Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's Been a While...

So, it feels a little strange giving my first post in almost a month the same title as a Staind song, but... so it goes. So where have we been, you're probably wondering. Well, like anyone we get caught up in the day-to-day, and though we often talk about resurrecting Range Life, we've been putting it off. (Maybe we've all been doing a little too much of what you see pictured here...)

There's plenty of good music to get caught up on, and recent concerts to ramble on about, and some fabulous pics to share, and so forth. Still, before I do anything I need to rant about some of my most recent obsessions... some new, some old, all awesome.

Cyann & Ben -- Sweet Beliefs (2006)
This one totally fits the bill when it comes to grower albums. I was immediately hooked by "Sunday Morning," so much so that I had difficulty getting into the rest of the album. Now that just sounds like blasphemy. So here's the deal. If you like Blonde Redhead, or Yo La Tengo, or any similar awesomeness, check these guys out. You won't be disappointed.

Apparat -- Walls (2007)
These guys are slick. What else would you expect from a blend of Icelandic pop and electronica? Just give "Arcadia" a listen. Now.

Yo La Tengo -- And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out (2000)
We talk a lot about going through "phases" with bands. Yo La Tengo is a band I've enjoyed for some time now, but I've always preferred their distorted guitars/SY/MBV sound. (Hey, that kinda looks like a personal ad. "Desperately Seeking Kickass Music.") Go to a YLT show, however, and everyone else goes crazy for songs like "Last Days of Disco." (Case in point: my Youtube video for "Let's Save Tony Orlando's House" has 800 more hits than "Blue Line Swinger" and 1700 more hits than "Decora." WTF?) In any event, it's taken me some time to come around to some of these weepier, spoken-word numbers, but you gotta love Ira's candor. And if I start to get too restless, BAM!, out comes "Cherry Chapstick"...

Atlas Sound Vs. Deerhunter (both with 2008 albums)

I've been listening to both of Bradford Cox's new albums like crazy. Now that Deerhunter is starting to sound like Atlas Sound, though, it will be interesting to see if the bands will stay together, or if Bradford will break off and do his own thing, or maybe just form a supergroup? Admittedly I haven't listened to Microcastle as much as Let the Blind Lead... but right now I'd have to say I'm leaning toward the Atlas Sound album as my favorite of the two. (Which surprises and kind of scares me.)

Thanks for dropping by the site. And let us know what you're currently jamming on.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Catching Up: Wakarusa Fest 2008

So while we haven't been posting much on Range Life, never fear, we're still obsessing over our beloved music (which may be WHY we don't post as much anymore). In any event, I thought I'd drop by and mouth off about some recent happenings.

Wakarusa Fest (June 5-8, 2008)

So this was my first experience with Lawrence's Waka Fest. Let me tell you, it was interesting. Let me also be straight with you. Without drugs, Wakarusa wouldn't be Wakarusa. And after hearing tales of tragedy from two years ago, when the drug dogs busted up the party, I was more than a little scared to see this sign as we approached the fairgrounds: "You Are Nearing a Check Point. Please Have Tickets Ready." Well, that didn't bother me so much as what someone had scrawled underneath: "HIDE DRUGS." And did I ever. (Thank you, Wendy's sack.) My terror only peaked when a hippie type on the side of the road told us not to worry, they were only going to search our trunk (location of Wendy's sack). Nonetheless, we made it into the festival unsearched, unarrested, unscathed. (Besides, I should have remembered that the penalty for MJ possession of in Lawrence has been reduced to a nominal fine.)

Built to Spill sounded amazing even at 4 in the afternoon. Highlights included "Time Trap" (finally! though it sounded a little rough) and "Stab" from There's Nothing Wrong With Love (killer). This set has got me all geared up to see them perform Perfect from Now On in New York this fall. P.S. Check out Doug's crazy hat.

The Flaming Lips were, as always, as high as we were. I take that back, more high than we were. They pulled out the giant ball. They got some crazy girls to dance naked on stage. (Damn you, stupid camera for stealing that golden photo op. And no, I was not one of the crazy girls.) Flaming Lips, if you're out there... Thanks for playing "Vein of Stars." But would it kill you to play something different off Soft Bulletin?

And of course, the reason we got into Waka in the first place... working a beer tent. How fascinating to be on the other side of the impending alcoholism -- to be the pusher, the peddler! What friends I made as I poured them their $5 beers! Then, when the hail came and the festival disbanded, the stragglers ended up huddling under our tent with us, singing "Rock Chalk Jayhawk" and trying to get us to feed them free beers while we all faced certain death. Well, the certain death part might be pushing it a bit, but it makes for a good story.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Finally -- A Tasteful Use of Good Music in Advertising

See what happens when someone is discerning about when and where to use their songs? Regardless of your feelings about the Grand Theft Auto series, you have to admit this spot was simply tailor-made to showcase this song. Wow.

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Friday, June 6, 2008

"Nude" Performed by Technology

This one's self-explanatory... and awesome. The music starts at 1:10. The full story and a higher quality version of the video can be found here.

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Gimme Fiction: Now Not Just the Name of an Incredible Spoon Album

So a while back I tossed around the idea of putting up another form of music writing on the site. I debated over it, talked it over with Ryan, and ultimately decided, why not? Let's call it an experiment.

Thanks, Josh, for making this graphic it's taken me so long to get around to using.

Enjoy, friends.



By Nicole Pope

They ascended the stairwell he’d only glimpsed through swinging saloon doors all those years. The loft was little larger than his studio apartment. Writing crowded the walls as high as an outstretched arm, or stool, or friendly leg-up could suffice. The multi-apexed ceiling and dim lighting reminded him of the elaborate tents he and his band mates had made as children, just years before they’d started buying this band’s records.

He helped the drunk girl round the corner on her ridiculous wedge heels.

And there they sat like common human beings.

They had spread out the money on ancient twin amps. The expressions on their unshaven faces suggested kidnappers on the wrong side of a foiled ransom collection. In the center of the couch, like the king of thieves, sat their front man. Seeing them he stuffed the crinkled, paperclipped stacks into a bag, knocking half-crushed beer cans in his haste, and smooshed it between the cushions.

His right eye twitched like wings on a preening fly.

“Who are they?”

