Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Video!

Eric & Magill "You Make It So Good" from Liam Mitchell on Vimeo.

You didn't see it here first, but this is the brand spankin' new video from Eric & Magill, who have done more awesome things in the past year than I have this century. I was inspired by the kid in this video and used him as a model for a couple of frames in the comic I'm drawing for a final project. This is my favorite kind of music video: the kind where the band isn't playing their instruments. This is even better because Eric and Ryan don't even make an appearance.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Alabama Shakes

This is probably one of the best bands I've come across recently. They released a 4-song ep earlier this year, marrying a great combination of delta blues, soul, and rock. I am eagerly anticipating a full length.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Oh, I Forgot

"The one that loves the most is at the mercy of the one that loves the least."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Also, Damien Jurado is working on a new record with what looks to be Richard Swift. I've got a good feeling about this!

Glory Days, You're All Out!

I generally don't like cover songs. It's one of those quirky things, that I don't really know how to explain. I'd like to say nobody should sing them ever, but I've heard too many good covers to be that extreme.

I think that a good cover should somehow capture the best parts of both the person/group covering it and the original. A good cover shouldn't sound exactly like the original, but it also shouldn't venture so far away that it bastardizes the original message either. Let's use Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah" as an example of a great cover. His voice alone is enough to make his version magical, but the instrumentation is also wildly different. Buckley's electric guitar is a far cry from Cohen's original synths, drums, and choir.

Another cover that I would call one of the ballsier I've heard is Cush's version of Prince's "I Would Die 4 U". It takes Prince's classic Minneapolis Industrial Dance sound and turns it on its head by stripping it down to an Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? style spiritual with only an acoustic guitar, country organ, and a dusty voice for most of the song (the solo is banged out on a typewriter). The result is something almost unrecognizable from the original. I had a roommate that was a big Prince fan and not even he recognized it until after many, many listens.

Old Derek Brown posted this version of a Springsteen song today and, although my first reaction was that he was trespassing on sacred ground, I think it's a fine example of how to properly cover a song.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Speed Trials.

I don't remember this album getting very much play when it was released, but I think it's one of Jurado's better recent efforts; much stronger than St. Bartlett, in my opinion.

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Love is Like Alaska

My friend Jeremy knows how to write songs. He gets distracted by remixing reggae dance tracks and making watches, but if he was more bohemian (or arrogant) he could have been somebody you've heard of.

He is releasing his double album, Divider/Destroyer, next week at Cause Soundbar. It's a departure from what he had mostly done in the past. Luckily, last month, he also released the North ep, which sounds more like what he usually does, whatever that means. Under all that reverb and (gasp!) auto tuning, there are beautifully mature songs that most songwriters could only dream about. Except for maybe that club version of "The Scientist".

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rosie Thomas Says It Best

It isn't melodrama when it's true, right? "I'm still in love, why aren't you?"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Line 6 DL4 and IMPROVED!

This starts with a metaphor: This device looks broken and useless to some most people. but others might see that could be under repair. I'd like to think that as broken and messy as I feel, I'm actually getting better somehow.

This was the first piece of equipment that I owned that made me feel like I was getting serious as a musician. I could be wrong, but I think this predated my first tube amp (a 4x10 Fender DeVille that I just sold for stupid cheap to my friend Jeremy). It always made me feel cool when I'd go see some of my favorite touring bands and they'd have the exact same piece of equipment that I had.

You're given a bank of over a dozen modern and vintage delay sounds that you can adjust the tones of as well as an accessible looper option. Once you get a sound you like, you can save it into one of the three presets and access it whenever with the push of a button.

Looking back, while I may have been able to justify using this back then, I certainly didn't use it correctly. One of the hang ups of the DL4 is that it's not easy to fiddle with. Even the slightest adjustments need to be saved, and it can become a tedious process. I never developed subtlety, either, so when we'd play a show at the Mews, I'd get frustrated that I couldn't ear myself and make adjustments so the delays were obnoxiously loud and repeated five or six times longer than necessary.

When I'd hear David play, his command of this seemingly untamable device always amazed me. Even his spazzy delay sounds were musical and controlled. I found out that he spent hours learning the specifics of each control and working to make each sound exactly what he wanted for each song. I just didn't have that kind of foresight, let alone patience.

