Don’t ask me why I obsessively look to rock ’n’ roll bands for some kind of model for a better society. I guess it’s just that I glimpsed something beautiful in a flashbulb moment once, and perhaps mistaking it for prophecy have been seeking its fulfillment ever since.
- Lester Bangs
Congratulations to Wilco for their musical guest slot on SNL this weekend. I can still remember being somewhat curious about Wilco when I bought AM in 1994. I had just recently gotten into Uncle Tupelo, and wanted to hear exactly what Jeff Tweedy was going to do next. All's he did was do everything the right way. The way it should be done. Building a fan base from non stop touring and by releasing 15yrs worth of great records and becoming one of the best, if not biggest, bands in America. By evolving and experimenting, but never selling out Wilco have always taken the high road, even through some of the darker times the band has endured. It has been a great ride, and I can't wait for 15 more years...
This is the debut disc from singer/actress Zooey Deschanel(wonderful as the big sister in Almost Famous) and singer/songwriter M Ward. A great collection of old-timey sounding songs...really a great record.
The Junkies celebrate the 20th anniversary of 'The Trinity Sessopms' (simply one of the most gorgeous records ever produced in my opinion) with this revisiting. Recorded in the same church, the same track listing with reworked songs...including guest vocals by Vic Chestnutt, Ryan Adams, and Natalie Merchant...a great bookend to the seminal 'Sessions'
I guess I have always been a sucker for a pretty girl with a guitar. But add a great way with words and some mighty fine alt country tunes, and I am head over heels. Enter Tift Merritt and her new record 'Another Country.'
This third record from Houston's Merritt is SO good. Beautifully crafted pop songs, with just the right dash of country heart...I am on my third listen and still loving it more with each listen.
I think I need to be more clear. New Age music makes me sad, not because it has any sort of overwhelming emotional affect om me, no....not at all. It makes me sad just knowing that it exists. It makes me sad to think that anyone, after a hard day or an trying episode would turn to this stuff for comfort. It's horrid. Beyond bad. It has all the emotional wallop of a pat on the back. All the flavor of a rice cake. It's hollow. Empty. Utterly useless.
I turned on the NPR new age show last night in an attempt to help me fall asleep. Bad move. Instead of the dulcet sound lulling me to sleep, I sat there in awe of how bad this stuff was. I found myself actually staying awake longer, waiting to hear each new song to see if it could possibly be worse than the one before. And of course each one was ALWAYS much worse than the one before.
So anyway, in my effort to fight the good fight and spread the word I have posted this missive. And as a soundtrack I will pick one of my favorite band, and the musical opposite of new age music, Lucero. Both of these are off of the LP 'Nobody's Darlings'
I am sitting here listening to the new Mike Doughty disc, 'Golden Delicious' and loving it. Thought I would pass a couple of tracks along,
Doughty has such an incredible way with words...he can turn a phrase like nobody's business. And he writes some of the best unconventional love songs I have ever heard...like beautiful abstract poetry. Enjoy these....
Not damaged in the worst sense of the word though. I have just always viewed the world through idealistically tinted glasses I guess. I sort of romanticize all of the bad decisions I make, like I am doing the righteous thing, when most of the time I am just being lazy...or maybe just looking for the path of least resistance. But maybe not, since the choices I seem to make always make things a little harder for me, even though at the time I swear I am doing the noble thing...the right thing.
I just haven't figured exactly what it is I want out of this life yet...and I am starting think that there are worse things than this. I love trying new things, meeting new people, living in new places...I have never been one of t hose people who ALWAYS knew what it was that I wanted to with my life. I think I am finally coming to grips with that, becoming at peace with that. I guess I am sort of a rambler. And I have never had money, so trading in life experience as my currency actually suits me. So on to the next adventure. Cue the music.
Sorry to anyone who check this blog semi-regularly, I know there has been a sad lack of new content. Having some internet issues at the new place, and my internet web connection is sporadic at best. But I did want to take a second and post my thoughts on 'I'm Not There' the Dylan biopic that has been out for awhile and I JUST got around to seeing. I will preface these words by saying that while I didn't like the movie, it has most definitely kept me thinking and has rekindled my appreciation for what an incredible songwriter Dylan is.
I wish I hadn't been there. Positively trainwreck street. And I wanted to like this movie SO bad. I love Bob Dylan, and I was even buying in on the gimmick of having 6 different actors playing the 6 different 'versions' of the singer/songwriter, but the execution of the idea was painful to watch at times.
