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Archive for the ‘The Replacements’ Category

[POSTPONED: June 16, 2020] Bright Eyes / Lucy Dacus [moved to July 29, 2021]

indexI’ve never been much of a fan of Conor Oberst.  Although after seeing him in Better Oblivion Community Center, I gained a new respect for him and foudn I actually liked him.

I don’t know a lot about Bright Eyes (except that the songs sound strangely like The Replacements to me).  I wasn’t planning on going to this show (even though Steelstacks is a cool venue).

However, I kept getting notifications that Lucy Dacus was playing at Steelstacks.  I have seen Lucy a couple of times and would be more than happy to see her again.  When I got the notification, I assumed it meant she would be playing inside in one of the smaller venues (which would be outstanding).  I didn’t realize it was because she was opening for Bright Eyes.

This show was in fact postponed until next July–over a year away.  I have no idea what my calendar will be like then, but I think maybe by next July, I could be ready for Conor and Lucy again.

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[ATTENDED: April 2, 2019] Better Oblivion Community Center

I’m not often on the pulse of what is trending in music.  Sometimes I’m ahead, often I’m not all that interested.  But every once in a while it converges.  And thus on April 2 I was part of one of the hippest crowds in town.

I got there pretty early as I knew it was sold out (it sold out very quickly).  And I was standing pretty close to Pheobe Bridgers.  Earlier this year, I did not get to see the boygenius shows (they didn’t come close enough to us).  But I have seen each of the women solo twice (this is my second Bridgers show and yes, it counts).

There was a photo-op when you walked in.  A life-size cutout for you to take an ID photo for the BOCC.  I declined to do that, but I did get the fun squeezable stress-house.

The band came out and they started playing songs from the album.  I didn’t know the album all that well (I was amazed at how many people knew all the words), but I’d enjoyed what I’d heard.   I expected a kind of folk-rock show.  I was in no way prepared for how much the show rocked and how much fun the show would be.  There were even beach balls thrown around! (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 1, 2018] Evan Dando

Back in 2015 I saw that Evan Dando was playing at the New Hope Winery.  I had no idea that there was a concert venue so close to me and that Evan Dando would be there.  For some reason, I was unable to make that show, (Thurston Moore was also playing there around that time and I couldn’t make that either, so we must have been away).

Since then I have monitored the Winery to see what other cool bands would be playing there.  Sadly, pretty much since that day, aside from Dar Williams (who is awesome) everyone playing there is a cover band.  Which sucks.

I have loved The Lemonheads since college and It’s a Shame About Ray is a stellar album.  I’d never seen him play, so when I saw he had announced one show (which has since turned into a small tour) at Monty Hall in Jersey City, I knew I had to go.

Evan came out pretty late by any standard.  But I wasn’t even sure if he was going to show up.  He seemed surprisingly discombobulated (he forgot his capo) and it took a pretty long time or him to get set up.  This was all fairly surprising since he’d been doing this forever.

He had a total artist look: pants that were filthy and a suit jacket that had a giant rip under the armpit (and which seemed too small for him).

He was wearing glittery flip flops!  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CLOUD NOTHINGS-Live at Massey Hall (October 4, 2017).

Cloud Nothings are, to my knowledge, the first non-Canadian band to be featured on this Live at Massey Hall series.  The band (which was at one time the solo project of Dylan Baldi) is from Cleveland.

Baldi talks about growing up in Cleveland, Rush and cover band and then putting music online and getting found out.

“Pattern Walks” opens with a great rumbling loud bassline from TJ Duke. This is without a doubt the loudest show of the series (so far).  Baldi has a great rock singing voice that falls somewhere between Kurt Cobain and Paul Westerberg..  The music for this song is fast and loud with some great ringing out guitars from one of the guitarist while the other plays some melodic sections.  The backing vocals (from Duke) just help to bring the melody forward.  The nonstop pounding drums (from the utterly remarkable Jauson Gerycz) keep up the relentlessness.  I love that both guitarists (Baldi and Gris Brown) play a squalling feedback solo at the same time but also independent of each other.

The end of the song is kind of feedback jam which Baldi describes (they intercut his interview) as “lots of parts that are sort of free-form…live we can just go off into more self-indulgent occasionally boring things.  And that’s what I like.  Hopefully it’s not too much.  That kind of stuff is more fun for me than playing the same song every night.”

Psychic Trauma is a bit more poppy/Replacements-sounding.  Even when it thumps in double time for the chorus, it’s still petty clean.

