Friday, October 31, 2008

Soundtrack Friday and Happy Halloween!!

How can one blog about great soundtracks without mentioning Labyrinth? Not only do we have David Bowie in junk squeezing spandex, but we also have talking blue caterpillars, Ludo, the bog of eternal stench and a young Jennifer Connelly pre-Rocketeer days. I love this movie and the soundtrack so much that some mornings I literally wake up with "Dance Magic Dance" stuck in my head.

I also use this movie as a tool to tell me how well I would get along with a person. Do you hate Labyrinth? Then I hate you. Moving on, I don't think I've ever seen Boogie Nights in its entirety from beginning to end, but I sure do love this soundtrack. From The Beach Boys to The Emotions, it creates a perfect mental image of the time periods referenced in the movie. And then there's this heartwarming clip featuring "Sister Christian" by Night Ranger. I'll never be able to hear that song again and not think of this scene. Ever.

And how about that Madonna lady? Before she was a baseball player stealing beast with roid rage she was busy being in horrible movies. I am not ashamed to say I like the movie Dick Tracy and I love the song "Sooner Or Later" from that soundtrack. Hey, I'm not even ashamed to say that I paid actual money to buy this soundtrack, not only on cassette tape way back in the day but on CD a few years ago.

Can't Hardly Wait came out the summer before my senior year in high school. This soundtrack is one of my favorites for pure nostalgic reasons. It pretty much mirrors my high school experience, unrequited love and parties. I forgive the fact that the horrendous Smash Mouth is on this soundtrack too. This clip featuring Guns N' Roses "Paradise City" makes up for it.

And how can I not mention a movie with a drag queen named Felicia in it? I fell in love with Priscilla Queen of the Desert and its soundtrack in high school and thus proved the fact that there is a tiny gay man inside of me just waiting to burst out. And I just can't watch Guy Pearce in any movie without picturing him in full on drag. This soundtrack is full cheese and I love it.

And finally, Singles. All I have to say about Singles is that Matt Dillon is hot and so is "Drown" by Smashing Pumpkins. I was lucky enough to see them, well part of the original band, perform it live last year. Here is the audio, no video available.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Countrypolitan Favorites

So, if you asked me what was my favorite part about a recent trip to L.A., you might (or might not, depending on how well you know me) be surprised by hearing a NC born and bred, metropolitan hearted, big titty jazz singer girl like me saying that my favorite part was seeing a NC band play in a Malibu beach bar.

I've seen Southern Culture on the Skids, oh, maybe 20 times in the last 8 to 10 years; one reason being that they are from Chapel Hill, NC, where I went to college, and another being that I just fucking love their sound. It is self-described "toe sucking geek rock," that in layman's terms sounds like hillbilly surfer swamp rock. But one thing is for sure: It fucking ROCKS. There is no way--NO WAY--that you can go to a SCOTS show and NOT dance. I'm serious! This last show I saw in Malibu would have been the place for it. Shoved to the gills with chicks and dicks that looked like they came straight out of a casting call for Laguna Beach, or the Hills, or whatever that poser crap it, and the whole room was bouncing through the entire show.

My man and I were fortunate enough to know a few of the band members, so when they asked the "North Carolina couple to come on stage" for Eight Piece Bucket, there was no saying No. And so my hubs and I--me, a self-described assertive outgoing cunt, and he, a quiet, tattooed, heavy metal-loving furniture maker--jumped on stage and ate pieces of cold, greasy, fried chicken while we danced like maniacs. It was pure heaven. True story.

There is no introducing this band, so I just pulled some random vids. Please, please, do yourself and favor and check them out. ESPECIALLY if you've never heard of them. And if you happen to be in the Asheville, NC area a week from Friday, meet me at the bar of the Grey Eagle for some beers. I'm the girl with the purple hair and a potty mouth.

You and Your Sister

If an album or CD is going to stay with me a while, it usually is because it reminds me of a time in my life, or the music is timeless.

As far as the Vulgar Boatmen's "You and Your Sister" goes, it's probably the timelessness of the music. You could have heard this music in the 70s or the 80s and it would have fit well. I discovered this CD in a friend's collection in the early 90s.

It was probably around this time of year in Iowa. It was more than likely cold than cool, and I was going through Kevin's CDs. I remember him having a lot of Skinny Puppy and Ministry. Then I saw this CD.

The Vulgar Boatmen. Heh. A funny play on the song "The Volga Boatmen." You and Your Sister. Heh. Dirty thoughts. I thought that it might be one of those jokey-gross metal bands like The Mentors. Those were always good for one listen, and then you'd give it to someone else like the way you shared a joke.

