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The thought of missing Bob Mould playing Sugar’s Copper Blue never entered my mind.  At the time I ordered the ticket I hadn’t even heard Bob’s new album, Silver Age, but over the past few weeks I’ve been listening to it non-stop in the car, and wow, it’s the best thing since 1996′s Bob Mould album.  Listening to both together was pretty fantastic.

The show can be summarized as loud, energetic, frenetic and kinda mesmerizing.

The band came out, Bob smiled, waved, put on his guitar and proceeded to tear through the entire Copper Blue album without talking or taking a break.  Just hearing him start in on ‘The Act We Act’ honestly gave me goose-bumps, and a sinister grin started to appear on my face.  Like, “yeah that’s right, I’m seeing this and my friends in other cities aren’t”.  I’d seen Bob play his solo work before, but never really expected to experience a timeless Sugar album played in front of me.  It was done with precision, and emotion… he sounded just as mad on ‘The Slim’ as he did recording it 20 years ago (fuck, 20??).  Screaming and spitting out the lyrics over the surprisingly loud guitar work.

Then with an awesome ‘Man On The Moon’ the album ended, cheers erupted.  He sure played the hell out of it.  He smiled, said “hi” to the crowd, introduced the band (Jason Narducy/bass, Jon Wurster/drums), said a few more words and BOOM, off into Silver Age we went!  Again no breaks, played the whole thing with only seconds between songs.  There was even more speed and intensity for this album, but that’s when it hit me, this album is closer to his punk days than anything he’s done since his Hüsker Dü days.  I didn’t really get that during the 2 weeks of non-stop of listening, but seeing it performed made it quite clear.  He was jumping around drenched with sweat, screaming lyrics at the mike, it was great.  He then played a few songs for the encore, and honestly I couldn’t make them out, so I’m thinking they were Hüsker Dü songs since that’s the one catalog I’m not fully fluent in.

I remember listening to an interview with him on a bonus disc for The Last Dog And Pony Show where he essentially said that he wasn’t going to tour anymore after that album because seeing a 50 year-old man jumping around on stage would be silly.  I’m very glad he rethought that.  Only 4 stops left on this tour, get out to see him if you can.

4.75/5

Wow do I enjoy this Grimes album, Visions.  It’s infectious and exceedingly pleasing to listen too.  The album starts out with “Infinite Love Without Fulfillment” which contains simple Casio-ish beats and an airy, echo-y, high-pitched female voice dancing around your head.  Those two qualities essentially set the tone for the entire album.  However, all songs are different, catchy and very danceable (I’m assuming, I don’t dance), but each has its own distinct feel, be it an ethereal/ambient sound, a twist on 80’s synth, or a lightly industrial vibe.  It all ties together in a cohesive and very strong album.  Grimes is on the 4AD label and that fits, because I can see hints of fellow label mates like Cocteau Twins, Blonde Redhead and others throughout.

For me all tracks are strong, but I do have a few highlights, such as “Eight”, with its deep and distorted bass voice simultaneously mixed with the pixie-like main vocals swinging back and forth.  Then “Circumambient”, which has deeper beats and a more serious tone about it.  Most tracks tend to be whimsical, but when she wants to convey somber emotion, she succeeds.  The last two tracks on the album, “Skin” and “Know the Way” slow way down and reflect a more poignant side of Grimes, with “Skin” being my absolute favorite on the album, it’s beautiful.

I originally thought Grimes was a “band” or at least a duo since it seems all bands are duos now, but no… it’s one person, Claire Boucher of Canada.  I only found that out after having listening to the album for a month straight, I then watched a video of a live performance by Grimes at KEXP and it was one 23 year old woman sitting on the floor surrounded by equipment that she’s constantly tweaking while singing.  Nothing makes me feel more worthless than watching a self-taught musician following and achieving their dreams so successfully before even hitting their mid-20’s.  But I’m not bitter, I’ve achieved a lot in my 40ish years, like… I’m really good at edging my lawn.

This is the first full-length album from Grimes and it’s one of the year’s best, a must have album.

Here is a great version of “Genesis”:

But I really encourage you watch this live 3 song set that was recorded at KEXP:

Record Store Day 2012

The guy in the flannel annoyed me.

Wow how the time flies.  Well it was Record Store Day yesterday, I haven’t even played all the stuff from last year!

Last year I chose to wait in line at Jackpot Records, but they didn’t open until 10, so I thought I’d try Music Millennium who opened at 8.  But also because they’re a good store, and they said they’d give out coffee and donuts to people in line starting at 7.  As I drove by at 7:05 and looked at the line literally 100 deep, I assumed they all liked free coffee and donuts too.  Forget that.  So I headed back downtown to Everyday Music to check on that line, only about 15 people, woo hoo!