It made sense he would want to know something about them, as if he already knew this twenty-something in the frayed tweed jacket knew everything about him.

He knew what any real fan would know. The front man was the master-mind of the band: lead singer, guitarist, lyricist. He had a basic American male name nabbed from the Bible or a Beatle. He had been married once in the early ‘90s, which he had spoken about just once in a June ‘92 Spin article, after which he’d stated, “I’ve said what I want to say through my music.” He had never spoken about his bum eye. He had insomnia, which he blamed on constant touring, and when he did sleep he sleepwalked, though he never got far before tripping over a slumbering band mate or bonking his head on the combination microwave/mini stove. He never posed for publicity shots. Promoters were forced to use band photos from fifteen years ago, photos like those squishing in the young man’s pockets as he steadied himself against a pile of dead speakers. It was really him.

“They’re friends,” the drummer lied. He slouched at a lopsided wooden desk posing as their buffet table. “I can make them too, you know.”

His band mates quietly absorbed his petulance, the singer itching at the cap he wore for every show, the one detractors of the band said made him look homeless; his bassist crinkling the mustache he’d worn in the eighties that luckily had become fashionable again. Like aging lions, they were pissy but too tired to attack, tails twitching idly as they eyed their intruders.

Alcohol and a likely sorority background emboldened the drunk girl. She wobbled toward the couch and thrust out a hand marked with a big black X, the flesh still red from all that futile scrubbing. Surely they would remember her from the show even if their drummer hadn’t, the young man thought. The girl whose hairsprayed nest had bobbed wildly as she screamed ironies at her friends like, “Just listen to that subtle guitar work!” The one who’d turned the only song they’d played off their first album into a spoken word piece detailing an inexpensive, low-fat chicken casserole. They would slay her and eviscerate him, the boyfriend who couldn’t keep his dumb drunk girl quiet. Except he wasn’t her boyfriend. He didn’t know her at all.

The band recognized her, all right. To his horror they shook her hand hungrily, like she was the famous one. They thanked her for her energy during the show. Then they invited her to sit. He watched them soak her up: those dull blue eyes, symmetrical face, skin the texture and color of a well-worn drumhead. She was attractive, he supposed, in an obvious way that made her completely unattractive. Still he longed to follow her, delirious for that last spot on the couch, until his fingers became so bathed in sweat he could offer only a feeble wave from across the room. For years he’d dreamt of meeting the band, of telling the singer what their music meant to him, how he’d learned to play guitar because of him and formed a band because of him, and how more than anything he’d made him want to make something beautiful in this ugly world.

“Great show, guys,” was all he could say.

He slumped beside the drummer at the children’s table. His jacket adhered to his chest, suffocating him, like the drunk girl’s coif clinging to his cheek during the show. He could not, would not, remove the jacket and reveal he was wearing the band’s t-shirt. He dug in his pocket for the joint he’d been smoking before the show until that rent-a-cop circled the lot with his accusatory headlights. He knew no better way to relax, or to make friends.

With two fingers he pursed the roach like it was the vermin of the same name and raised it inquiringly. The singer regarded his bassist, his best friend since childhood, identical twin, or lover, depending on which rumor you believed. In the span of that silent second they exchanged two decades’ worth of hard lessons learned.

“Not in here,” the singer said.

“Sorry dude,” his bassist said, as surely as he’d backed him up on stage.

The drunk girl hissed in disapproval.

He couldn’t understand it. He searched the room for confirmation he wasn’t completely out of line. That was when he realized the cans resting in the cooler beside them, lying smashed atop amps, being poured down their throats at that very moment, were non-alcoholic. He returned the dirty, ugly joint to his pocket, being careful not to injure the photos waiting hopefully there, and apologized. It was too late. The singer was glowering at him. The drummer stabbed cheese slices with an intensity that suggested he knew he’d only pretended to own the drunk girl in order to get upstairs. His fear was confirmed when the drummer brought his boot down on his foot like it was one of those old, worn-out drum pedals you really had to punish.

The bassist jolted upright like he was the wounded one.

“Quick snooze,” he said. “Then we gotta ride the dog another fifteen hours.”

They all drooped into their seats like dying party balloons. For a moment they forgot the imposter in exchange for far worse frustrations. There was talk of a haunted light house when they reached the coast, which they wouldn’t have time for, and fresh seafood, which they would make time for. Until then, nothing but cows and windmills and fields.

For some reason he was starting to get defensive.

Kansas isn’t that bad, is it?” he said. “I mean, we’re not all a bunch of hicks.”

They looked at him with genuine pity.

“Don’t get me started on Western Kansas,” the singer said.

“Hours and hours of nothing but fields,” the bassist said. “No offense.”

The two band members arched their bodies toward one another like mirrored f-holes on a violin, and they were lost to the room.

“Is it corn they have here?”


“No, wait. It’s sunflowers.”

“I’m pretty sure sunflowers aren’t…

“Their money crop?”


The fluidity of their dialogue, the way they plucked thoughts from each other’s heads, explained how easily they knew which bass line would answer a fledgling melody, which vocals could use the lift of harmony. The display was so impressive he could almost forgive them for using that crucial interplay to trash his home state. The drunk girl was not impressed. Nor was she used to being ignored. She pressed two beer cans to her chest like some sad take on Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour, as if Madonna weren’t already sad enough.

“Not everything’s flat in Kansas,” she said.

Somehow the singer laughed. So hard he choked on his virgin beer, and his bassist had to whack him on the back. When he recovered he said he was going to start calling her Dorothy. “You can be Toto,” she said. He laughed at that, too, and shook his head like a big dumb dog.

So quickly they clung to clichés. He told the band they needed to visit the local record stores before they left town. And eat at a café on Mass Street. And tour one of the mini art galleries. Lawrence wasn’t like the rest of Kansas, he said. It was a tree city. With culture. A liberal college town.

“Are you a student here?” the singer said.

All eyes targeted him. It was that twitching one he worried about, the one that spasmed a Morse code of displeasure whenever he spoke. The one he could peer into but could never be sure was looking back at him.

“No. I mean, I used to be.”

They did not ask him what he had been doing while he should have been in school. They moved on to the drunk girl, who announced she was majoring in journalism because her teachers had always said she used good adjectives.