Some people think that the sounds of some of the delays, especially the tube-or-tape-based echos, can't hold a candle to the real devices that they're modeled from. To this I will concede any number of points from immediate interactions to subtleties in the warble of actual tape. However, I will say that, even though the DL4 isn't inexpensive per se, it costs less money than almost any one of the
vintage units that it models. Prickett writes that when playing music, it's much more important to use what works, what's available, and what you're comfortable with. So if you have an actual tape echo, by all means use it. If not, don't think that not having one is going to prevent you from sounding great.

I recently discovered a great new company out of Oklahoma and sent them my DL 4 to get some work done. It wasn't broken, so they weren't repairing anything. They did, however, have to take the whole thing apart in order to upgrade the switches and install new LEDs. I asked them to put on some cool new knobs, too, and they look sharp. I guess the important difference between an upgrade and a modification is that a modification changes a feature, or adds a new feature, to an existing device. An upgrade allows the device to do just what it did before only better.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

call it forgiveness

"here's to the few who forgive what you do, and the fewer who don't even care"

-the reverend leonard cohen

I think I'm going to start blogging about all the music equipment I've accrued and how much I don't know how to use it. Maybe I'll become so popular that A. Prickett will notice and tell me what I'm doing wrong.

Due up on this blog are showcases of my guitars and amps, some effects pedals I've bought and some I've built, a microphone or two, and some odds and ends that I'm pretty sure would be put to better use in someone else's hands.

On the off chance that you read this, I'm sorry.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why You're A Terrible Person

The first five minutes are the set up for the last three. It articulates how having good self perception doesn't always translate into being a good person.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Five Points

1. Thanks to this, mom wouldn't let us play with gravity anymore.

2. He missed the moped by about 15 feet.

3. I haven't seen anybody dropped that hard since my last girlfriend left me.

4.He should date Cecilia Lisbon.

5.I don't know why he's a tree hugger. It was the ground that broke his fall.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

no one defies artificial light

"maybe you try to be pretty instead of kind"

Saturday, August 13, 2011

An Old Yarn

Haunting and peaceful, like music to hang yourself to.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Good Quote

"Me, I want to bloody kick this moronic bloody world in the bloody teeth over and over till it bloody understands that not hurting people is ten bloody thousand times more bloody important than being right." -David Mitchell

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Here is a band that has been around for a while, but I've only just heard of via Velvet Blue Music. Awesome indie rock from Portland, OR.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Do, or Did, or Tried.

There is this place in South Minneapolis that buys and sells used jewelry, specifically the kind you're left with after your marriage falls apart. You go in there and you're greeted, nice enough, by staff that wear convoluted smiles belying the circumstances that brought you there in the first place. Even if you're there to buy, you're buying a ring that got hocked after somebody's divorce, and they don't try to hide this fact in their advertisements. Maybe I'm being sensitive, but the place was depressing in the same way Dollywood probably is.

It's really uncomfortable when the person helping you tries to make small talk and asks you about where you got the ring (an estate sale), how long you were married (never got the chance to propose), and how much you originally paid for it (a lot more than they offered to buy it from me for).

When you leave, the lady says, "I hope everything works out for you." And the rest of your weekend is spent trying to catch your breath, like you just got punched in the balls.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

At Least This Guy Left Me with a Mark

Of all the people that have hurt me, this guy is one of the only people to have put a cigarette out on my arm. It's True. I wish I had more - not better, just more - experiences with him. His voice kills me and I'm glad his happy making babies in Omaha.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Grand Poohbah

I love you is back.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Worst is Over

I remember when Cursive's "The Ugly Organ" was first released. Kyle Munson, of the Des Moines Register, gave it a glowing 5-star review and I went out and bought it immediately. It was one of those albums that wasn't quite like anything I had heard up to that point and, for a time, I listened to it all the time.

At least I thought I did.

I'm pretty sure that when this album came out, the closest that I had ever come to a broken heart was never meeting Stephanie from "Full House". I hadn't really dated anyone, so the subject matter of the album was ultimately lost on me.

Fast forward to today and I just got done listening to it for the first time in what must be, at least, 7 years. Most of the songs hit me in the gut like a sledgehammer, not just the music, but the narratives. The manic guitar that opens up the album is the perfect sound of the confused anger in my chest. Lyrics on songs like "the recluse", "driftwood", and "gentleman caller" brought tears to my eyes.

As much as I felt like I was hearing this album again for the first time, there was a genuine surprise: the final track called "staying alive". I honestly don't think I ever heard this one, although I must have. I just didn't remember it. The haunting chorus that closes the song, and album, singing "the worst is over" is what it must sound like when one passes into the afterlife.

