As it is Called in Bowling, Turkey!

Okay. Amazingly I have been able to write this three months in a row—nearly on a monthly basis. I am pretty impressed with myself. I do not keep up any other site that I run... my online portfolio site has not actually held a portfolio for at least a year, but has been there saying it would for probably twice that long. Point being, wow, let me pat myself on the back.

However, this site has yet to do what I said that it would, force me to listen to new music. I haven't the funds to buy cds is mainly the thing i guess, but really, I am just not good at listening to pop radio and the like. In an attempt to do what I say though, I've come up with a list of "new" bands that I am going to try my hardest to hear in the next month. The list is short, but is a manageable length.

Youth Group
the Fray
the Arctic Monkeys
the Magic Numbers

I think I can find these five bands most recent releases to listen too, especially if anyone that has them can help me out. I'm looking forward to hearing the new records by Neko Case, Rhett Miller, and Belle and Sebastian as well.

An unfortunate knock to my ability to listen occurred over the weekend—my damned stereo died! Yes, the stereo which has seen many a late night's and early morning workout, played thousands of hours of tracks, been at parties and movie showings and in the back-seat of cars, on the floor, on a shelf, on a stand, been duck-taped, traversed my years of high-school and college so gracefully... all that is over now, it refuses to play CDs. I knew it would be coming soon, the volume knob had started to go sort of crazy, it would always turn down, but attempting to turn up the volume had become somewhat of a problem. Any attempt to turn the volume up would mean that you had to sit there just twisting the knob for an extra couple seconds watching the volume just sort of bobble back and forth before suddenly rocketing upward. Annoying to say the least. The radio function still works however, and the tape decks (not that i have used them in probably 5 years), it is just the CD carousel, the only real reason to have a stereo, that has stopped working. so sad. I will be in the hunt for a new receiver and CD player in the next few months as well as for music.

arctic monkeys - album cover One more side note about the Arctic Monkeys. Their record is hot as wildfire right now. The debut is the best selling debut, ever, in the UK - wow! it debuted at number 1 and outsold the remaining 9 in the top ten its first week. never done before, beatles, stones, peter frampton, no-one. congratulations.

This month I listened to mostly old stuff again that I either just got, or sort of rediscovered that I had.

elliot smith - xo album cover First off, an older release, XO. The main reason that I bought this record was that Baby Britain, track 4, is on one of the compilations we play at Williams-Sonoma. So I had it stuck in my head as it was, and then Bled White happens to be another tune that I rather enjoy. I was at the record store, did not know what to get and there was XO just waiting for me. That is the story with that, as with so many of my albums.

decemberists - 5 songs ep album cover The Decemberists are one of my more favorite groups, and 5 songs is just a great little EP. It is so great that it actually has 6 songs, not just 5 as the title may suggest. They don't depart from their normal sound and smart lyrics here, but they do kick up the poppiness a notch. Colin Meloy writes some smart material that is soaked in European peasant ideals, sea voyages, gypsy treks and the obscure historical references—everything that makes a great pop song. I love their smartness of music and lyrics. Clever segways, nice orchestration. they have a great sound: organs, guitars, accordions strings, interesting lead vocals, even some tight drums... My favorite track on the EP is the closing number Apology Song where one friend sings to the other about losing their bike and how he is so sorry, that until the point he lost it he had treated it as his own, the audacity someone had to take it, and the likely sordid adventures the bike has been on since. Truly a stunning work. The rest of the Decemberists catalog is worth a listen as well.