“Journ-a-lists,” the singer said.

“May they rotteth in hell,” the bassist said. “No offense.”

They spoke of the last interview they’d given, the last the singer said he would ever give, after which the reporter made it sound like the band blamed its lackluster recent album on their long-time friend and producer. They fell silent then, as if newly stunned by the blasphemy. He watched their expressions sour and decided he couldn’t let the conversation die like that. He had to defend them, even if they wouldn’t do it for themselves.

“I knew you never would have said something like that,” he said.

The singer didn’t want to talk about that anymore. He bashed a crushed can against the table, marking out the staccato clang of his anger, and aimed his fluttering eye like a half-cocked weapon.

“How would you know what I would or would not say?”

No one spoke for a while after that. Soon the silence filled with whispers of the Top 40 filth the venue owner played while he closed up for the night. At last the drummer felt sorry for him and forgave the lie their past hour together had been predicated upon. He offered a swig from the bottle of ’87 bourbon he kept in his bag, and showed him the atlas he used to mark their travels. All their travels since 2001, he explained as the young man already knew, because that was when their old drummer had a baby and a religious experience and quit the band.

Kansas isn’t so bad,” he said, completing the constellation from Denver to Lawrence with green highlighter. “I lived in Seattle for years. You have to tour constantly to afford to live there. Of course, when you’re touring you never live anywhere.”

He sensed the drummer was trying to explain something to him. He didn’t want to hear it.

Across the room the singer and his bassist questioned the drunk girl about her thoughts on the media bias. She kept saying “cover age” instead of “coverage.” He wasn’t sure the booze was to blame. While she and the drummer babbled on he closed his eyes and breathed in the wooden rafters above. They seemed to hold the smell of the stage below, of cigarettes and sweat and spotlights so hot they sometimes caught fire. He studied the walls and tried to separate the maxims of musicians from the ramblings of wasted groupies. Above the veggie tray a Spoon quote shone through the tangled mess: “How come I feel so washed up at such a tender age?” Beside it, some sort of retort: “Stay off the sausage.”

Within minutes the drunk girl was passed out on the couch. The bassist might have been asleep, too, though it was hard to tell under those big sunglasses. Stealthily the singer swiped the beer at the girl’s feet. He squirreled it away under his unbuttoned shirt sleeve, obscuring its telltale label, while he guzzled with the voracity and endurance of a master. It worked magic on him. He started chattering about other bands that were touring at the time, and how they all plagiarized Sonic Youth and each other, and how one band, he wouldn’t say which, had made a smart comment to him about fan loyalty that turned into a fight. He chanted a tribal dirge completely uncharacteristic of the band’s style and drummed on the side of the broken amp. To conclude his set he tossed the pen serving as his drumstick into the air. He watched it spiral toward the floor before rescuing it at the last moment.

Perhaps tiring of these antics, the bassist who was very much awake rose to leave. He paused at the top of the stairs and pointed a long, bony finger, the one he sometimes used to dedicate an upcoming solo. “You want me to clear them out?” he said. The singer looked at the girl lightly snoring beside him and, across the room, at his drummer, who’d dozed after first returning the bourbon to his tightly zippered bag. His gaze settled on the young man sitting beside his band mate at the buffet table.

“Leave them,” he said.

After he’d gone the singer began clawing at his cap as if plagued by some invisible pest. With a frustrated shriek he flung his cap on the amps amongst the crushed cans. The young man fought the urge to stare. It was not the singer’s motivations for tossing the cap that bewildered him, but what lay exposed after that simple act. Long gone were the locks that had shielded the singer’s face during those first years on stage, during that first time he’d seen them play, when he’d had to peek between the thick strands, like a peeping tom parting the blinds, to see what mysteries lay there. They’d grown up together in the eighteen years the band had toured the world. Now his idol was an old man.

Watching the singer smooth those willowy wisps he wondered why he hadn’t simply done away with it all like Frank Black. Michael Stipe. Billy Corgan. Perhaps foolish optimism had kept him from wielding the razor. Perhaps pride. When the singer seemed satisfied he’d tamed the mad scientist look he leaned forward and said, “So let me guess. You’re in a band.”

He felt out the statement’s jagged edges and kept quiet.

“What’s the line?” the singer said. “The song might be before your time. It goes, ‘What the world needs now is another folk singer like I need a hole in my head.’”

With those words something boiled over within him.

“We’re not a folk band,” he said. “And I hate that song.”

The singer smiled. “Me too.” He consulted an imaginary watch. He nodded to himself and stood abruptly, as if he’d just come to understand something. As if he knew this kid was waiting for him to say something more, something different, and he just wanted to climb in his van to wait out the night alone. The young man sprung from his chair. Despite his every instinct the photos burned in his pockets, urging him. His mouth opened and the words of a self-doubting school boy tumbled out.

“Do you happen to have a writing utensil?”

Shifting like he’d stepped on something sticky, the singer fished in his pocket for the pen they both knew he had. As the young man accepted it, their fingers nearly touching, he imagined the pen being used not only for impromptu drum solos, but to sign meal receipts. To fill out crosswords with confidence. Maybe even to sculpt the lyrics he would someday use to coax a woman into bed. No sooner had he summoned the courage to ask his next question, the real question, when he saw something that dissolved that impossible request on his tongue.

A subtle but unmistakable smirk was crossing the singer’s lips. A smirk that said, I’ve known what you’ve wanted ever since you slunk into our hideaway. You want me to bleed myself for you. And you made me provide my own dagger. All the young man could see was that smirk, and then, backing away, that torturous eye. So close, so far from the allure of the stage, it looked less magical and more what is was, medical oddity.

He mounted the chair beside the sleeping drummer. On tiptoes he reached a spot just big enough for the signature he’d practiced hundreds of times while listening to this band’s records. His own. When he climbed down the singer pointed to the drunk girl. Her teased bangs rose and fell with her breathing. Her unhinged mouth resembled that of a dead fish. She wouldn’t remember anything that happened that night.

“Will you take care of Dorothy for me?” the singer said.

