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Archive for the ‘Tom Petty’ Category

[ATTENDED: January 30, 2020] Aaron Lee Tasjan

I knew Aaron Lee Tasjan from a Tiny Desk Concert that I really enjoyed.  He was playing songs from his then new album Karma for Cheap which had a great psychedelic kind of sound to it.  I thought that he and his band played really well together and I was looking forward to seeing them.

So I was a little bummed to find out that he was playing solo (and acoustic!).

But it turns out that Tasjan is a great songwriter and while I definitely preferred the sound he got on the album, I enjoyed listening to his lyrics as he played acoustic guitar. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: STEVE EARLE-Transcendental Blues (2000).

I’ve never really liked Steve Earle’s music.  For some reason I always thought of him as a kind of outlaw country.  But the review of this album from Hornby made me want to check it out.  And while there are certainly country music trappings, this is a solid fun rock record.

Earle’s voice isn’t what I thought it was (or wasn’t was it is now)–it’s much softer and much higher than I imagined.  So what’s going on on this record?

“Transcendental Blues” has a great distorted guitar riff running opposite the throbbing bassline.  Earle’s voice sounds like a cross between Dylan, Petty and (anachronistically) Kevin Devine.  “Everyone’s in Love with You” sounds like a rocking R.E.M. song with a very 90s vocal style and even a reverse guitar solo.

“Another Town” sounds like a song that I’ve heard a million times (but I haven’t).  It’s a simple pop song with a crazy catchy melody and it’s barely 2 minutes long.  “I Can’t Wait” slows things down a bit with a real poppy Matthew Sweet-vibe.

“The Boy Who Never Cried” is a dirgey song, slow and story telling.  It has strings with a slightly Middle Eastern feel.

“Steve’s Last Ramble” is a stompin’ song with full on harmonica introduction (which makes it seem even more Dylan).  “The Galway Girl” is a mandolin-based stomper while “Lonelier Than This” is a quiet, sad song.

“Wherever I Go” is only two minutes ling and has a country feel, even though it’s not that different from the other songs.  The guitar solo is totally early Beatles, but the lyrics are pure country:

I could drink corn whisky ’til my brain goes soft
I could run this highway ’til my wheels come off

The harmonica returns on “When I Fall” the start of a trifecta of country songs.  His drawl really comes out here, possibly because of his duet partner (Steve Earle’s sister, Stacey Earle, a country singer in her own right).  It’s a shame this song is so long as it’s my least favorite.

“I Don’t Want to Lose You Yet” is a simple country pop song (the twang remains).  Although “Halo ‘Round the Moon” is a softer song with a gentle shuffle beat.  “Until the Day I Die” continues with the old school country/bluegrass style with a big ol’ banjo intro, close harmonies, and a fiddle solo.  You can imagine a jug solo, hand clappin’ and a hoedown in a live version.

“All of My Life” rocks out again, with some loud bass and distorted guitar, which I desperately needed after those last few songs.

The disc ends with “Over Yonder (Jonathan’ Song).”  From songfacts:

This song is about the execution-by injection of Jonathan Nobles, which Steve Earle witnessed. The alt-country star told Mojo magazine May 2008 about it: “I don’t recommend it. I befriended Jonathan for several months beforehand. Then I saw the execution and later brought his remains to England for burial according to his wishes. But the execution was incredibly toxic to me. It’s hard. You can’t believe it’s really happening. I remember afterwards I thought, ‘did I black out and miss it? I let Jonathan down.’ Then the blank filled in… it was the shock… I realized exactly what I’d seen. I can’t see myself doing it again. I’ve absorbed enough death. And I still work hard against the death penalty.”

So I’m still on the fence about Earle, but I did enjoy this record much more than I thought I would.  Thanks, Nick.

[READ: June 15, 2019] “Alternative Earle”

I am aware of Steve Earle and I really like his lyrics.  I don’t love his music though–too much country in the alt-country.  Although Hornby describes it as Nashville folk and rock n roll hybrid.  But man, his lyrics are great.  I wish I liked him a bit more especially after reading this review.

Hornby is a passionate music lover and anything he likes sounds great when he describes it.

The album in question is Transcendental Blues (and in the photo Earle’s beard is much shorter than it is now).  As of 2000, Earle has been married and divorced six times (to five women–4 and 6 were the same person). In 1994 he was imprisoned for possessing narcotics.  This sentence ending years of heroin addiction. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: K.T. TUNSTALL-NonComm (May 16, 2019).

Most artists at NonCOMM get about 20 minutes.  The headliners get about 40 minutes.

When I saw K.T. Tunstall was playing, I assumed she would get 20 minutes–how could she be a headliner? Didn’t she have one hit like a decade ago with “Suddenly I See.”

