road, Hallelujah, The Beast In Me, Where Did I Go Wrong, Diner, My Faith Is Gone, Free World, Can't Stop Thinking 'Bout You, Glorybound > She Cries and Sings, Gypsy Woman
Encore: Love Keep Us Together, Turn On Your Lovelight > This Little Light of Mine > Turn On Your Lovelight

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Annotated "City Middle"

For whatever reason, the academic side of me had always been fascinated by those Annotated Grateful Dead lyric books. Not only did Garcia, Weir and Hunter write a ton of songs, those songs were also packed with allusion, history, hidden meanings and inside jokes. The depth of meaning each song can hold is staggering, and while much of the information is rather trivial in the big picture, occasionally you learn something that deepens the song's meaning or reveals the lyricist's inspiration.

Recently I started reading Jonathan Ames' novel Wake Up, Sir after reading The National's Matt Berninger recommend it in an interview. The book really is an entertaining read and I see a lot of similarities in Ames' and Berninger's writing styles; among other like qualities, both have keen eyes for absurdity as it relates to their characters.

Part way through the novel I came across a paragraph that informs a line in "City Middle" I had always found interesting:

I have weird memories of you
Parking your car, you said, I'm overwhelmed
You were thinking out loud, you said, I'm overwhelmed
You were parking your car, you said, I'm overwhelmed
You were thinking out loud, you said, I'm overwhelmed
You said, I think I'm like Tennessee Williams
I wait for the click
I wait, but it doesn't kick in
I think I'm like Tennesse Williams
I wait for the click
I wait, but it doesn't kick in

The mood of despair here had always stirred something in me. It's dire and real, however the second half of the line always escaped me. I knew what it meant or what it was supposed to mean, but I couldn't give it any meaning to add to the emotional connection I drew from the first section. Until I came across this paragraph in Wake Up, Sir.

In Ames' story, the main character (reluctantly aware of his alcoholism) sits down to dinner in a small town restaurant and bar. He orders a beer and is powerless to keep from drinking, despite his best intentions, fully knowing that his weakness at this moment will lead him into certain trouble.

Then I took a second long sip, nearly finishing the beer, and feelings of transgression left me. There was no more awareness of possibly doing myself harm, whether I found it thrilling or not. You see, that Tennessee Williams click arrived almost immediately. The click that says: Everything is going to be alright. I guess it's a lie, but it's a very believable lie.

I sometimes find it amazing that one form of art can inspire another in such a meaningful way. That one person can respond to something, turn it around in their creation, and build on that initial emotion. It's enough to make you believe everything really might turn out alright.

The National || City Middle [Black Sessions live, here in full]
The National || High Beams [unreleased*]

"Karen take me to the nearest famous city middle where they hang the lights"
Kansas City's Plaza in the winter

* If anyone can tell me anything about when/where this was recorded I would love it/you.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Wes Anderson

Tip from Buzz Patrol. A new AmEx ad featuring Wes Anderson.

My God it's been so long, never dreamed you'd return... has an extended interview with Eddie Vedder from this issue's Q&A feature. It's nice to hear Eddie speak candidly and at length. It almost feels strange to read, like Eddie Vedder? Relaying information? No way!

How much fun did you have getting onstage with the Kings of Leon?

It's a great record, and the song "Slow Night, So Long" -- I had disappeared onto some little island to write and surf and the only record I had besides the Pearl Jam stuff I was working on was that [Aha Shake Heartbreak]. I played it for some of the locals, who didn't know anything outside of their local traditional music, and they had such strong positive reactions to the record. It was a clean slate to bounce it off of. I was excited, and when they opened up for U2 -- I hadn't met them, but I wanted to tell them that story -- that their record transmits really well to unbiased ears. We started hanging out, and the second night we bashed some tambourines and it felt exciting.

In related news... an avacado? wtf?

Monday, April 17, 2006

New Music Monday

A couple of quick updates from the day...

I've added Fresh Bread to the blog roll. If you're interested in finding some stellar photos from New York shows and some quality reggae every Friday make sure to pay a visit.

Gorillaz at the Apollo brought to you by Fresh Bread (this shot reminds me of the Muppett Show):

I've been listening to two songs all day today. One is a fantastic cover by Ray Lamontagne. The reigning No. 1 single in the UK at the moment, Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" is a perfect fit for Lamontagne's raspy vocal delivery. I'm sure it didn't take long for Ray to realize he could give the song an extra dimension. Both versions are pretty stellar (as are Dangermouse and Cee-Lo's promotional pics aping costumes from well-known films).

