Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mix-CD Catch Up - November

Another one that got created on time, just never posted.

1. The Redwalls - Modern Diet. Another great (and local) band discovered via Sound Opinions. They make about as good use of their Beatles influences as anyone around.

2. Iron & Wine - Resurrection Fern. One of my favorite songs this year. You have to be quiet and listen. Shhh!

3. The Mountain Goats - The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton. Overheard coming out of a recent Mountain Goats show - "It's about a death metal band in Denver who couldn't settle on a name, and they finally decided on 'Hail Satan'". Nice try...

4. The Choir - Nobody Gets a Smooth Ride. Yep.

5. Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive - Jon Rauhouse with Kelly Hogan. Oh Kelly Hogan where art thou? 2 superb albums then nothing for years except many appearances on compilations and other people's albums, such as this one.

6. Nothing Painted Blue - Houseguest. I know nothing about this band except Mountain Goats covered this song in concert and John turned it into an incredibly intense, yet still cleverly humorous, experience. This original version is pretty good too.

7. Moonshine Willy - You're The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly. How did I fail to pay attention to this band for so long?

8. The Redwalls - Game of Love. Definitely my favorite song right now. Maybe my favorite of the year.

9. Maria McKee - I'm Gonna Soothe You. Kind of rediscovered this album lately. She's been a bit of a chameleon throughout her career and this one is a pretty amazing display of her soulful side. Great production. On the surface this song sounds like a nice pledge of friendship...upon closer listen it turns out to be a deliciously menacing offer of a very specific kind of soothing to a friend's significant other.

10. Mountain Goats - Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod. Another one that grabbed me in concert recently, though I'd heard it before. Another tale of his horrible stepfather.

11. Jens Lekman - The Opposite of Hallelujah. One problem with doing these write-ups so long after I burned the CD is that had I written earlier, I may have waxed rhapsodic about this tune. After repeated listens though, my opinion of it has come down considerably. I need to listen to the album as a whole to see how I feel about it.

12. Magic Numbers - Most of the Time. From their newer one...another nice soulful duet.

13. Arcade Fire - Intervention. I picked up this song long ago, but it took me forever to finally get the album. I'm still not completely sold on the album, but this song is amazing, particularly for anyone who's ever worked at a church. "Working for the church while your life falls apart. Singing hallelujah with the fear in your heart...". And how.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Testaments To My Dorkiness - The Piano Scarf

Yesterday I saw a man getting out of his car in front of my office wearing a scarf that looks like a piano keyboard, which instantly took me back to high school when I owned that same scarf. Then I thought, wow that scarf looks really dorky, man I was a dork. Then I got to thinking, even beyond how dorky it looks, how utterly ridiculous it was to be wearing a scarf at all on the Central Coast of California, where the mid-50's is a cold spell in winter. Then I thought even farther and remembered that I wanted that scarf because our band/choir teacher had one (and I was a piano player). This teacher was more sad than dorky, but in no way cool or beloved by his students. Not someone my socially awkward teenage self should have been taking fashion cues from. God bless my friends for not shunning me.

Mix CD Catch Up - October

I did actually get October's mix CD made on time...just never managed to post it. So here goes -

1. Terry Scott Taylor - Mr. Flutter. Terry is the front man for a number of different alternative Christian bands, dating back into the 70's. I've been getting back into him and Daniel Amos and the Swirling Eddies in a big way. As this song makes clear, he's never been a commercial success and he nails that monthly "oh crap can I pay the bills" feeling here that I know all too well...yet the song is incredibly catchy. From "John Wayne", an older solo album I had missed until just recently.

2. Whiskeytown - Sit and Listen to the Rain. Ryan Adams has a way of nailing melancholy like noone else. This is probably the best Whiskeytown-era example.

3. Iron & Wine - The Devil Never Sleeps. The first track that grabbed from an album that has taken awhile to grow on me, but has really grown on me.

4. Hank & Fred - Loudon Wainwright III. For years and years I was under the impression that Loudon was just kind of a novelty folk act....that most of his songs were overly clever, smart alecky, or dirty. Then I heard his stuff for the "Knocked Up" soundtrack and found out how wrong I was. This is from the one somewhat recent album I was able to get off EMusic. About looking for Hank Williams grave on the day Mr. Rogers died. Sounds like it could be clever and smart alecky, but it's incredible sincere and beautiful. I look forward to exploring more of his catalog.

5. Bowerbirds - In Our Talons. I guess this is considered "freakfolk". Beautiful, eerie, accordian laden music with nature obsessed lyrics. Saw them open recently for Mountain Goats and while the vocals tended to be somewhat samey, it's a very promising debut.

6. Tate Moore - Mountain In Mississippi. Another from the Larry Brown tribute "Just One More", by another artist I've never heard of. This album has been the gift that keeps on giving as far as great songs by people I've never heard of, inspired by an author I've never read.

7. Daniel Amos - Easy For You. See #1. A song for all the Christians who seem to be able to have faith without any doubts or struggles. I wouldn't want to be them, but I can't say there isn't a little jealousy there. This song probably encapsulates better than any why I still listen to Daniel Amos and Terry Terry when I listen to almost no other "Christian" music.

8. Chuck Prophet - Lets Something Wrong. From his newest, "Soap and Water", which is my first exposure to him. I'm still a little lukewarm on it, but I do like this song.

9. The Mountain Goats - Alabama Nova. This month's Mountain Goats selection. I don't remember why.

10. The Swirling Eddies - Madonna Inn. Hitting the Terry Taylor trifecta on this month's mix. This one is actually from a new album...I had put off ordering it until I heard about this song, which is about a hotel near where I grew up that we used to go to at Christmas time because it was all decked out for the holidays and we'd get big ice cream sundays which I loved. The hotel rooms are all themed, such as the caveman room this song mentions. I've never stayed the night though. (If you follow the above link to their website, yes, that is a real photograph - not a Thomas Kinkade painting).

11. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Learning To Fly. TP is like an old security blanket. I don't need to pull him out often, but I know he's always there when I need him, and will always give me exactly what I need. In October, this is what I needed.

12. Trailer Bride - Itchin' For You. One of my least favorite Bloodshot bands, when this song came up on random on my IPod I was excited to find a song by them that I could really like.

13. Loudon Wainwright III - Nanny. Another from that same Loudon album. This one is funny, about his grandmother, but still earnest and heartfelt at the same time.

14. Pierce Pettis - Hold On To That Heart. Note to self.

15. Belle and Sebastian - Sukie in the Graveyard. I was addicted to this album (Life Pursuit) for many months after getting it, but hadn't paid attention to it for awhile. Still great.

16. Bill Mallonee - Maybe One Day. Another new good one from my favorite hard-luck case.

17. The Choir - We Give We Take. The other "Christian" band I can still stomach. I missed this album when it came out a couple years ago, but am enjoying it now.

With a little luck I'll run-down November's mix CD before spring and get December's made before the New Year.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Proof That My Tivo Knows Nothing About Me

I come home sick from work today and what do I find my Tivo doing? Taping a 1989 College Bowl game off ESPN Classic.

I've had this Tivo for 4 or 5 years now and it is supposedly constantly gathering data about my viewing habits and using that to choose what it records as "suggestions" for me. I think this proves a critical flaw in their software.