pedro the lion - achilles heel album cover I find the song writing of David Bazaan to be more engaging and enjoyable in my everyday life than most. I like his straight forward, very honest style. Perhaps it is that he writes mostly about everyday sorts of things, being married, believing in his friends, how suddenly after a terrorist attack a nation believes in god, that sort of thing. Achilles Heel is his latest Pedro the Lion record (the headphones record is newer, and basically the same song writing, its just done with keyboards and synths instead of guitars, infact T.W.Walsh even was his collaborator on it, just like the PTL records). Achilles Heel to me is the best technical record that Bazaan has yet to release. It just sounds great. The guitars are crunchy but clear, drums sit nicely in the mix, Vocals are spot on and ride effortlessly along with the tunes. The content is nothing new or ground breaking, but is basically what I have come to expect from the man. Highlights from the album for me were Foregone Conclusions, Arizona - a little love triste betweenstates... Transcontinental, and A Simple Plan. For those looking for more Pedro the Lion to listen to, I highly recommend The Only Reason I Feel Secure, an older release—actually available now as a re-release—that first got me hooked on Bazaan's song writing. I don't just love everything that he does, but what i do like i just cannot get enough of, and that is what makes him such a great song-writer to me.

matt pond pa - nature of maps album cover I recently had the opportunity to see Matt Pond PA play live at the Varsity Theatre in Minneapolis. The band was great and Matt Pond cemented himself as another of my favorite song writers. I find it odd that he has some sort of strange obsession with canada, but I just cannot listen to enough of his stuff. The first MPPA album that I got my hands on was The Nature of Maps, which I believe I got the guy down at Fine Groove to special order for me when I was living down in Northfield—that guy is just great by the way, he'll get you anything you want, as long as it is still in print, and even then he might still be able to get his hands on it... Maps is a good record, but the later releases have really pushed the bar forward. The song writing has grown a little more intricate, albums have become better produced, and there seems to be a good fusion of independent, do-it-yourself mentality with proper instrumentation, orchestration and good band dynamic. I rarely see a group that seems so comfortable playing together. Just before the show in Minneapolis they had just bought all new instruments, due to a theft on the road, and were jokingly blaming any errors and confusions on their "toy" instruments they were forced to pick up. How many bands have had their shit ripped off? it seems like every tour it has to happen once. Who decides to steal an entire van of gear also? that's a pre-meditated theft if you ask me, I mean it would require your own truck or van to haul it all away, just stumbling upon a van of music gear probably wouldn't make you go, hey, I can steal ALL of that! or maybe it would. Perhaps I do not lead a sordid enough existence to completely comprehend the idea. (they have a cool new web page since the last record came out btw)

Iron and wine / Calexico - lays in the reins album cover Lays in Reins is my current favorite "new" album. 7 songs, not quite an ep, not quite a full length either, I often hear it referred to as a mini-album. Either way, Calexico brings a welcome addition to the songs and sounds of Iron & Wine. My favorites are the opener, He Lays In The Reins, track 3, History of Lovers, which the first time I heard it on the current really blew me away. I mean it is just real simple, california meets country blues, but the words sort of sucked me in, and, well the music is just right for my taste. perfect. The final track is another one I've listened to a few extra times, Dead Man's Will is it's title. Though sad, is just really beautiful, what this guy leaves his brother and father does not blow one away, but the song itself should. Listen to this record. just do it.

john vaderslice - cellar door album cover I first heard of John Vanderslice back in 2002 when I first became a nerd for Kid Dakota and Alva Star. Kid Dakota had drawn the interest of Vanderslice, and he had some of their songs posted on his studio's page: Tiny Telephone. I didn't really realize he was much more than a producer/engineer until I was out in san fran and while at a show, between bands, the sound guy was playing a Vanderslice record, Life and Death of an American Fourtracker I think it was, and it sounded good. Vanderslice is good, really interested in finding the right studio sounds for everything, and all that he does is always just really nicely recorded. Cellar Door is not his most recent release, but is my favorite. His latest, Pixel Revolt, has a little too much electronicextras for me to really get into. Cellar door captures my attention every time. Up Above the Sea is my favorite off of it. John sets out to snipe a bluebird that has been hanging out in his backyard... nice guy.

post script: it was my birthday last week, and so I bought some new CDs that didn't yet make it onto here, the new neko case and new rhett miller being two of them, look forward to those as well as more for next month, or perhaps sooner if I find nothing else to do.