Ray Lamontagne || Crazy (Gnarls Barkley cover)

The other song I've had in heavy rotation today is "Out in the Black" from Imaad Wasif (Lowercase, The New Folk Implosion). I had seen Wasif's name a couple of times last week in conjunction with the release of his self-titled debut on Kill Rock Stars. The song has a classic throw-back sound that seems like a perfect fit for the quickly-warming weather. If the rest of his album sounds similar, I think I'll get a lot of play out of it this summer (we'll see when my eMusic account renews tomorrow).

Regardless, the song is a fitting companion to Lamontagne's version of "Crazy;" I've been looping them both all afternoon and will likely do so for a good portion of the morning.

Imaad Wasif || Out in the Black (from Imaad Wasif; free track on eMusic)

Friday, April 14, 2006

I don't have a hawk in my heart

CMG: A lot of the songs, like “Baby, We’ll Be Fine” or “All the Wine,” seem to have a really ironic tone. You’re saying one thing but meaning another. Is exploring irony and exploring contrast something that you’re really going for?

MB: I don’t think of it like that. “Baby, We’ll Be Fine” is a song about having to go work and trying to tell yourself that you can do this and you can be a mature responsible person, but it’s also… a lot of the songs, they strive for something, but they are also self-mocking in a way, making fun of your own inner dialogue and your own insecurities. I don’t think of it as being irony, I think it’s more of spilling your guts on one thing and laughing at yourself for your own pathetic heart-on-your-sleeve emotional stuff. They’re definitely self-conscious, but the twists and the humor, when it sounds very earnest one second but switches to ludicrous and over the top, I think it’s a natural reaction to the stuff that I’m writing about.

Read the rest of Coke Machine Glow's interview with Matt Berninger here. Take in some more National pictures, en francais, here.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Live: Soledad Brothers

Two weeks ago, I took in the Soledad Brothers' show at the Bottleneck in Lawrence with a couple of friends. I first became familiar with the Soledads when Jack and Meg covered "Going Back to Memphis" on the White Stripes' Live Under Blackpool Lights DVD. From that point, the Soledad Brothers were a band I kind of monitored from afar, awaiting a chance to see what they were all about, away from the significant shadow a White Stripes endorsement can cast.

I had that opportunity on the last day of March (I know, I know it's been awhile since my last blog...) and to be honest, I was a little let down. Shows rarely leave me dissappointed, partly because I love seeing music live and partly due to the fact that I generally have a pretty good idea about what a band is like before I go into the show. With the Soledad Brothers, however, I was left wanting much more -- and very little of that was due to the band's music, but more with their attitude towards the audience.

I'm the first to grant some solid leeway when it comes to artists with attitude. I assume artists are going to be a little off from the norm and I understand that occasionally the same thing that helps write a great song or tell an interesting story also makes them come across as standoffish and I completely accept that equation. And I knew, going in, that the Soledad Brothers were not lacking in the attitude department. But they still owed us a show. In the time since, I've thought on a couple of occasions about the contract between performer and crowd. Specifically, what does a band owe to the people that came to see it play?

Playing to a small crowd -- among which even more left after a solid opening set by the Heartless Bastards -- the Soledad's appeared upset from the moment they hit the stage. Understandably, the Bottleneck, which holds under 400 at capacity, was embarrasingly empty. Everyone was aware of it. All 75 of us.

The band responded by playing what seemed like an abbreviated 45-minute set, of which the last 10 was an experiment in feedback between guitarist/singer Johnny Walker and multi-instrumentalist/4th Brother Dechman. I can understand loosening up, experimenting and trying something new if there's a small crowd. Have fun with the show, play around, make some mistakes... whatever; just don't make me feel like I'm at fault for the fact that more people didn't make your show.

As it were, people were into the show from the start. At the end, people were confused. Ten minutes of feedback; no encore to reward the audience for sticking with them through it all. The band was trying to empty the place.

There is no place for that. We paid our $10 and expected a full show. As for the band, I can understand the dissappointment of taking the stage to an empty room. But I can't forgive a half-assed performance, especially for a band with so much potential.