My thoughts about it today are this: Even if the worst is over, there are still lingering effects of it. Think about the Jews that survived the holocaust. They survived, but now they have to live their lives trying to process the horrors that they lived through. Or, where I'm calling from, it's over, but that doesn't mean the damage is repaired.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Farewell, Shutterbug.

Peter and Sabrina took off today. We had ourselves quite a wild weekend. It was so hot and humid for most of it that I almost wish they stayed another night so we could have relaxed out on the deck without sweating our balls off. Well, not Sabrina.

Peter took a zillion pictures and at least half of them are awesome. I only saw about 10% of the ones he took because he is, apparently, really sneaky when he takes pictures. A bunch of candid shots, for sure.

Last night I took them to a bunch of Uptown bars and tried to share a story about each one. They tried sake for the first time at Moto-I and we all had our first Baked Potato Pizza at Pizza Luce. We over drank all weekend (especially Sunday) and last night we overate like real Americans. I barely made it through my classes today. I came home to find that they cleaned the place up real nice before leaving, which goes to show how sorry they must have been for keeping me entertained and preoccupied for four days and nights.

They are both real amazing people and I am so glad that, although I don't see them often, I can count them among my greatest friends.

The best surprise of the trip was David coming to town from Chicago, the same day that he got back from vacation in Peru with Allison. We posed for this ultra awesome picture in Northeast Minneapolis over by where I used to live. I think it's going to be the album cover the next time we have an album that needs to be covered. Stay tuned for that. I think we'll call it "Goin' My Way?".

Monday, July 11, 2011

Wash Away

My friends Peter and Sabrina are in town for a few days. Peter is the best photographer that I know. Except maybe for that guy that took that famous picture of Jesus. You can't tell from this picture, but I'm feeling pretty sad and lonely, but we're having a good time anyway.

David also came for the weekend, which took the awesomeness to a new level. We tried recording a song from start to finish. We didn't quite make it, but maybe it'll show up somewhere someday. Stay tuned.

We've listened to some Mountain Goats, Ride, and Wild Nothing this weekend. We're going to get some Lebanese for lunch and maybe some new tires for Peter's VW.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Long long gone

This is one of those songs that you hope never makes sense to you. And when it does, it makes you sad because you'd like to think that love is strong enough to overcome the hard times.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Breaking Up is Hard to Be Done To.

This song was real popular when it first came out. I don't think I ever heard it until this morning. There's a lot going on here, but I think that there's something to be said about it all. Something.

At a certain point you tell yourself that the best course of action is to try to remove yourself from what is happening. Try not to dwell on it, don't let it ruin your life. The pain doesn't go away, but it's not always there holding you down. There's things you want to say, but "fuck you" seems counter productive.

At a certain point she goes to far. She might be experiencing pain similar to yours, but she's a fighter. She's not going to fight for love, but she's going to fight to make you feel worse, worse than she feels anyway. And why not? When she's feeling bad, all bets are off. And then things get nasty. She's not interested in being civil and she's not interested in not saying anything that she can't take back.

So now you sit there, every morning, at the edge of your bed thinking: what does it all mean? And, this time, what really troubles you, is what you're afraid that the answer might be.

It doesn't mean anything.

Heaven can't offer salvation now because you gave your heart to a girl. Enjoy damnation, kid. I hope it was worth it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Bittersweet for the broken heart.

Art is the world's caged beauty. Caged by, like, frames and stuff. You know?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pornography and the Rapture

Well, as of right now the rapture of the Christian faithful hasn't occurred. I've wasted my morning listening to Together by the New Pornographers. I don't really care for it. It has it's moments where some parts are better than others, but nothing comes close to the jaw dropping awesomeness that is all over Electric Version and Twin Cinema, two stupidly good pop records.

I've always appreciated the name The New Pornographers. It really articulates one way people react to music, both in positive and negative ways. Plus, it gives mom a false perception of the music I'm listening to because, it just so happens that, pornography is a dirty four-letter word.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Here Comes the Balding Man

Honestly, I'm only the least bit interested in the Smashing Pumpkins anymore because Jeff Schroeder, guitarist for one of my long-standing favorite bands The Lassie Foundation, has started playing with them. That being said, I think that my assessment of the new Pumpkins' stuff is fairly accurate:

If it wasn't called The Smashing Pumpkins, you'd probably think it's a pretty good band. If Billy Corgan wasn't singing, it might be a pretty damn good band.

