Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Two people on my mind this Memorial Day:

1) Paul Stevens, my mother's father, who passed away two years ago next month. He was a Tin Can Sailor (that's a Destroyer veteran for you landlubbers) in WWII and Korea. He was a kind, wonderful man, and is greatly missed.

2) Adrian Bonenberger, a college friend of mine serving with the Rangers in Afghanistan. I know Memorial Day is supposed to be for those who have died, but still, he's on my mind. Check out his blog--it's gripping, sometimes hilarious reading.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Random rules

The Onion AV Club has a feature called "Random Rules" where they ask a celebrity to put their iPod on shuffle and they comment on the first 5 or so tracks that come up, not skipping anything, embarrassing guilty pleasures included. So I figured I'd try the same thing because hey, I love music. If it turns out well, I might just do it again, 'cause hell, I've got more than 15,000 songs on my iPod. Wish me luck:

1) The Afghan Whigs: "Going To Town" -- Black Love is the last great Afghan Whigs album. It's some kind of concept album or something, and it's got some shit-hot songs on it. I think "Going To Town" was a single. If it wasn't, it should have been--it's got that great soul feel that Dulli is so fond of and a really huge-sounding chorus with some really effective string overdubs on it.

2) Matthew Sweet: "Sick Of Myself" -- One of my co-workers who likes Matthew Sweet thinks 100% Fun is one of his worst albums, but I think it's pretty good ("Smog Moon" is one of my favorite Matthew Sweet songs). This, the first track, is a pretty pounding, angsty anthem. I saw him on this tour, and he was really good, despite the fact that he was playing in a gym to a bunch of idiots who were trying to mosh. This was at the point where people would have tried to (and probably did) mosh to Counting Crows.

3) King Crimson: "The Talking Drum" -- The mighty Crim. "The Talking Drum" never struck me as a standalone track--it's really just one big crescendo intro to "Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part Two." Of course, it features some abstract playing from Fripp. It's less ferocious, but no less fun, than live versions from the same period. It comes from the Larks' Tongues In Aspic album, which marks the beginning of KC's great period. This is the one studio album featuring the fabled Jamie Muir. Fortunately for fans, Fripp's record label, DGM, has released several live shows featuring Muir, the centerpieces of which are lengthy improvisations showcasing how well the band played together, playing off one another rather than simply "jamming" (noodling). I'm not as big into KC as I once was, but the period from late 72 to 75 still amazes me.

4) Eyvind Kang: "Doorway to the Sun" -- My friend Caleb turned me on to Eyvind Kang, a dizzyingly talented multi-instrumentalist and composer. He's done work with a number of other musicians including Bill Frisell and the incredible Sun City Girls. This track comes from Virginal Co-Ordinates and features Mike Patton on vocals. The album was mostly recorded live in an abandoned theater in Bologna, so there's a really huge, echoey, resonant quality to the music. The drums, in particular, sound like crashes of thunder. "Doorway to the Sun" is almost 20 minutes long, a spidery, complex web of themes and textures. It's really beautiful. This interview with Kang says more about it than I could. Some of his albums I don't like that much, but this one (along with The Story of Iceland and Live Low To The Earth, In The Iron Age) are highly, highly recommended.

5) Frank Zappa "Lil' Clanton Shuffle" -- Ah, finally it comes out. I'm a huge Zappa freak. If you know me, you know this. Hot Rats is one of my favorite Zappa albums, and this track is an outtake from those sessions released on an album called The Lost Episodes. It's a basic instrumental blues jam featuring some great violin playing by Don "Sugarcane" Harris, who I first took notice of through his fantastic playing on Hot Rats.

well, that's all for tonight. hope you enjoyed it.

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