On second thought, if you are going to fuck the show, give me a spectacle. Let me know you are pissed. Acknowledge the elephant in the room, knock over a few mic stands and call it a night. At least, I'll feel like it was worth my time.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

In office vacation...

Sorry for the lack of updates so far this week. I've been busy at work and my laptop was commandeered for work usage over the weekend, so I haven't had a chance to post outside of work. I have a couple of things I want to put up from the last weekend, which included an epic run of three shows in four days.

To that end, here's my updated shows list for 2006 following the conclusion of a busy March (click link for reviews, comments):

07. Destroyer/White Whale - 4/2, recordBar
06. Soledad Brothers/Heartless Bastards - 3/31, The Bottleneck
05. Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah/The Brunettes - 3/30, The Bottleneck
04. Wilco/Mess Hall - 3/21, Uptown Theater
03. Arctic Monkeys/Spinto Band - 3/18, The Metro (Chicago)
02. Railroad Earth/Hackensaw Boys - 3/8, The Bottleneck
01. Robert Randolph and the Family Band - 2/10, Uptown Theater

On the horizon in April is another set of great shows. I'm not sure how many of them I'll be able to attend, as I'm feeling pretty broke right now but I'll try to make it to a few:

12. Gomez - 5/15, Grand Emporium [tour]
Martin Sexton - 4/28, The Bottleneck [tour]
10. North Mississippi All-Stars - 4/19, The Bottleneck [tour*]
09. Benevento Russo Duo - 4/18, The Bottleneck [tour]
08. Nine Black Alps - 4/12, Grand Emporium [tour]

* Note: this date is not yet listed

Once again, it looks like I could make the Bottleneck my second home...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mitch Hedberg, Feb. 24, 1968 - March 29, 2005

Yesterday marked one year since the passing of Mitch Hedberg. He was one of the most original comics I've ever heard and he's had a huge impact on what I find funny (and sub-consciously, how I tell a joke). Mitch's delivery and candid on-stage commentary were his hallmarks, but his jokes are timeless, as well.

I've got a business card, because I want to win some lunches. That's what my business card says: Mitch Hedberg, Potential Lunch Winner.
Let's do lunch... if I'm lucky!

One of the best Mitch moments comes, invariably, once every couple of months when a friend will e-mail a bunch of our friends with a Mitch joke. For the rest of the day, we'll send Mitch Hedberg lines back and forth.

I was in downtown Boise, Idaho, and I saw a duck and I knew the duck was lost, because ducks aren't supposed to be downtown. There's nothing for 'em there. So I went into a Subway sandwich shop and asked for a bun. But she said I couldn't have just the bun, she said I had to have something on it. It's against regulations to sell just the bun; I guess the two halves ain't supposed to touch. So I said, alright, put some lettuce on it. She said it was $1.75 and I said, 'It's for a duck.' She said, 'Well then it's free.' I did not know that. Ducks eat for free at Subway. Had I known that, I would have ordered a much larger sandwich. 'Let me have the steak fajita sub, but don't bother ringing it up, it's for a duck! There's six ducks out there and they all want Sun Chips!'

Mitch Hedberg || Bed and Breakfast (from Mitch All Together)

I couldn't believe it when I found out he had died. I feel very fortunate that I got to see him perform live just a month before in February; you never know when you won't have another chance to see your favorite artists perform. Thankfully Mitch left us with two great albums, which I don't think will ever get old.

If I had a friend that was a tightrope walker and we were walking down the street and he fell, I would find that completely unacceptable.

You can download Mitch on both iTunes (albums and video from his Comedy Central Special) and eMusic. I'd highly recommend buying Mitch All Together in the store for the bonus DVD, which includes both the Comedy Central Special and the uncut performance from which it was taken. The uncut performance represents what made Mitch's performances unique; it is full of brilliance, insecurity and his unique way of self-deprication that always won over a crowd.

I'm sick of following my dreams. So I'm just going to ask where they're going and hook up with them later.

Lots more Mitch from Wikiquote.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Arctic Monkeys live on NPR's All Songs Considered

Ladies and Gentlemen, live Arctic Monkeys from Monday's All Songs Considered, webcast by the wonderful people at the National Public Radio Internet site. Click "live Arctic Monkeys" above to find a link to stream the archived set. Below, you can find the concert in .mp3 form.