Some of it is more new-wave than the harder metalesque/doom-pop stuff that their known for. Think if they stayed with the idea of Adore and ran with it. I'm not wild about any of it, but I'm surprised at how not-bad it is.

Check it out here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Yes I Would, Bonar

"Kid October" - Haley Bonar from The Duluth Scene on Vimeo.

Amber and I got to see Haley Bonar on Friday for her second CD release show in less than a year. Last November she released "Leo", an instrumental e.p. that was a departure from her more traditional songstress sound, if only because she didn't sing actual words.

Friday celebrated the release of "Golder", a return to form and then some. Since 2008's "Big Star", Bonar started taking the singer-songwriter status quo and giving it a quick twist around the neck, adding lush layers of reverb and instrumentation to produce songs that instantly transport the listener to the Bonar's scene of the crime. This isn't to say that the songs wouldn't be just as good if she was playing them solo (as proved by the video), but with her backing band, she has managed to created something gently violent and beautifully devastating.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Decibully Farewell Record Review

Decibully has covered a lot of sonic ground on their five albums. Largely built around some sacred version of Americana - not quite country, not quite rock 'n roll - Decibully has never shied away from taking an adventurous step into new territory whether it be the spacey sounds dancing along with banjo on "Beyond Hope" from City of Festivals, the irish jigginess of "Megan & Magill" or the straight up, spot on barbershop quartet song "Temptation" from Sing Out America or almost everything from their epic World Travels Fast, Decibully has solidified their sound as only being loosely definable at best.

On their newest, and reportedly final, album, the mid-west's best band take a straight forward approach to the writing and production process. Considering that Decibully has consistently been surprisingly successful with their experimental sound, it is kind of jarring to hear so much restraint, especially after the balls-to-the-walls-of-sound of their last album.

Multi-instrumentalist/producer Ryan Weber said in an interview that the focus was making an album that sounded like the band does live. No fancy post-production tricks, no overdubs.

Almost every song on this album sounds like it would be perfectly comfortable being placed in the middle of one of the band's previous three albums. Song like "I Want" and "A Girl Like Her" sound like they could have been pulled off of City of Festivals. "Ain't Afriad of Nothing" could have been on Sing Out America and "Blood We Bleed", "Forever" and "Been There Before" would fit in nicely on World Travels Fast. However, taken together, these songs are something completely their own.

On its own, Decibully might not be the quintessential Decibully album. But when viewed in the context of the final album from the band, it is a fitting capstone and a treasure of a listen. The song writing has never been stronger and the genuine fun of the band's live show is easy to hear. Decibully is sure to continue making converts long after the band is gone. The only problem is that the album's closer "Been There Before" ends leaving the listener wanting one more for the road.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

So Long, Dear Friends

Decibully played their final show Saturday night at the Cactus Club in Milwaukee. I was unable to attend, but some dear soul recorded it and put it up online.

Their set plays like a highlight reel of the best parts of a relationship that is ending. It might be hard to come to terms with why something so good has to come to a close, but it's hard to feel sad, even though there won't be anymore music after this night. The only things that remain are smiles, good memories and five incredibly strong albums that will only get better with age.

Decibully has been one of my all-time favorites for a while now, but it's not just because of their music. Every member of Decibully, past and present, has been nothing short of an awesome dude. They have always been approachable, genuine and gracious when I've spoke to them. They are the same guys on and off the stage, and whether they're playing to 20 or 200 people. They all seem to get a kick out of living life and inspire me to do the same.

Best of luck to Aaron, Andrew, B.J., Kenny, Nick and Ryan as they continue on to the next stage of their lives. Stay wild!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Be A Man

You know how it's a thing now to insert some kind of peripherally masculine word inside another word to make it juvenilely more masculine? "Bromance", "Manscape", even one of my favorites: "Bro-out" are popular with the young kids. I was thinking about coining one of my own and I first thought of something like, "Girls think I'm attractive because of my GUY LASHES," but it didn't have the zing I was hoping for.

Then I came up with "Va-Guy-na". It's basically a MAN-gina, but I changed it so it's totally my own. "I pleasure the ladies with my large va-guy-na". No? Fair enough.

How about "Man-iscule"? It could mean something like a short dude or something.