“Modern Act” is the catchiest so far.  Midway through the song Brown plays a solo and its fun to watch him manipulate the sound by playing with the dials on his pedals.

Duke says to the crowd that Neil Young Live at Massey Hall 1971 is one of my favorite records of all time so I’m a little freaked to be here.  Thank you all.

“Fall In” is a thumping pounding track with a whaling guitar solo.  Once again Gerycz is just a flurry of activity.  While “I’m Not Part of Me” is really catchy.  The middle has a fun section that sounds like a great lost Replacements bridge.

“Wasted Days” is the last song.  It opens with both guitarists playing different thing until the drums pounds in.  And once again the drums are amazing throughout.  The song lasts about 3 minutes when it slows down to a slapping drum and Baldi manipulation effects pedals while he continues to solo.  Brown plays with high notes.  The propulsion during this jam seems to be controlled by the drummer who is going fast and slow intermittently until he exhausts himself.  Meanwhile, Duke plays a steady two-note bass over and over.  After two minutes of that the band jumps aback up and starts again.   After nearly ten minutes incredible minutes, the final chorus returns.

It’s an amazing show.

[READ: February 1, 2018] “The Clockmaker”

I had a really hard time following this story at first.  Partially because I didn’t know what an animacula was–and whose fault is that?

A carafe filled with water has been sitting on a table for a week.  The animacula (microbial creatures) “had attained a great antiquity.”

These creatures delighted in astronomy and philosophy.  They based the theory of their world on everything they saw around them–light from the windows and of course the giant clock that sat across from them.  One philosopher thought of a clock maker theory of the world–a giant anilaculum of unheard of bigness who did something to the clock every day.

This version was widely accepted as the truth.  They identified the giant man with the sun and began to think of him as the Clockmaker. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE REPLACEMENTS-Let It Be (1984).

letitbeI had posted about this record back in 2009.  This is what I write nearly ten years ago, and I’m pretty okay with it.

This is the final album the Replacements made before they moved to the majors.  This disc represents the culmination of their pre-major label sound and is one of my favorite “college albums” of the era.

The disc retains a lot of their sloppy/punk sound of the time, but the songwriting moves forward a little further.  Westerberg wrote some timeless anthems for this disc (“I Will Dare,” “Unsatisfied”).   But, they also sprinkle the disc with silly tracks…not filler exactly…more like balance.  This keeps the disc from being too ponderous.

“I Will Dare” opens the disc. It is bouncy and poppy with an irresistible chorus.   But the bulk of the album is faster and more rocking.  Unlike on their their first two discs, however, the songs run a little bit longer, and they don’t attempt the hardcore feel quite as much.

In fact, there are a few songs that are quite clearly ballads.  “Androgynous” is a piano ballad (!) that could have easily been written by Tom Waits.  “Unsatisfied” is another ballad, although this one has more instrumentation.  Nevertheless, the feeling of yearning is palpable in Westerberg’s voice.  Finally, “Answering Machine” is another flanged-guitar filled song about romance in the age of modern technology (circa 1984).

These relatively light (musically, not emotionally) songs are balanced out quite nicely by the pair of punk/nonsense songs: “Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out” and “Gary’s Got a Boner.”  They add some (more) levity to the disc.  As well as some rocking guitars.

But perhaps the most surprising song is the cover of Kiss’ “Black Diamond.”  It is surprisingly faithful to the original, (at a time when Kiss was not even ironically cool) and it rocks just as hard.

This album showcases the diverse aspects of The Replacements perfectly.  While some people say their next album Tim is their masterpiece, I am more inclined to go with Let It Be.  And, for some reason, I really like the cover.

[READ: July 1, 2016] Let It Be

I have often thought I should read this series.  Of course, the last time I thought about it, there were 50-some books in the series and that seemed like way too many.  Well as of June 2017, there are 120 books in the series, which is an insane series to jump into.

But at work, four of the books came across my desk and if that’s not an invitation to read something, I don’t now what is.  So I’ve decided to read these four and we’ll see if that leads to more.

This was an interesting book to start with because it really set the tone for the series, by which I mean, as far as I can tell, anything goes.

Colin Meloy (this was written when The Decemberists were just starting to get a buzz around them.  In fact he references his girlfriend who is now his wife) makes this a very personal account about his childhood and his exposure to this album (and others) from his uncle.  So this book is a lot more about (young) Colin and his friend than the ‘Mats, but it’s obvious that the ‘Mats made Meloy who he is.   There’s very little in the way of production information or “research” (until the end).  Rather, it’s just a good story–from a future storyteller. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 9, 2016] Crash Test Dummies

I thought and still think that God Shuffled His Feet is a great album.  The lyrics to that disc are just fantastic.  And while Brad Roberts’ voice might take some getting used to, it’s really an amazing instrument.