His eyes were old and worried, like a father’s, even though the young man knew he wasn’t one. They left the drummer in the metal folding chair clutching his bag. “Serves him right for not sharing,” the singer said. Together they walked the drunk girl downstairs with her arms looped round their necks. He carried the heels that thumped along the stairwell, the singer his wimpy money bag. That sticky-sweaty hair smothered them both. When they reached his car the singer slipped something into his pocket. He patted it, cold and hard, against his chest. The pen. Then the singer saluted and, straightening his cap, stumbled toward his trailer.

And it was just him and the girl outside in the breezy night smelling of fermented wheat. She was awake and so much different now, but no less drunk. He piled her into his car. She didn’t know where she lived, so he drove in blind loops until she looked like she was about to pass out from all that booze and the joint they were smoking. He drove past the venue to see if her friends had come back for her. But Mass Street was as dark and quiet as its storefronts. So he pulled over so he could have sex with her in the parking lot behind the venue, the lights out, the lot empty with the exception of the sleeping tour bus, everything silent save the sound of his old car panting, gasping for air.

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Roadtrippin at the Gates of Gasoline Hell

So, ACL is releasing its festival schedule tomorrow, and I'm hoping the stars don't align. Why? Well, now that gas is threatening to cross that $4 threshold, can we just imagine what that 700-mile journey would cost (not including hotel and ticket prices)? What used to be a matter of hopping in the car and trekking across the country may now be a virtual impossibility for us music lovin' cool kids.

I know, it's so uncool to complain about gas prices. We're all getting nickled and dimed and dollared to death. I'm just afraid the roadtrippin' pastime might become a passed time, you know?

Really this is the only pump I feel like pulling up to these days.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New Sigur Ros Album Due Out June 24 (Updated at 2 PM by Sonic Ryan)

...which means it should be available on your favorite bit torrent site any day now! Let's hope the new album is as balls-out (literally) as this album art.

And did I mention there will be one track sung in English? Does anyone else worry it might suck? Or maybe, it just will sound exactly the same? (Maybe the lyrics will be, "I saw you... I saw you... I saw you...")

Now I must return to ransacking my house for the SR tickets I held in my beloved hands for one day before losing them. If any Olathe garbage collectors happen upon them, I will reward you handsomely for their safe return. Perhaps you can be my date?

Head over to Sigur Rós' website to snag a high quality mp3 of the album's first single, "Gobbledigook." While you're there, watch the balls out video for the song, unless you're at work, then you may want to wait until you get home. No, Femme, it doesn't suck, nor does it sound like Sigur Rós as we've come to know and love them. If anything, it sounds like Sigur Rós just picked up a copy of Sung Tongs and decided to have some fun with acoustic guitars. Is this their freak-folk record? Find out on June 24, when the album hits stores in North America. Or, pre-order the album from their website starting on June 2, and get access to an mp3 download a week early. Let's not forget Sigur Rós are playing at the Uptown Theater on June 12. Tickets are still available, and you'd be crazy not to pick one up if you haven't already.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Sonic Youth, What Are You Thinking?

So I must be living under a rock or something (it's called Olathe, Kansas), but somehow I missed that Starbucks is putting together a SY compilation. Apparently all of the tracks have been chosen from famous SY fans, everyone from actors like Chloe Sevigny and David Cross to fellow music masterminds Radiohead and the Flaming Lips.

OK, sounds cool.

But why oh why does it have to be compiled by Starbucks????

Anyway, the track list for the thing is after the jump. Did anyone else wish Radiohead would have been a little riskier with their choice? I do have to give props to Dave Eggers and Mike Watt, though. And, uh, Flea.

01 Bull in the Heather [selected by Catherine Keener]
02 Sugar Kane [selected by Beck]
03 100% [selected by Mike D]
04 Kool Thing [selected by Radiohead]
05 Disappearer [selected by Portia de Rossi]
06 Stones [selected by Allison Anders]
07 Tuff Gnarl [selected by Dave Eggers and Mike Watt]
08 Teenage Riot [selected Eddie Vedder]
09 Shadow of a Doubt [selected by Michelle Williams]
10 Rain on Tin [selected by Flea]
11 Tom Violence [selected by Gus Van Sant]
12 Mary-Christ [selected by David Cross]
13 World Looks Red [selected by Chloë Sevigny]
14 Expressway to Yr Skull [selected by the Flaming Lips]
15 Slow Revolution [exclusive]

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Liars Photos

I intended to put up a couple Liars photos with my Radiohead post, but I was too busy paying homage to Thom Yorke to remember. Nonetheless, regardless of what your feelings about Liars are, the dudes put on a pretty deadly show. Frontman Angus Andrew is a sight to behold.

So behold.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Radiohead - St. Louis - 5/14/08

All I Need
Jigsaw Falling Into Place

15 Step


Kid A
Weird Fishes

The Gloaming
You & Whose Army?


Faust Arp
Everything in Its Right Place


Bangers & Mash

Exit Music (for a Film)

My Iron Lung

There There
Fake Plastic Trees


Pyramid Song
House of Cards
Paranoid Android

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Have You Heard?
Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours

Obsessions come and go in the world of Femme Fatale. Currently I'm obsessed with Cut Copy's '80s homage, In Ghost Colours. Think New Wave and Post-Punk. Think Disco and Dance Party. Think The Rapture done up in polka dots. Through all this, there’s even a track that evokes Fleetwood Mac (“Strangers in the Wind”). It might sound like the album would be all over the place, but somehow this Australian trio makes it work.

If you're like me and ready for a new dance album, this is the one.

Dare I say they'll Cut Copy and Paste themselves into your heart? Yes, I so totally said that.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Sleeveface: Kinda Lame, Kinda Lovely

I've been meaning to do something about this strange trend for some time now. Sure, it's kinda lame, but does anyone else think it's also kinda cool?

Please Read Me.

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Harken, Fellow Artists/Musicians/NMH Fans!

During my tutoring-turned-babysitting session this afternoon, I finally got around to reading the book that's been chilling in my bathroom for a few months now, Kim Cooper's addition to the 33 1/3 Series, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.

First off, let me just say this book will make you want to turn off that tv, quit your job, move far far away, and live in someone's walk-in-closet. Oh, and make some badass music.

I'd like to share a quote from bassist/saw player Julian Koster that finishes out Cooper's homage. For some reason it gave me chills... and you'll see what I mean about getting out there and making our own little contributions to the world.

