Monday, February 28, 2005

Yes, It's Me Again

Hey kiddies, Nick's been bugging me to get something up here for the past week or so, so here I am. But I don't have to be happy about it. In fact, fuck all of you.

Weird as it is, I've been on kind of an emo music trip lately. I just busted out my "War All the Time" CD for the first time since early last summer and I've been rockin' a lot of Thursday, My Chemical Romance, and Jimmy Eat World in the '96 Lumina as of late. JEW's (hehehe) latest, "Futures" is a VERY solid release from a band that I didn't expect an awful lot. It's one of the few CDs in recent memory that has successfully run the gamut from fast-paced, driving punk rock style beats ("Pain," "Nothingwrong") and slower, mellower acoustic and ballad-style tracks ("Drugs or Me," "Night Drive"), all while maintaining a strong sense of coherence, and without any noticeable throwaway tracks.

Robert Randolph and the Family Band is still hitting on all cylinders with me after a few weeks' worth of listens. As a big fan of old-school motown funk music, Robert Randolph is a fantastic throwback and the new elements (keyboards, slide guitar) are a very welcome addition to the formula. Not to mention what a great soloist the guitarist is. Muthafuckas got rhythm.

On another note, I saw "The Grudge" for the second time on Saturday night. The first time I saw that movie, it was one of the stupidest things I've ever seen in my entire life, and this time, the plot was still balls, but for some reason, this time I was legitimately scared (probably because of the speaker right behind my head that kept croaking in my ear the entire movie, along with the fact that my Fire and Ice date damn near pulled my arm out of the socket during that last scene in the house). The only thing that's really been bothering me is that the ghost of Kayako in "The Grudge" bears an uncanny resemblance to Violet from "The Incredibles." Someone find decent pictures of both of them and I'll prove it to you. Also, make note that I'm talking about Violet at the beginning of the movie, before she becomes a superhero. She looks gothtastic at that part.

Festival Express

Comcast's OnDemand service is pretty cool, including offering up this little known gym. In 1970, a bunch of festival promoters got the idea to do a Woodstock in Canada, except to make it a travelling show. Then they decided to put it on a train, going from Toronto to Winnipeg to Calgary, and to set up the train with cameras and microphone to capture all of the music. The lineup- The Band, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Buddy Guy, Ian & Sylvia & Great Speckled Bird, the Flying Burrito Brothers. And those are the standouts. Unfortunately, the concert film that was to be made from all the footage of the four concerts- the three Festival Express shows and then a free Grateful Dead show in Toronto- never was to be, until a studio bought some of the footage and secured some of the rights. The concert film was then mixed with documentary style interviews with some of the people involved looking back on the experience, and a great concert film becomes better- there's a hell of a lot more going on than a lot of good bands doing what they do interspersed with shots of hippies freaking out.

And the actual story of the Festival Express is interesting- a bunch of kids sitting outside of the first show in Tornto demanding to be let in for free and causing trouble with cops leading to the Grateful Dead playing a free concert in a park to satisfy the broke ass hippies; the fact that, as Bob Weir of the Dead said, drinking was new to a lot of the crowd, who were mainly used to pot and acid, which lead to the train being drunk dry and an uscheduled stop in Saskatoon; the promotors losing money and the free ticket sensation spreading to the other locations. What's really interesting is that the tickets were about $15- some guy says 16 at one point, Ian Tyson says 14 at some point, so let's go with the mean- for an all day concert featuring huge acts. Fucking hippies- how could they not be happy with that? Sure, concerts are really expensive now, but even then, that was a good price. This is like hearing stories about how people complained The Last Waltz was too expensive when they got a five hour concert featuring not only a really awesome band, but great guests, ballroom dancing, a poetry reading by some of LA's finest, and a turkey dinner. A turkey fucking dinner! How expensive were those tickets? Twenty-five bucks. In fact, this is what I really hate about being so young- all you old ex-hippies were spoiled! Great prices, great bands, and you fucking protested that shit? I hate you! What the fuck!