The one thing that has always bugged me though is that Roberts is treated as something of a novelty because of his voice.  When someone like Johnny Cash has a very similar style of singing, yet he has never been thought of as a joke.  Perhaps that’s because Roberts has a sense of humor.

I was pretty excited to see this show, having never seen him/them before.  I wasn’t sure if it was a full band or just him.  It turned out to be Roberts and guitarist Stewart Cameron.  In preparation for this show I listened to his previous live album Crash Test Dude.  On that one he played a bunch of covers and sang a few old songs.

I was really hoping to hear my favorite CTD songs, and would have liked a cover or two.  So I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

Well, Roberts came out and the Stewart sat next to him.  And they launched right into “God Shuffled His Feet,” and I was ecstatic.

And it turned out that the set was almost entirely taken from the Shuffled album.  He played four songs from their last album Ooh La La, and one or two other songs.  And it was an amazing evening.

Roberts’ voice sounds amazing.  And especially so in the great acoustics of Sellersville Theater.  His deep bass is just as powerful as ever (does a bass singer lose the ability to hit low notes as a tenor loses the ability to hit high notes?).  He was resonate and really sounded perfect.

The only cover song they played was the Replacements’ “Androgynous” which doesn’t really count as CTD recorded it on their debut album.

All told, he played nine songs from Shuffled.  Now, the orchestration of the album is amazing, so how did it work with one guitarist?  Well, it turns out that Stewart Cameron is an amazing guitarist.  He plays jazzy licks, beautiful solos and complex structures.  While it wasn’t the same as the album, it worked really well to convey the fairly complex songs.

The only thing I missed the whole night was Ellen Reid’s harmonies.  Cameron did sing a little, but he never tried to do her harmonies, which really do make the songs sound a wee bit better.  But no matter, he sounded amazing enough by himself.

The newer songs are much more simple, and they allowed Cameron to open up a bit and play some fun licks.  The last album, Ooh La la, which he autographed for me after the show is sadly overlooked.  It’s a very simple album but with some of Roberts’ loveliest songs.  Gone are the days of his baroque lyrics, but his gift for melody has returned.

He also played a couple of his darker, funny songs, like “Just Shoot Me, Baby” and “I Don’t Care If You Don’t Mind.”  Which are “mature.”  As is his banter.  He told a bunch of stories (none as vulgar as the stories on his live CD), but they included tales of his botched vasectomy, and about vaporizing.

All in all it was a great night in a great venue with a great voice.  And as I said, he signed things for us afterward and was very nice.

 

  • God Shuffled His Feet
  • Androgynous
  • Not Today Baby
  • Here I Stand Before Me
  • Just Shoot Me, Baby
  • Swimming in Your Ocean
  • You Said You’d Meet Me (In California)
  • How Does a Duck Know?
  • Afternoons & Coffeespoons
  • In the Days of the Caveman
  • Song Bird
  • When I Go Out With Artists
  • Heart of Stone
  • Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
  • I Don’t Care That You Don’t Mind
  • Two Knights and Maidens
  • Superman’s Song

 

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basoonSOUNDTRACK: THE MUSIC TAPES-Tiny Desk Concert #182 (December 20, 2011).

musictaopesJulian Koster released an album in 2008 called The Singing Saw at Christmastime.  It was a complete CD of Christmas songs played on the saw.  That should tell you that Koster is an unusual fellow. But that doesn’t prepare you for what he unleashes during his Tiny Desk Concert with The Music Tapes.

Koster has a very high-pitched voice (I have a recording of him doing “I’ve Got My Love to Keep me Warm,” which is almost unbearable.  His singing is really close to the fine line of unique and bad (and I imagine for many it crosses the line). He’s also got a fascinating way of looking at things and of storytelling.  So this Tiny Desk show winds up being quite long (20 minutes) with quite a lot of different things going on.

First he tells a lengthy story about his great grandpa.  And how his great grandpa told him that baby trees can walk.  But they are tethered to the ground by an umbilical cord. And when we cut them down, we sever the cord.  And a Christmas tree is adorned and worshiped for two weeks and then set free to roam the earth.  It is a warm and strange and delightful.

Then he and a second member of the group play “The First Noel” on two saws.  It’s weird ad wonderful.  At the end of the song he has his saw bow, and Bob says he didn’t know a saw could bow.  Julian says they do and in fact that singing saws sing by themselves but we encourage them by petting them and placing them in our laps.