Enjoy! and:

[public service announcement] Bear in mind that your local NPR station may be in pledge drive mode right at this very moment (I know the 90.9 The Bridge in KC is), so get a last-minute deduction in on your tax return and hit your local station up with a little something... [/psa]

(Note: The above photo was shamelessly stolen from brooklynvegan (and subsequently cropped). He has some other great pics and links as well, so make sure to check that out.)
(All songs are hosted by until they have been inactive for 30 days. mp3's are for the purposes of furthering obsessions, please support the bands -- and stations -- in question whenever and wherever possible. If you would like a link removed, e-mail me and I will gladly oblige.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Trapeze Swinger

please remember me, happily
by the rosebush laughing
with bruises on my chin, the time when
we counted every black car passing
your house beneath the hill, and up until
someone caught us in the kitchen
with maps, a mountain range, a piggy bank
a vision too removed to mention

but please remember me, fondly
i heard from someone you're still pretty
and then they went on to say that the Pearly Gates
had some eloquent graffiti
like: “we'll meet again” and “fuck the Man”
and “tell my mother not to worry”
and angels with their great handshakes
but always done in such a hurry

and please remember me, at Hallowe’en
making fools of all the neighbors
our faces painted white, by midnight
we'd forgotten one another
and when the morning came i was ashamed
only now it seems so silly
that season left the world and then returned
and now you're lit up by the city

so please remember me, mistakenly
in the window of the tallest tower
call, then pass us by, but much too high
to see the empty road at happy hour
gleam and resonate just like the gates
around the Holy Kingdom
with words like: “lost and found” and “don't look down”
and “someone save temptation”

and please remember me as in the dream
we had as rug-burned babies
among the fallen trees and fast asleep
beside the lions and the ladies
that called you what you like and even might
give a gift for your behavior:
a fleeting chance to see a trapeze-
swinger high as any savior

but please remember me, my misery
and how it lost me all i wanted
those dogs that love the rain, and chasing trains
the colored birds above there running
in circles round the well, and where it spells
on the wall behind St. Peter's
so bright with cinder gray in spray paint:
“who the hell can see forever?”

and please remember me, seldomly
in the car behind the carnival
my hand between your knees, you turn from me
and said the trapeze act was wonderful
but never meant to last, the clowns that passed
saw me just come up with anger
when it filled the circus dogs, the parking lot
had an element of danger

so please remember me, finally
and all my uphill clawing
my dear, but if i make the Pearly Gates
i’ll do my best to make a drawing
of God and Lucifer, a boy and girl
an angel kissin’ on a sinner
a monkey and a man, a marching band
all around the frightened trapeze-swinger

nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah …

Iron and Wine || The Trapeze Swinger (live)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Tracking: The Frames

Household names in their native Ireland, The Frames are still largely unknown throughout most of America. My love for most things British made it imperative that I gave them a listen when I saw them trumpeted as Esquire Magazine's "Best Band You've Never Heard," followed by comparisons to I Wonder Why We Listen to Poets... favorites like Radiohead and Damien Rice.

The band's fifth album, Burn the Maps, released on their own label in Ireland and Australia in early 2005 and later in the U.S. on Anti-, is hailed by the bands' supporters as something of a masterpiece, the long-awaited result of the band's most cohesive song writing and a thematic triumph. I will be the first to admit that such lofty praise makes it difficult for the actual product to measure up, especially if the name of your band isn't Radiohead, and predictably -- perhaps unavoidably -- Burn the Maps falls short.

Though not for the reasons one might expect. On the surface, The Frames make the right poses. They juggle the tension between soft and heavy like a moodier Foo Fighters. The songs that stand out on first listen are arena-rock ready (see "Fake") with the best of the Smashing Pumpkins. The problem is not with the music, per se, but with who it references most closely. The prevailing tags aren't Radiohead, Damien Rice or, getting closer to the root, Doves (though they are there in places), but the Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters and early Nada Surf. That's not a knock, but the '90s rock nostalgia on Burn the Maps gives it a dated, sepia-toned finish.

While the end of "Ship Caught In the Bay" is certainly the band's attempt at "Idiotheque," The Frames are no more Radiohead than "Creep."

