Song obsession friday! (for the week ending August 31)

August 31st, 2007

Song obsessions are those songs that we listen to on repeat. I noticed that my obsessions are often a week long. I also thought that other people might have similar obsessions. I’ve collected a panel of a few like-minded individuals and gotten their “song obsessions of the week.” Quite often it’s easy to explain why the song is good; it’s much hard to explain why we’re obsessed. Maybe you’ll become obsessed with one of these.

Adrian (me):
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Dirty Old Town (mp3) (buy)

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I was listening to Thread Productions’ Dragon Slayers, vol. 2 comp and came across “Stars for Anyone”, a song by Boneless Children Foundation. To me the beginning, the rough solo guitar sounded so much like Ted Leo’s version of “Dirty Old Town” that ever time I heard it I’d have to go and listen to that song. Then I was just listening to “Dirty Old Town” on repeat. Originally by Ewan MacColl, it was made famous by the Pogues. Ted’s version shows what he’s best at: mixing that melody and voice with the rough punk spirit.

A Girl Called Eddy – Somebody Hurt You (mp3) (buy)

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When the A Girl Called Eddy album originally came out I quickly dismissed it based on the attention it received from a faux-professional college station here in Boston. A year later I noticed the name under the producer credit:Richard Hawley. Further consideration revealed a winner of an LP imbued with Hawley’s sonic fingerprint cadged from the languid restrained orchestration of late-60’s Scott Walker. This cut keeps Erin’s simmering faux-jazz voice relatively in check as she tries to coax a piece of damaged goods into another potentially dangerous situation.

Chris Thomas King – Hard Time Killing Floor Blues (mp3) (buy)

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One thing that has always amazed me about great blues artists is their ability to put what seems like a century’s worth of sorrow and feeling into their voices, and King is no exception (even though he is more contemporary). The simple but ingeniously conceived guitar part perfectly compliments the vocals. Although short, this song draws me into it’s core, making me press play again and again.

now this is actually kind of cool

August 30th, 2007

image source: china vision

If someone just put an mp3 player into a cassette tape box, I’d probably make fun of it. If someone made it look like a cassette tape, that’d be a bit cooler.

Now, if that cassette tape mp3 player could both stand alone and be played in a regular cassette deck? Now that’s cool. That’s what you have with the Cassette MP3 Player.

I don’t know what your set up is, but in my car (where I have my only cassette player these days), I have one of those cassette adapters which is sort of annoying but usually functional. What would be cool would be to just take your mp3 player and stick it into the slot. No wires hanging out[1] or anything like that.

Also cool about the Cassette MP3 Player is:

  • Accepts SD cards as memory, making it pretty cheap to make a 2GB or 4GB player (I have 2GB cards just lying around)
  • cheap: $22! (without memory)

[1] You could, of course, hook up an ipod hook up cable to the back of your stereo and run the wire through the dashboard in a sort of slick manner.

on sale soon, 8.30.07 edition

August 30th, 2007

Posted every Thursday On Sale Soon is a weekly series of the tickets going on sale that weekend.

Where to get tickets: The Independent, Great American Music Hall, Slim’s, Fillmore, Warfield, and other Livenation venues. Another Planet booked venues like Greek Theatre @ Berkeley, Palace of Fine Arts, etc. Bimbo’s.

Not many on-sales this week with the holiday weekend.

On sale now:
11/15 New Found Glory with Senses Fail, A Cursive Memory @ the Warfield

On sale Thursday, August 30:
10/14 Jimmy Eat World @ The Fillmore

On sale Sunday Sept 2:

9/14 Kid Koala @ the Independent

10/2 Wolves In The Throne Room, Ludicra, Graves at Sea @ Slim’s
10/11 Bat For Lashes @ Slim’s
10/18 Pharoahe Monch @ Slim’s
10/25 Man Man @ Slim’s
10/25 Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Quasi @ Great American
10/29 The Pipettes @ Bimbo’s

11/6 Jesu @ Great American
11/21 An Evening With New Riders of the Purple Sage @ Great American
Double check all information as venues often change on-sale times and days up until the last minute.

Or, the Whale & Birds and Batteries @ Great American, photos

August 29th, 2007

The other good bill I saw this past weekend was Or, the Whale (myspace) with Birds & Batteries (myspace) at the Great American Music Hall. I had wanted to see Social Studies who opened the show, but I arrive too late.

I came in right before Birds & Batteries went on. I had a few minutes to talk to Dave of the Special Goodbyes (and of Blammos) and Tim Marcus, who plays sweet pedal steel with Or, the Whale as well as bass in Blammos and (also bass?) with Dave in the Special Goodbyes. That guy gets around. I also found Christian and Ben of the Bay Bridged. It’s always good running into those guys.