Once I put on the CD, though, I was surprised for a couple of reasons. First, that Kevin in all his industrial rock front owned such a jangly CD was interesting. Second, having liked the Jayhawks and Uncle Tupelo, how could I have missed such a great rock and roll record? The opening chords of "Mary Jane" (apparently, it's NOT about marijuana, but instead about, uh, a girl named Mary Jane) start the call to arms, letting you know, "Young man, we don't need a Marshall stack to kick your ass, this Stratocaster through a the clean channel of this Fender tube amp will do just fine."

The vocals at times are remniscent of the Everly Brothers, in a good way. At first, I expected that the CD would have a few good tunes and then have a bunch of crap on it. While I will say that I have my favorites, each of these tunes have come back into my head at one time or another because of their catchiness. Each song stands alone.

My hands down favorite is "Margaret Says". The imagery in the vocals is great, and the tune has a nice groove that picks up and moves you down the road. In fact, the entire album is a must have for a long road trip, and not just because "Drive Somewhere" is the perfect song for driving somewhere.

I had this on one side of a 90-minute tape one spring break when my sister and I drove to Oklahoma to stay with our grandparents (our folks were in Germany at the time). I think my sister thought this was okay, but she favored the flipside of the tape, which had the Operation Ivy CD on it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Blog - Music and Movies!

To some extent, I agree with Boo that if you have a good soundtrack, you have a good movie. But not always.

Take Honeysuckle Rose, for example. Willie Nelson, Dianne Cannon, and Amy Irving. Anyone reaching for the remote yet? While the movie itself, as I remember when I saw it in the theatre during my youth (Dad liked Willie, and quite honestly, so do I). Yeah, this is the one with "On the Road Again" on it. Some old dude named Jimmy who used to hang out at Dugan's Deli in Ames back when it was Dugan's Deli used to get shitty and sing this with Jack Gallup at their Sunday night open mics. Jack would always introduce this Jimmy character as a guy who co-wrote "On the Road Again" with Willie. I got the Honeysuckle Rose CD, and it doesn't give Jimmy co-writing credit for it, so who knows. I don't want to believe that Willie wouldn't give credit where it was due.

The soundtrack is great because it provides an example of how great country music can sound when it's live. Throw back a few Buds, and it's all good.

Valley Girl convinced me that 80s new wave wasn't just the "pop sounds of the decade." With tunes from The Plimsouls, Haircut 100, Sparks, Modern English, and Josie Cotton's covers, I realized that there was some really cool new wave out there.

Check out the sweet squares of Haircut 100 doing their big hit, "Love Plus 1".
The movie, "Laurel Canyon" was just okay (hey, TK, howsabout reviewing this movie on Pajiba?), but I really liked the soundtrack. Includes hits by Mercury Rev, and a version of this awesome Sparklehorse song:

Sometimes the movie is the soundtrack. I really like the whole background and all the great tunes in the movie "Gimme Shelter" which features the Rolling Stones. This movie sounds so fucking good on my home theater system.

I saw Good Will Hunting with my wife as sort of a first or second date. I actually think our first "official" date was a hockey game. But we saw this movie the same weekend. We went out and bought the soundtrack immediately. For the most part, it's a depressing soundtrack, with lots of Elliot Smith (but I'm guessing the Strong Sad contingent of readers for this blog will actually dig these) songs, but the two standout tunes are the cool "raggah" version of Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby" by Andru Donalds and the way they scored Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" to the fight scene:

I've loved this song ever since I was a kid, and it has a ton of personal meaning to me, but I really like how the violence of the movie contrasts with the slickness of the tune.

Another song that brings up a movie memory for me also includes a song Gerry Rafferty had a hand in as part of the band, Stealer's Wheel. Ladies and Gentlemen, Michael Madsen, a can of gas, an ear, and "Stuck in the Middle with You:" (WARNING! CONTAINS TORTURE! JOHN MCCAIN, PLEASE DO NOT WATCH!)

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Change Is Bad

Look, I'm all for innovation. I'm all for new and interesting things. Without trying new things, without evolving, we'd never have achieved important modern accomplishments like hybrid cars, purple roses and edible condoms. But... it's not for everyone.

You see, one of the things that makes me cringe is when certain bands try to branch out. It works for some. Take bands like The Beatles, Faith No More (or any Mike Patton project, really) or any other band that has had a successful, ever-changing sound. It can be a beautiful thing. At the same time, there are bands that have a formula, and a great formula. Sometimes, when you have such a formula, when you've gathered a perfect storm of sound, it's best to simply tweak it periodically, but not to try to overreach. When that happens, for some bands, well... the suck begins.

