Friday, August 29, 2008


Wow! Take Beck and mix in Danger Mouse and Cat Power and you get “Walls” off Modern Guilt. While I’m loving the whole record, “Walls” has become my latest musical obsession. Thankfully, repeat and headphones exists. The beats, melody, and lyrics work so well together. This song is dark and speaks to the lassitude that so many of us in our country feel now. “Some days we get a thrill in our brains / Some days it turns into malaise / You see your face in the veneer / Reflected on the surface of fear,” the songs open.

Thinking about this song after listening to Barack Obama’s amazing speech last night, I can’t help but to feel how this song, and really the whole album, is a reflection of our lives after 8 years of W—and damage that has been done to us and the rest of the world, not just physically or financially, but more important spiritually.

Here’s a live version of the tune from the Outside Lands Festival.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Album Reveiw: Delta Spirit's Ode To Sunshine

Delta Spirit fit into that amorphous rock, folk, Americana milieu. That isn’t to say they’re derivative, because they aren’t. From the first notes of Ode To Sunshine, the band’s debut on Rounder Records, they show us its—well—spirit of music.

Recorded live in a cabin in the desert near Julian, California, the San Diego-based band has produced one of the most immediate and best sounding albums of the year. No studio trickery, just great musicians playing excellent songs.

While “House Built for Two” is a painfully beautiful break up song, the record is not just a collection of love songs. Ode To Sunshine also takes on the political and spiritual. On tracks such as “People C’mon,” “Streetwalker,” and “People Turn Around,” the personal is most definitely political.

The band is now heavily touring to support their major label debut. But I certainly hope this doesn’t mean that they’ll be too busy to write new songs because I am already looking forward to another record as great as this one.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The World As It Should Be

I thought Michelle Obama’s speech was excellent. I truly believe that we must, as she said, work for the “world as it should be.” This is also my responsibility as a person of faith. I lived on the South Side of Chicago for three years at 61st and Woodlawn (South Side!) working with inner city kids. In fact, I even got to meet Barack Obama very early in his political career. And he was, in fact, very impressive—perhaps, mostly because he sat at a table and listened to what we had to say. Now there’s a concept for a politicians. And I truly want to believe that Obama's down for change. Biden gives me doubts, but I’ll still vote for Barack Obama with enthusiasm, but mostly with hope.

So here’s Love and Hope by Ozomatli.

Love And Hope - Ozomatli


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rest In Peace

I was going to write my traditional Time Warp Wednesday today, but I was really struck by the deaths some amazing musicians in the last week. Last week Isaac Hayes passed away and today we heard about Johnny Moore who played trumpet and was one of the founders of The Skatalites and LeRoi Moore (There is no relation between the Moores) who played saxophone and, along with Dave Matthews and Carter Beauford, formed the Dave Matthews Band in the early 1990s. Each in their own way, these three cats were all pretty influential musicians. And to their families and fans, they will be greatly missed. Rest In Peace.

Here’s “Swing Easy” from The Skatalites.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Redneck Ingenuity

Man, oh, man did I wish I had my camera on the way home from work yesterday because I saw one of the greatest examples of redneck ingenuity that I’ve ever seen. The truth is, though, I probably never would have been able to get a good picture from the bus I was riding on. So I will attempt to recreate the visual image for you.

I was casually looking out my window and listening to my
iPod when what did I see pulling out of the junk shop parking lot? It was a 1980s vintage Toyota Tercel (see picture) with a red riding lawnmower strapped onto both the trunk and the roof. Now close your eyes and try and picture what I have described. Ok, you can stop laughing now.

I can usually find a song to connect with anything, but this one might have me stumped. Does anyone have any song ideas for mowers on top of cars? What about redneck ingenuity?

Here is one possibility in the category: Kid Rock’s "American Bad Boys." Wow, this is not only really bad; it’s really scary. I hope I can fall asleep tonight.


Sunday, August 17, 2008


Wow. Here's a band I'm sure you haven't heard yet. They're called Hummingbird and they were just formed by my 5-year-old son and my 15-month-old daughter. My son came up with the name. He was very clear that the name of the band is Hummingbird and not The Hummingbirds. I'm not sure when they will release their first album. But I can tell you this: Unlike the White Stripes, they're really siblings. I have also posted their album cover.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Time Warp Wednesday: Sleater-Kinney

For this week’s Time Warp Wednesday, I wanted to feature Sleater-Kinney. They were such a totally amazing band and I still listen to their music regularly. I have provided below some great live clips. If that’s not enough you can jump on over to NPR and download the band’s August 3, 2006 show at Washington, DC’s 9:30 Club. Enjoy!

Modern Girl


Dig Me Out

Rockin’ In The Free World (With Pearl Jam)


I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Talkin' to the Zipcode Man: The Mike Doughty Interview

Anyone listening to “Alternative” music in the mid to late 1990s, heard Soul Coughing and the unique lyrics of its leader/singer/guitarist, M. Doughy. Well, as most of you know, the “M” stands for Mike who left Soul Coughing in 2000 amid difficult personal and band circumstances. Getting clean and renting a car and logging 9000 miles on the road, he played solo shows building a base of both former Soul Coughing and new fans. This base allowed him to sell 20,000 copies of his first solo album, Skittish. In 2003, Doughty released another album independently, the EP Rockity Roll. In 2004 he signed with Dave Matthews' ATO label for the release of Haughty Melodic and Golden Delicious (My review is here.) in 2008. Dynamic Meter got the opportunity to email Mike Doughty some questions about the new album and more.

Dynamic Meter: "Fort Hood's" words and music have an opposite feel, serious words melded with dancey music. In this song, about soldiers going to Iraq and coming home again, the way the music and the words work together seems to reflect the way our country is existing during this war. We're at war, but we all go about our jaunty existences without much thought about the price of the conflict. Did you intentionally try to contrast the feel of the music with the meaning of the words?