I think what Elephant 6 meant for us is very simple: there's something pure and infinite in you, that wants to come out of you, and can come out of no other person on the planet. That's what you've got to share, and that's as real and important as the fact that you're alive. We [the Elephant 6 members] were able, at a really young age, to somehow protect each other so we could feel that. The world at large, careerism, money, magazines, your parents, the people at the rock club in your town, other kids, nothing is going to give you that message, necessarily. In fact, most things are going to lead you away from it, sadly, because humanity is really confused at the moment. But you wouldn't exist if the universe didn't need you. And any time I encounter something beautiful that came out of a human somewhere, that's them, that's their own soul. That's just pure, whatever its physicality is, if the person can play piano, if they can't play piano, if they're tone deaf, whatever it is, if it's pure, it hits you like a sledgehammer. It fills up your own soul, it makes you want to cry, it makes you glad you're alive, it lets you come out of you. And that's what we need: we desperately need you.

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Random Shit

Do you ever get stuck on a song? Just one song, nothing else. I'm experiencing that right now.

What's really strange about this is I don't really even like Wolf Parade that much, but this song is excellent.

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Concert Announcement:
My Morning Jacket

Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for an evening with My Morning Jacket? (First it was an evening with Sigur Ros, is this a new trend?) Well, ready or not, here they come, on August 18 at The Uptown Theater in Kansas City. I hear these guys pretty good in concert, so maybe you should check it out. As of right now, ticket information is unknown, but so keep your eyes peeled to My Morning Jacket or the ticketbastard web site for any further information.

If you just can't wait to get your live My Morning Jacket fix, you can catch the guys this weekend on Saturday Night Live. They'll probably play something off their upcoming album, Evil Urges, which is out on June 10.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Recent Concerts in Review

So this time of year always means a plethora of shows. A veritable cornicopia, if you will. Then it's summer, and when we have the most time to go to shows that's when, of course, they die down.

For now while I count down to Radiohead next week, I thought I'd share some thoughts from my recent long week of shows.

Tuesday, 4/29 -- Tim & Eric Awesome Tour -- The Bottleneck: Lawrence, KS
I'd been eagerly awaiting this one for awhile. Apparently so was half of Lawrence, as I had quite the time making my way to the stage. Eventually I nabbed a spot toward the front but on the side, which meant I could watch T&E cavort about in pizza boy uniforms, but I wasn't able to see much of the projection screen behind them -- which, by the way, was previewing much of Season Three. What I could piece together from behind those giant speakers sounded pretty cool, though. And where else can you get beer, pizza, hot dogs, and spit tossed on you mid-concert? OK, at least that sort of thing doesn't really happen at the sort of shows I go to (insert snob voice here). Seeing Uncle Casey perform live was my absolute highlight. Now, where's my chippy...?

Tuesday, 4/30 -- Caribou/Fuck Buttons -- The Record Bar: KC, MO
Ever since Caribou drummed their way into our hearts last October, we've been itching to see them again. Not to mention they were joined by up-and-comers Fuck Buttons, a band with an album that's almost as kickass as their name. I've got to be honest, I was really looking forward to see FB after I got a hold of their album... that morning. (I know, I'm lame. But man it blew me away.) The Record Bar crowd seemed equally eager for some NOISE, as it was one of those times when everyone inches closer and closer toward the stage until someone moves too quickly and then everyone rushes to the front in a frenzy. Seriously, the crowd filled in in record time.

Bandmates Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power had quite the setup: audio equipment inside a velvet-lined suitcase, tiny keyboards in descending size like those little Russian nesting dolls, a Little Tykes mike and keyboard set. I'll never forget Power screaming into the mike that he clenched with his teeth so his hands were free to (fuck) button mash, or when Hung came into the crowd to dance all tribal-like to their most Animal-Collective fare. At one point the noise nearly killed my already infected middle ear -- you know you're in trouble when the band members suddenly bust out ear plugs -- and I guess you could say they pushed my fuck button. Over and over and over again.

So, while I was in pain for Caribou, I would say they made for a nice follow-up. Dan Snaith and friends brought a decidedly more rockin' sound to match their openers. Oh, how I love me some 60s pop psychedelia! I have to admit, though I have Andorra and Up in Flames, I was still unfamiliar with many of the songs. Oh, they did play "She's the One" though. Gotta love that song.

Tuesday, 5/1 -- Destroyer -- The Record Bar: KC, MO

So, about not knowing all the songs, well make that ditto for the Destroyer show. Thursday night made for Dan #2 of the week. This was my first time seeing my favorite part of the New Pornographers gone solo... and he didn't disappoint. Sure, I would have liked to hear more from Destroyer's Rubies or even the new album, but I have to admire a guy who'll play a set of mostly older tunes. And those encores songs, whatever they were, WOW. If anyone knows what album those are from, you know where to find me. Oh and Dan, keep playing songs with my name in them. Pretty please.

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Album Review:
Portishead - Third

Portishead's first album in ten years has been in my possession for some time now, but it was only until recent weeks that I truly began to appreciate it. Who could have guessed the trip-hop trio would turn all ROCK on us?

So I might as well admit I've been cheating. I know what you're thinking. So that's why she doesn't feel like putting out for Range Life anymore. Well, stay tuned. Summer beckons, and with it, much time to wax poetic/nostalgic/nerd-like.

Bop on over here and read my thoughts on Third.

BTW, Buzzine doesn't score their albums, but I would have given it an 84%. Just read the review!

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Holy Merciful Happiness:
What are you doing June 12?

You better be going to see Sigur Ros. That's right. According to the band's Myspace, they will be playing KC's Uptown Theatre Thursday, July 12.

And I'm a bucket of gleeful goo...

Thanks for the heads up, Miss Mandy. If I can do anything to brighten your Wednesday in return...

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Random Shit

News flash: The blog has been neglected. Then again, I never pretended to be a good parent. Devotees will probably remember that we went through a lull at this same time last year, and picked up nicely in the summer, and with any luck the same will happen this year. Just bare with us a few more weeks while we finish school, please. Until then, expect the sporadic posts to be light and fluffy, and hopefully wildly entertaining. Unless they're not like today's post, which is very lengthy and boring. Just kidding, or am I?