So without further ado, here are three bands that were brilliant in executing their formula... but then fucked with it, and now are pale shadows of their former selves. Sadly, these are also three of my all-time favorite bands, bands I've seen in concert multiple times, and bands that have now been letting me down for years.

1) Metallica

The lovely Boo already talked about their new album, "Death Magnetic." It's not bad. It's an attempt to re-establish themselves closer to their roots. But the thing is, they should never have moved away in the first place. Metallica has two near-perfect albums, "Master of Puppets" and "Kill 'Em All," and one near great one, "Ride The Lightning." Many people love "...And Justice for All," whereas I see it as the beginning of the end. Metallica's bread and butter was always speedy, thrashy, arena-metal with a penchant for headbanging and lyrics about drug use or goofy mythology. Then they started trying to write about Very Important Issues, and consequently, their sound rapidly shit the bed. They tried to appeal to a wider audience, and in the process watered down what made them so great. But, here are some of their best works, from back in the day:

From Kill 'Em All, my personal favorite, The Four Horsemen:

Same album, here's "Seek and Destroy"

"Damage, Inc.", from "Master of Puppets"

2) Helmet

Oh, God, Helmet. How I loved Helmet when I was in high school and college. I still throw in "Meantime" or "Betty" to this day and rock the fuck out to them. Helmet, led by virtuoso Page Hamilton, was a force of nature in their prime. Known for rapid-fire riffs, barking vocals mixed with monotone singing, and some truly amazing, innovative drumming from John Stanier, their first three albums are classics for alternative/hardcore lovers from the early to middle 90's. Betty, while a great album, also signified their efforts to change it up again, and much like Metallica and "Justice," it marked the beginning of their decline. Once Stanier and drummer Henry Bogdan left the band, Hamilton tried hard to recapture the magic. He came close on the near-miss album "Aftertaste," but ultimately, Helmet just never was the same. Here's one track from each of their three great albums:

"Bad Mood," from "Strap It On"

"Ironhead," from "Meantime"

"Biscuits for Smut," from "Betty"

Incidentally, the best song on Betty, and a spectacular example of Stanier's drumming skills, is easily "Rollo," but I couldn't find an embeddable video. So go look for it.

3) Social Distortion

Social D is one of the granddaddies of punk rock. A bunch of white trash heroin addicts from Orange County, Social Distortion created a fascinating hybrid of country, rock and roll, and punk that spoke to kids everywhere. Plagued by heroin addiction for years, frontman Mike Ness was a incredible performer who would eventually clean up his act. They sustained their sound and their greatness for a solid decade-plus, starting with the nasty-sounding "Mommy's Little Monster" in 1983 and getting good results out of 1996's "White Light, White Heat, White Trash," which was probably their most heavily produced album, but still a solid effort. Four years later, guitarist Dennis Danell would die of an aneurysm, and Ness became the last surviving member of the original lineup. Since then... not so much with the good records. 2004 gave us the weak "Sex, Love and Rock and Roll" and while there's another album due in 2009, I don't have very high hopes. But they still put on a motherfucker of a show (or so I hear - I haven't seen them since 1996), and their punk rock legacy will live forever. Here's a few of the classics:

"Mommy's Little Monster" from the album of the same name:

The popular, radio-friendly Johnny Cash cover, "Ring of Fire" from fire, from their eponymous album:

"I Was Wrong" from "White Light, White Heat, White Trash"

Interestingly, Ness has put out a couple of solo albums that are really, really good and definitely worth your time, especially if punk's not your thing. They're much more mellow.

So there you go. Three bands that either danced with, or achieved greatness based on a perfect formula, that ruined themselves through trying too hard to change or grow. It's not always a good thing, people.

Listening to: Helmet - Rollo
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

quick cut: great big sea

they look like a seattle grunge band. they play irish... folk... newfoundland...pop... um... you know what it is. a less angry dropkick murphys. a whole lotta fun. they've even got a bouzouki player on board. and we all know how i feel about bouzouki.
anyway. please to enjoy, puppets and all:
great big sea: mary mac

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

music for when things fall apart

so, we're having a collective "one of those weeks" around these parts. everyone's a little overwhelmed, a little exhausted, a little fried.
because sometimes, things don't work out.
for those times, this is some of the music i turn to (provided, of course, that my ipod continues working, since that seems extremely questionable given its little performance this morning in which the click wheel has stopped working. sigh.)

