Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Everybodyfields and Nothing is Okay

To anyone who enjoys the Everybodyfields (and to everyone else, I highly recommend them), i learned recently that their new album Nothing Is Okay, which I posted a couple months ago, consists of songs the two main members Sam and Jill wrote about each other over a period of a couple of years after they broke up. These songs are reflections on their past together, their feelings about each other and trying to reconcile with the breakup. Knowing this makes listening to these songs an even better experience. Here are a couple of Youtube interviews with them in which they explain the songs a bit.

Monday, July 28, 2008

José González - Veneer

I am not sure if I have already posted this or not. While I was in Sweden I tried to discover a lot of music from that region, of course I knew of Jose but it wasn't until I was in his homeland that I gave him a real listen. Seeing his hometown of Gothenborg it gave me a sort of understanding of his music. This album to me is very good, even though it got ok reviews. A Norwegian girl I met in Genoa gave me a big list of Scandinavian artists to listen to, and dont worry once I find and sort through it I will post it. Anyways here is the album. Favorites are the cover of "The Knife" song Heartbeats, Stay In The Shade, and Deadweight On Velveteen Here.

Why? - Oaklandazulasylum

Here is a previous album from this lyrical genius from Cincinnati. If you are into hip/hop (even a little) check this stuff out. Why? is a band, not just a DJ and MC (not that, thats a bad thing), but there is quality music to go along with the insane and quotable lyrics. Here. I suggest Early Whitney and Afterschool America.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Sorry for the lack of posts, getting back into the swing of things (I.E. a job) has stunted my free time. Also the wireless router in my house cuts out the internet connection for about 30 seconds every 5 minutes, making it impossible for me to download or upload anything on the site. I am working on fixing these problems ASAP.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Back Home

I have arrived back home to cincinnati today, look forward to some posts from me in the next few days. Thanks to dusty for a hell of a job, and doing it all alone i might add.

Fred Thomas - Sink Like a Symphony [2006]

Fred Thomas is the singer and songwriter of Michigan-based group "Saturday Looks Good to Me." While SLGTM's music might be described as emotional and lovelorn (at least until their latest release "Fill Up the Room" which had more versatile lyrical content), Fred Thomas' recent solo record is more spiritual, trying to come to terms with the world and find-- as Fred himself once told me when I met him at a show-- "some universal understanding." He has always been a remarkable lyricist with a knack for using bright images from everyday life to bring his songs to life. And he does this again here, except instead of drawing on stories from past loves, he draws more broadly on his life and observations of the world. Love, lost friendship, packing up and leaving things behind, death, the afterlife-- are all major themes in these songs, which he somehow weaves together into bittersweet transcendence.

Thomas' music is a bit polarizing. Some are turned off by his quivering, uneven voice, while others love it for this very reason.

If you like this song by him - Apples on the Floor.mp4

then you will probably like this album - Sink Like a Symphony

Monday, July 14, 2008

New Bonnie Prince Billy and M83 albums

Here are a couple of new albums from some old favorites of mine. I just got them so I can't recommend or critique them. But from these groups' history of great music and from the reviews these albums got, I think it's a safe bet.

M83 - Saturdays=Youth

(links aren't mine, let me know if they break)

My Favorite Song of All Time of the Day

This may shock you: more Avett Brothers. I was re-listening to Four Thieves Gone today, which is a really cool, live session album. The liveness is reflected in this song, "Left on Laura, Left on Lisa," which is my current favorite song. The whole thing is rough and amazing. The lines

And I gave to you my ugly brown coat
You made it pretty when you put it on


So I’m going back to the place where we met
I’m going to find the beer bottle we left
Wedged in the limbs of the tree that we sat in
Wedged in the magnolia tree

are perfect.

Get this song here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Stills - Logic Will Break Your Heart [2004]

In addition to having one of the great titles of all time, this is one of the better albums of the last few years. At least half the songs on this album are brilliant and the album is really cohesive. The Stills combine elements of fellow Canadian musicians Neil Young (in their songwriting and alt-country influence) and Wolf Parade (synthesizers and frantic pace). And there are definite similarities with another indie / alt-country group, Midlake. As a sidenote, I thought the follow-up to this album-- "Without Feathers"-- was pretty disappointing.

Get it here.

