Tuesday, November 29, 2011

So The Kids They Dance and Shake Their Bones

And that we did when the Furthur bus rolled into town. The night began with some pre-show “tailgating” in the parking lot, (even though it was a blustery November night in Wisconsin) with stories of first shows, how many shows attended, Jerry shows and post-Jerry shows being shared. Ahh... some things never change and that makes me smile. However, being the wimp that I am, freezing my ass off overtook the nostalgia and I didn’t last long in the parking lot and had to move it on in.

As Bob and Phil waltzed on stage my space got smaller as the crowd shifted forward. It’s a concert, I know there will be close quarters and my personal bubble will be challenged, but when I have a seat and have to try to find my way back to it after a bathroom break and nobody will let me through... well that just pisses me off. I know, who goes to the bathroom during a show!? Yours truly! Yes, I have considered Depends.

“The Golden Road” got things shakin’ inviting us to “come and join the party every day”. CLICK TO PLAY THE GOLDEN ROAD
Some people have taken that invite literally when they decide to follow the Grateful Dead and their affiliated projects, on tour. In theory that sounds like fun, but again, wimpy me, likes her own bed and a daily shower.

Two of my favorite Dead songs were played and of course, I got misty eyed. “It Must Have Been The Roses” CLICK TO PLAY IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES and the encore, “Black Muddy River”, CLICK TO PLAY BLACK MUDDY RIVER always grab my heart and apparently everyone else’s as the dancing slowed to a group sway and we became a community.

“Black Muddy River” will forever be remembered as the 2nd to last song Jerry sang live with the Dead at Soldier Field in Chicago before his death in 1995. As sad as we Deadheads are that he is no longer smiling down on us from the stage here on earth, we are fortunate to have the next best thing in John Kadlecik. As a former member of the Grateful Dead tribute band, Dark Star Orchestra for 12 years, his Jerry vocals are spot on. If only he had the belly and the beard.

As the songs intertwine it’s always fun guessing what the next song they’re leading into is going to be. It’s a game we Deadheads play. I think I got one right... I shall blame it on being over served. At any rate it was an amazing show! We got some Dead songs, we got some covers (Dylan, Rev. Gary Davis and The Young Rascals), we got to shake our bones, we got to sway. We got a miracle!



Sunday, November 27, 2011


I didn't have anything exciting and new (other than a lame "Love Boat" reference) to write about today, so instead I'd like to play a little game. It's about as simple as a game can be and you may find yourself playing it at home sometime. Just put your music player on random, listen to 3-5 songs, and explain why they're in your library. I call it Shuffle.

The general idea is this: we all have vast, ever growing libraries of media. As much as we'd like to go through and get rid of those albums we'll never listen to again, it just doesn't happen. Shuffle forces you to own that music along with everything you actually do listen to, but not every time. You can get amazingly great playlists, you can get complete crap, and then there's everything in between. The only real recommendation I have is to be brutally honest, and to use a digital music player instead of LPs or CDs. That just doesn't work the same.

Ok, enough build up for a basic concept that I'm sure isn't at all unique or inventive. Here's my game of shuffle for today. I'm linking all the songs right here and you can read more about them below while you listen.

Click to play Aphex Twin - I
Click to play D-Sisive - The Superbowl Is Over
Click to play TV On The Radio - Blues From Down Here
Click to play Curtis Mayfield - Give Me Your Love (Love Song)
Click to play The Black Crowes - Evil Eye

Aphex Twin. "I." From the album Selected Ambient Works 85-92.

I haven't written about him on this blog before, but I think Richard D. James (or Aphex Twin, or AFX, or whatever he chooses to call himself at the time) is some kind of genius. I prefer his more frenetic, drum and bass-y moments, but this short ambient tune is a perfect intro to any playlist. One thing that continues to amaze me is how sounds this guy was using in the late 80s and early 90s keep popping up and sounding fresh today. He has always been way ahead of his time. Luckily, we're living in the right time to hear it.

D-Sisive. "The Superbowl Is Over." From the album Let The Children Die.

D-Sisive is/was a Canadian rapper with an ear for samples and dark themes. This album may not be a true masterpiece but it's very good. I believe I found it while diving deeper into the likes of Atmosphere and Sage Francis, but that was a very long, twisty road.

TV On The Radio. "Blues From Down Here." From the album Return To Cookie Mountain.