But right. So when the tour got 'round to Calgary, the mayor of Calgary told promotor Ken Walker that "the children of Calgary" will get in for free. Ken Walker basically said "Well fuck that" and punched the mayor of Calgary in the mouth. How badass is that?

But the film is still a concert film. A really, really good concert film. Well, maybe okay. There's a lot of Grateful Dead. A lot. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just that Sha Na Na, who looked like a bunch of rockabilly greasers, and sounded like a bunch of rockabilly greasers, only got in one song, Mashmakhan only got in one song which was awesome and the only time I've ever heard of them, too. Ian & Sylvia & Great Speckled Bird got in one song, and it was a revelation to me, hearing "C.C. Rider" done with a psychedellic backing band (though Jerry Garcia was on-stage playing with them). The Band turned in three really short songs. Buddy Guy had one song. Janis Joplin had two very long songs.

And then there was the train. The train, the train, oh the train. Nearly every jam that's shown on film involves either Rick Danko or Jerry Garcia, not that it's a bad thing. Sylvia Tyson and Jerry go through a Gospel song, the Buddy Guy Blues Band and a few others tear through "Sunshine Of Your Love." A very tripped out Rick Danko leads an entire rail car in the prison song "Ain't No More Cane." And though it's a really great moment- Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir playing guitar behind the entire car, Rick, Janis Joplin, Ian & Sylvia singing- it's also kind of tarnishing, watching Rick forget a verse and stumbling over sentences, telling Jerry what to play, and sounding very much like whatever drugs he had ingested. Which really brings out the kind of unspoken side of the film- someone says that "Woodstock was a treat for the audience and [Festival Express] was a treat for the performers." They enjoyed themselves the way bands were doing in the 70s, the way Janis killed herself doing.

It's also double edged to think about who is interviewed- beyond promoter Ken Walker there's Sylvia Tyson, but not ex-husband Ian who has moved away from this period of his life in nearly all respects, Buddy Guy, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart. Buddy Guy makes it a point at the end to say how it was a great way to spend time with Janis and Jerry. Nobody from The Band is interviewed, probably so a bitter piss fight wouldn't make its way across the screen. It's also interesting, at least for me, to note that The Band, the top-billed act at the time of the toor, is for the most part shoved to the back-burner; the film's focal point lies on the Dead and Janis Joplin, which is a disservice I think.

All in all, the film is awesome. Go see it.

Friday, February 25, 2005

The Uncharismatic Frontman

Anyone else notice just how nerdy someone like Rivers Cuomo is? This isn't a knock against him, mind, but if anyone has the good fortune to have a copy of The Lion+Witch EP or has listened to it on Rhapsody (not sure if it's on the other music services), you will notice how Rivers is, with greetings like, "Good morning Tokyo" and weird jokes like, "our new record, Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Ha ha!", quite not full of charisma.

Hearing the Wilco webcast from their first night at the 9:30 Club here in DC told me that it was just limited to Rivers. Jeff Tweedy is kind of shy, is prone to rambling and self deprecation. Really, this kind of behaviour from guys who front awesome bands just gives hope to the rest of us shy and prone-to-ramble nerds who rely on self-deprecating humour to get ourselves over. And for those of you missed it, the webcast from the 2/23 show can be found here, the 2/24 show here, and an NPR interview and in-studio performance here.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Gretchen Wilson can go chug a cock

Man, modern country music fucking blows. It's some of the most formulaic, bubblegum sounding music this side of where the Top 40 stations rest on the dial. In fact, it's a lot like modern pop, in that the individual artists are interchangable, the songs all fit certain archetypes- slow, sentimental song; danceable get my party on song; love song; song talking about all the shit that you own- just that country songs are generally cleaner. You know, for families and all that.

But really, country isn't. You have people talking about getting drunk all the time, and I guess that's more legal than getting crunked up WHAT? Crunked up. WHAT? Crunked up. OKAY! (look how clever I am, I'm stealing a bit from somebody else! oh, I'm so funny.) And then there are the songs about beating your wife, and lots of double entendres about sex. So really, country music and its fans are by far the most hypocritical people I can think of right now to direct ire at.

