Music

Pearl Jam: 25 Years Later…and Still the Best

May 5, 2016

Post-tour blues have set in. Granted, I am seeing Pearl Jam at Fenway in August…but that’s not until August. So far away. Ugh. I haven’t been listening to a lot of new music the past week or two because I’ve been listening to a lot of Pearl Jam. And by a lot, I mean it’s practically the only thing I’ve been listening to. MSG I from 2003. Gorge 2005. Moline 2014. Philly III from 2009 when they played four nights to close down the Spectrum. Granted, I don’t see nearly as many concerts as you’d expect a fan of music to see, but I still feel confident in my opinion that Pearl Jam is one of the top three live acts today.

They are such a great live band that I expect everyone to have the same reaction that this guy had after seeing them at MSG earlier this week, his first time seeing Pearl Jam live. Then again, the wife / girlfriend of the guy sitting next to me and my friend may have disagree. I should also emphasize the sitting part since that is what she did for all but three songs. 25 years in and they still play every show with the passion and intensity of a band playing in a small club. At no point do you get the sense that they are simply going through the motions. Eddie Vedder is running around the stage, dancing, and finishing many of the songs on which he plays guitar with a Pete Townshend-esque jump. Lead guitarist Mike McCready puts on a show all his own. Besides for his dazzling guitar work, McCready is constantly playing with the audience, pointing at audience members, throwing guitar pics, etc. It’s actually exhausting watching him work. Possibly less entertaining to watch, bassist Jeff Ament, guitarist Stone Gossard, and drummer Matt Cameron are all top notch musicians.
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Music

Bleached – Wednesday Night Melody

April 27, 2016

Wednesdays. Ugh. The second worst day of the week. Halfway though the week is still better than the beginning of the week, but it’s still a tough one. Wednesday is a glass half-full, glass half-empty day. When you wake up in the morning, it’s like, “Ugh, it’s only Wednesday.” Then again, it’s like, “Wednesday, halfway home baby!” Perhaps if you were looking forward to singing a catchy melody on Wednesday night, the day wouldn’t be so bad (it still would be). Enter “Wednesday Night Melody” by Bleached. I listened to “Wednesday Night Melody” on my way to work this morning and it already made my Wednesday a little better.
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Music

Sioux Falls – Rot Forever

April 22, 2016

About 6 years ago, my girlfriend and I drove coast to coast to coast. New Jersey to California and back. As much as we reminisce about our favorite places, we spend just as much time talking about the least favorite places we visited. Really, these are places that she disliked. I didn’t mind them all that much. There’s Indiana, where she got a speeding ticket…in a work zone…while located in the middle of a pack of cars all going the same speed. Other than that, Indiana was fine, but she still hates it. There’s Kansas. To this day, I still don’t know why she hates Kansas so much. It’s flat, there are a lot of fields, and not much else. Hardly hatable offenses. Honestly, her opinion was formed at a rest stop. I never asked what happened in the 5 minutes we were inside, but whatever it was, it forever shaped her views of the state as a whole. Then there’s Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
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Music

Big Thief – Real Love

April 19, 2016

I am definitely not the first person to write about Brooklyn’s Big Thief, but if their first two tracks are any indication of what we can expect on Masterpiece, the band’s debut album due May 27th on Saddle Creek, I certainly won’t be the last. The album’s title track and “Real Love” are highly enjoyable folk rock tracks that incorporate elements of folk, pop, and hard rock to create an interesting sound that will appeal to fans of those genres.

“Real Love” starts out quietly with Adrianne Lenker’s vocals backed only by an electric guitar that ascends and descends with her voice, matching the songs melody note for note. As she reaches the end of the first verse, she kicks on the distortion and the drums kick in. By the song’s conclusion, it’s a full-blown rock song. In a recent interview with Noisey, Lenker was asked about “Real Love.” “Playing ‘Real Love’ is like taking a medicinal tincture,” the Big Thief front woman said, “and by the end the stress in my body is dissipated. There’s no answers in it. Struggle is inherent in love. Without consciousness, human or animal, would love exist? We make love, and love makes us. Maybe that’s why it is so hard for us when we feel that we’ve lost it, as if we’ve disappeared.” At this point in my life, I don’t really identify with that at all, but I’ll be sure to revisit the thought if my current relationship ever ends. Being a parent, I’m going to be that dick that argues that the only real love is between parent and child. Clearly, this is not the type of love she is singing about in “Real Love.” Either way, “Real Love” and “Masterpiece” are both fantastic songs and I am eager to hear the rest of Big Thief’s LP when it arrives in late May.

You may have noticed, but this post does not feature a live version of the song. I have contemplated whether to post this or not, but I am operating under the assumption that the one person who might actually read this doesn’t care that much if the song is live or not. Good music is good music, right? From here on out, I will always try to feature a live version of a song, but when one is not available, I’ll do without.

Music

Pinegrove – Aphasia

April 15, 2016

Aphasia (\ə-ˈfā-zh(ē-)ə\) noun. 1. loss or impairment of the power to use or comprehend words usually resulting from brain damage.

