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