I got a present today

So with my anniversary coming up in a couple of weeks, my girlfriend ordered me a record she was too excited to sit on for several weeks.

Turns out, what she was excited about was the new Beat Happening compilation, titled Look Around, which features many of their best songs on two LPs.  Now, I alread own their album Black Candy on vinyl, it was my Olympia-centric purchase when we were on vacation in the city last summer, but this was completely unexpected.  I haven’t listened to it yet, but it features all their singles, from their debut “Our Secret” to a 2000 single titled “Angel Gone”, which I have never heard before.

Doing some research, I came across this very punk rock quote, so I had to find the source.  Calvin Johnson said during a concert in 1992 “We’re Beat Happening and we don’t do Nirvana covers, they do Beat Happening covers.  Let’s get that straight”.  How punk rock is that??

Turns out, Domino Records will be re-releasing the entire Beat Happening catalog in 2016.

Book Review: Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

While searching to see whether I had ever posted songs about Thanksgiving or being thankful, I realized that I never posted my review of the Carrie Brownstein autobiography.  Carrie Brownstein is known both as one of the members of the trio Sleater-Kinney and as the female lead in Portlandia.  If you are looking for a memoir centered around her time on Portlandia, this is not it.  The show gets a couple of fleeting references, but “Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl” is very much centered around her early life and her career in Sleater-Kinney.

The book talks about her family life growing up, how her mother had anorexia and her father later discovered that he was homosexual.  Brownstein brings both of these facts relevancy when discussing her own feelings while on the road with the band.

What I had not realized before reading the book was that the band started in Australia, where they found the drummer for their first and self-titled album.  I also did not know that their guitars were not in a standard tuning, but were rather tuned to Corin Tucker’s vocals, which is part of what made them sound different from other similarly-minded bands.

What I found interesting was that, even after their albums were met with critical acclaim, even after they were courted by several of the larger independent labels, they continued to tour in a van and largely load/unload their own equipment at shows.  It was only on their tour for their final album, The Woods, that they graduated to tour buses and having people who worked for them.

One criticism I did have about the book was more of expectation than anything else.  One of my favorite songs is “Modern Girl”, which is from where the title of the book came.  As the book progressed toward the recording process for The Woods, the album on which it appears, I was hoping to read about the events in Brownstein’s life that led her to write the incredible verses contained within the song, perhaps to provide insight into her own personal interpretation of the lines.  Instead, the song doesn’t even get a mention within the pages of the book.  I felt let down by not being given insight into that part of song writing prowess.

My favorite part of the book, and I’m glad the moment got caught on film, was when Brownstein was describing Eddie Vedder opening up for Sleater-Kinney on their final show before their hiatus.  Below is a transcription of his speech regarding where he places Sleater-Kinney in the pantheon of rock music, including Vedder’s trademark muttering:

“You know some people, they grow up thinking, I may have thought this growing up too, but you know I wish I would have been around to see The Beatles live, I wish I could have seen Hendrix, I wish I could have seen Led Zeppelin, the Pistols, The Who with Keith Moon…but, um, I’m very fortunate and I still am grateful to have lived in a time where I could see Sleater-Kinney.”

As I said several months ago, during my review of the second of what became three concerts at the Showbox at the Market, I never got to see Sleater-Kinney during their original run.  I knew their songs, but I was a poor high school/college kid, I had a family young and was only just starting to have spare money enough to see the occasional show when they ended their initial run.  I am very fortunate that they decided to re-boot and give the world new music, a high profile tour, and that I got to see them.  There are very few bands left on my “must see” list, but Sleater-Kinney got crossed off my list.

Blue Canary in the outlet by the light switch

who watches over you…put a little birdhouse in your soul…

 

They Might Be Giants released their annual holiday bundles today, and one of this years models includes something i can’t believe they haven’t done before…a blue canary night light.

http://theymightbegiants.merchdirect.com/products/56395-300-nightlights-cant-be-wrong-bundle

I either already have or don’t need everything else in that bundle, but damn it that’s not a good bit of marketing.

Eagles of Death Metal/Paris connection

It’s been widely reported, and I haven’t felt like I could do justice to my reporting since I didn’t pay attention to “American band playing during attacks in Paris” headlines until just a few days ago, but this picture, an adaptation of their album cover for Peace Love Death Metal, is what won me over toward putting something on my site.

Here’s an article where members of the band open up about their recollections of that horrific evening.

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/paris-terror-attacks/paris-attackers-killed-concertgoers-hiding-dressing-room-band-n467731

 

Brief explanation of who the band are:  Eagles of Death Metal are a side-project for Josh Homme (rhymes with mommy) of Queens of the Stone Age fame.  Lead singer for the band is Jesse Hughes, Homme’s childhood friend.  They are the only permanent members of the band.  They are not a death metal band, but got their names from a description of their heavy nature being “like the Eagles of death metal”.