It’s not often that I need to look up a song title in a dictionary. Not that I’m complaining, I’m all for expanding my vocabulary, it’s just not something that’s often required when listening to music. The song “Aphasia,” by Montclair, NJ based Pinegrove (big ups Jersey), details songwriter’s Evan Stephens Halls’ great relief that comes from baring one’s soul to someone pined for after being previously incapable of doing so. “So satisfied I said a lot of things tonight / So long aphasia & the ways it kept me hiding / It’s not so much exactly all the words I used  / It’s more that I was somehow down to let them loose,” sings Hall in a warbly drawl. Based on the way “Aphasia” ends, it does not sound as if the feelings Hall divulged were mutual. “But what you’ve got was in your reaches all along / Plus one day you’ll be reaching for me & I’ll be gone,” sings Hall.
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Music

Motel Radio – Gimme Your Love

April 13, 2016

Earlier this week, I wrote about the song “Looking For Signs” by Leif Erikson. At a loss as how to best describe their sound, I ultimately decided to use the term modern-day classic rock. Since I’m essentially making up genres at this point, it only seems right to place more than one song in said genre. Here’s the second song in my modern-day classic rock genre, “Gimme Your Love” by Motel Radio. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve listened to this track more than any other song in the past week…and it’s not that close. I understand that there are plenty of artists and songs whose appeal is limited to fans of a certain genre, but this is not one of those songs. “Gimme Your Love” isn’t alternative rock or indie rock or prog rock or hard rock. It’s good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n roll and is deserving of your attention.
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Music

Frightened Rabbit – Die Like A Rich Boy

April 11, 2016
https://youtu.be/kKL-egg85PQ

A few artists have made magnificent albums early on in their careers and thus create expectations that are nearly impossible to live up to. Two of the first who come to mind are Pete Yorn and Frightened Rabbit. The former’s Musicforthemorningafter and the latter’s The Midnight Organ Fight are top-notch albums from start to finish. I still play them with regularity and hope that each artist can match or even surpass those masterpieces. So far, it hasn’t happened. Honestly, neither has come close. That’s not to say that they haven’t had some great songs here and there scattered amongst all the albums they have released since, but neither has been able to create an album as good those defining albums.

This past Friday, Frightened Rabbit released Painting Of A Panic Attack, their 5th full-length album. Each time I hear Frightened Rabbit is releasing an album, I get excited and hope for something as great as The Midnight Organ Fight, but the two albums that have followed were somewhat disappointing. That’s not to say that they were bad pe se. Each album has had its share of enjoyable songs, such as “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” and “Nothing Like You” from The Winter of Mixed Drinks and “The Woodpile” and “Backyard Skulls” from Pedestrian Verse.
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Music

Leif Erikson: Looking For Signs

April 11, 2016

It’s no surprise that older folks have been known to spew some crazy shit from time to time. For example, my great-grandmother liked to claim that we were related to Erik the Red, the famous Norwegian viking. Though she never said it, that also would mean that we were related to Erik the Red’s son, Leif Erikson, an Icelandic explorer who many believe beat Columbus to the New World. Now, I always chalked it up to senility because she was 95 when she died, and let’s face it, there has to be some mental deterioration over what amounts to a century of life. However, she was born in Iceland, so that’s a start. However, I assumed it was just something many Icelanders say. Who wouldn’t want to be related to two of the most famous individuals from a county, right? Then again, for an island nation with a population just over 300,000, it’s quite possible for many Icelanders to be related, especially when you go back a thousand years. Unbeknownst to me until recently, there exists a book that traces the lineage of 95% of Icelanders who have lived there in the last three centuries. It is called Íslendingabók and it sounds awesome. Unfortunately for me, it can only be accessed by Icelandic residents. If anyone from Iceland is reading this, and let’s face it, I’m huge in Iceland, hit me up and maybe we can find out if my great-grandmother was just batshit crazy or if she was actually telling the truth. If this sounds fascinating to you, there’s an absolutely phenomenal episode of NPR’s Planet Money podcast about Iceland and how the small, barren island nation developed a thriving, modern economy.

That’s the kind of lead-in that you’re not getting on any old music blog. Anyway, I assume that it is highly unlikely that I am related to Erik the Red and Leif Erikson. Nevertheless, when I saw a band named Leif Erikson, it caught my attention. Thank god it did because the band’s first single, “Looking For Signs,” is worth your attention. My great-grandmother may be telling lies, but this song is the truth. Continue Reading…

Music, Under The Covers

Under The Covers with Father John Misty

April 5, 2016

The other day, a friend shared a video of Father John Misty covering Rihanna’s “Kiss It Better” with me on Facebook. Seeing as how I will click anything on Facebook or Twitter that mentions Father John Misty, I had already seen it, but I appreciated the gesture nonetheless. If I am not mistaken, this particular friend was introduced to the music of Father John Misty by yours truly. Finally, someone who listened to his most recent LP, I Love You, Honeybear, based upon my endless praise for the album. In addition to agreeing with me in regards to the excellence of that album, this particular friend is also a big fan of sass, so watching J. Tillman cover Rihanna with his usual amount of flair must have been right up her alley.

After watching the video again, it got me thinking about the many phenomenal Father John Misty covers that I have seen and / or heard over the past few years. Cat Stevens, Nirvana, Leonard Cohen, Arcade Fire, Ryan Adams covering Taylor Swift, etc. It also got me thinking about the fact that I haven’t done an “Under The Covers” in quite some time. That may or may not have something to do with the fact that I have sporadically posted over the past couple of years. Looking at the sheer number of songs in this post, I feel I am atoning in some way for the lack of posts featuring covers. In the past, these posts have generally been one artist performing one cover, but the act of choosing just one cover from Tillman proved too difficult, so I chose a bunch. Almost all of them, in fact. Without further ado, here is a shit ton of Father John Misty covers.  Continue Reading…

Music

Weezer: King Of The World

March 31, 2016

In 2010, not long after Weezer announced Hurley, an album named for a character on Lost with this as its cover:

weezer hurley

I wrote a parody piece stating my belief that Rivers Cuomo had died at some point before, during, or directly after The Red Album. I likened the whole thing to the Paul McCartney death hoax and backed it all up with a number of clues the band had left in their album artwork, album titles, and more. With the band set to release their 10th studio album, I have decided that maybe it’s time to reconsider this whole Rivers Cuomo is dead thing. “Turn me on dead man…”
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