But there she was with a 45 minute set.  I wondered why.  Possibly because she was playing World Cafe Live again the next night for a full show.  Or possibly because she had a huge hit that I didn’t realize was hers.

Tunstall was by herself on stage.  She had a guitar, a drum machine of some sort, a looping pedal and a kazoo.  Having a lengthy set also allowed for a looser, more talkative set.  She is very funny, bold, foul-mouthed (in the best Scottish way) and smart.

As the last night at NON-COMM was winding down, K.T. Tunstall was able to give the crowd one last hoorah. Tunstall’s set mixed the old and the new nicely, playing anything from covers and mashups to her most recognizable hits.

Tunstall started the set with “Little Red Thread,” the opener to her most recent release Wax. The tune was carried by Tunstall’s percussive guitar tapping and tambourine playing, and it sure got the crowd going.

It had a four note heavy riff with some echoey chords that propel the song.  After two verses she messes something up and says, “that’s a really shitty way to start,” but jumps right back in.

She liked playing the new song but then says, “Let’s trustfall into something familiar.”   She asked if anyone had a long-distance relationship.  “It’s a really fucking bad idea.  It’s good sex; it’s just not regular.”  This was an introduction to the quieter “Other Side of the World” off of her 2004 debut Eye to the Telescope.  The song opens with looping quiet percussion and her raspy voice singing over a gentle acoustic guitar.

“Backlash & Vinegar” is about someone trying to keep you down.  It stays quiet with just her guitar and voice.

She recalled going to a karaoke bar drunk with friends and looking for “Faith” by George Michael which they didn’t have.  WTF?!  The friend she was with said there was a song there that she knew all the words to.  It was her song!  What song was it?  There’s a bit more story.

When she first came to the States she performed her first shows inside Barnes & Noble stores. They close at 8 so you have to play at 7.  There were multiple hot women dressed like Jane Fonda.  Finally she asked a woman why she looked like Lydia from Fame.  She replied (in Tunstall’s great “American” accent: “Honey.  You don’t know? You’re huge in Jazzercise.”

So she plays her jazzercise hit “Black Horse And A Cherry Tree.”  This was the massive hit (and it was a massive hit because I’d heard it everywhere) that I had no idea was by her.  It starts immediately recognizably with the looped “who-hoo / whoo-hoo” and if that doesn’t remind you of the song, the chorus is “No no / no no no no / no no / you’re not the one for me.” It sounded sport on.

She ends the song with a kazoo (!) rendition of White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” which she looped in the backgroud of the end of her song.

Up next is “The River” which is about taking a spiritual shower and washing the world from our brains.  It’s a catchy folk song that could easily have been a Starbucks hit (and maybe it was).

She then teaches everyone a Scottish word: “jobby” it means “shit.”  It’s like the name of the poo emoji.  She wrote this song as an antidote to when you have a nice pair of white high tops and just out of nowhere you step in a really big jobby.  It’s the kind you cant get off with a stick and you have to go into a meeting with the jobby–it’s a metaphor for life.  You can smell it, other people can smell it.  And what you need is a song to get you through.

This is the intro to “Feel It All,” a catchy simple guitar riff and a quiet vocal line.   I don’t know what these songs sound like on records but they translate into pretty folks songs here.

She felt like with everything going on (a lot of abortion bans being proposed), she needed a cover by a master.

Tunstall banged away as she sang a fantastic cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” mixing in percussive elements with her thrilling vocals once again.
a rocking raw version

She said she likes to be a purveyor of joy but she needs to speak up.  She dedicates this song to all the women who have achieved incredible things in their lives.  And one of the reasons they’ve been able to achieve it is because they and their partners have had reproductive rights .   This song is meant to give strength to any woman who might have it taken away.

And there was the song I knew from her: “Suddenly I See.”  She started the song, a shuffling rocker, and said, “Every songwriter is like a juicer. You put a few things in and you hope it doesn’t come out brown and weird. This is what happened when I listened to Patti Smith and Bo Diddley on the same day.”

I never would have thought that on my own, but I sure hear it this time.  The song sounds just like I remember it.  Her shockingly un-Scottish-sounding vocals and a super catchy chorus.

I’m glad she got a 45 minute set, it was a great re-introduction to someone I liked a while ago.

[READ: June 1, 2019] “The Smoker”

I don’t understand the title of this story, but I really enjoyed it’s odd revelations.

Douglas Kerchek is a teacher of 12th grade A.P. English at a prestigious all-girls Catholic school in New York City.

Nicole Bonner was a standout student.  He had already written her a recommendation for Princeton.

She read an entire novel every night and retained what she read.  When he proposed a pop quiz, instead of answering the questions, she wrote the entire first page of Moby Dick verbatim.