Jogging Playlist

Been running a lot lately, good way to pass the time when life throws a lull at you. For me, a good playlist can make running downright fun... you forget about the pain in your side, the lack of oxygen, and the general desire to just stop moving, and instead get lost in the music. For anyone who likes to run here is my most recent playlist, which is one of the better jogging playlists I've made. Download it here

1. The Turnbull AC's - Tek 9s and Cadillacs
2. The Stills - Changes are no Good
3. Radiohead - Jigsaw Falling into Place
4. Neil Young - White Line
5. The Smiths - Nowhere Fast
6. The National - Apartment Story
7. Pavement - Zurich is Stained
8. Midlake - Head Home
9. The Wrens - Surprise, Honeycomb
10. Morrissey - Why Don't You Find out for Yourself
11. Wolf Parade - We Built Another World
12. French Kicks - Crying Just for Show

(The songs probably aren't in order, so you'll have to order them in iTunes or whichever program you use.)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Swearing at Motorists - Last Night Becomes This Morning [2006]

This is one of my favorite albums of the last few years. I saw this band open up for The Wrens a couple of years ago in Cincinnati, Ohio and was really impressed by them. The band is really just one very eccentric guy named Dave Doughman who looks a tiny bit like a hippy version of Weird Al Yankovic (but cooler, thank god). He has a great rock voice and stage presence and is an excellent song writer as you will notice if you give this album a listen. 3/4 of the songs on this album are sheer pleasure. One interesting sidenote: Doughman, although from Ohio, immigrated to Germany and has lived there already several years. You can see the European influence on his lyrics, as the images and even names of places often reference Europe. My favorite songs are Northern Line, Waterloo Crescent, Timing Is Everything, Time Zones and Area Codes, Not Tonight, Done in a Hurry, Lost Your Wig (damn, that's half the album, I couldn't limit it down any more, I tried). Here

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Cat Stevens - Tea for the Tillerman [1970]

Cat Stevens music is something I grew up with and have always loved. While so much music these days is cryptic beyond recognition (especially in the indie realm), Cat Steven's songs are simple, yet intelligent. His voice has a uniquely gentle quality, which gives his music a very peaceful mood. From listening to his music, it's no surprise that he later became devoutly religious and a Muslim leader (changing his name to Yusif Islam). It is too bad that he renounced his former music and career. To me, this music is in keeping with the spirit of religion. Even if it doesn't discuss God or spirituality outright, there is definitely something spiritual in it. This is the type of music that can stay with you your whole life. It's popularity hasn't waned too much since the 70's, as these songs continue to be played on the radio and copied by new artists (Sheryl Crow's "First Cut is the Deepest" for instance). This album is, to my knowledge, his best and most complete record. Enjoy (again the link isn't mine, let me know if it breaks).

River Phoenix [1970-1993]

I first encountered River Phoenix in the film "Stand By Me," in which he was 15 years old. This movie propelled him into a successful acting career and has become a minor modern classic. In my opinion, Phoenix successfully established his on-screen persona in that film and from then on it didn't change much. He was always simultaneously very human, unassuming, and inexplicably charming, with some deep and distant quality. He was one of the few Hollywood actors with real character and personality. Comparisons have been made to Johnny Depp and even to James Dean. In fact, River Phoenix reminds me a lot of a modern day James Dean, both in the way that he carried himself and in the way his life turned out.

Phoenix died in 1993 of a drug overdose while at the peak of a promising career. He was starting to get a lot of recognition and he still seemed to be maintaining his individuality and sincerity through all of that. He was doing a lot of independent and experimental films, the likes of "Dogfight" and "My Own Private Idaho." These things don't explain the drug addiction or possible depression which apparently were plaguing him around the time of his death. I think his problems were connected with his family history. When he was very young his parents were in a cult and moved to South America for a few years. Phoenix made allusions several times to the possibility that he was molested or abused in this cult, having said that the cult is "disgusting...they're ruining people's lives." Perhaps this is what led to his drug problem and to his unexpected death.

When he overdosed he was in the company of his brother Joaquin, sister Rain and actress Samantha Mathis. The entire Phoenix family, by the way, seem to have been child prodigies, like something out of a Salinger story. Joaquin Phoenix has gone on to have, arguably, an even more successful career than River Phoenix (although most would agree he lacks the mysterious charm of his brother) and the three girls in the family are involved in acting and rock bands. The entire family are activists for different causes, most notably of P.E.T.A. (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), to which both River and Joaquin significantly contributed. River Phoenix himself also was a musician and wrote a fair number of songs, many of them for his band Aleka's Attic (see below for YouTube videos of this music).

River Phoenix acted in upwards of 11 films and I've seen only about half of them. Of the films I've seen, his most notable roles were in "Stand By Me" (1986) and "Dogfight" (1991). "Dogfight," which is possibly my favorite movie of all time, is about a young guy in the marines (Phoenix) who is in San Francisco for one last night before being shipped out to Vietnam. He meets a homely but sweet girl who is fond of folk music. They spend the evening together walking around and talking. Although he initially asked her out as a joke, he eventually falls in love with her and she changes his outlook on life a bit. And then he leaves. It's a really good film and definitely worth seeing and Phoenix does the best 89 minutes of acting I may have ever seen. That same year Phoenix starred in "My Own Private Idaho." I just watched this film and I can't say I liked it much. He was interesting in it, but the film itself, which is considered avant-garde, dealt with themes of gay prostitution and homelessness and made for a pretty rough watching experience without many redeeming qualities.