social distortion - story of my life
charlotte martin - haunted (no decent videos on that, sorry.)
the police - the bed's too big without you
imogen heap - sweet religion
social distortion - don't take me for granted
the darkness - givin' up
the bad plus - iron man
bad religion - sorrow
johnny cash - the man comes around
and (this is so embarrassing, but honestly, it's true. i have no cred.)
u2 - stuck in a moment

who do you turn to, musically, when things just effing suck? what gets you through? please tell me there's something!
(i'd have more opinions and songs, but i'll be honest: i haven't escaped the "things kind of suck" stick. so you're getting a list of songs that i've lumped into a "get through this" play list.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

hate / love: some shit happened and now some other shit is going to happen. heavy.

dear pink,
please. effing. stop it.

well, the posing is fine. i really couldn't care less about the posing. you sure do spend a lot of time at the gym though, don't you? wow. actually, i'm talking about this song, so what. you see, my co-worker listens to pop radio, and that song is played roughly every fifteen minutes. you must be raking in so much cash right now. (which is probably good for you, since you haven't had a hit in, what, 8 years?) however, just because a song is played every fifteen minutes doesn't mean it's any good. just because a song plays over and over in my head when i go home after work doesn't mean it's any good. it may be an effective pop song, but it is seriously obnoxious. so stop.

love (not really,)

really, though, i'm not joking even a little bit. so what has showed up in my dreams, will play in my head when i'm trying to sleep, i find myself humming it on the subway... and i hate it.
for those readers who can't watch youtube at the moment (what, your job expects you to do work while you're getting paid? ridiculous!), here is a sample of the lyrics:

na na na na na na na
na na na na na na
na na na na na na na
na na na na na na
i guess i just lost my husband
i don't know where he went
so i'm gonna drink my money
i'm not gonna pay his rent (nope)
i got a brand new attitude
and i'm gonna wear it tonight
i wanna get in trouble
i wanna start a fight

na na na na na na na
i wanna start a fight
na na na na na na na
i wanna start a fight

this is a perfect example of what i think of as the "some shit happened and now some other shit is going to happen" song. however. other bands have done it better, and, in light of their accomplishments (perfection!) i don't really think that pink should have even tried.

in the loooooooooove category, may i suggest:

kaiser chiefs - i predict a riot

this song is apparently responsible for me breezing right past two friends in the train station - i was that caught up in rocking out to it on the pod. i have it on fairly constant heavy rotation, and have had it that way for years. it's irresistible, catchy without being poppy, and a whole fricking lot of fun.

and the ultimate best of the best of the sshansosigth genre (and also, seriously? one of the best videos ever.) is of course...

ok go - here it goes again

i've spent quite a bit of time this past week trying to figure out what differentiates pink's version from these other two. they all have repetitive, silly lyrics. lots of major chords, augmented by a diminished here and there to feel "edgy."
i've come to the conclusion that it's two things, primarily:
1) real instruments / no vocal correction
2) actual soul
i didn't really think that i'd ever say that ok go was soulful, but in light of this development, that's what i'm going to have to conclude.
i am, however, willing to admit that my conclusions may be silly. does anyone have a better take?
also, does anyone have a way to get pink's version out of my head?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Felicia's fall concert series: More Canada!!

And so the concerts continue...I'm starting to run out of steam and money but it's totally worth it when I'm discovering new opening bands along the way. Last night was the Broken Social Scene show at the legendary First Ave in Minneapolis. Up and coming indie rock band Land of Talk from Montreal were the openers. This trio with front woman Elizabeth Powell delivers a grittier indie sound with an emphasis on guitars. I was impressed, although Elizabeth's gorgeous vocals were downplayed due to the loud guitars and drums. She mentioned that she was sick, so I'm not sure if that contributed to the quiet vocals or if that's just their main style. Check out this video for the song "Speak to Me Bones."

Broken Social Scene is known for their revolving door of artists coming and going. And they're usually going once they hit it big solo like Feist, Amy Milan of Stars and Emily Haines of Metric. The beginning of the live show was absolutely amazing, almost life changing I would say. It's hard not to feel something when you've got 20 musicians on stage pouring their souls out for the audience. Two drummers, four guitars/bass, trumpets, trombones and vocalists, all the senses were engaged.

Unfortunately the show didn't continue along that vein. The middle of the show lacked the emotion the first portion did. It was highly schizophrenic jumping between styles and I was finding myself wondering if I was at a Phish concert at times. Near the end of the set Brendan Canning said that instead of ending the show they were going to give us an "impromptu jam session." These three words combined are like death to me. I hate jam bands and everything about them. We left shortly after that hippie shit took place, but the beginning of the show totally made up for the purple haze I left in. I still believe BSS is one of the best eclectic bands out there right now, and if you don't mind a little jamming you should catch them on this tour.