Some more time with this album will certainly allow certain songs to establish themselves. "Fake" might go down as one of those songs that comes on with iPod set to suffle and surprise you with how familiar it feels. Maybe one or two others will assert themselves, but I'm not positive -- with a leaning towards music that makes progress from what has already been played -- that Burn the Maps is progressive enough to keep me interested for the long run.

See for yourself:

The Frames || Fake (from Burn the Maps)

Download some live Frames tracks via

(Songs hosted by will be active for until they have been idle for 30 days. Songs are for sampling purposes only. Please support the bands whenever and however possible.)
(Photo from The Frames official Web site.)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Ben Harper Live on Morning Becomes Eclectic

Hopefully you had a chance to see -- yes, see, they had streaming video as well -- Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals play songs from their new album Both Sides of the Gun this morning on KCRW's stellar "Morning Becomes Eclectic."

They stream the program until the next one airs, so you still have all weekend to check out the video of the performance. I decided to experiment with pulling streams from the Internet and I think I did okay. You can check out mp3s of the show, including Nic Harcourt's interview with Ben, below.

Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals
Live on Morning Becomes Eclectic
March 26, 2006
(Recorded 3/21/06 at the Villiage Auditorium in Los Angeles, Calif.)

1. Morning Yearning
2. Reason to Mourn
3. Better Way
4. Both Sides of the Gun
5. Engraved Invitation
6. Interview with Nic Harcourt
7. Black Rain
8. Please Don't Talk About Murder While I'm Eating
9. Picture In A Frame
10. Waiting For You

In related news, KCRW's Sounds Eclectic Evening is this weekend (Saturday, March 25) at the Gibson Theater in Universal City, Calif. Death Cab For Cutie is headlining an incredible line up which includes Ben Harper, Gomez, Fiest and several others.

This kind of sidetracked my day -- in the best of ways -- so this weekend I have a couple of things I want to get into. I'm checking out The Frames (Burn the Maps), by way of a strong review in Esquire of all places (in the Rosario Dawson cover issue), and I finally pulled the trigger on In the Aeroplane, Over the Sea, which I'm told is either a masterpiece or a just a piece depending on who you ask. I'll check in with what I can this weekend.

Two quick hits before I go home:
(All songs are hosted by until they have been inactive for 30 days. Songs posted are only to further people's obsessions. If you would like any songs to be removed, let me know and I will take them down expiditiously. And seriously, you need to get Both Sides of the Gun because it's a really, really good listen.)
(Image from

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Live: Wilco / Mess Hall

Uptown Theater -- Kansas City
March 21, 2006

Setlist: Hummingbird, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, Don't Forget the Flowers, Airline to Heaven, Handshake Drugs, Muzzle of Bees, At Least That's What You Said, Either Way, Hell is Chrome, Spiders (Kidsmoke), Jesus Etc., Theologians, Walken, The Good Part, I'm The Man Who Loves You, A Shot In the Arm.
Encore: Magazine Called Sunset, I'm Always In Love, War on War, Kingpin, The Late Greats.
Encore II:
Misunderstood, Thanks

When did "Kingpin" become a kick-ass live song? I'd like to know. I'm secretly beginning to formulate a hypothesis that that song started Wilco down the track we've seen them on today. It is such a departure from the other songs of its era, I wonder if something inside of Jeff Tweedy's mind switched on after he wrote it. Most of Summerteeth seems to long for the lyrical freedom "Kingpin" brought about (atypical structures, non-sequiter, use of the sound of words over the meaning) while maintaining the more typical song structure. [See "Via Chicago," "She's a Jar"]. Somewhere before Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Tweedy discovered how to capture it both lyrically and muscially. (Pitchfork opines it happened when he met Jim O'Rourke and made the first Loose Fur album. I won't disagree, necessarily.) If you have another way to explain how we get lyrics like "I assasin down the avenue" and "spiders are filling out tax returns," I'll take it. At any rate, I've seen "Kingpin" played at the last two Wilco shows I've seen. Both times it floored me how great it is. Maybe it's always been this way and I just never noticed?

Spiders (Kidsmoke) is only on an album so they have an excuse to play it live, where it really benefits. I sometimes -- okay, most times -- think it gets stale on the album after four and half minutes. Live, it soars.