Anyway, I’d heard a little of Birds & Batteries before the show, but not much. Their set up is sort of a standard rock band (bass, guitar, drums, keyboards) but their sound has straight-up rock and folk elements in addition to electronic elements which come in through the keyboards and a sampler with glitchy beats and things. They played an enjoyable set and I think I’ll have to look into them more. They have a bunch of mp3s up on their website.

I’ve been raving about Or, the Whale for a while and I was excited to see them live. I’m always disappointed when I love a band’s album and I go to see them only for them to not put on a good show. This was, fortunately, not one of those cases.

They had just gotten back from tour including some pretty bad sounding troubles (well, mainly their van caught fire 3 hours into the tour). I like see a band as they arrive home after a big tour. They’re always happy to be back and put on a good show.

Or, the Whale had Alex on acoustic rhythm guitar, banjo and mostly lead vocals; Matt on electric guitar and vocals; Lindsay on tambourine (and other percussion) and vocals; Julie on keys (and accordion) and vocals (also in Birds & Batteries!); Justin on bass; Jesse on drums; Tim on pedal steel.

They came onto the stage to much excitement from the audience. In addition to the appreciative music lovers, there seemed to be a good number of family, friends and significant others in the crowd, this being their big Great American Music Hall show at the end of their first big tour. They launched into the music and I had a smile on my face from minute one.

They played a really solid set of songs from their album and new songs, ending with “Fight Song” and “Call and Response”, which, given the sombre nature of the song seems like an odd one to be their “hit single” but I was enjoying it with everyone else. There was just a one stripped-down song (which I can’t remember now!) for an encore and that was it. My only complaint is pretty trivial: they didn’t play one of my favorite songs: “Prayer for the Road.”

I’d recommend seeing them; they’re playing again in a few weeks with Birds and Batteries again and they have plenty of other dates posted on their myspace including ones with some other good bands.

Sep 14 2007 9:00P Elbo Room with Low Red Land, Birds & Batteries, and Appomattox

View my entire photo album.

the Morning Benders & Oh No! Oh My! @ Bottom of the Hill, photos, mp3, lots of x’s

August 29th, 2007

As I mentioned there were a couple good bills this weekend. Friday’s was The Morning Benders (myspace) and Oh No! Oh My! (myspace) at the Bottom of the Hill. Au Revoir Simone headlined the show. Much to my surprise, it was sold out by the time I got there, around 9:50pm (for a 10pm show). It was a good bill and luckily I had bought my ticket already.

The Morning Benders, out of Oakland/ Berkeley, were up first. I’ve seen/ talked about them a lot. They did a set with a mix of new and old tunes. They’ve been in the studio so they have some new tunes and arrangement they’re playing. Chris sang his heart out like always and the whole band played well. I really enjoy their set, even after seeing them a few times in the last few months. The new tunes and arrangements show some good growth by the band.

Oh No! Oh My! went on after a short break. I’d never seen them before but I was a little anxious. I’d enjoyed their album going back to when they were selling the pre-release version for $1.50 but I felt like they might not be able bring that to the live setting well. Turns out I had no reason for anxiety.

It turns out that it was their 100th show and while I find it a bit odd that they kept track of that, I’m always for reasons for a band to bring it a bit more than usual. Their set up was always in flux with the main singer playing both guitar and bass, the keyboardist also playing guitar, bass, glockenspiel and melodica, the bass player playing guitar (I think) and the drummer playing keyboards while drumming, Dave Douglas-style. They put a lot of energy into their set and kept my attention. I liked the live versions of songs I knew (their album) and liked most of the songs I didn’t yet know (the EP and newer songs).

I ended up picking up their EP Between the Devil and the Sea. “Party Punch” along with “Oh Be One” are the highlights for me. It’s starts as an strummy upbeat folk number but morphs into pure pop fun.

Oh No Oh My – Party Punch (mp3)

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I stuck around for a little of Au Revoir Simone and it just wasn’t my thing.

On thing I noticed about this show was lots of x’s on people’s hands, both in the audience and on stage. Two people each from Oh No! and Morning Benders appear to be under 21 and there were some audience members that appeared to be significantly under 21. Where do you hear about Oh No! Oh My! in high school? The Internet, I guess.

A couple more photos of each band after the jump.

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hardly strictly bluegrass 2007! lineup includes indie songwriters!

August 28th, 2007

The line up for this year’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass has been announced. If you don’t know, it’s a FREE bluegrass/ country/ song-writer festival held every year in Golden Gate Park (in and around Speedway Meadow).