Mike Doughty: That's interesting, I've never thought about it. "Let the Sunshine In" is by nature a pretty uplifting chorus—but at the same time there's so much tragedy in the song. It seems like a poetic combination to me.

DM: Talk about using the "Let the sun shine in" sample from the musical Hair?

MD: I found a recording online of the Japanese cast from Hair. I thought it would be really funny, and it was—but when it got to the chorus they switched to English, and I found it incredibly moving and pertinent. I grew up on sample-based hiphop and house music, so it didn't seem outlandish to just gank the chorus and weld it to my own, new song.

DM: A lot of people have such a fondness for Soul Coughing. However, you left the band under difficult personal circumstances. Do you approach the way you make music differently now?

MD: Unfortunately, Soul Coughing was a pretty oppressive environment, and as time went by, it became very difficult to bring my songs in and get my bandmates to play them the way I needed them to. So I definitely feel freer to pursue my impulses. That's a big difference. In terms of who I am just as a creative individual, I'm more or less the same guy.

DM: What did you grow up listening to? There's always a funkiness to your music.

MD: Led Zeppelin was the first band I really loved, and then the Replacements, and then the Rolling Stones, and then A Tribe Called Quest—that's kind of my litany of favorite bands in order of appearance. It was in the early 90s when awesome hiphop was everywhere in New York that I started thinking about marrying the beat to a song-y-er type of thing.

DM: I really dig the sound of the new record. It has a real live-cut feel. Why did you choose to record Golden Delicious this way?

MD: I just had a band that I loved, and I wanted to play to their strengths, and make some space for their musical personalities. Interestingly, a lot of the reaction to Golden Delicious (and a lot of negative reaction) is that it's pretty slick and poppy. Which blows my mind, as I thought I was making this very rough, spontaneous-feeling record. So, thank you : )

DM: Compared to Soul Coughing, your solo work seems more lyrically direct. What do you think?

MD: Yeah, in the past eight years or so, my stuff has been more narrative, more about stories. I don't really know what that's about. My lyric writing process is essentially the same as it's always been.

DM: Tell me about our relationship with the poet, Sekou Sundiata and his influence on your writing.

MD: Sekou was my teacher, and he really galvanized me—made me take the music of language seriously, sort of showed me the sacredness of working with words. Also, Ani DiFranco was my classmate, and she was SO much better than I was—I really felt competitive, and learned a lot just trying to cop her tricks!

DM: How does your DJing as Mikey Dough influenced your Mike Doughty tunes and shows and vice versa?

MD: I've really gotten into making beats. I'm not sure exactly how that's going to affect my next record, but I'm very obsessive about it. At the moment it's separate from writing songs, which I still do on an acoustic guitar in the kitchen. But that might change.

DM: Are you a zipcode man, a homebody?

MD: Yeah, I kind of am. I live pretty far out there in Brooklyn, where there isn't a lot going on. I stay home and write and work on music. Out here you can get a pretty gigantic space, so not being cooped up in a Manhattan shoebox makes staying home and working much more fun.

DM: I like the downloader amnesty you have on your website, where you are absolved of your illegal downloading sins by making a donation to Doctors Without Borders. Do you do many benefits?

MD: I do some benefits once in a while. But I feel conflicted being very public about charity—I prefer to make donations privately, without being ostentatious about it.

DM: What are you listening to and digging that might not be on most people's radar screens?

MD: Well, lately, Celia Cruz, this Japanese band called Uhnellys, and some of John Cage's "prepared piano" music. But that might be a little too far off anybody's radar screen. I don't know, I oscillate between some pretty out stuff, and very poppy kind of hit-single things—DMB and Kelly Clarkson and the like. I'm kind of woefully ignorant of the current state of indie rock.

Below, please enjoy some great sounds from Mike Doughty.

The Gambler Cover

Fort Hood


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Time Warp Wednesday: A History of Oh Death

So here's a little twist on Time Warp Wednesday courtesy of The Horse Flies. In my review of their recent album I talked about them covering Ralph Stanley's version of "Oh Death" from The Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Well it turns out I was little off on my knowlege of "Oh Death." But thanks to The Horse Flies, now I know. Here's what they emailed me.

"Tx so much. Looks great. Much appreciated. A little background ... we first recorded O Death in 1983 ... made 300 copies of a 45 ... so for us this was a return to that (a cover of ourselves! :--) ) rather than a cover of the version on O Brother. A band called the Thirteenth Floor Elevators recorded it before us. Camper Van Beethoven recorded it after us. Both of those pre-date O Brother. But I believe we all (including Ralph Stanley) got it from the same source: Doc Boggs, who I believe wrote it and recorded it around the late '20s. It's true title is 'Conversation with Death.'"

Ralph Stanley's Version:

Camper Van Beethoven's Version:

A version by The Horseflies found on the 1994 record, The Young Fogies, can be streamed here.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Vacation Is Over

Pick up the dogs from the kennel? Check. Unpack the van? Check. Find something for dinner after a week away and not going to the store? Check. Get the kids to bed? Check. Open the Netflix envelope that contains the first DVD of season 2 of Deadwood? Check.

Vacation was great and relaxing. And it was certainly hard to come back to reality which will begin at 5:45 AM tomorrow. But in the meantime my wife and I can feed our addiction to Deadwood. It is just such a great series.

One of the highlights of Deadwood is the music, especially the tunes that run during the credits. I'm talking about artists such as June Carter Cash, Lyle Lovett, Jelly Roll Morton, and Bob Dylan, to name a few. It's hard to top that.

If you haven’t delved into Deadwood, I can’t recommend it enough.