Wilco's new songs, especially "Walken," sound like Crazyhorse playing Zeppelin. It's like you could just hear them gearing up for a take on "Whole Lotta Love" as they wound down from "Walken." I like the new tack the band has taken (i.e. lots of electric guitars; more rock and roll, less country/folk), though I think in some ways the sound distances the band from the crowd. Maybe it was just that everything seemed almost too professional. I'm not sure it is a criticism -- Tweedy did remark on how they didn't feel like talking out of respect to Mikael who couldn't (cold) -- but it was almost as if the band was almost too surgical in its presentation, all while the crowd was too respectful, if that makes sense. Somewhere along that continuum it was more about seeing a band at the height of its powers rather than feeling the music or feeling like you were a part of a group experiencing something special, momentary and fleeting. I'm kind of left feeling, the day after, like Kansas City could have been any city on any night.

Is it possible that Wilco is too good?

As for mp3s, I have two to offer. A great (and vastly different) solo take on "Spiders" from Tweedy's recent solo tour and "The Ruling Class," a preview from the new Loose Fur album (Tweedy, O'Rourke, Kotche side project -- follow link above for review).

Jeff Tweedy || Spiders (Kidsmoke) [live, 11/6/2005]
Loose Fur || The Ruling Class [From the forthcoming Born Again in the USA LP]

(Songs are hosted on and will be live until they have been inactive for 30 days. mp3s posted are for purposes of furthering obsessions. Please support the bands in question whenever and however possible! If you are the owner of this material and would like it to be removed from this site, let me know and I will happily comply.)
(Photo by "chango" from viachicago message boards.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

This is a blog about Wilco

My incredible March concert tour continues tonight with one of my favorite bands, Wilco. I was first introduced to Wilco when a friend of mine that I used to trade Phish and Dave Matthews Band bootlegs with in high school put part of a Wilco show on as filler (he told me I had to hear this song "Misunderstood") at the end of one of the tapes -- yep, tapes! Maxell XL-IIs -- we'd trade back and forth. I liked the song and got Being There, which had just come out, shortly afterwards. That summer I didn't have much to do, being 15 and all, so I spent a lot of time playing video games and listening to the album. I think I've scored more goals playing NHL '96 on Genesis while listening to "Monday" than any other song.

I purchased Summerteeth when it came out, but didn't spend as much time with it until later. At the moment it wasn't where I was at musically. Then Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came along and cemented Wilco as one of my all-time favorites. I listened to YHF constantly in college and think it is among the best records that has been released in my lifetime. That the entire soap opera was captured, at the time unwittingly, on I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco By Sam Jones only adds to the incredible circumstances that surround the record.

After YHF, Wilco became one of the bands from which I had to hear everything: live, b-sides, demos, anything. (Currently, the completist group is Wilco, the White Stripes, Ben Harper, Gomez and -- recently -- the National.)

Luckily, Wilco lends itself to the completist's spirit by creating a ton of unreleased material. The band's most recent release, Kicking Television: Live In Chicago, has two "bonus" cuts available from various Internet ordering incarnations. Its even better that both tracks are older songs since KTV is skewed towards their more recent (albeit pretty incredible) material. You heard about my ties to "Monday" above; "How to Fight Loneliness" has the distinction of being the first Wilco song I could play (loose usage of that word) on guitar. Plus it is the highlight performance on the outtakes disc from IATTBYH.

Wilco || How to Fight Loneliness (Kicking Television bonus track)
Wilco || Monday (Kicking Television bonus track)

(Songs are hosted on and will be live until they have been inactive for 30 days. mp3s posted are for purposes of furthering obsessions. Please support the bands in question whenever and however possible! If you are the owner of this material and would like it to be removed from this site, let me know and I will happily comply.)
(Photo from

Monday, March 20, 2006

Live: Arctic Monkeys / Spinto Band

The Metro -- Chicago, IL
March 18, 2006

Saturday night with the Arctic Monkeys lived up to the best of expectations. The band was tight and the live setting gave their songs an added dimension. The venue was great; easy to get drinks and back to your friends without fighting through too much of hassle to get back to where you were (right of the soundboard, two/three feet in front of the balcony). The crowd was impressive, given I was fearing a worst-case scenario going into the evening; they were knowledgeable and, most importantly, excited about the show. There was an air of expectation, curiosity and excitement in the air and the Arctic Monkeys came out and lived up to it all.