The details for this year’s event:
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2007
Friday October 5 (3-6pm)
Saturday October 6 (11am-7pm)
Sunday October 7 (11am-7pm)

This year’s line up includes old favorites like Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, T Bone Burnett, New Lost City Ramblers, Laurie Lewis. It also includes a handful of great indie and younger songwriters, like Jeff Tweedy, Bill Callahan (formerly (smog)), ipickmynose favorite Fionn Regan, the Mekons, and Jason Isbell (ex-Drive By Truckers).

Full line up below the break.

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links links

August 28th, 2007

The New York Times has an article about the Really Terrible Orchestra, who apparently sell out shows and get standing ovations despite being, well, really terrible. The funniest part of the article, though, is talking about predecessors of the RTO, specifically, the Portsmouth Sinfonia, which included Brian Eno:

Enthusiasts cherished the sagging intonation, the dubious conductors (one of whom managed unintentionally to conduct the “Blue Danube” waltz in 4/4) and such priceless occasions as when the soloist in Tchaikovsky’s B-flat minor Piano Concerto failed to turn up, and the orchestra played it without her, transposed down to A minor because, as a spokesman explained, “sharps and flats tend to unnerve us.”

The LA Times talks about the last three decades of Morning Becomes Eclectic and the hosts of the show—Tom Schnabel and Chris Douridas and Nic Harcourt—over that time as they prepare for a special on Labor Day.

As they prepared their memories and highlights for Monday’s special, each of the three — when pressed — was able to single out one moment that stood above the others, defining his time as “MBE” host.

“I got to sit down with Paul McCartney a few weeks ago,” Harcourt says. “Just blew me away. I wasn’t nervous until I sat down and then, uhhhhh. But he was very casual, he’s like [imitating the Liverpool accent] ‘Oh, me and the boys . . . .’ ”

For Douridas, the standout happened at the end of his run.

“Tom Waits came in and performed live on my last show,” he says. “He sang ‘Can’t Wait to Get Off Work.’ That was the last song that aired on the show. Tom is my biggest music figure.”

And Schnabel chose an emotional session with a giant of the jazz world:

“If I had to pick one, it’s Nina Simone,” he says. “She broke down crying talking about her life. She started sobbing and I just let it be. Didn’t cut her microphone or do anything. Then after about 30 seconds, I asked, ‘Do you want to go on?’ And she said she did. A professional therapist wrote in, said, ‘That was one of the most beautiful things I ever heard, and the way you handled it was perfect.’ That meant a lot to me.”

The Art of the Band T Shirt

August 27th, 2007

I got The Art of the Band T Shirt by Amber Easby and Henry Oliver the other day after seeing something about it on largeheartedboy.

It’s sort of a mini coffee table book: small in size but lots of photos and not a lot of text. There’s a pretty interesting history of the t-shirt and particularly of the band t-shirt in the beginning and then there’s a lot of shirts, sub-divided into very broad categories. Each shirt has a short caption or explanation and some shirts have longer stories associated with them.

The book is visually interesting and well laid out. It’s a quick read and some of the stories, particularly the one behind the This is Not a Fugazi Shirt shirt. In the end, though, while I found it interesting to glance through, it isn’t really a must-buy for me because of a few reasons: 1) there are some bands I care about in the book, but the majority of the shirts are for bands I simply don’t care about: some ’70s, ’80s and ’90s bands, hard rock or metal bands, etc. 2) Some of the captions come close to saying things like “well obviously this shirt is great” where I didn’t see anything good about that particular shirt at all. I guess what that comes down to is a difference in taste between the authors and myself.

It is available from Amazon.

bay bridged comp, vol 1 is #1

August 27th, 2007

Congrats to the nice fellas at The Bay Bridged, an excellent SF Bay area local music podcast/ blog/ webtacular as their first compilation album has reached #1 on the KZSU charts for the second week in a row.

If you’re wondering what is going on in the SF indie music scene, this compilation is a good place to start.

[Note: I’m not affiliated with the Bay Bridged and they’re not paying me to say this. They won’t even know I’m saying this until this is public on my blog. I am associated with KZSU and one of the comp’s plays each week was me.]

birthday/ taiwan

August 26th, 2007

Tomorrow I turn 27 and in less than three days I’ll be on my way to Taiwan. I’m moving to Taipei for 3.5 months, returning to the Bay Area in the middle of December.

I won’t be attending shows in the Bay Area during that time (which I do find unfortunate as there are some really good artists coming through), nor will I be doing my radio show, but pretty much every other aspect of this site and the rest of the features should remain the same. I will be doing a lot of travel over the next two and a half weeks in particular including to some pretty remote places so please excuse me if posts are a little sparse during that time. I should be able to update fairly regularly otherwise.

I hope you keep coming back and enjoy what you see.

Have a good day.