For today's post, I'm just going to go stream of consciousness on your ass and blog about whatever the fuck sounds good. This blog used to be called Midwest Music and More, after all, so file this under the "More" section if it helps. And yes, I do talk about Dexter.

School sucks. No, not really. There's nothing wrong with getting an education. Well, that's not true either. Okay, third time's a charm. School is time consuming, expensive, and sometimes boring, but on the whole, learning is awesome. I'm especially fond of my Literature of Science Fiction class. Its pretty much what you might expect, we read Science Fiction short stories on our own time and geek out about them in class. I'm really quite fond of the geeking out part, though I should note that we're often not geeking out in the nerdy Sci-Fi way you might expect based on whatever perception you have of a Sci-Fi nerd. (Then again, there are plenty of times where we do geek out just like you might expect too) Example, today we discussed a short story titled "(Learning About) Machine Sex," in which we learn about, you guessed it, machine sex. Sort of. Long story short, this brilliant female computer programmer develops a computer/program for guys to fuck because her own experience in messed up relationships leads her to believe that men aren't looking for love or companionship, just sex, and if they could get it from a computer, they would. Deep down, she hopes she's wrong, because it would validate this incredibly dark, nihilistic view of life that she's developed based on her experiences. As she's developing this technology, she meets a cowboy who tells her that nobody will buy it. He believes in love, something our, uh, protagonist gave up on. He also mentions that this program immoral. This character later reveals that he's gay, which I find to be interesting because the story was published in 1988, and if you thought America was conservative now (its not just a Midwest thing, Kansas isn't the only state to outlaw gay marriage you know), imagine what it was like 20 years ago at the tail end of Reganomics, right before the Bush Sr. took office. I personally think its interesting that in the late 80's the author would make the only redeeming, moral character in the story a gay man. I wish this was something we could have discussed more in detail, but the class is only so long we had to talk about other things, which leads me to...

Sonic Youth is to Science Fiction like bread is to butter. Who knew? I remember reading a couple of years ago that Sister was based on Phillp K. Dick, or his stories, something like that. Apparently the title refers to the fraternal twin sister of Dick's that died shortly after birth and apparently haunted him his entire life. Then, as if on cue, when I saw Sonic Youth a few weeks after learning of this, Thurston Moore spent the first few minutes of their concert in Lawrence talking about films based on Dick novels, and had to remind himself that he was there to play a show, not geek out on Sci-Fi talk.

Well, today we also discussed a short story titled "Burning Chrome" by William Gibson, author of the short story-turned movie "Johnny Mnemonic" and considered by many as the author that shaped the Science Fiction sub-genre called Cyberpunk (think the Matrix, but without a happy ending). Somehow, other classmates, who are basically bona fide Science Fiction scholars, started talking about his other works. Neuromancer obviously came up (I haven't even read the book and I can already tell you its considered a classic), which led to a mention of the Sprawl trilogy. Though my ears perked immediately, I figured it must surely be a coincidence. After all, if Sister truly is all about Phillip K. Dick and/or his writings, why then write yet another song based on a Sci-Fi classic for their next album. Wouldn't they have been bored of songs about Sci-Fi authors by then? I let it go, until a few minutes later when a student brought up his novel Pattern Recognition. You've gotta be fucking kidding me, I thought to myself. After getting home, I hopped on the 'net to check out this Gibson character and see what he's all about. I was unable to find anything to directly link the song "The Sprawl" with Gibson's trilogy, so I checked out Pattern Recognition. As Wikipedia describes it: The novel's central theme involves the examination of the human desire to detect patterns or meaning and the risks of finding patterns in meaningless data. Hmmm, not seeing a connection here. But wait, there's more. Other themes include methods of interpretation of history, cultural familiarity with brand names, and tensions between art and commercialization. Jackpot. Sonic Youth has always expressed interest in the tensions between art and commercialization, not to mention a fascination with pop culture in general. How else do you explain "Expressway to Yr Skull" (which is alternately titled "Madonna, Sean, and Me"), the White(y) Album, and even "Kim Gordon and the Arthur Doyle Handcream" (which comes from the same album as the song "Pattern Recognition," Sonic Nurse)?

But then I remembered how I once stumbled across a book called Dude Ranch Nurse. Either Sonic Youth gets all of their song ideas from books, including cheesy western romances, or I'm reading way too much into this Sonic Youth/Sci-Fi thing.

Moving on to something completely different. My girlfriend, Jenna (you may remember her, she's posted a few times under the clever pseudonym "Girlfriend"), and I recently bought a new high-definition screen. Though we think or ourselves as intelligent, productive people, we long ago came to terms with the fact that we are, sadly, entertained by pretty moving pictures. The addition of this new television (notice how I used the word television...a nod to all my fellow Mr. Show fans), which makes these pretty moving pictures even prettier, has basically turned us into zombies. But because I'm still a snob and refuse to give in completely to the fact that I actually enjoy some of the crap network television has to offer (thank God we don't have cable, otherwise I suspect this would no longer be a music blog), I tend to find myself critically analyzing the shows I find myself inexplicably glued to. Take House for example. Its less of a soap-opera than ER and Grey's Anatomy, but its certainly more predictable. Every single show someone has a mysterious ailment. House makes his staff test for it. While they do this, he bothers people. His underlings think they have an answer, and as they're either telling the patient, or about to, the patient codes. More tests, more ideas as to what the problem is, House acts like a jerk some more, they determine what the problem is, but at the last minute another mysterious symptom to kicks in, ruling out every possibility they've come up with. House continues to act like a jerk, has an epiphany, solves the problem, treats people like crap, and gives the patient a new lease on life. This has been going on for FOUR FUCKING SEASONS (well, only technically, considering the writer's strike and all), yet its still wildly popular, and I can't help but watch it. Its shameful, I know, though not as shameful as watching CSI: Miami (An Irish guy named Horatio??? I want what you're smoking!), though sadly I've been known to do that once or twice too.