Our initial question, how long the band would play (given their catalog is one record and 40 minutes long...), was answered walking through the front doors of the Metro, where the night's schedule was taped. Spinto Band, 7:15 - 7:45. Arctic Monkeys, 8:15 - 9:15.

Despite the early end time of the show, it was a solid hour of music. (Wasn't overly impressed with the Spintos. Had I heard them on a record before the show I might have been able to pick out some lyrics or grab onto a hook or two, but there wasn't much that stood out on first listen...). Arctic Monkeys took the stage on time with "View From the Afternoon."

The night before the show, my friends and I talked about how we felt a couple of songs would stand up really well live and they certainly did. Songs like "Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong, But..." and "Mardy Bum" were show highlights, though they are likely my least favorite on the album. Those two songs, especially, sound like they were written in the live setting and exist there well.

"From the Ritz to the Rubble" was my personal highlight. Alex Turner extended his stage banter (rare, but not uncommon all night) to include the opening lines before launching into the song. I love this song on the record and its live presentation brought it up another level.

There are few criticisms I can make of the show. The band is still finding its legs playing shows to larger audiences, but there was nothing that told me it wasn't capable of pulling them off. Given their audience and the songs they write, I'm not sure the material will ring true in a venue much larger that a theater, but from a performance standpoint they could pull it off.

I'm writing from my home computer, so I don't have my music to post at the moment. I'll check in tomorrow with the rest of the Arctic Monkeys' KCRW set I posted with on Friday.

Also tomorrow, the Wilcos.

UPDATE (3/21): I had completely forgot to mention this in the proper review, but the Arctic Monkey's took the stage to Warren G's "Regulators" which was fucking sweet.

Here are the rest of the tracks from the Arctic Monkey's "Morning Becomes Eclectic" set from KCRW. I can't remember exactly, though I'm almost 100 percent sure I got these from So Much Silence at some point. Thanks!

1. View From the Afternoon
2. Dancing Shoes (see previous post)
3. You Probably Couldn't See For the Lights, But You Were Staring Straight At Me
4. Fake Tales of San Francisco
5. Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong, But...
6. From the Ritz to the Rubble
7. A Certain Romance (see previous post)

(Songs are hosted by and are live until they have not been downloaded for 30 days.)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Anticipation has the habit to set you up for disappointment...

Tomorrow night I'm seeing a show I am really anticipating. The Arctic Monkeys have received a ton of buzz on both sides of the Atlantic -- they are so widely hyped it has certainly started the backlash -- and I'm looking forward to seeing how they hold up in a live setting, which I feel is the true test of a band's worth. I saw them on SNL last weekend and thought they did okay. It was their first U.S. television appearance (U.S. performance?), so I'll throw them a flyer on not blowing me away. Some bands have good songs and little stage presence, other bands have both. AM fell somewhere in between, although in a fairly atypical environment.

Here's the thing. Songwriters that create interesting characters and tell a compelling story almost always earn heavy kudos in my book, so I'm prone to like the Arctic Monkeys for that reason alone. You can dig on the Arctic Monkeys' music as being derivative (and for this reason alone not being worthy of "the next big thing" label) -- and I'll concede that they are not reinventing the wheel here -- but you can't take away Alex Turner's ability to synthesize a common experience and turn it into something all at once novel and familiar. Turning lad culture into something relevant and interesting is not a small feat. Turner takes something no one thinks about (escapism is not about thinking) and draws interesting conclusions from it, to go along with an interesting narrative.
"Get on your dancing shoes /
There's one thing on your mind /
Hoping they’re looking for you /
Sure you'll be rummaging' through /

And the shit, shock, horror /
You've seen your future bride /
Oh, but it's oh so absurd /
For you to say the first word /
So you're waiting and waiting /

The only reason that you came /
So what you scared for? /
don't you always do the same /
It's what you there for, don't you know"
-- "Dancing Shoes"

Of course for as much as I'm looking forward to seeing the show and perhaps being a part of the narrative world Turner has transcribed -- it certainly carries a romantic (in the idealized sense) weight, in my mind -- I'm also worried that the show will pull back the curtain. While the band doesn't need to be "performers" by a long stretch (a good amount of their appeal is the "everyman" image they sing about), I want them to show they are smarter than your average guy at the bar looking to take someone home. Smarter than me.