Maybe "Oni-MAN-opia", a dude that looks the same forwards and backwards. Or maybe wears all of his close backwards?

Anyway, I can't sleep. Inso-MAN-ia.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Daytrotter: Monahans

Hey Kids,
Check out Texas band Monahans throwing down a pretty decent Daytrotter session from this week. Experimental Americana that's right up there with the best of them.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Surprise in Chicago

David forgot to leave the key, so if I left the apartment, I couldn't come back until he was back from work. Thus, I didn't leave until well after noon and wasn't in a hurry to get anywhere, except there was a bit of a chill and I hadn't worn a jacket. I went into the first store that I thought I could pass as a legit patron to warm up, Reckless Records in Wicker Park. I casually browsed records, just in case I came across anything special. Amber called and I paced the aisles talking with her, not in a hurry to go back outside without knowing where I was going. I became aware that the store had begin to fill with an unexpectedly large amount of people for a Friday afternoon. I was still talking with Amber and slightly disoriented and wasn't able to process what was happening. Was there a band preforming or something? I was just about to put Amber on hold to ask someone when I saw a poster advertising an in-store appearance by Patton Oswalt, of "The King Of Queens" fame. I interrupted Amber and demanded what time it was. "Uh, like 2:30," she said. "Why?" Patton Oswalt is reading from his new book in an hour, I told her. No biggie. Of course, I'm telling this to someone who was at SXSW at the time and was being entertained out the wazoo, so it's not like accidentally seeing a comedian read was going to make her jealous, like I secretly hoped it would.

I ended up hanging out by the stage at the back of the store for an hour and change. Oswalt came out and read a couple of quick pieces about Dungeons & Dragons and then took some questions from the adoring audience. One of the most impressive qualities about this guy is that he comes off as very non-exclusive and encouraging. You don't have to know a lot about him to know that he is very supportive of other comedians and his close group of co-workers seems to be deep and wide, rather than just the three other people you saw in "The Comedians of Comedy". More than half of the audience questions came from aspiring comics, and Oswalt was very encouraging and honest with his answers. He told one kid not to worry about delivering jokes like his favorite comics (Oswalt, Louis C.K. etc.) but to just get up on stage. Don't worry about the material, what you look like, anything. Nothing you can do at this point is going to effect your career for good or bad. Just get out there and get experience. It was a refreshing answer. I wonder how many times he's given it.

There was one kid up front that was filming, but when Oswalt realized what he was doing, he told him to stop. He was cool about people taking pictures and I think that I got a couple of keepers that I might put up here later.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Victory Explosions by Derek Brown

This is a pretty rad performance from the awesome Derek Brown at Word Stock in 2008. This poem is about reveling in the small victories when nothing seems to be going right.

This morning I'm thinking about how we attempt to manipulate the sun and stars by changing our clocks. Really, we're just manipulating ourselves. And also, our clocks.

Key lines: "I was skinnier than a dead model." and, later, "It was worth it."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Union Song

Hey Wisconsin,

Sorry that you're politicians don't care about the working class. I guess you'll think twice before electing a stranger again, won't you? Remember, they might have a bad rap from years of smearing and some unfortunate missteps in the past, but unions exist to protect the workers from being abused by management, even if the management is the government. Public workers' rights are being taken away in Wisconsin by a party that proclaims freedoms and liberties. This is just an example of conflicting ideologies that nobody wants to address and nobody is calling them out on it. My roommate, Jason, thinks you, the public workers, should have a general strike and raise some hell. Whatever happens, my hearts are with you, the Wisconsin workers. Union or not, this song is for you.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

If I Only Could

Hidden under all the layers of the 1980's, there is a fiercely beautiful song about love. This song kicks off Kate Bush's album "hounds of love". The album examines love as the typical beautiful thing that you're probably familiar with. Bush also articulates love as a terrible beast or monster that chases you through the night. I think that she brilliantly captures the dichotomy of the wonderful and horrible aspects of love. Love isn't a bad thing, but it has it's consequences. When you're really in love, you're no longer living for just yourself. When it comes for you, you had better be ready for it.

Key line: "you don't want to hurt me, but see how deep the bullet lies"

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Are You Still Mined?

"Love is my weakness and my weakness is strong."

This song is balls to the walls. Key line: "I'll fight like a son of a bitch for that which is mine". And...peel my jaw off the floor.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Lesson From The Boss

This song is a good example of the dichotomy between self-perception and self-awareness. Even when we think that we understand why we do the things we do, are we really aware of the consequences? How do we deal with misunderstanding or being misunderstood? What is intentionally kept hidden and what is unknowingly kept from others?