I mention all this because I recently found myself falling for this ridiculous show called Dexter. With the writers strike crippling the networks and making viewers impatient, CBS actually did something smart: they brought in a Showtime series, Dexter, to fill in their Sunday evening gap. Though the series debuted a few years ago, thus not making it any newer than anything else they were showing, the fact that it was originally from a premium cable channel meant that it would be new to the average person. Yes, some dialog had to be cleaned up, and probably some other things too (violence, sex?), but its not like there aren't people watching edited versions of The Sopranos or Six Feet Under (Michael C. Hall's previous Showtime gig) on television, so this experiment was a good idea.

At first, I found myself completely turned off by the premise. Before the show had even aired, CBS previews made it look like CSI: Miami for people who love really bad plot twists. (Spoiler Alert) Imagine the following: "Coming to CBS this Spring, a new series about a serial killer chasing cop with a secret: He's also a serial killer. Dexter is just as likely to put these criminals behind bars as he is six feet under, usually in several pieces." Sounds like the worst fucking show ever, doesn't it.

Well, truth be told, its not. Don't get me wrong, its hardly mind blowing, most of the actors are terrible, most of the characters are bad archetypes from other recent crime dramas (CSI, The Shield), and the plot twist's are fairly easy to spot a mile away (Spoiler Alert: I called that whole Ice-Truck killer is Dexter's brother thing, just ask Jenna). But regardless of these flaws the show is certainly more entertaining than you might expect, mainly because you find yourself liking Dexter, the character, though eventually I suspect this leads into liking Dexter, the show. You see, part of the reason is that, as a viewer, you're inside Dexter's head, and privy to all sorts of things that the other supporting characters, including his sister and girlfriend, are not. After a while, you see things his way. You want him to have sex with his girlfriend, but understand why he doesn't. You want him to open up to his sister, but understand why he can't. Most of all, you're rooting for him to kill someone. That sounds sadistic, I know, but he's just taking out the trash, really. Remember, he's a serial killer that kills serial killers, or something like that. Anyhow, the show is so addictive, Jenna and I skipped ahead of the CBS broadcast and watched the rest of the season on our computer (thanks Netflix!). The last episode was worth it. And all that blood looks great in high-def.

If you made it this far, I applaud you. Here's something about music so you don't feel cheated. The new Wolf Parade leaked, but all I want to listen to is the new Stereolab song that Pitchfork premiered. It sounds just like you probably expect, but there's nothing wrong with that. Their new album, Chemical Chords, is out 08/19/08 in the U.S. from Duophonic UHF Disks/4AD. I, for one, cannot wait!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

MBV Announces First U.S. Show in 16 Years; I'm Scrounging for $225

Seriously, just when I was convinced all those MBV reunion stories were mere myth, now the band has announced it will play a boutique festival organized by ATP. I'm all in a tizzy. The NY festival is scheduled for Sept. 19-21. The rest of the lineup (there's more?) features Built to Spill, Low, Tortoise, Mogwai, your mom (just kidding), and many others.

But, did I mention again that it's in New York, and that tickets are $225 PLUS FEES?


A priceless concert just got a whole lot, well, pricier.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What Are You Listening To?

No, I'm not dead, just buried...in school work! But seriously, I haven't forgotten about you, dear readers, and I haven't stopped listening to music either. Show me yours and I'll show you mine...

Fuck it, I'll show you mine regardless. (Please note that, yet again, Nicole and I had similar ideas for posts, I swear I'm not aping her previous post.)

Bernard "Pretty" Purdie - Soul is...Pretty Purdie

Chances are you know a Pretty Purdie song, even if you aren't aware of it. You know that fucking insane drum break in the Beck song "Devil's Haircut?" That's a Pretty Purdie song, titled "Soul Drums." In fact, there are several Pretty Purdie samples throughout Odelay, the Dust Brothers must have been big fans, and for good reason, the man is a fucking beast on the drums. While I've probably been listening to more of Soul Drums, the album, I can't escape this fantastic song from Soul is... called "Song For Aretha" (which was also briefly used in a Beck song, "Hotwax" to be exact). The song builds with Purdie's insane drumming, but just when you think you've reached the climax the fucking string section kicks in. I challenge you to listen to this song and not fall in love. On a side note, I can totally hear some Broken Social Scene in this song. I know its a bit of a stretch, but the way it's constructed, the guitar tone, the epic strings, the emergence of the horns, and the sexy female backup singers. I get it now, Broken Social Scene are what you get when you mix Sonic Youth with soul music. That's something I can dig.

Sonic Youth - Sister

Moving on from a song about "soul sister number one" to an album titled Sister. You should already know by now that Sonic Youth is about the only band that can rival Radiohead for the coveted title of Ryan's Favorite Band, so it shouldn't surprise you to see this album on here one bit. Why Sister over Daydream Nation or Murray Street? Why not? Or better yet, listen to "Tuff Gnarl" and you tell me.

David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars

On a recent road trip to catch my favorite indie chanteuse, I threw in the standard Bowie rock record, Ziggy Stardust. It had bout four years since I last listened to it all the way through, four years too many. I know that had I waited another year I could make a delicious pun about it being five years, but I just couldn't make myself wait any longer. I suppose I could have lied to you and said it was five years. Actually, is it too late? Because I really want to say it had been fiiiiiiiiiiiiive years since I listened to Ziggy Stardust. Fiiiiiive years! Ha, I'm on a roll. I'm also drunk, can you tell?

I know, this is definitely the obvious Bowie choice, but fuck, with an album this good, who cares? Here's a song I almost completely forgot about, I'll never make that mistake again.

Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

I've been saying Spoon is quickly becoming one of my favorite bands since they released Gimme Fiction back in '05, and that was one of their weaker albums. Can you imagine what I'm saying now that they've got the excellent Ga x5 under their belt? You don't have to, I'll just come right out with it: Spoon is one of my favorite bands. Even though I just saw them in concert a few weeks ago, I'm actually looking forward to this Sunday's show even more. How is that possible? They're a great band, that's how.

The Beatles - The Beatles (aka the White Album)

Oh, that's not obvious enough Ryan. But seriously, how about The Fucking Beatles? Are you gonna argue?

Yes, The Beatles influenced everyone, and it keeps going too. Just listen to "Long, Long, Long" and tell me you don't hear Animal Collective or Grizzly Bear, with maybe a little Doug Marsch in the vocals. I dare you.

While you're at it, listen to "Martha My Dear." You'll be humming it for weeks.

While you're here, you may as well watch this funny homage to The Beatles. They really are the best band.