"Fire Eye'd Boy" video

"Almost Crimes" video

"Hit the Wall" video

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

From the Peanut Gallery: Best Songs to Karaoke To

Taking a page from one of my favorite websites evarr, I wanted to do a little spotlight on the commenters today.

So, the grand question: What are your Top 5 Karaoke Song Choices? Not songs that you like to hear other people sing, but the songs that finally convince you to join your friends in looking like complete idiots on the stage.

My five?

1. Stuck In the Middle With You
2. Pour Some Sugar On Me (BUT only in a drunken group situation--Oh god that is embarrassing)
3. Barracuda
4. Son of a Preacher Man
5. Anything by the Jackson 5

Ok, GO!

Monday, October 13, 2008

After the Show with Uncle Tupelo

As far as I can tell, I am the oldest writer of this group. The advantage that holds is that I’m able to talk about shows and events that happened in the early to late 90s, that might have some historical significance (well, at least to me, let me not be overdramatic here) as long as I can remember the events. The 90s weren’t that long ago, so this shouldn’t be a problem. Although you obviously have no idea how much beer I’ve drank since those days.

I was introduced to Uncle Tupelo through a fellow musician named Brian Buhman in Ames, Iowa. Brian is currently living in Chicago and you might find him in any number of swing, country, rock, or otherwise bands prowling the taverns of America’s greatest city. I was really into the first Gear Daddies album, but Brian was more schooled in the history of Gram Parsons, the Birds, and the Flying Burrito Brothers, which he considered more “echt” than the sounds the Gear Dads were bringing, so he loaned me the “No Depression” CD and told me that they would be playing at People’s Bar & Grill, there in Ames, the following week.

If you’ve heard the album, and you like it, you know that it was groundbreaking. I’m with Tweedy when I say they didn’t really invent the genre, they were just making good music, but the album DID have a really strong influence on alternative country, a genre that seems to have a lot of followers, but musicians and bands reluctant to be categorized as such.

Let’s just set the record straight: Def Leppard IS a hair band as much as they don’t wanna be, and if you play good, straight up country-influenced music (listen for the pedal steel guitar) and aren’t being played on modern (shit) country radio, you’re more than likely and alt-country band. Can you get over it and keep making great music? If AC/DC can be okay with their lot in life, you can, too.

I remember seeing Uncle Tupelo for the first time at People’s. Being in a band in Ames, People’s was always my favorite place to play. Tom, the owner, was a good guy, and I gave him a hard time about booking cover bands. But truthfully, he brought in a wide variety of bands, and had the best stage and sound system in town. The clientele varied depending on the band, but I think it, more than any other bar in town, was the bar where most of the Greek system boys and girls hung out.

Uncle Tupelo played there on the Thursday night the week before spring classes were going to start in January of ’91 (I think). People’s was having a special: quart jars of any mixed drink for $2. Sure it was well liquor, not the premium stuff, but you might as well call that the “Hungover Fer Sure” special.

I got a whiskey and coke and noticed that the band was playing pool. Buhman, James Stone (who played drums in a couple of bands with me) and I walked up and started talking to the guys, played pool with them, and I bummed Mike Heidorn’s Marlboro reds. Brian Henneman was with them. Brian has his own band, the Bottle Rockets.

I don’t remember too much about the show that night, but that’s what will happen when you drink three quarts of whiskey and coke. I know that afterwards, they needed a place to stay, and Buhman told them they could stay at his house. We helped them load out, they got a case of Leinenkugel’s from People’s Bar and Grill, and we got in their van and headed off to Perkins for some breakfast. I remember gibbering something over my hamburger that it would be so great if they could come back to Ames because mostly all we got were cover bands (I had a problem with cover bands back in college. As I look at it now, it was kind of silly, but mostly I was just jealous that people wanted to hear covers as opposed to coming to see my band(s) that played all original music).

After we ate at Perkins, we went to Buhman’s house and passed around an acoustic guitar. I was playing punk rock back then and didn’t really tool around much with the acoustic (this experience would change all that) so I started playing “Dust in the Wind.” As one of my most embarrassing life experiences, Jeff Tweedy said, “Dude, I think I’m all dusted in the winded out,” or something to that effect.

When I woke up the next morning, the band and Brian Henneman were gone, but they left us the untouched case of Leinenkugel’s.