One line that hits me hard in this song is when he sings "...know just what I got in this good thing I've found." I'm not sure I know why though. There's a lot packed into every line of this song, but this line stands out to me.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Song Is You

"everyone dies in my movies. everyone dies ain't that beautiful? and all things blow up."
-all black cinema

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011


These are a couple of possible pieces that might be included in the art work for the Eric & Magill vinyl pressing. I really like Eric Hancock's scratchy pen style and both of the pieces capitalize on depth and perspective, two things I feel like I'm short on in my life right now.

Eric & Magill have reached their Kickstarter goal, so the record will get pressed fo-sho. You can still donate on their Kickstarter page for the next couple weeks (a $25 donation secures you a copy of the record, so you can just think of it as pre-purchasing it), so do so if you can and maybe they'll use the proceeds to do a tour or something.

Best of luck to those guys.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

If You Don't Love Me, Let Me Go.

I had the lyrics to part of this song stuck in my head the other day during class. I knew it was The Decemberists, but I couldn't place the actual songs, or which album it was on, or, even, the actual words. All I could remember was that it was exactly what I was feeling at the time.

I think the words I was trying to remember were "I am the heart that you call home" and "I have written pages upon pages trying to rid you of my bones". It didn't work, by the way. I didn't really want it to.

I went home and have been listening to Decemberists albums ever since. Once, I thought I had forgotten what I was looking for, and another time questioned if I would know the significance of the song to what I was feeling a few days ago. Luckily, it all came back when the song finally played. It was disarmingly beautiful and hope snuck up on me in a way I didn't think was possible anymore.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Velour 100 was a band that was around when I was young, but I never got into them as much as David. Every once in a while I'll pull out the albums I have a give them a listen.

Monday, February 14, 2011

On Critiquing and Appreciating.

Does critiquing something mean that you don't like it? If you don't wantonly love everything, does that make you a negative person? I'm not ridiculous enough to think that my opinion really matters, but I feel that cautiously warming up to books, music, movies, art, etc. is just as fulfilling and gratifying as being in love with everything. Personally, I think it saves me a lot of anxiety to not really expect much. I tried going around being disappointed with everything and I didn't really like how I felt. I tried to learn to take things as they are and leave my expectations out of it and I found that it was much more satisfying to enjoy something for what it was, rather than disliking it for what it was not.

Perhaps this has resulted in a detachment in, or a difficulty to be moved by, a lot of art. However, one must also take personality into account when judging such things. I am traditionally find much more joy in an honest conversation than I do in any song or movie or book. You know the way people hear a song and you can see on their face that they are moved; they are changed? I rarely get that way from hearing songs that I love. I get that way from talking intimately with someone I love.

Just because I don't light up and beam when I hear that song on the radio, doesn't mean I don't enjoy it. Just because I don't feel faint when I see a band I like play my favorite song in concert doesn't meant I'm not having a good time. If there is a problem, it probably stems from an expression of enjoyment, rather than the feeling of enjoyment.

What I try to write here on this blog concerns things that I enjoy and appreciate, mostly in terms of pop music. When I try to sound especially enthusiastic about something, I don't feel like I am actually saying what I feel about it, but rather I feel like I'm trying to write something so that somebody else might feel compelled to listen, based on something I said. In conversation, I don't readily feel this burden to convince someone else. Perhaps I don't come off as enthusiastic if I just say something like "I like this," but I'm usually oblivious to the fact that I'm supposed to be enthusiastic or risk sounding sarcastic.

That being said, I like this. I love you.

It looks like Radiohead is going to release another album. I hope that it's good. They really haven't done much for me since Kid A, but they're still a lot better than most stuff out there; even when they're disappointing. The new album is going to be called The King Of Limbs.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Faux Fir on Morning Blend

If you're going to do a morning show, wear your bathrobes! Faux Fir of Milwaukee plays some psycho keyboard pop and tries to get the ass out of bed shaking.

Warm Tone of "Americana" on Vinyl

I had a conversation with some friends about name brand and generic items a while ago. We discussed the products that we felt mattered to spend the extra money to get, what we perceived to be, necessarily better quality. These items included toilet paper, cotton swabs for the ear, and beer.