Cobain’s solo track “What More Can I Say” gets Nirvana-ized

As a member of livenirvana.com, where I am a frequent lurker, but infrequent poster, fellow member Daniel Bar took the time to use the multi-tracks from “Heart Shaped Box” to do a mock-up of what this Kurt Cobain demo track may have sounded like if it had ever received the full band Nirvana treatment.  Might I take a moment to say Mr. Bar did a fantastic job, the drums sound exactly like a full band version may sound (Ok, so obsessives can tell the drum parts are from HSB), but the dubbing sounds completely natural.

 

For those of you wondering why I haven’t yet reviewed Montage of Heck – The Home Recordings, patience.  I’ll be reviewing my highlights of the album in my 2015 in review and the standout track is most certainly making my Top 50 songs of the year (spoiler alert!).

 

In the mean time let me say that, “What More Can I Say” was added to the credits of the film Montage of Heck near the end of the theatrical run.  While all the albums on the deluxe edition are extremely lo-fi, it’s exactly what was intended to be put out as a companion to the film; a complex look into the mind of one of the greatest songwriters of his generation, who in less than 10 years as a musician (I’m going from earliest demo tapes to final demo recordings), left an indelible mark on the landscape of modern rock music.

40 oz. on Repeat

I just picked up the new album by FIDLAR, titled “Too”, and this is both the first single and the lead track.  When I went looking for the song on youtube to write about this album, I was kind of surprised that I didn’t post this video when I first saw it; it’s so lo-fi and amazingly riffing on some of the biggest music videos of the 80s and 90s (find out which one’s for yourself, even I don’t get all the references).

The song doesn’t have much to say, but is damn catchy.  I dig their sound, but find it a little discouraging that their big single from their first album was titled “Cheap Beer” and this is what they write for their follow up…

Shovels & Rope covering Lou Reed

So, I was browsing the on order items at the Seattle Public Library’s website and I came across “Busted Jukebox volume 1”, apparently a new covers/collaboration album by the duet Shovels and Rope.  On the album, they cover the likes of Nick Lowe (sorry amazon, he wrote “Peace Love & Understanding”), Guns ‘n’ Roses (“Patience”), Nine Inch Nails (“Last”, from their EP Broken), and the one I’m most excited about hearing a studio version, Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”.

The cover above features R&B artist Valerie June, Indie Rock group Lucius, and members of Shakey Graves.  On Busted Jukebox, it will be a duet with the Louisiana icons Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Very much looking forward to hearing this album.  It was apparently released on this past friday, November 20th.  Something from this album will almost certainly feature on my 2015 remants countdown (which, for the unitiated, features tracks from albums I wasn’t able to listen to before my annual deadline of the first day of Hanukkah, and is done once I’ve exhausted all the albums I didn’t get to hear before that time).

WELCOME BACK, David Bowie!!!

David Bowie has a new album, titled “Black Star”, coming out on January 8.  He just released this 10 minute force of a music video.  It’s creepy at the best of times, sci-fi in all the best ways, and just enough OMGWTF to keep you enthralled for the entire video.

A most sincere welcome back, Mr. Bowie.  You’ve only been announced you were coming out of retirement 3 years ago (also on January 8), but with this new album, it’s apparent you’re happy to be back.

Losing my dad

My dad died in his sleep late last night after a long struggle with cancer.  I’ve been looking for songs to post, but none seem to fit well enough, so I’m just going to scatter shot with a short explanation of each.

 

More for the lines the father speaks, “just relax take it easy”, “find a girl, settle down/if you want you can marry”, “look at me, i am old, but I am happy”.  I just heard this song last week on my ipod, the cover version by Johnny Cash and Fiona Apple.  I nearly lost it then and I can barely hold it together now.

This song was everywhere on the TV and radio when my grandmother died.  Even 25 years later, though it’s a beautiful song, it’s very hard for me to listen to it.

I’ve posted this song more than any other.  Every time my dad a significant event happen in his battle with various cancers, this song seemed the most apt.  This is actually the first time I’ve heard this live version, but the lyrics still strike such a chord with me.

The last time I visited my dad, he was pretty much in bed all day.  I went there to have one more good day (to paraphrase John Green).  We watched the original series when i was a kid.  Still, when he got up for about 30 minutes to eat, we put on the original pilot (before Shatner’s involvement, before this intro).  He was present enough and knew what was happening that he made a joke about how bad the alien costumes were.  That sort of moment was exactly what I wanted from my visit with him and I’m glad that that is pretty much my last memory of him, apart from saying goodbye at the end of my visit.

Dad, Pop, Papa…Live Long and Prosper, May the Force Be with You, where ever you are Goodbye.  You gave me science fiction and a sense of wanting to make the world a better place.  For both of those things, I am eternally grateful.