I saw Uncle Tupelo again in Austin, Minnesota, where they played with 4 other bands at the Gear Daddies “last show” at the Austin County fairgrounds. House of Large Sizes, the Draghounds, and Run Westy Run were there as well. I don’t think there were any others. I drove from Wisconsin and met up with some friends who drove up from Ames. They had an interim drummer, as this was just after the release of “March 16 – 20, 1992” and did a good set. I didn’t talk to them, but I do remember talking to Run Westy Run. A couple of my friends who were in an Ames band called Funky Thermos and the Soular Grape Fruit Band (Funky Thermos for short) worked out a deal where they would open for the Westies on an upcoming Ames show they caught wind of.

The final time I saw Uncle Tupelo was after I got out of school in 1993. I drove down to Ames from Decorah, Iowa on a Friday to see them play at a small venue at Iowa State University called the M-Shop. Joe Henry and his band opened. They were great. Uncle Tupelo played an awesome show, as well. They came out with “Acuff Rose” and everyone went nuts. I remember them doing “Whiskey Bottle” as an encore, without the loud, crashing choruses (I later asked Ken Coomer why the toned down choruses, and he said it was “too heavy metal.” Whatever!) and Jay Farrar messed up the words, which will happen.

My friend, Shanda, was talking to Coomer and Stirrat after the show and invited them back to her place for an after-party. We stopped and got a case of cans on the way there. They showed up. Farrar was standing in a corner with a roadie nursing an Old Style. I think they were telling jokes to each other. Tweedy comes in and he heads straight for the sink and gets a water. I see this and look at Stirrat and ask, "Do some members of the band not drink?" He says, "Some of us don't," and takes a swig out of his bottle of Old Style.

This is where it gets good...or annoying if you're Jeff Tweedy. I start asking him questions about different lyrics of his songs. I can't be sure what I asked him now. After about the 3rd question, he asks, "Are you going to interview me all night?" I sort of crack a smile and two of my friends, Andy Strom and Eric "Smoke" Smith chime in with, "No, you gotta understand, we've been talking about this stuff for the longest time, and you're the guy who can answer it." Jeff sort of shrugs his shoulders and I think he's left alone for about five minutes.

I didn't talk to him or really anyone else for the rest of the "after-the-show" party. My friends practiced with their friends in that house, and I think they got at least 2 members of the band to jam with them until the neighbors upstairs called the cops. As we were leaving, the band was leaving, too, and Jeff apologized to me for being agitated. I just grinned and shook my head. I said, "It's okay, Jeff, I know how I am." He smiled and nodded. Not sure he expected that kind of response.

What's funny, however, is that in Golden Smog, a side project many musicians from about 3 other bands are involved in, including the Jayhawks and Soul Asylum, Tweedy wrote a song called, "I Can't Keep From Talking." When I interpret it for myself, it appears to be about annoying people like me, with the final verse being about his feelings for those who ask. You can get this off of iTunes, if you so care to.

When the Wilco book, “Learning How to Die” came out, it had a lot of information about the Uncle Tupelo years. It’s not like I was really involved with the band or anything, but they were around during such a short time, and as I read it, I felt I was “this close” to actually getting into the book.

I was in Bellingham, Washington in May 1994. I was there for Garage Shock, a 4-day festival of bands held in the 3B tavern. I was looking through a Rolling Stone magazine at a local record store when I read that Uncle Tupelo played their last show in St. Louis earlier that month. I was kind of bummed out, but knew there would be more coming from the guys in this band.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday is Theme Day!! Soundtracks Soundtracks Soundtracks!

Oh, how we love a good theme! Huzzah and Hoorah! And what better than to combine two of the things that most of us love in the whole big wide world: MUSIC and MOVIES. Thus, we will present Soundtrack Fridays for the next little bit.

Ah, the beauty of setting music to a story. It accomplishes so many things at once. Music can cue us in to what the director wants us to feel: Love, terror, tension, drama, sadness, boredum—a whole spectrum of emotion. Music helps the director to really create an atmosphere; afterall, what would Deliverance be without "Dueling Banjos"?

A fantastic soundtrack can take a decent movie and catapult it into greatness. A good song can stay with us as we leave the movie theater, can bring our thoughts back to a beautiful moment, and can add a fourth dimension to the artistry of the film. Show me a movie with a bad soundtrack, and I'll show you a bad movie. They ultimately go hand in hand.

For my Soundtrack Friday post, I'm going to present a musical buffet. It is so hard to pin down one good soundtrack—they really need to be divided into their proper genres. I'm gonna chose my own genres here, and hopefully my pics will make sense within each one.