And I'm eating breakfast and the radio's on, and this song by Gretchen Wilson comes on, and I'm standing there, like, "What the fuck. This is a song about being a big slut. This is a song about going to parties and being a slutty slut who likes to slut her slutty stuff." And the station's has those neat spots in between songs, and one of those spots is all about being all about family values.

You fucking cocksuckers! What the fuck is wrong with your moral compass? Because from looking over your shoulder it seems to be set on "oblivious." Let's condemn rap music for being mysognystic and hateful, let's condemn rock music for being violent and Satanic, let's condemn pop music for making our children loose. Instead they should be listening to country music, which is good for the whole family.

The worst part is all the Jesus Freak girls who listen to shit like this and find it empowering. Yes, using your pussy is empowering. So is making yourself an intellectual equal, accomplishing something, and also, not being a cheap slut.

Fuck you Gretchen Wilson.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Backlog Part 1: Trail of Dead- - Worlds Apart, +2


So for a while I had a bunch of stuff I wanted to talk about, but didn't have time to make actual posts on due to some other stuff interferring. So, here's the first of older items for me to talk about- ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead's new album, Worlds Apart, and the sampler, Worlds Apart +2.

First encountering Trail of Dead late one night on MTV2 in the middle of the video for "Relative Ways", my first thought was, "Wow, they look like a tanned Brit-pop band." My second thought was, "That spinny Price is Right wheel thing is a tad pretentious." And to some, pretentious goes a long way describing this band, and the Rolling Stone review indicted the entire album on that charge. Mainly based on how the title track of the album mentions MTV. The Stone basically summed up the album as an attack of music played on MTV. Kind of, sort of, not really. "Worlds Apart" also references the BBC and is a critque of the overall media culture. Not just MTV. And that sentiment isn't found on the rest of the album.

In fact, that's what's really great about this album, especially compared to the other Trail of Dead releases- it sounds like a mixtape. A very eclectic mixtape that has the same singer. Gone is the constant barrage of pop-hardcore that's characterized their other full lengths; the dynamics of the great 2003 EP The Secrets of Elena's Tomb are errected, then extended, and instead of going from soft to loud like on the EP, here the songs go from genre to genre- the prog rock "Will You Smile Again?" leads to the punk "Wolrds Apart" to the altrock "The Summer of '91".

There are lots of high thematic points, from the slightly glam "All White", the high and lonesome violin on "To Russia My Homeland", the slow moving, pounding "Will You Smile Again?". It's probably the best album out this year so far. Give it a listen.

Also neat-o is Worlds Apart +2, a sampler with "Worlds Apart" and two other songs. I listened to this all the time on Rhapsody before Worlds Apart came out, and it's a neat little disc for just two bucks. Quite neat, really, and a nice little bone to toss to the fans and to entice new fans.

So. Get yourself a copy. It's wholesome, I promise.

You love Wilco? Well, Wilco fucking LOVES you.

Consider me a bit on the slow side with this one, but for a few months I've been trying to track down a copy of the Wilco EP More Like The Moon, which has its lyrics listed on cool Wilco lyrics page A Sea Black With Ink. After looking in trendy record shops and online retailers, I decided to Google it, which really should've been one of the first things to do, and came up with this page. Yes the band has it to download for free, just like what they did with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A ghost is born. The EP itself is pretty swell, featuring a radically differnt version of "Kamera", with a spelling difference even (!), a demo of "Handshake Drugs", and then four exclusive-like tracks that are quite neat.

There was a great article in this month's Wired about how Wilco is a band that knows how to do things right- offering albums online, putting extra content on their CDs- YHF featured a music video, and ghost had a streaming two-hour concert- and recognizing that music is also about the audience and not just the performer. Getting this EP right after I heard about how a re-issue of ghost is going to have extra content and that if you already own it, you can download it for free really hammers the point home- Wilco loves me. Hurray!