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I Am Old Music and You Can Too!*

*Sorry, Stephen Colbert, for ripping off the oh-so-clever name of your oh-so-clever book.

As someone constantly trying to keep her pulse on the latest and greatest music, I often find myself overwhelmed and, ever increasingly, disappointed by the latest offerings. Sure, you've got Plants and Animals and The Dodos to keep the flora/fauna fresh. Still, lately I've been skipping many of the newer releases in favor of thumbing through rock's back-catalog.

I figured I'd touch on some of my favorite recent discoveries and offer you all a sample. Dig in!

Chronological order seems to make the most sense, right?

Nico - Chelsea Girl (1967)

If you're a fan of Wes Anderson's Royal Tenenbaums, then you're undoubtedly familiar with Nico's take on Jackson Browne's "These Days." According to WikiLegend, Anderson was so taken by the song that he envisioned the scene where Gwyneth Paltrow steps off the train in slow motion before he started writing the screenplay. I was also quite taken by this song, and wasn't disappointed by the album's other lushly produced tracks. While this is definitely more of a "winter album," it's definitely worth a look, particularly if you're a fan of Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left.

David Bowie - Hunky Dory (1971)

Thank you, SonicRyan, for turning me onto this album. We all know the opener "Changes," but don't be fooled into thinking this is the album's greatest offering. Here Bowie pays tribute to everyone from Bob Dylan to Andy Warhol while creating his own masterpiece. "Life on Mars" = priceless. "Queen Bitch" (another track to figure on a Wes Anderson soundtrack) = a joyous rock romp. Listen to "The Bewlay Brothers" and marvel.

Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures (1979)

I remember first falling in love with Interpol and hearing the endless analogies made between Paul Banks' and Ian Curtis' voices. I gave Joy Division a go at the time, thinking anyone who influenced Turn on the Bright Lights had to be worth a listen. Well, as seems to happen far too often to me, I didn't get it on first listen. Now, ever since the junior junk that was Our Love to Admire, I've given Joy Division another go. Let me just say that now I can clearly see Banks didn't just rip off Curtis' vocal stylings, he ripped the very heart out of them.

Check out the cover, the last one hundred transmissions from a dying star. Haunting. Perfect.

Galaxie 500 - On Fire (1989)

After falling for Beach House I kept seeing all of these comparisons to Galaxie 500. Then I read a P4k column dedicated to the band that left me scrambling to hear them, and this exquisite song known as "Snowstorm." Finding this album led me to somewhat of a crisis in the past few months, as I couldn't understand how this album had just been sitting there all along, waiting for me to discover it. I guess Galaxie 500 is to blame for all this back-pedaling, back-cataloging... Just listen to the song. Please.

The last two wouldn't qualify as "old" -- both were released within the past decade -- though they would qualify as albums/bands I missed out on at the time.

Mercury Rev - Deserter's Songs (1999)

Turn on Deserter's Songs, and you'll swear for a moment that you're hearing The Flaming Lips' The Soft Bulletin. Coincidentally -- or perhaps not -- both albums have the same producer and guitarist John Donahue. But if you're a die-hard SB fan like I am, then your stomach just might flip when you discover that Mercury Rev's take on the SB-sound came first. While The Soft Bulletin is undoubtedly the superior achievement, Deserter's Songs is an incredible album in its own right. If you crave even more experimental fare, check out the band's 1993 album Boces. It doesn't even sound like the same band...

Unwound - Leaves Turn Inside You (2001)

Recently I was reading a humor article, "How To Tell If You're a Hipster." One of the criteria was if you've ever said Blonde Redhead was "the poor man's Unwound." As a BR fan, my interest was piqued at the thought that anyone -- hipster or not -- would say this. I immediately downloaded this 74-minute, double-disc affair that is apparently considered the band's finest work. (As one fan stated, it killed post-post-punk, "with kindness.") I've been in love ever since.

Well, there you have my latest finds. Perhaps I'll continue this feature as I dredge up more gems. Until next time...

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It's April 15...

Here's hoping you weren't up until the wee hours, like myself, trying to make good with the gov'ment.

Has anyone seen the UK's Black Books? There's a scene where the perpetually drunken/irate Dylan Moran is attempting to do his taxes, and to avoid them he starts matching socks, then later ends up inviting Mormons into his house to discuss religion, the afterlife -- anything but his taxes. Let's just say after the past two days, I can relate.

An ode to the Taxman, may he rotteth in hell.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Beach House/Papercuts Videos

It's taken me some time to post these. Mainly because despite having Alex Scally's permission to record Beach House's 3/24 show in Omaha (provided I abstained from any "cock shots"), my little Sony camcorder was no match for the band's impressive bass and speaker combo. That said, once you get over the crappy sounding bass, the recordings ain't half bad. (And the Papercuts videos are much less bass-heavy to begin with. Check out the first video, featuring Victoria Legrand's backup vocals, and Alex on organ.)

Unfortunately I didn't get footage of BH performing "Gila," during which problems with the equipment prompted Victoria to replace "Gil-a-a-a-a-a" with "Wh-at the fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck." (Alex said afterwards that unexpected complications like these aren't all bad -- they make certain performances "more unique-r." Oh, how I adore grammar quips.)

After the show I thanked the bands and told them to head over to Lawrence next time. They said they would, so here's hoping that if you missed the chance to see them in Omaha or elsewhere, you can catch them a little closer to home.

In case you were wondering, I'm still absolutely devoted to Devotion.

Papercuts (Featuring BH):


"Apple Orchard":

"Wedding Bell":

"Holy Dances":

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

We Are The Champions

I'm struggling to find a musical connection here, a justification for writing this post. Ryan originally called this blog Midwest Music and More... so I suppose this would fall under the category of More.

In honor of KU's fifth national championship ever -- precisely 20 years after their last -- I thought I'd make a playlist commemorating the occasion. I considered some funny choices, in terms of titles... Atlas Sound's "Scraping Past"... Blonde Redhead's "Top Ranking"... but really this is the perfect song to describe the deathblow that was Mario Chalmers' crucial three-pointer, the intensity I feel inside today -- and the title probably sums up how all those Memphis fans are feeling.

Congratulations, Jayhawks!

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