Glorious Guilty Pleasure Soundtracks
Dirty Dancing
I'm getting this one out of the way first, because it is by far the guiltiest. The reason this particular soundtrack made the list is not for the furiously insulting "I've Had the Time of My Life," or even the mediocre at best "She's Like the Wind," but for the undercurrent of music that runs throughout the movie. Otis Reddings "Love Man," Mickey and Sylvia's "Love Is Strange" really save it for me, among other classics.

The Best Soundtrack Featuring One Artist or Group
Harold and Maude: Cat Stevens
This was a tough one, but ultimately I think the soundtrack affects the mood of this movie more than my other choice, so I'm going with it. It has some of the happiest music ("If You Wanna Sing Out, Sing Out") and some of the saddest music ("Trouble") to ever grace the silver screen. This song is actually my favorite under-1 min song ever. (I hate the Happy Birthday song. Hate.)

Tea for the Tillerman

The Best "Harken Back" Soundtrack
Almost Famous
The Who. Simon and Garfunkel. Yes. The Beach Boys. Lynyrd Skynard. Led Zepellin. Nancy Wilson. David Bowie. The Allman Brothers Band. Elton John. And the best sing-along scene ever.

Tiny Dancer

The Best Without Words (Mostly) Soundtrack
The Proposition: Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
Not only did he capture the mood the director was going for, Cave and Ellis created almost another entity within the movie with his haunting violins, didgeridoo, deep slow drum beats, and spares piano. It not only underscores the harshness of the Outback (the violins buzzing like flies and crisp humming like hot sun), it gives the characters and even more intense reality and emotion. Powerful.

The Best Covers on a Soundtrack
No, not "The Wedding Singer." Ha ha.
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
Seu Jorge, a Portugese guitarist, covering David Bowie! Ah, love.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Felicia's fall concert series: a rollercoaster of a show

I've talked about Jamie Lidell before on this blog here, so you all know how much I am in love with him. I got to see him live at The Varsity in Minneapolis again last night. His opener was Janelle Monae, a futuristic R&B singer. I had never heard of her before, but was impressed with the energy she brought to her set. It was the type of energy that was infectious and spread through the whole crowd. She also has a great voice and fits the characterization of "big voice, little body."

Many Moons video

Jamie Lidell's set continued the energy that Janelle brought from the start. He sounded great, was on point and most importantly looked hot. Things were going along like a typical show. You know, grooving along to the music when all of a sudden you get hit in the face by the kid on ecstasy standing right in front of you while simultaneously catching a whiff of the dude who hasn't showered in years next to you, when all of a sudden Jamie took a turn for the worse and he started some sort of rave set. I don't even like raves when I'm high, so I sure as hell don't like them when I'm almost sober. The soul drained out of his set faster than my legs on free birthday cake at work day. He was all about turntabling and beat boxing to a trance-like beat. He lost over half the crowd and I was starting to wonder what the hell was going on.

After I took a bathroom and PBR break he ditched the crazy rave shit and started singing like the great soul man that he is. He finished the set very strong and had the crowd back in no time. He definitely made it up to me by posing for a picture with my friends and me and babbling to me in his hot English accent. Head over to my personal blog to get a glimpse.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Androgyny and The Great Gender Bend

A philosophical question: What came first—the gender bending artist or their music? Does the music they create pull this persona from within, or is it the persona that pulls the music out?

In our modern culture, are we attracted to the lack of sexual characteristics or is it more the possibility of either?

Take for instance: Prince. Or, The Artists Formerly Known As Prince. Or, Prince Again. (Does anyone know what he actually goes by now?) Now, I wouldn't necessarily consider him androgynous, but he certainly knows how to blur the sexual lines, and he is certainly more sexual (in his early '90s days, as witnessed by the following video) than many of the more typically androgynous performers.

Seriously, ENJOY.

Alas, no ass. (Really, what the hell has happened to America? I haven't seen an onstage orgy on cable since, well, since 1991. A real cryin' shame.) Now that I'm thinking about it, he really looks like a woman in drag more than anything. (He sure does have a pretty face, mm hmm.)

Now, on the other hand, consider THE David Bowie. Andro? Yes. Sexual? Depends. (For me, the answer to that second question is an unequivocal "YES," but I'm aware that many do not share that sentiment.)

Let's taste, shall we?