By the by, this is just more proof of how downloading does not hurt sales- ghost is Wilco's highest selling album yet, despite a lot of Wilco fans having listened to it many times before its actual release. Another good case example is Weezer's Maladroit, which had demo and finished tracks availible from the band's website and fan input on the final selection, being its biggest debut on the Billboard charts at position number 3. Basically, fuck those lying RIAA bastards.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Wilco Book

The Wilco Book is probably one of the bigger surprises I've had this year- what I thought was going to be an overpriced book full of crappy poetry is really neat.

Starting off with selections from Bern Porter's Found Poetry, the book seems to have the quality of a Wilco song, and reading the book with the enclosed CD playing feels so undeniably right. And then it moves into different anecdotes from band members about lots of things, featuring interesting pictures and artwork. The humor and good nature of the band shines through the book, and the first anecdote ends with a wonderful illustration of that- says Jeff Tweedy, "I wish we owned the whole building and all lived there, like the Monkees. And had a fire pole from floor to floor. It's not going to happen, though."

That kind of wonder permeates the book, as the overall artistic statement of the band's various works is explored by art itself- the two essays by Henry Miller and Rick Moody, being particularly deft and delightful wordplay. The book also has a section concerning the making of A ghost is born, which won Grammys for Alternative Album and Packaging. The Packaging statue is really what this entire book is about- it's not enough for Wilco to deliver just notes and words, but to present an entire work to be considered on multiple levels. The enclosed CD envelops the reader with experimental sounds and songs that maybe aren't very experimental at all, considering the excellent liner notes by engineer, laptop, and keyboard player Mike Jorgensen. And those liner notes, and a lot of the anecdotes go a long way into the band itself; the only real member of the band who gets press is Jeff Tweedy, the singing-songwriting head of the band, but then, they all help to write lyrics and create the music, and the thematic statements of the albums, proving that they are a complete collarboration, and accentuating each members' contribution to the music.

The entire book is great, and well worth the hefty price tag. Go out and get it. Oh, and Nels Cline is on the cover of this month's issue of Guitar Player in a neat little piece that focuses on this relatively unknown guitarist is quite the talented and accomplished musician. It's especially neat considering the huge change in the sound of the band between even when Nels first joined and now- listening to the bonus concert on ghost and then listening to a more recent concert, he is re-articulating familair music, in a good way. So, for those interested parties, both can be picked up at a book store, along with many other fine things.

Monday, February 14, 2005

What's that Lassie? Is Rock in Trouble?!

Will the Bush-hating punk rockers sweep the Grammys?

I've gotta say, I'm getting pretty goddamn sick of this. How many times has rock been saved in the past couple years? The above headline is from the cover of an Entertainment Weekly issue I saw on the shelf of Best Buy yesterday when I was picking up season one of Arrested Development, a Robert Randolph and the Family Band CD, and one of the new Bright Eyes releases.
Before I go into the real meat of this post, I'd just like to point out that "American Idiot" is a fucking fantastic album, and "Bush-Hating Punk Rock" is a retarded way to sum it up, to say the least. There are so many facets to the CD beyond its political aspect that it's absolutely ludicrous to try and sum it up in a way that makes it sound like Sum 41 dropped an attempt at a political statement.
That being said, no matter how good "American Idiot" was, rock didn't need saving when it hit the shelves last September. Nor did rock need saving when Scott Weiland made his return to remind us all what a disgusting metrosexual he is. Nor did rock need saving when the Vines came out with "Highly Evolved." Nor did rock need saving when AFI "led the hardcore punk mainstream takeover" (I fucking swear to God, I'm quoting Rolling Stone there).
You get what I'm saying here, right? Bottom line, rock is just fine. Green Day, rock appreciates your contribution, but don't take it personally if it doesn't owe you its life forever. Ditto to the Vines. As for you, Mr. Weiland, rock says you're a wart on its ass and it wants you to fuck off and die. Take Matt Soram with you, he can keep playing his shitty, repetitive rock beats in Hell.
So stop worrying about rock. Rock is fine, it's not Daphne from Scooby Doo, it can go three episodes without getting kidnapped and (probably) raped. If you really want to save rock, or just music in general, buy a gun and blow Ashlee Simpson's brains out.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Welcome Your New God

Oh, you're all fucked now. Nick invited me for some reason, trusting that I wouldn't go on a huge power trip and throw his ass out of his own blog. For now, I'll let him stay, because he's a good man. However, should he ever piss me off, I'm totally starting a revolution, so stay tuned, it'll be ironic. And hilarious.