This movie just couldn't get out of it's own way. Every time it started to pick up steam, it would cut to Richard Gere as the 'cowboy/rancher Dylan' and totally screech to a halt. The entire movie, but the Gere scenes especially were filled with overly dramatic, self-gratifying symbolism that was over my head and at times hard to watch.
All of the Dylan's were lacking too I thought. They ranged from laughably bad(Christian Bale as the early folkie) to so-so impressions(Cate Blanchette as the androgynous Dlyan, who just finished every sentence with 'man')...honestly, I thought the most interesting scenes were the ones about the movie star, iconic Dylan played by Heath Ledger and those were far too few and far too short.
I think a total of 4 people actually walked out before it was over, and there was a dog in the theater...yes, a dog. Not sure why, the guy wasn't blind, but whatever...and even the dog started howling at about the half way point. Not one person got up and complained, we all just laughed...it was the first time we had been entertained for about an hour.
Thanks Todd Haynes, for taking the career of the greatest songwriter ever and turning it into your failed film school thesis...i want my $6 back.
PS The only reason it gets the second star is because of the incredible performance of 'Going To Alcupocco' by Jim James of My Morning Jacket...by far the highlight of the film.
Honestly, I never saw this one coming. The Moldy Peaches being part of a number one record? Amazing! I for one am happy for them. I realize that the Juno soundtrack is not actually a Moldy Peaches record, but honestly...it has to be 'Anyone Else But You' that is driving sales.
I can remember seeing them open up for Tenacious D in Las Vegas YEARS ago...2000 or 2001 I am thinking. Their offbeat songs and deadpan delivery always made me laugh. Kimya and Adam totally deserve this moment in the sun.
In honor of their wondrous achievement I am passing along a couple of tracks. The Peaches tune 'Who's Got The Crack?' and the Adam Green solo ode to Jessica Simpson, 'Jessica'
I dare say mine was Kay Hanley of Letters To Cleo. I can remember being SO smitten when I finally got a chance to see her in person, in a super small bar called Chelsea's back in Columbus(I think it is literally a Starbucks now...so cliche and so sad).
The actual crush though probably started the second I saw the video for their modest es/9hit, 'Here And Now'...it was love at first sight. That cool alt-rock haircut, her thrift store sense of style, and that sweet voice...yeah, I never had a chance!
In the name of nostalgia, here is that song...and one other LTC tunes off of their follow up album, 'Wholesale Meats and Fish'
I had the pleasure of seeing Eleni Mandell back in September when she opened up a show for the Frames here in Los Angeles. I had been a fan of hers on a sort of casual level before that, but I was totally won over that night.
Her voice is pitch perfect for the sort of lovely folk/rock songs that she sings. Her latest record 'Miracle Of Five' is full of great tunes, like these two I am sharing...my two favorite off of the record. Do yourself a favor and check her out, your ears and soul will thank you!
I was listening to the couple of Handsome Boy Modeling School albums that I have and marveling again at how great they are. So many different influences weaved seamlessly into the same musical tapestry.
This first track is probably one of the HOTTEST tracks ever recorded, thanks to Chan Marshall and her sultry vocals. I was talking earlier in the week about the imaginary movie playing in my head...well, if said movie had a strip club scene...I'd use this to score it with.
Consider this my 'State Of The Blog' address. I have been amusing myself for about 4 months know via this outlet and it's been a blast. More therapeutic than I ever imagined. I have never been very good at expressing myself verbally, but I think and reason and rationalize in song lyrics. I find so much wisdom in rock n roll. And every memory I have - the good, the bad, and the ugly all have songs attached to them.
So that's how I use my little plot of the virtual landscape. Putting a soundtrack to the never ceasing dialog in my head.
I am sitting here listening to the new Willie Nelson record, 'Moment Of Forever'...and I am in awe. In awe of this 75yr old's energy and vitality. Singer/songwriters and the next big things from every generation have come and gone, and in 2007 Willie Nelson releases what is just an amazing set of songs. This is country gold. Instant classic.
Stunning, simple, and eloquent, phrases like this are all over the new Ida disc 'Lover's Prayers'. It's a quiet, beautiful, and understated record that is never dull. I am spinning it for about the third consecutive time as I write this...had to stop what I was doing and get these thoughts out...a wonderful collection of songs.
I love the sentiment in this beautiful Patty Griffin song. So simple. So true. I wonder a lot about whether people who have come and gone from my life think about me as much as I think about them.