Some people, myself included, feel that vinyl is a superior medium for listening to music. But, unlike some, I am completely aware that this is nothing more than a perceived notion that doesn't really make it true. There are so many qualifiers that play into what you ear besides the actual item being played that it's hard to tell what factor is making one sound better than the other-if anything at all.

A crappy turntable is unlikely to sound better than a quality CD player. A CD and a record played on the same high quality system are even likely to have factors that will make them sound different. The quality of the record and the CD, the volume and tone levels will factor into what a person hears. This is all nitpicking, but I bring it up to acknowledge that I am aware that comparisons aren't always apples to apples.

However, I can say, in all honesty, that Starflyer 59's "Americana" sounds amazing on vinyl. I recently overpaid for a copy on eBay to fill in a gap of my collection and was floored by how good it sounded. It was much fuller and warm sounding than I had ever heard it and I don't even have a respectable sound system. Holy cow.

The only downside is that it came with a lyrics sheet, something that the CD did not, and now I know for sure that every last song is sad and hits very close to home. Six albums later, Jason Martin wrote a song with the line "Hey, man, did you write that for me? It sounds like it." which I took as something he was constantly asked by obnoxious fanboys. Now that I know what the words are on "Americana", I'm in the same boat as the fanboy.

"Please, say what you mean. You've got time for everyone but me. Don't tell me after how I feel"
And that's the whole song.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Green Line Overdrive by Smart People Factory

I'll admit two things. Less than two years ago, I had solidified a guitar playing philosophy for myself that submitted that I should use the fewest effects pedals as I could. Not including a tuner, I was thinking as little as two. I flirted with the idea of one, but felt completely justified using two: a rat distortion and a delay. I have the Line 6 delay modeler, so that's really like having three delays at once and access to a dozen others with the flip of a dial. It was a loophole I felt fine exploiting.

Then, I unfortunately began to appreciate the subtle differences between an overdrive and a distortion. Then, I began to appreciate all sorts of things and, before I knew it, I had myself a small collection of pedals. After a while, I tired to limit my purchases to pedal kits that I would build myself, but I recently broke that rule by scoring a Green Line overdrive off of ebay for less than $100.

I came to know this little guy by copying what I had read Jeff Schroeder used to record the Lassie Foundation album "Face Your Fun". Most of the effects were pretty standard, and some I already had. However, Schroeder wrote in the band's recording diary very flattering things about both the Green Line ("sounds really, really good) and the Boss OD-1 ("awesome fucking pedal!") which made me covet them. I also really want a Fender Bassman reissue, but don't have them dollars.

The Boss OD-1 was pretty easy to find on ebay. I even got a modified pedal that is more true to the original 80's circuit than later models. The Green Line, however, was a pain to find. On the Smart People Factory website, which is cleverly designed, there isn't a whole lot of ordering information and nobody responded to my email. I went out to the Pacific Northwest over the summer and came across a couple in some guitar shops. They were expensive and I was poor and there on somebody else's dime. Once every six months or so, for two years, I might come across one on ebay, but they'd always sell for more than I had or was willing to spend. Today, however, I finally lucked out.

There's always the chance that this will be a bust, and once I have the actual pedal, I won't really like it all that much. But who cares? At this point, after all I went through to get one, I'm going to love it like I would a bad movie. "Hey, it's not as bad as AIDS."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

$hare the Love

Eric & Magill are trying to raise money to press their album "All Those I Know" on vinyl. They're giving the record away for free on their bandcamp.com page, so the least anyone could do is cough up a buck or two to help them out.

They are offering some boss incentives: a $25 donation gets you a copy of the vinyl, so basically, you're just paying for the record that you bought, $250 gets you the record and they'll right a nice song about whatever you want. $500 will guarantee that the song is on their next record. A donation of $1 or more will get you a kiss on the lips from me.

This was one of my favorite records of 2010, and I'd love to see it get pressed on vinyls. Help them kids out!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I wasn't aware that there Ibanez made an amplifier based on their famous Tube Screamer overdrive pedal. Even more interesting, it's cheap as hell, especially for a tube amplifier. Sure, it looks like it is stripped down to the barebones of an amp, but it's still a tube amp and it costs just a little more than a Vox AC-4. Plus, there are two tone controls on the Tube Screamer amp, as opposed to the normal one of the Vox, or even the outrageously expensive Orange Tiny Terror amps.