There is also the chance that the hype machine has already taken the organic appeal out of it all; that the crowd will be the Abercrombie kids will outnumber the hipsters. Both carry their own stereotypes, but one is decidedly more reserved. And for as nostalgic as the music might make me for the times where getting wasted and acting a fool where common, I'm happy have grown out of that stage and have likely (to my horror, oncoming maturity!) passed the point where seeing kids acting like kids is entertaining. (Editorial note: I can't believe I just wrote that last paragraph... shakes head at self)
"Well oh they might wear classic Reeboks /
Or knackered Converse /
Or tracky bottoms tucked in socks /
But all of that's what the point is not /
The point's that there isn’t no romance around there /

And there's the truth that they can't see /
They'd probably like to throw a punch at me /
And if you could only see them, then you would agree /
Agree that there isn’t no romance around there /

It's a funny thing you know /
We'll tell them if you like /
We'll tell them all tonight /
They'll never listen /
Cause their minds are made up /
And course it's all okay to carry on that way /

Over there there's broken bones /
There's only music, so that there's new ringtones /
And it doesn’t take no Sherlock Holmes /
To see it's a little different around here /

Don't get me wrong though there's boys in bands /
And kids who like to scrap with pool cues in their hands /
And just cause he's had a couple of cans /
He thinks it's alright to act like a dickhead /

Well over there there's friends of mine /
What can I say, I've known them for a long long time /
And they might overstep the line /
But you just cannot get angry in the same way"
-- "A Certain Romance"

Broadly, Arctic Monkeys make music about why you go out. Why it's an escape and why you do it every week ("It's just something to talk about / a story to tell" -- "From the Ritz to the Rubble"). For an entire region (the U.K.), that has resonated. They are songs about lives led every day in boring towns with nothing to do, not celebrity lives no one actually leads, and it fills a wide hole in the culture. You can't underestimate the appeal of peers telling stories to peers. Quickly, you're seeing the Arctic Monkeys same success translating to the U.S. where kids are just as bored and just as lost. Finally, someone is talking to them, not at them.

This is my backstory going into the show Saturday. As is the custom, I'll let you know what takes place. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Arctic Monkeys || Dancing Shoes (live from KCRW)
Arctic Monkeys || A Certain Romance (live from KCRW)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Martin Sexton

An exciting e-mail came across my Inbox today announcing Martin Sexton's show at the Bottleneck on Friday, April 28. I've been fortunate to see Marty play four or five times and every show has been a treat. His unique take on the singer-songwriter genre is always inspiring and, while he has gathered a devoted and passionate following, I've found that he hasn't quite garnered the widespread recognition I think he deserves.

For one, he's an incredibly well-traveled musician, having played shows and toured for the better part of a decade. Second, he wrote one of my all-time favorite songs, "Glory Bound," about having the will to keep on doing just that. It is one of those tracks that I have gone back to time and time again; it never gets old or tired. Follow the dream, kind souls:
"So I packed it up and I went to the winds /
And I lived out of a VW bus for a year or two /
Ain't nothing but a pipe dream and my guitar /
Livin off of apple fields and old cigars /
Diggin this microphone checking it out every night all alone /
The car battery is dead again so I got my head dead set against it"

If the lyrics above resonate with you at all, make sure to give Martin a listen by downloading tracks from his website or via the SextonJukebox. I've added a couple of my favorites below. I will note that Martin did sell out his show a year ago when he visited the Grand Emporium in KC, so I would plan on getting tickets in advance. The Bottleneck holds about 350, if that.

The show is part of a three-week run that hits the Carolinas, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Texas. Martin is also pulling double-duty at New York City's Green Apple Music Festival with an appearance at the Jammys on April 20 and an "unannounced" show (with Assembly of Dust) at the Cutting Room the next day.

Martin Sexton || Glory Bound (from Black Sheep)
Martin Sexton || In the Journey (from Live Wide Open)
Martin Sexton || Freedom of the Road (live, Wakarusa 6/17/05)

I'll try to get a quick post in tomorrow; I'm taking a half day tomorrow and flying to Chicago. Arctic Monkeys/Spinto Band at the Metro on Saturday. And then there's this basketball tournament going on -- I might watch a game or two...

(Songs are hosted by and will be live until they have been inactive for 30 days. Songs are for sampling purposes only, please support the artists whenever and however possible.)
(Image from