I'm Afraid of Americans (featuring supersexy Trent Reznor)

With Bowie—and getting back to my original thought—it seems as though his portrayed gender identity comes paired with his music; that the persona brings certain things forward, and they exist hand-in-hand (evidenced by his Ziggy Stardust era, where he actually named the persona). Prince, on the other hand, seems to let his music come through and his true self express its nature. Yes, he is a showman, but there is also honesty in his self-portrayed sexual being. (Am I going way out on a limb here?)

Annie Lennox is more of the Prince variety of andro; she has something to say, says it in her music, and then cultivates the persona to bring power to her message. (Ok, this is all very confusing. I'm getting lost. And sorry for no Annie Lennox videos; they are all disabled. But if you want to see Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), then go here.)

Thoughts on androgyny in music?

i don't need the touch 'cause his body's cold

you guys. i'm obsessed. this is so. bad. and yet so. good.
i mean, i don't know about you, but i often find myself thinking, "if only there were more songs about futuristic spacewomen who are in love with robots. i would prefer if it was deeply eurodisco, a good candidate for techno sampling and featuring a woman with a lot of musical theatre flair." often. frequently. and yet, there just aren't that many.

probably because they would be terrible. just like this.

nonetheless, dee d. jackson has been making my week better, so i thought i'd share with you. i highly recommend her website, if only because i would like someone to write a bio about me featuring the phrase "again, kelsi looked excessively beauty and sexy." because i'm a big fan of people not proofreading things they write. yep.

so, for your outer-space-eurodisco-hit-from-1978 enjoyment, i present:

dee d. jackson, automatic lover:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Felicia's fall concert series: Flash in the pan??

When I caught wind of MGMT's album Oracular Spectacular earlier this year, I couldn't get enough of it. I liked it so much that I held hands and skipped with it, it rested on the pillow beside me as I slept and I took it out to dinner. They were one of the bands at Lollapalooza this year that I couldn't bear to miss. But after the bad audio, the bad crowd and my hankering for getting lit I walked away from their Lolla performance with a bad taste in my mouth.

Fortunately they came to my city supporting Beck on his tour last night, and I went to get some form of redemption from Lolla. The only problem with that was I am not a fan of Beck. Mr. Scientology is OK, but I just never grew attached to him like I did with MGMT. I didn't even realize that there were actual Beck fans who creamed their panties for him. There are, and Beck kept me entertained through most of his set. As for MGMT, they just didn't perform the way I expected them to. It was as if I was listening to their CD, just really loudly. They never deviated from the recordings on the album, and their set never really took off. This may be because the band is still quite young, but it makes me wonder if they really have the stuff of longevity. Hopefully they can take a note from their elder Beck, and fine tune their live show. While we wait for them to get around to that, smoke a few blunts and check these trippy videos from MGMT out.

Electric Feel

Time to Pretend

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

do you dare there to give me your eyes?

we've touched on it here in a few posts, but there's really nothing like the "ohmigod that was awesome" sensation of a really excellent live show.
one of my absolutely absolute favorite live performers is the wildly talented, explosively charismatic charlotte martin.
i've seen her perform three times, and each time was a revelation. she's one of those performers who throws herself entirely into the music, the passion, the moment, and it's impossible to not get caught up with her. she evokes (but never invokes) tori amos, but with significantly less crazy. she loves her instrument, but doesn't make love to it, if that distinction means anything to you. (and tori fans, i think it will.) nonetheless, there's a significant overlap between folks who love tori and folks who love charlotte martin, and it's not terribly hard to see why.
she also lingers after performances, and remembers everyone she's met before. it's kind of insane. she also hugs everyone within reach, and there's something about the combination of her personal charm and her passionate performance that makes her truly irresistible.
in a search for her best songs, youtube turned up some great live performances - and some tragically bad listener-produced, um, art.
up all night is a great song, one of my favorites to get lost in, but this is a tragically bad, uh, video. so maybe close your eyes and don't watch what's going on?

yowza. i really hope you listened to that, rather than watching. because it's beautiful, right? the song. never mind that other stuff.
now that you've been introduced, you're ready for the real thing. under the gravel skies is another favorite of mine, full of a dark yearning that, well, frankly, i love. the music is slippery, sinuous and reaches into your heart... in the abstract, it's hard to see how a song with a refrain about "out of the black pools / i've risen up" can be so hot, and yet... it is.

for a somewhat different, but still impassioned, charlotte, there's this music video.
really, more than anything, i suggest you try and see her live. she tours frequently, in small venues, and if you can catch her, she will rock your fucking face off. tour dates can be found, you know, on her site. it looks like there's nothing scheduled right now, but it is worth your while (if you liked anything you heard here) to try and catch her. she's awesome. girl scout's honor.