Although at the end of a recent essay, she had attached a note saying she had noticed the bruise on his ankle and wondered what he had banged it on. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 10, 2019] Kevin Devine

I saw Kevin Devine open for Frightened Rabbit back in 2017.  I didn’t know his music, but I really enjoyed his solo set.  When I heard that he was doing this tour with John K. Samson I was really excited to see him again.  I had hoped he’d be with His Goddman Band, but it turned out to be solo again.  I kind of assumed it would be with the band because of the new piece of merch (below) which I love but can’t imagine where you’d wear.

But it was excellent to see him not with the Goddamn Band because he was excellent solo.

Devine came out on stage to much applause.  He fiddled with the microphone stand and then said, you should be careful with your applause–what if I spend the whole night just tightening the mic stand.  Which he proceeded to do for another 40 seconds or so to much laughter until he admitted he couldn’t keep up the joke.

Devine played a song or more from nearly all of his nine albums as well as from his new split singles sets. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 14, 2018] Petal

Petal is the creation of Kiley Lotz from Scranton, PA.  She has released a few albums and an EP (all on bandcamp).  Her recorded output has a somewhat heavier alternapop sound–there’s some great bass on her records.

She plays quite a lot and I have almost seen her a few times.  I believe that most of her concerts are with a band, although this one was solo.

It turns out that she is also good friends with Carly Comando and Tom Patterson from Slingshot Dakota–Kiley has a special connection to the Lehigh Valley, too.  And she was very happy to support Lehigh Valley Girl Rock.

Lehigh Valley Girls Rock is dedicated to empowering girls and women + trans and nonbinary folks through music and art
We build self-confidence and foster a sense of belonging.
We nurture an inclusive, supportive environment.
We connect people who then develop meaningful friendships.
We inspire community involvement.
We teach acceptance.

There was a raffle before the show and she donated a bunch of stuff to one of the baskets (I didn’t win any of the baskets). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 18, 2018] Pearl Jam

Two summers ago Sarah and I took the kids to Boston.  It was a vacation that was centered around we adults seeing Pearl Jam at Fenway Park.  When Pearl Jam announced that they were doing a short summer tour, I thought it would be fun to try to get tickets to the Wrigley Field Shows.

I’m not a huge baseball fan, but I used to enjoy baseball and always wanted to see Wrigley Field.  So when the tickets were announced I took a chance and scored two tickets to each night of their dates.  And so we built another vacation out of travelling to see Pearl Jam.

Ironically we’ve never seen them in our home state.

Sarah wrote a great post about all we did in Chicago (a city I had never been to before).  But in sum, in the five days we were there, we went to Navy Pier, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park (and saw The Bean), Portillos, The Sears Tower, an architecture cruise, Shedd Aquarium, The Museum of Science and Industry, a wade into Lake Michigan (that’s 4 of 5 Great Lakes for me), and Nuts on Clark.  And of course, Wrigley Field. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKBAHAMAS-Live at Massey Hall (February 5, 2016).

Afie Jurvanen is Bahamas, an indie folk act.  For this set he is joined by Jason Tait, Felicity Williams, Christine Bougie, and Darcy Yates in various roles.

This set opens with “Like a Wind.”  Jurvanen’s voice is rough and scratchy  and quite nice. But its his backing vocalist (not sure which one) that really launches this song into the ether.  She sounds amazing.  There’s a nice touch a of a slide guitar and the rumbling drums are a great addition as well.

It was some time around “Southern drawl” that I realized he sounds a bit like Tom Petty.  It’s a pretty poppy song–perfect for summer.

“Caught me Thinking” is another poppy song with a rocking 1-2-3-4 rhythm for the verses and “I Got You, Babe” has a wonderful pop riff (but is not a cover).

“Alone” is a new song that he says he’s been working on.  It’s just him and the staccato guitar plucking is quite arresting.  I love the lyric

“men and women equal, but we’re not the same.”

It’s a great song–shame it gets interrupted by his interview.

The final two songs are “All the Time” which has a great solo at the end and “Never Again.”

[READ: February 5, 2016] “The Glow Light Blues”

This story started off doing one thing and then quickly went in a direction I did not expect.

As the story opens, Carl Hirsch is going to a party.  He rarely goes to parties, especially work holiday parties.  And when he shows up, the host greets him with alarm.

There’s some weird things mentioned in the opening paragraphs too. He compares going to the party to going to a dog house where you have to sniff ass and compliment the host.  He hopes there’s food: “even if he was only permitted to sniff…because of his feeding regimen.”

What the heck is going on? (more…)

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[ATTENDED:November 13, 2017] Regina Spektor

I have really enjoyed a lot of Regina Spektor’s music.  I have never seen her play, so this show at the nearby State Theatre seemed like a great opportunity.  I don’t know what she normally tours like, but this show was advertised as just her, playing solo.  And that was fine with me.