There's not a whole lot I can say about these guys you don't already know. Their music defies categorization and they are just cool. When you get a TVOTR song in your game of Shuffle you're doing well. This song in particular made a great segue from rap to what came next.

Curtis Mayfield. "Give Me Your Love (Love Song)." From the album Superfly.

My god, the soul. The soaring falsettos. This is music as only Curtis Mayfield can make it. He's been mentioned on our blog before but seriously: if you don't own Superfly go get it right now. It's not just a movie soundtrack. It's a soul/funk work of art. I'll even go so far as to say it makes Shaft sound weak. Isaac Hayes got the Oscar, but Curtis got the soul.

The Black Crowes. "Evil Eye." From the album Three Snakes And One Charm.

I used to be crazy about these guys, and I still stand behind The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion as a fucking brilliant album, but this was right around when they started to lose their luster for me. The song is fine, and there are some elements I really like about it, but overall there's something missing. That said, the psychedelic blues somehow wrapped up my playlist nicely so I won't complain too much. Let's write it off to growing in different directions and call it an amicable split.

So there you go. Five random tunes that made up a nice little playlist to start the day. I got lucky this time. You'll know what I mean the first time you get three Enya songs in a row. Wait, if you have Enya in your library what are you doing reading this blog? Oh, never mind. We love you no matter what.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


There are many options for listening to music online, or on your mobile device. Everyone is working to be your music platform of choice. Hypem, Pandora, GrooveShark, and Spotify to name just a few. My favorite online streaming music platform is Rdio.

Rdio is a new social music service, founded by Janus Friis with Niklas Zennström, The name, Rdio, is a combination of the words radio and audio, and is  pronounced ar-dee-o.

The Rdio formula isn't all that differnet then the popular Spotify. Rdio takes the work out of deciding what to play next by following  friends and people with great taste in music, and being inspired by what they're playing. Both platforms allow you to listen to your friends' playlists.

With Rdio's mobile apps, music on your computer and mobile phone is finally connected without needing a cable. Collections and playlists are instantly updated and you can sync music and listen, even when you're offline.

The thing about Rdio I like most is that you can select an artist you like, and Rdio can suggest both artists similar to this artist as well as artists influenced by this artist. That's the kind of tool that really helps to discover new bands you might like (and new bands to write about!).

I was looking through the collection of albums that AbsolutePunk had listed on their profile, and came across the band Heatmiser. The name sounded familiar, so I started checking out the album Mic City Sons while I got some work done in the office. I loved the first 5 songs in a row, and stopped working to learn more about this band. Here is the information Rdio shared with me:

The Portland, OR, band Heatmiser was best known for launching the career of singer/songwriter Elliott Smith, but other members of the group went on to have successful music careers long after Heatmiser's demise.
Let's check out "Get Lucky" because, let's face it...I'm running bad lately.

Click to play Heatmiser - Get Lucky

That song, as you might have been able to pick up, was one off the album from Elliot Smith, but the other singer/songwriter on the album is Neil Gust. Gust's work on the album is just as good as Smith's. It's a nice combo of talent.

After playing this album a few times, I wandered over to the "Inspired" section of the Rdio profile for Heatmiser. Only one band listed here, which must be an oversight, so I click on The Gone Jackals to check them out. The bio on Rdio says this:

The Gone Jackals are a hard rock quartet from San Francisco, CA. The leader, Keith Karloff, who is the brother of New York City guitarist Johnny Gale, relocated to San Francisco from New York City, where he had been performing in the 1980s as a solo artist using the name Keith Gale.

I begin checking out the the 2005 album Out And About With...  and it's another winner.

Check out my favorite off the album, "Can't Slow Down" which is a perfect drunken sing-along anthem that reminds me of AC/DC. I'm just giving you the preview from Rdio, but I totally suggest you sign up and listen to the whole song!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Over The Moon And I Aint Yet Fit To Come Down

As I dosed off sometime in the middle of the night in a dumpy motel after a long day of traveling and visiting relatives, the sleeping soundtrack my man had put on struck me as a brilliant piece of music.
It wasn't until the next morning, when, as if realizing what I had dreamed, I said, "You put on some really great music last night. Who was that?"
"Yeah, it was good wasn't it? That's The Low Anthem."
Yes. It was good! It was an aromatic mix of Ray LaMontagne and Elbow, with a touch of Ben Harper thrown in for the Bam!