I don’t enjoy everything Koster does, so the second song “Freeing Song For Reindeer,” a banjo based piece about a tired old reindeer transporting Santa is slow and kind of sad and not my thing.

But then he tells a story of growing up with all kinds of culture and Holiday traditions which leads into a version of Gavin Bryars’ “Jesus Blood.”  I enjoy the original and didn’t know what to expect here.  They begin with a tape loop of an old man singing the song (possibly the one Bryars used, but I don’t know).  And then Koster starts playing the banjo with a bow.  And then a second guy does the same. Then the percussionist stars playing the toy piano and the noises build.  He switches from piano to trumpet and plays along.  Meanwhile the second banjo player switches back to the saw for the end. It’s really quite a lovely performance.

“Takeshi And Elijah” is another slow and keening banjo based song.  It’s pretty long, I don’t really like it, but by the end, as it builds with trumpet and toy piano, he ends the song sith a puppet Santa doing a tap dance as percussion.  It’s a great ending to an okay song.

The final song is “Zat You, Santa Claus?”  It’s played on bowed banjo and sousaphone.  It’s a fun and crazy rendition.   It’s one of the weirdest Tiny Desk shows and certainly the weirdest Christmas set.

[READ: December 5, 2015] The Bassoon King

I really liked Rain Wilson in The Office, but I haven’t seen him in much else (I forgot he was in Six Feet Under and Galaxy Quest) . I wanted to like Backstrom, but it got cancelled before we even watched an episode.

So why did I check out this memoir of an actor I like a little bit?  Well, primarily for the title.  The Bassoon King had an absurd ring that I really gravitated towards.  When I saw there was an introduction by Dwight Kurt Schrute, I knew this would be a good book.

The introduction (by Dwight) is very funny.  I love Dwight and I love thinking to myself “FALSE!” whenever I disagree with someone.  Dwight wondered why anyone would read a biography of a young semi-famous actor.  “Fact. NO. ONE. CARES.”  But then says he doesn’t care either because he is making a lot of dollars per word for this thing.

Rainn begins his memoir by making fun of his big head (especially when he was a baby).  It’s pretty funny.  And then he describes his hippie family and his weird name.  His mom changed her named from Patricia to Shay in 1965.  She wanted to name Rainn “Thucydides.”  But his dad always liked Rainer Maria Rilke.  Now, they lived pretty close to Mt Rainier, so they went for Rainn (“Tack an extra letter on there for no apparent reason”). (more…)

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jun9SOUNDTRACK: EX-COPS-“Ken” (2014).

excopsIn this song, I get a vibe of Prefab Sprout singer over a swirly indie band (at least for the verses).  The chorus is bigger–swirling guitars and fast drums, with Ooohs building and building.  And yet the song never quite launches the way “Black Soap” did.

Amalie Bruun doesn’t really contribute to this song.  And while I wouldn’t say she is crucial to the band, something is definitely lacking without her sharing vocal duties.

I wanted this song to be a bit…more, somehow.  I’m not quite sure about Ex-Cops after two songs.  We’ll see if I get blown away by something else later on.

The whole reason I checked out this song was for the video, which is a tribute to The Replacements’ “Bastards of Young” video.

[youtbue=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgRil7yidDg]

[READ: June 17, 2014] “The Adolescents”

This year’s Summer Fiction issue of the New Yorker was subtitled Love Stories.  In addition to the two graphic stories, we have a series of five personal essays which fall under the heading of “My Old Flame.”  I liked that all five writers have slight variations in how they deal with this topic.

Kushner presents a series of past boys that she had crushes on when she was young.  Each one is presented with a “random initial.”  First there was B who looked like an angel.  He asked to carry her books in sixth grade.  It is a sweet introduction until the conflict: an eighth grade girl, she was stridently white, says something about his race.  And in the span of one paragraph, “many things were new to me that day.  B and I never reconnected.”

Next there was D.  D was white and proclaimed that he would hurt others (presumably those who were black).  The race issue was complicated then.

She once kissed M, who was black, although R would have been a better match.  R flirted with her on the playground and treated her like a sexy woman.  (more…)

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CV1_TNY_12_09_13Banyai.inddSOUNDTRACK: THE REPLACEMENTS-“Alex Chilton” (live on the Tonight Show) (2014).

matsI was pretty surprised to hear that the Replacements were going to be on the Tonight Show (and even more surprised to hear that they were going to play “Alex Chilton.”  I didn’t realize they were touring (or reunited or whatever they are), and I knew that at least one of the former members had died.  So, really this version of The Replacements is just Paul Westerberg singing and Tommy Stinson on bass.  The other two guys Dave Minehan on guitars and Josh Freese on drums are new as of 2012 (but have a history of working with Westerberg).