ANYWAY, I believe an introduction is in order. My name is David Tveite, I'm a huge music and movie nerd, and I'm way better-looking than your average Minnesotan. No, we don't talk like those fags in Fargo, and I have never tried lutefisk in my entire life. The only things I cook with lye are the eyes of stupid motherfuckers who piss me off. Stay out of my way, keep your head down, and we'll get along just fine. Oh, and don't EVER make fun of new wave music around me if you don't want your head broken.

Thank you, goodnight, and God bless America David Tveite.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

World/Inferno Friendship Society and Murder By Death - - Villanova, Pennsylvania

It's not everyday that I get into a car to drive for over two hours and cross as many state lines for a five dollar show at a college for one band I've never heard of and another band I've listened to once. This time though, it paid off.

First off, getting to Villanova was a total bitch- there was a traffic jam as soon as we hit Pennsylvania, caused by a fender bender many miles inside Pennsylvania. We finally saw it after a little over a half hour of stop and go traffic. We thought we were gonna be late, but when we showed up they were still setting up, and it looked like no one had played. After being approached by a transplanted Villanovy-ite who recognized my friend's Chick and Ruth shirt, we were basically ready for the show, dreading the three or so bands before Murder By Death.

Oops, we read that wrong. Turns out all those names were for the opening act, World/Inferno Friendship Society. When the entire eight piece band was on stage, the first thing that came to mind was a goth Reverend Horton Heat. As soon as they started playing, moshing erupted. Those crazy Villanovy-ites were moshing, mimicking the singer, and tossing confetti in the air at key moments- as we later found out, most people were there to see World/Inferno and not Murder By Death. The thing about World/Inferno is that it's hard to describe their sound. It's easy to write them off as a ska band, because they are, but the overall effect of the suits, the hot percussionist, the accordian is really more like punk mixed with New Orleans funeral march. Well, all of them were wearing suits except the guitarist, who looked like a much taller, much more bored Slash. Indeed, it did not look like he was having much fun. The rest of the band was hardcore into it, from shoutbacks to dancing, to just generally looking not bored. The singer was fairly amusing in between songs, sometimes telling funny anecdotes. They were a tight act, just blazing through their set and they are reccomended to be checked out.

And then it was the damndest thing I saw. They got called on to play an encore. The opening band did an encore, and it didn't seem entirely like the standard encore! That's just weird. And cool.

Murder By Death's set was way cool, though they didn't have somebody playing keys, which is a big part of their sound. And also slightly confusing, since they soundchecked the keyboard. They played mainly from their last album, but they also lifted material from that one album they released as Little Jou Gould. And they brought out a new song, loosely based on pirates, which was pretty cool. Then they debuted a song from their forthcoming album, about the fourth circle of Hell. It was quite kickass. The frontman had some nice back and forth with the audience, especially when he asked for a Bic lighter to use as a slide, and seemed oblivious to how he was almost beamed with one. Though dissapointing because the crowd wasn't nearly as into Murder by Death as World/Inferno, and the lack of keys, the set was still really good, and Murder By Death is very much reccomended.

design help

If anyone could help me with the code so that the links aren't repeating, that'd be super. Please and thank you.

release "Time Fades Away"

Help release Neil Young's out of print record Time Fades Away. The album is a concert album, made after Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten's fatal overdose. It predates Tonight's the Night, often regarded as one of Young's greatest and darkest works, and the apocalyptic On the Beach, which was reissued after a petition for its release (but no one knows or gives a damn whether or not it helped, it still makes them feel good). So, here's where you can sign. Cool.

Sorry for the lack of updates- swamped by school. But I've given up now, so that's good. Coming soon: World/Inferno Friendship Society and Murder By Death at Villanova, Pennsylvania.