I listened to What The Crow Brings from beginning to end three times when we got home before I realized that I was listening to their debut album, released in 2007. It turns out the band, a trio of instrumentalists from Rhode Island and together since 2006, recorded that album in their apartments and fully self-produced and distributed it. They hand-painted and hand-numbered the 600 albums they released. Pretty awesome.

Their sophomore album, Oh, My God, Charlie Darwin was also self-recorded, only this time they hand-painted and hand-numbered 2000 albums for release. They toured a bit to promote the album, and somehow found themselves in the UK where they signed record deals and got their album re-released. The Low Anthem moved on from there to play several US festivals and European shows, add a member, play David Letterman, lose a member, add a member, and occupy an abandoned pasta sauce factory to record their third album, Smart Flesh. Oh, and PS, Mike Mogis mixed the album.

Using the big, empty space at the factory added to the sounds on this album. In fact, the band refers to the space itself as an instrument they used. Add that to the World-War-II-era pump organ, dulcimer, clarinet, trumpet, fiddle, musical saw, and a handful of other instruments used by the band. They carry all of these instruments on the road with them, and will sometimes have to borrow replacements when things like a bass amp or an upright bass break!

Click to Enjoy The Low Anthem - Hey, All You Hippies!

"Hey, All You Hippies!" is a great anthem collecting various observations of the under-achieving, over-entitled soft-palmed class of disaffected under-30 college grads and hipsters swarming our streets and coffee shops of late. Wait. Maybe that's not the intent of the song. But it's what I hear.

Click to Enjoy The Low Anthem - The Ballad of the Broken Bones

The song that enchanted me was the first track off the first album. And on the second, I couldn't help but fall to the charms of the Harper-esque "Champion Angel." Enjoy this bonus.

Click to Enjoy The Low Anthem - Champion Angel

And make sure to find them live. This band takes the time to make sure the sound they deliver to you is right and good. They're in the cold and wet European interior right now, but come January they will be back in the states with a Portland show on the 16th, some Pac-No borderhopping throughout the month, and on to Minneapolis in February. Check the schedule here. They're touring with City and Colour, another inALLCAPS favorite.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

the baddest around

It seems you either love Tom Waits or hate him. I, for one, am in the love school. I realize his voice can be difficult for some people to get past, but his music is like nothing else in the world. It ranges from jazz to Vaudeville, from sailor shanties to sweet, sweeping ballads. In my opinion he's one of the best songwriters/composers we have around today. He also seems very witty and would probably be a blast to hang out with. Tom, if you happen to be reading this I have a bottle of scotch I'd be happy to share.

Waits' latest album, Bad As Me, was released on October 21st. This is the first new studio material we've heard since 2006, and his first "proper" studio album since 2004. It was well worth the wait. The first track, "Chicago," hits you like the train ride it alludes to and there's no stopping this express from there. Here's that opening track:

Click to play Tom Waits - Chicago

In typical Tom Waits fashion (as if there were anything typical about him) the textures of the album shift constantly, but there's always a charm and a nostalgia present. I'm not sure what to call it but true Americana. Not the folky sound that has become a genre definition; songs that touch on American music from its roots though its development and even, at times, its collapse.

One thing I've always loved about the man's music is the way it can swing from personality to personality and still make sense. Take for example, the tracks "Back In The Crowd" and "Bad As Me." The two are back-to-back so you move directly from a soft, latin-infused ballad to a sinister, frantic attack. It keeps you guessing and demands your attention, in the best way possible.

Click to play Tom Waits - Back In The Crowd

Click to play Tom Waits - Bad As Me

Overall, I'm putting this up there with the best of Waits' albums. In a way it feels a lot like Mule Variations, which is widely considered a masterpiece. I'm just happy the guy keeps making such brilliant music, and I'm glad he's around as a foil to a lot of the nonsense that's on the radio these days. You probably already have the album if you're a fan. If not, get it now. If you're new to Tom Waits, give it a shot. This is a pretty accessible album and shouldn't frighten you too much.

Click to play Tom Waits - New Year's Eve

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


"Comic genius" --GQ "Man Of The Year" issue 2010

Reggie Watts is brilliant. Hilarious and brilliant. I'm not sure if he is more hilarious than brilliant. I think it's 2 parts hilarious one part brilliant.  Wait...I think I got that reversed. Reggie Watts is one part comedian and one part musician with two parts awesome.