It was great to hear this song.  I never saw them in their heyday, when I understand the odds of them being drunk were 100% and the odds of a great show or a disastrous show were 50/50.

I’ve no idea how sober the guys were, but this version of the song was super sloppy (in a good way) and made it seem like they were channeling the ‘Mats of old.  Guitarist Minehan has played on Westerberg’s solo albums, so there is a connection, and he seemed to get that “can’t be bothered to hit every note” vibe.  Even Westerberg was skimpy with all of the words (was he having fun or annoyed at being there?  who knows).  But they weren’t sloppy bad, especially when the song ended and they added on a coda–they were all super tight and right on tempo.

It was good to hear, but I have to admit I like the album version better.

[READ: June 26, 2014] “The Late Novels of Gene Hackman”

Rivka Galchen had two short stories in the New Yorker in 2013, one in January and now one in December.

The story is about J, a young woman who makes presentations to older people, in this case in Key West, Florida.  She had accepted the invitation to the writers conference because it was going to be in February in Florida, and that seemed like a good time to be warm.  J was allowed to bring a guest, and she decided to invite her stepmother, Q, rather than her husband.  She felt a little sorry for Q, whose latest business venture had failed and whose hair was turning gray.  J is under the impression that Q is having financial troubles, she keeps talking about things that make it seem like she does, but J can never get a straight answer out of her.

They were picked up by M (this initial thing was a little confusing but ultimately more comical, I decided) who had organized the convention.  M had married a much younger woman, but she had recently died.  “Of something.”  M also had an eye patch, and J told Q not to stare at it, “‘I would never stare at an eye patch,’ Q said.”  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TARKIO-three song demo (from Omnibus) 1997.

These three songs are part of a demo released in 1997.  I actually assumed that Omnibus would have collected all of Tarkio’s releases (how many more can there be?), but I learned that “omnibus” means “a book containing reprints of a number of works.”  So there ya go.

Nearly every review of Omnibus complains about the size of the release.  Some complain that the songs are too long (which is something else entirely), but many seem to suggest that 27 songs is too many for this collection.  I don’t quite understand this attitude, because if it were the collected works, there would be no reason to complain.  As such, I suspect I am the only person who wishes there was a little bit more–like why not the other two songs from this demo?

And demo is a rather unfair name for this, because it sounds wonderful.  (I suspect a demo from 1997 could be recorded with much better equipment than a demo from say 1984).  And these three songs are really something.  I suppose also, listening to these songs in this manner–not as a two disc set but as an original demo of three songs, makes them seem like maybe there isn’t too much of a good thing.

“This Rollercoaster Ride” opens with an interesting pseudo Middle Eastern violin.  But it quickly settles down into a very catchy rock/folk song.  It sounds very Decemberists, and it’s extremely catchy.  “Following Camden Down” is a beautiful song (the reminds me of The Replacements’ “Skyway”).  Meloy’s voice sounds subdued and not as immediately notable as he normally does.  It’s a wonderful little song.  “Slow Down” is a bouncy folk number (with dominant violin).  It’s got a rocky alt feel, although it still reads as traditional folk.

True, none of these songs reach the delirious heights of the best Decemberists songs, but they’re a nice step towards the kind of music Meloy and friends would put out next.

[READ: June 5, 2012] “Take Me Home”

This issue of the New Yorker is devoted to Science Fiction (see the cover).   In addition to five stories (which I assume are science-fiction-y) we also get five (more or less) one-page pieces from masters of the genre (genre being a dirty word, we’ll find).  When I first saw the names of these writers, I thought they were each creating a cool one-page story.  So I was a little disappointed to realize that these are “personal histories” with sci-fi.  But I shouldn’t have been disappointed, because even though these are short, they are really impactful–and come on, they’re classic writers.

I’m surprised by the fact that I haven’t read more Ray Bradbury.  I know I’ve read Fahrenheit 451 and I’m sure I’ve read some of his stories, but I haven’t even scratched the surface–he has written so much!  Indeed, I was surprised to hear that he was still alive (in fairness, he is 92).

This piece begins with Bradbury’s recollections of his introduction to sci-fi with Buck Rogers (1928) and John Carter of Mars (not Disney’s creation, but a series of stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs). (more…)

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