She came out on stage to thunderous applause and whispered “thanks” into the microphone.  She then proceeded to sings songs and drink water (a lot of) water.  Turns out that she had bronchitis.  And amazingly, she sounded freaking terrific.  Her voice was outstanding (and her piano playing was pretty fab as well).

The show was listed as being an hour and forty-five minutes and in that time she told stories, played different instruments and sang twenty-five songs.

It turns out that I really love the middle stuff (her fifth and sixth albums).  I don’t know her really early stuff and I somehow missed the new album.  So when I heard that this tour was going to be a lot of old stuff and rarities, I figured that I wasn’t going to know much, but I’d still enjoy it.  Sarah said she actually didn’t know any of the songs (but she loved her voice).  I knew about six songs. (more…)

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march7SOUNDTRACK: NOAH AND THE WHALE-Tiny Desk Concert #147 (August 10, 2011).

noahI know Noah and the Whale a little.  I don’t think I realized they were from England, especially since the lead singer/guitarist looks so much like Ben Stiller (with a big fro).  I’ve enjoyed what I’ve heard from them, although I can’t say I know that much about them (although  see that Laura Marling was briefly in the band).  For this Tiny Desk, there are just two men (one Noah, the other the Whale, perhaps?  No, Charlie Fink (vocals, guitar), and Tom Hobden (violin, vocals).

Evidently they had a drummer but he left the band to pursue academic success so they enlisted a dreaded drum machine.  (In the blurb, Stephen Thompson talks about how shocked everyone as to hear it).  The one bad thing about the machine of course is that it limits then from playing anything spontaneously.  But they sound very good even with the machine.

There’s a sort of Tom Petty/Bob Dylan vibe to the first song with the super catchy spelled out chorus of “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.”  When the violinist sings harmonies, the  song sounds especially good.

He ends the first song by saying, “It’s most peculiar, this event.”

“Blue Skies” does not have the drum machine.  It is a mellow, pretty song with Fink’s delicate voice singing a breakup song.

“Waiting for My Chance to Come” is a upbeat song (with drum machine).  Fink switches to acoustic guitar giving this a bigger more vibrant folk sound.  It’s really catchy and fun to sing along to.

I remember the last time I listened to Noah and the Whale (from an NPR show covering the Newport Folk Festival), I wanted to hear more from them.  And once again I do, although perhaps with a full band (and yes, they have broken up).

[READ: March 3, 2016] “Buttony”

I re-read what I had written about McFalane’s previous story which I read in 2013. I enjoyed the first section (which was very short) but felt a little less grand about the second half.

This story (although it was much shorter) had a similar quality.

The story is only two pages and the first part is so charming.  It is set in a school.  The teacher allows her students to go outside to play “buttony.”

The game is a simple one, but it has some kind of near magical significance for the kids. (more…)

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harpers maySOUNDTRACK: SHEARWATER & SHARON VAN ETTEN-“Stop Dragging My Heart Around” (2013).

Shearwater-Sharon_RSDEverybody knows this song.  It was  way overplayed (overplayed enough that Weird Al parodied it in 1983).  So I can’t say I was all that excited to hear this cover.

What’s nice about it though is that if you’ve heard a song a million times, hearing a slightly (not radically) different version can reintroduce it to you in a new way.

It’s noisy and clunky in the music–giving a more folkie vibe.  And while Sharon sounds a bit like Stevie Nicks—she gives that same raspy quality to it–she’s definitely not trying to be Stevie.  The Shearwater vocalist does moderate mimic of Petty—enough to show that he knows what the original sounds like without duplicating it.  The whole feel has a kind of tossed off, less polished vibe that really works with the lyrics.

It turns out that this version is live and it was released on a  7″ single (but NPR gives it to us for free).  I like this version quite a bit although I do miss the “Ah ha has” and “Hey hey heys” in the bridge.

[READ: May 29, 2013] “The Gift”

This was a very strange little story.

In it, a woman wakes up after her house has flooded.  Not entirely, but there was certainly a few feet of water (she can see the residue marks).  What’s also strange is that she had not left her apartment for five days and she had just spent nearly $90 (the bulk of her grocery money) ordering a box of glacé apricots from Australia–in gold foil at extra cost–no less!

She feels guilty… but they just looked so good in the catalog.  Of course, so did the mosquito netting–but really what use had she for that?

She spent some time thinking about the Australians working in the glacé apricot factory–did they ever steal an apricot?  Were they hungry? Somehow she imagined them enshrouded in the mosquito netting.

She was awoken from her reverie by the water rushing around her living room–and the piglets grunting around in the mud. (more…)

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