I waited in line for about 45 minutes, then about 5 till 8 the guy came out to say that people would be limited to one copy of things and that they will replenish the stock every hour on the hour, meaning you can’t ask them for something if you don’t see it, you just have to wait until the next drop.  This added to the need to get what you wanted quickly before others see it.  The doors opened at 8 and there were about 50/60 people in line.  Have you ever seen footage of those UN food distributions to refugee camps where people are killing each other for any scrap of sustenance?…  This is 8:01 on RSD.  It’s annoying, but you have to fight for it if you want it.  People were nice though, “if anyone sees the Bonnie Prince Billy can you hand it to me?”  And it was summarily handed.  Enough talk though, what did I end up with?…

Feist is just OK with me, but combined with Mastodon?… well I had to have it.  She covers them, they cover her, both are pretty good actually.

Nice little song.  And it’s etched ‘n all.

Although it didn’t end up on many people’s 2011 “best of” lists, I liked Codes And Keys, so I picked this up.

I don’t know what Atmosphere is, but it features Aesop Rock, who I LOVE, so I got it.  I  haven’t listened to it yet though, the vinyl is just to pretty to potentially mess up.

I really don’t know why I got this.  I guess I thought it would be nice to listen to UT on a phono, just seems like one of those bands.

I have nothing but respect for Brendan Benson, so I grabbed this.  Plus, what a cute photo eh??

I snatched this on the assumption that ‘Kiss Them For Me’ was the Siouxsie and the Banshees tune.  And if so, School of Seven Bells would do a great job with that.  Perhaps I should actually listen to it to find out?…

And here’s the last one…  I almost bought this at the Social Distortion show, but I’m glad I waited, because this one not only has cool green vinyl, but also was one of the ones that came with a poster signed by the band!  Half were signed, I picked wisely.

So there you have it, I wanted more, there were tons of interesting things out there.  But at just north of $100, I had enough.  And after 15 minutes of being crammed in with 50 other dudes, I threw in the towel.  My guess is some of the things I want are still out there though, as I found RSD stuff for weeks after last year.  Also, I got a neat RSD bag with a bunch of sampler CDs, stickers, buttons, etc.  Fun way to spend a nice Saturday morning.

Wow.  So this is the 4th time I’ve seen TMBG in 4 different decades.  1988, 1994, 2009, and now 2011.  When I 1st saw them in 1988 it was just the 2 Johns with a guitar, accordion, keyboard and a looping machine.  It was great and simple fun, but every time since they’ve been supported by a superbly talented band.  I think people are a little surprised when they come to find their fun and quirky songs can get a bit rockin’ in person.

The show was sold out, so it was packed.  But it’s a big venue so we were still able to see just fine and the sound mixing was perfect so it was clear, crisp and loud.  And I wish I could go over what their set list was, but honestly, they’ve been around 26 years and have had about 18+ albums so even though I’m a huge fan, I didn’t recognize about a 1/3 of their songs.  That being said I loved it all, all the songs sound more full when I hear them live.  And they change them up, like for “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” they started off with a single slow guitar and then sped it up to a frenetic speed before entering the main tune, similar to The Who’s “Pinball Wizard”.  The crowd really went wild for “Birdhouse In Your Soul”, which you’d expect, but that’s fine because even though it’s their most famous, it’s quite good.

I take good pictures.

However, my absolute favorite part of the night was them playing “Fingertips” from Apollo 18.  I had the largest smile on my face that I’ve had in 3 years.  I’ve always wanted to hear that live, and it finally happened.  They played all 21 parts PERFECTLY!  And, you could tell who didn’t really know the band because they didn’t know what the shit was going on with the 5-10 second songs stacked on top of each other.  Awesome.  The next songs I’d like to hear are “I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die” from They Might Be Giants and “Dinner Bell” from Apollo 18.  When leaving I heard people saying, “I wanted to hear “Particle Man””, “I wanted to hear this, that, etc. etc.”  But see that’s the thing, you HAVE to go see them every time they’re in town because they have decades of good stuff to rotate.

So to sum up, a fantastic show as always.  I’m assuming they’ll never stop making great/fun music and touring, so I’ll never stop seeing them.  Till death do us part, Johns.

Taj Mahal is an American treasure.  Period.  I’ve wanted to see Taj for almost 30 years, and I recently got my chance at the Oregon Zoo’s concert series.

I was introduced to Taj Majal in the 70’s, when I was a wee lad, my parents used to listen to De Ole Folks At Home and Giant Step all the time.  Also, I grew up in a Midwestern city steeped in a history of jazz & blues, so before I was an indie music snob I was a blues lover simply because it was all around me.  Even as a teen I think it was rare for someone who counted Skinny Puppy and Ministry as their favorite bands to also be listening to Taj Mahal, and I feel good about that.  I have most of his catalog, and much of it on vinyl (blues sounds awesome on vinyl, and any pops and hisses only add to it).  And honestly I wouldn’t pigeonhole Taj as simply blues, he’s always pushed boundaries, and really, focused on all types of traditional black music styles.  Soul, folk, gospel, African etc.

The show started with Joan Osborne, I knew her name, and I’d come to find out that she did that song in the mid-90s that went like “what if god was one of us?…”  There are musicians that I don’t like because I’m just not into their sound or type of music, then there are the ones like her that are just painfully bad.  It was like a bad Bonnie Raitt impersonator with laryngitis.  Sultry bluesy rock badness.  Uhg.  Sorry for the negativity.

