Monday, September 29, 2008

Miss T Dances to Frightened Rabbit

Here's a little fun for today. It's my 16 month old daughter, Miss T, dancing to Frightened Rabbit. Pardon the laundry and plywood floors. Hey, we're slowly remodeling. By the way Frightened Rabbit's Midnight Organ Fight is one of my favorite records of 2008. Check out my review here.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Time Warp Wednesday: The Captain from Kasey Chambers

The Captain is Australian alt-country singer Kasey Chambers first solo album, released in 1999. She spent her earlier career playing with the Dead Ringer Band, made up of her family. While she's still not very well known in the US, it is an understatement to say she is popular in Australia. She’s huge there. She has won multiple Aria Awards for her work. The Arias are like the Australian version of the Grammy Awards, but with better taste.

In addition to this being such a great record, I feel connected to it because I listened to The Captain a great deal when my wife an I were struggling to have our first child. (I talked more about that here.) So when she sings, "And even my weakness says we're gonna be just fine," in "Mr. Baylis," I knew just what she meant.

You can listen to six tracks from the record below.

The Captain

And a recent re-working of the title track with her husband, Shane Nicholson.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Its My Tenth Anniversary

So, today is my tenth anniversary. Our wedding song was Neil Young’s Harvest Moon. And, indeed, “I’m still in love with you.”


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cover Songs

So I’m a total sucker for cover songs. I dig, dig, dig them. I think they way a cover song is approached says a great deal about an artist or band. Covers can be pretty straight ahead or genre busting such as the Be Good Tanyas cover of Princes “When the Doves Cry.” Here's some coves that I really like. What do ya’ll think? What are some of your favorite cover songs?

Reel Big Fish Take On Me (Ah Ha)
Take On Me - Reel Big Fish

Be Good Tanyas When The Doves Cry (Prince)
When Doves Cry - The Be Good Tanyas

Watson Twins Just Like Heaven (The Cure)
Just Like Heaven - The Watson Twins

Joe Strummer and Johnny Cash Redemption Song (Bob Marley)
Redemption Song - Joe Strummer/Johnny Cash

Ryan Adams Wonderwall (Oasis)
Wonderwall - Ryan Adams

Brandi Carlile Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)

Mike Doughty The Gambler (Kenny Rogers)

Derek Webb and Sandra If Not For You (Bob Dylan)


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Album Review: A. A. Bondy's American Hearts

Just when I think there couldn’t possibly be another album to add to my mental list of the best records of 2008, along comes one more. Such was the case when I checked out A. A. Bondy after finding out he was opening for the Felice Brothers during the band’s recent Ithaca show.

A. A. is a populist singer-songwriter in the Steve Earle vein. High praise? Certainly. But also deserved. Take a listen to his solo debut, American Hearts, and you’ll see what I mean. This is a completely different sound for Bondy, who prior to going solo was the front man for the punkish Verbena. Not too many folks heard his old band, but I sure hope people tune into American Hearts.

Recorded in a barn studio in the Catskills with the Felice Brothers as the backing band, the album has the feeling of good friends making great music together. The arrangements are open and work perfectly with the lyrics and the feel of the songs.

Lyrically A. A. Bondy takes on the big themes of love, death, war, and religion. And the images he uses are wonderful. “There was a man with cinders for eyes / There was a girl with a dress made of flies,” he sings on the track, “There’s A Reason,” a very, very pretty yearning love song. Along with faith and the other subjects, politics is another topic featured prominently on the record. “Witness Blues,” takes on the topic of the war and military service. The title track is my new theme song for the election, containing all of my hopes for change and thoughts about what it means to be an American. And I’m right there with him when he sings, “And don't tread on me / For I am your brother / I was born with an American heart / And don't tread on her / For she is your sister / She was born with an American heart.”

Check out a live concert from SXSW that NPR recorded for All Songs Considered.


American Hearts

There's A Reason


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Time Warp Wednesday: Sea Change from Beck

Sea Change is Beck’s breakup record. By saying this, I certainly do not intend criticism. This is a great record. Released in September 2002, this album was inspired by the split with his long-time girlfriend. The album’s title reflects Beck’s life, but also the music itself. It is really free of the sampling and quirky lyrics that made him famous. Instead we have here a beautiful, melancholy album filled with strings and more of an emphasis on acoustic instruments. In addition, the lyrics are really wonderful. Take “Lost Cause” for instance. “Your sorry eyes cut through the bone / They make it hard to leave you alone.” OR, “I Guess I’m Doing Fine.” “There’s a bluebird at the window / I can’t hear the song he sings / All the jewels in Heaven / Don’t look the same to me.” This powerful, personal writing really makes this one of Beck’s great records.

Check out this recent version of "Lost Cause."


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins is without a doubt one of my two favorite saxophone players. John Coltrane is the other. But since today is Sonny’s 78rth birthday, that’s who I’m talking about. He has released so many incredible albums—Saxophone Colossus, Tenor Madness, The Bridge, and the recent Without A Song*/ And at 78 he is one of the few jazz giants still alive and playing. If you’re not familiar with his work, any of the aforementioned albums are a great place to start.

*This live album was recorded a few days after 9/11. Sonny Rollins was in his Manhattan apartment near the World Trade Center during the attacks. He talks about that experience during this interview on Fresh Air.

Here’s a sampling of his work.

St Thomas, Live 1959

Four, Live 1968

Global Warming, Live 1998


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Time Warp Wednesday: Lenny Kravitz's Let Love Rule

I was a senior in high school when Lenny Kravitz released Let Love Rule. Given a lot of what MTV was playing at the time, this record didn’t sound like other music at the time and Lenny Kravitz sure didn’t look like anyone at the time. Both of these are good things. So when the video for “Let Love Rule” started getting some rotation, I paid attention and bought the album.

One of the elements that made this record so impressive was that Lenny Kravitz, with a few exceptions, played all of the instruments. All of the songs on the album are really strong, but Rosemary has to be my favorite song. And political tracks such as “Mr. Cab Driver” were a welcome addition to the airways in 1989.

What’s strange is that as much as I really dug Let Love Rule, I never really followed his career after this. Sure, I heard the singles, but I was never really motivated to buy another record. Have any of you had any bands that you have done this with?

Let Love Rule

Mr. Cab Driver