I haven't got the chance to play one, so it might sound like crap. I was just surprised to find out that it even existed. And for not as much as you'd think.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Night Reports

2011 didn't have to wait very long for its first brilliant record. Recorded by Beau Jennings and Derek Brown, Night Reports' "You're All Out" is a somber, yet sharp record about a baseball player who plays worse the more he falls in love. Nearly every line is packed with heartbreaking baseball wit like "You are not like the others/ you're a swing and a miss". The analogies are heavy, but never feel forced or misplaced.

Musically, the album is largely simple piano, bass, and drum that deftly makes use of the simplicity of the ensemble. Similarly, none of the individual parts are particularly complex, but neither do the songs, or the album, ever seem boring. Think more sincere Ben Folds songs, only not really.

The most harrowing like comes from the song "Signal the Runner" in which Brown sings "the signal you were trying to send me was love. But I didn't get it, dear". This sums up the worst possible case for lovers, in my opinion. One tries to show the other how much they care, and it just doesn't get through. Not because the recipient is oblivious, but rather because they just don't understand.

The song "Hang On Me Darlin'" features Samantha Crain's beautiful singing and almost sounds like a discarded Decemberists song.

Billed as a "haunted baseball musical", "You're All Out" certainly delivers although in the most unexpected ways. It's a perfect album to listen to. It doesn't overwhelm with complexity but draws the listener in with ernest sincerity and honest emotion that is backed up with masterful talent.

The newsletter for Brown's WRITEBLOODY publishing label announced that this would be Brown's last venture into music without explanation. If true, it would certainly be a loss to music lovers, but I can't imagine a better way to go out. Bravo, Derek.

Listen here for free. Buy the album for $9. Type "haunted" in the coupon box and I think you get a good discount.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Riff Heavy

I was with Jeremy the other night forcing him to plug in a clone of the Marshall Shredmaster I made and gave him a few months earlier. It sounded great and he started playing some great Starflyer 59 riffs. We talked about how awesome it would be to start a Starflyer cover band that mostly played stuff from their first three albums (the shoegaze era). Oh, we'd dabble with songs from later albums ("Too Much Fun" from The Fashion Focus), but mostly it would be a riff heavy affair with loud guitars with too much (is there such a thing?) reverb and drums that are only there to keep time after kicking off songs with numerable, memorable, one-measure fills.

The idea sent me into a dizzy of excitement. Maybe it wasn't a sincere conversation. Maybe it was a side effect of the smoke inhalation. Regardless, I can't get the idea out of my head. I'm seriously considering learning about 10 Starflyer songs so I can play a complete set at will. I think the hardest part might be learning the actual lyrics instead of what I hear them to be. I probably won't be singing anyway.

I don't know how much of my soul school will suck out of my this semester, but if there is any measurable amount left at the end of the day, look for our Starflyer 59 cover band at a dive bar/rock club in the Twin Cities.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


There was a young man from Des Moines
Who was rich in friends if not coin.
And although no one asked
He announced to the class
That he found this poor lady annoying.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2010's Bestest

Off the top of my head, these are some end-of-the-year-awards and mentions.

Best New Artist: Eric & Magill

Best Band I Just Discovered That's Been Around A While: Antlers

Best Album: Aloha "Home Acres"

Best Iowa Band That Isn't The Envy Corps: Parlours

Best Band That Didn't Do A Reunion Tour: The Smiths

Best Band That Didn't Do Anything In 2010: The Lassie Foundation

Best Concert(tie): Decibully at The Cactus Club, Milwaukee. January 23rd. Broken Social Scene at First Avenue, Minneapolis. October 4th.

Best Album Cover: Jeff Beck's "Emotion and Commotion" (This is also the best album title, kids. Ever.)

Best Band That I Couldn't Think Of A Clever Award To Give: Wild Nothing

Best Song Writer: Doug Burr

Best Project: "One Single Released Each Month And Offered As A Download" by Monahans

Best Artist That I Briefly Thought Was Marcy's Playground Playing On The Jukebox At A Bar: David Bowie

Best Bands With Disappointing Releases(tie): New Pornographers "Together" and The Arcade Fire "Suburbs".

Best Unheard Album:"Divider" by Secret Panels (I'm not sure if this was actually released. Stay Tuned.)

Best Hip Hop Record: Lunaversol9 "A Novel Slur"

Album That Grew On Me The Most(tie): "Suburbs" by The Arcade Fire; "Wild At Heart" by Lookbook