Reggie released his debut comedy cd/dvd 'Why $#!+ So Crazy?' on Comedy Central Records in May 2010. His latest album entitled 'Reggie Watts Live at Third Man Records'  is available on limited edition vinyl. He was also the lead singer in the band Maktub, an arabic word meaning "it is written". That's an awesome group, but hasn't released anything of note since 2009.

Reggie's improvised musical sets are created on-the-spot using his voice and a looping machine. He doesn't ever do the same song again, and although he disappoints fans of his albums at live shows since he can't play the "called-out" requests. You can count on an experience that's 100% unique to you and those in the room. He layers beats and melodies, runs that and his voice through some effects pedals, and there you have it. It's simple and effective. Once he has his beat he just sing/raps improvisational lyric over that. 

I just think his creations are so unique and amazing, and I'm sure you would love checking out his music and his comedy DVD. Go check those out and let me know what you think in the comments.

Click to play  Reggie Watts - F@ck Sh!t Stack and/or Maktub - Just Like Murder

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ghost On The Canvas

After a diagnosis with Alzheimer’s in June 2011, Glen Campbell agreed to record one final album and perform one final tour. His story and the lyrics throughout Ghost On The Canvas have touched me deeply, as I lost my Gramps to Alzheimer’s 5 years ago on Nov. 12.

There’s nothing I can say better than the legend himself, so in Glen’s words...

Ghost On The Canvas is the last studio record of new songs that I ever plan to make. I’ve been saying it to my friends and family, but now that it’s in writing, it really seems final. I’ve done a lot in my life - played, sang, toured, hosted a TV show, acted in a movie - most of the things that happened were because of music, because of the records, and now it’s time to just close that book.

My friend, Julian Raymond, helped me make this album, and it’s probably the most personal one I’ve ever made. He got some folks - like Jakob Dylan


to write songs specifically for me, and then Julian and I wrote some others. It’s really a series of snapshots of my life and career. And that life has been greater than I ever could have imagined.

I was born in Billstown, Arkansas, one of 12 children. We lived on a farm where me and all of my brothers and sisters were expected to take care of the fields and the milking and the tilling - I got just enough farm work to know I didn’t want to do farm work! But I also got a guitar, and Uncle Boo was the first person to ever show me how to play one. I never learned to read music, I just always played by ear, and when my uncle gave me an opportunity to play on a radio show in Albuquerque, I was outta there!

I learned a lot on the radio and in the clubs in New Mexico, and in just a couple of years, I moved to Los Angeles and landed with some of the best studio musicians in the world. Years later, they called us the Wrecking Crew - there were a bunch of us that played together in different combinations, and I got to work on a lot of the big records of the day: “Strangers In The Night” by Frank Sinatra, “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys, “Everybody Loves Somebody” by Dean Martin, “Viva Las Vegas” by Elvis Presley, “Surf City” by Jan & Dean, “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard, “Hello Mary Lou” by Ricky Nelson, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” by The Righteous Brothers. But that was just the start. When Brian Wilson stopped touring, I became a Beach Boy for about half a year, and by the end of the 1960’s, I got a chance to host a television show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. I performed on that show with a lot of people who made a mark of their own: Johnny Cash, Cher, Willie Nelson, Anne Murray, Ray Charles, Jerry Reed - it was really an amazing period. I also got to work with John Wayne on the original version of True Grit.

Not that it was all great. Fame can bring a lot of temptations, and I learned about that firsthand. I had some tough personal years, and it’s a big reason why the first line on this album is “I’ve tried and I have failed, Lord.”

Fortunately, the good times were much greater than the bad ones. And the songs - “Wichita Lineman”, Rhinestone Cowboy”, “Southern Nights”, “Galveston”, "By The Time I Get To Phoenix” - I’m still proud of all I got to do.

All of my little rollercoaster ride - the laughter, the tears, the successes and the failures - are part of who I am now. They helped create the Glen Campbell I am today, and that’s what Ghost On The Canvas is about. It’s the “now” Glen, with all the ghosts of the old Glens still kind of hanging around. In some ways, it’s a musical biography. But hopefully you’ll find a little bit of yourself in there too.

Everything I have in this world is, in some way, connected to music. And I give it to you. Enjoy it. I made it with a smile. And a real sense of gratitude.

I hope you feel the same thing.

~Glen Campbell