There have been so many people who have wandered into my life for what seems like just a moment, but at just the right moment. They were their to show me the way when I really needed to be shown, or otherwise got me through a really trying time. This song is for all of those folks...I hope I was able to help you half as much as you helped me...you know who you are.
I hear certain songs that I think would work so perfectly for the movie i will never write. I have a collection of scenes, not a story necessarily, but several scenes that I see when ever a certain song comes on.
Some artists just seem to have that cinematic quality to them...Tom Waits, Massive Attack, and Iron and Wine for example.
This Sparklehorse song has always been the track that I had pegged for the fade to black, credits rolling, grand finale to my imaginary film. The soundtrack is coming along nicely...maybe someday the rest of the movie will fall into place.
Slow motion exit...screen fades to black...cue the music
The universe works in mysterious ways. And it's the little coincidences, the small wonders that fall into your day that sometimes give you hope that maybe there is really some sort of method in all of this madness.
Like tonight, when I went out for dinner...and the bill was something something and forty three cents...and I just happened to have exactly forty three cents in my pocket...not a penny more, not a penny less...amazing no? I was thoroughly amazed...for about four seconds, then a crazy street person walked by speaking in tounges and I was immediatley snapped back into reality...but it was a nice moment between me and the cosmos.
To honor said moment, here are a couple of 'wonder'ful tunes...enjoy
I am in the midst of a major musical nostalgia trip. I've been tracking down some of those gems, the one hit wonders if you will from my past. Songs that I still to this day associate with certain people and specific places. Songs that served as the soundtrack to my life.
I wanted to share 'Mighty KC' by For Squirrels. Such a bittersweet tune. And one of my favorite Kurt Cobain inspired songs. The potency of this song is made all the more relevant when you consider the tragedy the band itself had to face.
This popped up on my shuffle today and I have been smiling since. It's the Eels take on 'Get Your Freak On', yeah, the Missy Elliot tune.
This, along with close to 50 other 'rarities' can be found on the set Useless Trinkets that E and the band released earlier this year. I still haven't gotten all the way through it...lots of hidden gems in there though.
It's a beautiful 'winter' day here in the City Of Angels. The sun is shining and the sky is as blue as it gets...so here is a song that I will always associate with summer, it always puts a bounce in my step and a smile on my face.
I was sitting in this little Hollywood coffee shop over the weekend and I saw Jerry O Connell. Which got me to thinking...if you would have asked me the year 'Stand By Me' was released which one of the kids in the movie would grow up to have the best career...Jerry O'Connell probably would have been last on my list.
Not his fault, but at the time Corey Feldman was pretty huge, as was River Phoenix, and even Will Wheton seemed destined for bigger things than old Verne. But he stayed sane, he stayed grounded, and he stayed alive...and he has done really well for himself.
I think all of this is just an excuse to post a classic John Lennon cover. But I do adore this movie. It's like nostalgia on celluloid.
Hey...how about some Vampire Weekend? Or MGMT...or Hot Chip maybe?
Hmmmm...I think I will go back a few years, to refresh the musical pallet. I was listening to Jen Trynin's 'Cockamamie' for the first time in a long time tonight. Forgot how much I loved this song, 'One Year Down'...a great upbeat love tune...enjoy.
If anyone has had the pleasure of seeing Ohio's 'Gil Mantera's Party Dream' live I am sure it is an experience you have never forgotten. There shows are many things, but never boring. I have seen them too many times to count, since until recently I lived in their ex-home base of Columbus,Ohio.
I am looking forward to my first LA show next month, March 8 at Echo. Here is a killer cover from Gil and the Ultimate Donny, a great version of Fleetwood Mac's 'Dreams'
Here is an older Nada Surf cover of the 80's hit 'If You Leave', made famous by OMD. I think this song originally appeared on one of the soundtracks to the OC, but don't hold me to that...a great version of a great song nonetheless.
Full disclosure time. I have had the biggest crush on Minnie Driver for as long as I can remember. I think it started with 'Circle Of Friends' and peaked somewhere around 'Grosse Point Blank'....so I am really not the most biased person to be discussing her music. But all of that being said, I really do find my self liking her stuff more and more every day. Some great pop tunes, with a slight alt-country sensibility.
This tune, 'Down' is a beautiful track off of her first record - 'Everything I've Got In My Pockets'...she also released a new record in 2007 called 'Seastories.'