Then Taj came out.  We were on the lawn about halfway back, and that was fine for a few songs, but he was so good we had to move up to the front.  He was touring as the Taj Mahal Trio, and even with only two others his sound was full and rich.  He’s not the type of blues man to sit on a chair and just strum a guitar (although there’s nothing wrong with that), he was up and moving around and was into the music as much as everyone in the crowd.  And at 69, his energy and voice sounded the same as it did on his late-60’s recordings, it was great to hear.  He did a lot of songs that I was hoping to hear, and even broke the banjo out for a few.  “Corina”, “Fishin’ Blues” & “Queen Bee”, he didn’t disappoint.  There are very few blues men like Taj still with us.  Get to see Taj when you can if you have any interest in blues at all.  And if you need an album to get you started, you can’t go wrong with the ones I mentioned above, as well as Taj Majal and The Natch’l Blues both from 1968.

As for the venue, it’s really nice and beautiful outdoor setting.  You can bring in your own food, and buy wine (by the bottle even!) or beer there.  But they need to chill out with the “no photos, even with your smartphone” scare tactics, get with the times already people.  As you can tell I didn’t heed their warnings, heh.  After the show I wanted to buy his latest album on vinyl but didn’t have enough money, but I did have enough to get an autographed picture!

The unpacking...

About 3 weeks ago I got my “Newspaper Album” of The King Of Limbs.  I had kind of forgotten what I thought was so special about it for me to pay $45 and wait months to get.  So the unboxing was kind of an uncharted adventure, what exactly was in there, was it neat stuff, was it worth the time waiting and money spent?  For those of you who didn’t order one, let’s explore together…

The description is as follows:
• Two clear 10″ vinyl records in a purpose-built record sleeve.
• A compact disc.
• Many large sheets of newspaper artwork, 625 tiny pieces of artwork and a full-colour piece of oxo-degradable plastic to hold it all together.
• The Newspaper Album comes with a digital download that is compatible with all good digital media players.

The 1st thing you see is the ” full-colour piece of oxo-degradable plastic to hold it all together”.  I didn’t really want to cut through it, thereby ruining it, but I had to see what was inside (plus I checked on eBay and so far they were selling below face value, not that I would part with it!).


Interesting news?

Next I pulled out the “many large sheets of newspaper artwork”.  Interesting.  Nothing really caught my eye all that much, but interesting nonetheless.

Hey... I've seen those little pieces of paper before!

Alright, now we come to the CD (which I forgot was included) cool,  and the “625 tiny pieces of artwork”…  or as most people know them, tabs for acid.  Because I don’t have 12 straight hours to be high (anymore) I don’t do acid, and was expecting something different for my 625 pieces of art.  But whatever.

Me likey.

OK, so I totally forgot that the vinyl was clear.  Done.  Worth the money.  That’s just cool.   I really enjoy the design on the “purpose-built record sleeve” too.

So yes, it’s  a neat package altogether and I’m glad I got it!

4.25/5

A few weeks ago I went to Everyday Music to get the new Beastie Boys album, which I was hooked on after seeing the most awesomest movie they just made…  But they didn’t have it and said that they weren’t sure when the LP was going to be out, even though Millennium Music said they had it.  OK whatever, but because I can’t leave a record store without buying something, I saw TV On The Radio’s Nine Types Of Light and grabbed it.  Now, you should know that I really didn’t like their 1st 2 albums.  However, I fell head over heels for their last album, Dear Science which incidentally was my favorite album that year, a true sign that I will always keep an open mind when bands I thought I didn’t like release new albums.

Nine Types Of Light has a familiar groove and sound as Dear Science, so anyone who enjoyed that album will most definitely enjoy this as well.  I found the songs to be bursting with music, I don’t think they could sound any fuller or pack anything else into them.  Horns, strings, guitars, electronic, drums, etc.  That’s a great thing.

It starts out with one of the best and most heartfelt songs on the album “Second Song”.  A beautiful love song (with a beat), that only TVOTR can do.  It starts off fairly mellow but quickly builds to a good grove, with the vocals hitting their trademark falsetto in no time at all.  A fantastic start to the album.  The actual second song “Keep Your Heart” is a bit weaker in my opinion, it’s a fine and pretty song, but the lyrical stylings of the low meandering vocals grow tiresome.  But that’s about it, I really think the rest of the album it quite solid.  It switches back and forth between songs that are mellow to more uptempo tracks pretty much the entire album, really keeping the listener on their toes.  However even with that switching there’s a consistent flow to the album with each song rolling logically from one to the next.  And as with Dear Science, there’s a lot of emotion here.  They have really perfected the art of giving their music a seriousness and a certain weight to it without being too preachy or becoming a downer.

I enjoy the 2nd half of the album best, with the combination of the touching rock infused “Will Do” and ending with one of the louder tracks “Caffeinated Consciousness”.  This album has such a wide variety of sounds, instruments and quite importantly, emotions… it really keeps the replay value quite high.  It doesn’t seem like Nine Types Of Light has had the hype of their last effort, which upsets me, this is a very, very good album.  I hope you, and others, pick it up and enjoy what a solid and creative outfit TVOTR has become.

Here’s the excellent (both in song and video) “Will Do”.

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