I seem to be living, musically speaking, in 2006...at least I have been for the last few weeks. Revisiting albums like Josh Ritter's 'Animal Years', the Thermals 'The Blood, The Body, and The Machine', and Bernard Fanning's 'Tea And Sympathy.'
Fanning is the former lead singer and songwriter for Powderfinger. Here are two great tracks off of T & S, enjoy.
Had the old Itunes on shuffle today and this Jude song came on. Reminded me of the time I got a wedding invitation from my ex live-in girlfriend. Bad ex etiquette? I thought so...seemed a little spiteful, like something I would do actually. It was fine, I was the one who ended things...because I am not a big believer in the institution of marriage. I was happy for her, but I think anybody is wounded a little bit they ANYONE is able to move on after dating YOU. The ego is fragile, brutal thing.
My love for the words of Craig Finn and the music of the Hold Steady knows no limits. I think a lot of it has to do with my Midwestern roots. So much of what they sing about revolves around growing up, living, and just trying to figure life out in middle America.
Finn has the most amazing way of naming names and naming places that gives his songs instant credibility. He is a fantastic story teller. There music alwyas sounds to me like a great mesh of Bruce Springsteen and Social Distortion...and it always has so much heart. Can't wait for another Hold Steady record.
Here is a new track on the upcoming Guillemots release, 'Red'....the tune is called 'Kriss Kross'...very cool. I for one am really looking forward to this, 'Through The Window Pane' was one of the more pleasant surprises to me when it was released a couple of years ago.
I am such a sucker for Velvet Underground songs. No matter who is covering them. This is one of my favorites. Matthew Sweet and former Bangle Susanna Hoffs doing 'Sunday Morning'...Lou Reed never sounded so sweet.
I agree 100% with Bettie Serveet...for today at least. Just one of those days that everyone you encounter seems to have an agenda or a cross to bear or at the very least a mild personality disorder. I will take the high road, and rather than go Michael Douglas in 'Falling Down' I will bite my lip and dedicate a song to all of the morons I had to deal with today.
As I was walking down Hollywood Blvd last night on my way to see a band, they lyrics of this Band Of Horses song, 'St Augustine', echoed through my head..."Hollywood is calling out your name"...as between all of the over priced bars and nightclubs homeless people sleep in the alleys...the stark contrast between the haves and the have-nots here is omnipresent.
'Pavement' was the first band I ever immortalized in sticker form on my green Chevy Cavalier, the first car I ever owned. It was a giant black sticker with Pavement spelled out in giant block yellow letters...so tacky, I loved it!
So needless to say, for nostalgia's sake alone, new Stephen Malkmus music is still a big deal for me. Here is one off of the new record 'Real Emotional Trash.'
...or my email is anyway! Hey, it's me Blair...the Certain Songs staff of one. I just do this for the love of the music and am in no way trying to rip anybody off, so if you are an artist or a record label and you are not happy that I am promoting your music, or you want me to take a song down, just shoot me an email and I will most definitely oblige.
And please support the artists I post here in whatever way you can if you do download a song...go to a show, buy some merch, buy an album...these songs are the soundtrack to my life and I just love to share them. But I can only do that if the insanely talented artist responsible for said songs are able to eat.
I also love hearing new stuff...so any submissions can also be sent to my email, I will try my bestest to listen to everything and get back to you all...peace,love,rock n' roll.
Monthly Mix Tape
I guess you're old enough to know. Kids out on the east coast. Roughly twenty years old. Got coaxed out by a certain perfect ratio. Of warm beer to the summer smoke. And the meat loaf to the billy joel. Certain songs they get so scratched into our souls.
She goes low on the seats when she gets high in her car. She looks shallow but shes neck deep in the steamy dreams of the guys along the harbor bars. She's pulling out her shirttails and jacking up her socks. Stern and stoned and confident, coming up towards the jukebox. Born into the only songs that everybody finally sings along. B-1 is for the good girls. It's only the good die young. C-9 is for the making eyes. It's paradise by the dashboard light. D4 is for the lovers. B12 is for the speeders. And the hard drugs are for the bartenders and the kitchen workers and the bartender's friends. And they're playing it again. Ellen Foley gives us hope. Certain songs they get scratched into our souls.
I guess you're old enough to know. Kids out on the west coast are taking off their clothes. Screwing in the surf and going out to shows. They get high and ride around in gtos. I guess you're old enough to know. CERTAIN SONGS THEY GET SCRATCHED INTO OUR SOULS. - The Hold Steady