Kanrocksas Canceled…Summer Music Festivals Kinda Suck Now


Bahahahahaha! Hmmm…what I have been bitching and writing about for 2 years has finally bitten people in the ass. Kings of Leon is not a freaking headliner. RHCP is not a headliner, unless you’ve been duped into going to Firefly. And to think Tom Petty must share that label with them. Mumford and Sons is headlining the same show as Paul McCartney? Ya see, people? You have a problem, and now you must deal with it. Depeche Mode and Muse are headlining ACL? Need I go on? Okay…Mumford is double-dipping at Lollapalooza, along withThe Killers. Jesus Christ!!! Oh, and last but not least, guess who was headlining Kanrocksas before it was canceled? Fun! They sucked a year ago when they came out of nowhere, with a hit single similar to Hanson, and having changed nothing about their style, they continue to churn out more crap. Enjoy it folks!

Now I’m puttin’ on Dark Side of the Moon to sooth my nerves.

Music to Remember…

Music and Memory 1
How many memories, and how much music, do you associate with each other?
How far back, can you leap-frog through your memories, using only music?
When you listen to music now, which sparks a memory and experience from a time passed, do you experience sensual emotions from them? What kind? How do they feel? Are they mild, like you could easily multitask while still maintaining proper focus on the song? Are they paralyzingly powerful, bringing to your knees, making everything else around you zone out, pause, stand still?

During my spring break, all that has kept me sane, through hours of outlining, is music. Requiring hours of ammunition, I reached for a variety, and the first place I think to search, when needing choices I often neglect, are musical experiences from my past. Think about how many of your experiences were at least partially defined by the music playing in the background. I have a feeling you have not dug deep enough to locate those memories I am referring to. Here’s an example: I can recall lots of childhood memories just by putting on the soundtrack from the Super Nintendo game, Super Metroid. I can remember tagging along for one of older brother’s birthday parties, in which a pair of his friends played this game for hours, into the night, and beat it at around 6 a.m. I can remember playing it with and without Game Genie. I can remember being scared to go through certain doors in the game, because of “Boss” monsters, so I watched my older brother play those parts. I could go on, just about Metroid music, but you get the idea.
Earlier today, I listened to the soundtrack from Blood Diamond, which not only puts me into a sort of goose bumpy trance, but I think about the last time I revisited the film, late, after a night of cooking eating, drinking, talking, and listening to records.
Earlier this week, I listened to lots of Tom Waits (…so what else is new?) and some Arlo Guthrie, and they reminded my doing the same, with my dad, over Christmas break. Every time I listen to Waits, I think back to the road trip I took in July, 2009. That was when my friend turned me on to him, so now I think about my friend and that trip every time.
Just before that road trip, I was continuing to work at a French restaurant, as the chef. There was always French music playing, and the library there was relatively small. Needless to say, I grew tired of it quickly. This week, I stumbled on one of the discs they played there, the soundtrack to Amelie. While listening to it, I could feel being back in the restaurant, I could hear my boss announcing a new table, or a new ticket, or to “Fire” the next order. I could smell the essence of food that became trapped in the same pair of pants I wore throughout most of my shifts there. I can even remember preparing certain things while certain songs, played, or that my boss, Guillaume, really enjoyed this song: Comptine d’un autre ete: L’Apres-midi, which you can hear here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xQZ0AQHYgYI
While my reminiscence goes beyond, a good place to start is with soundtracks to movies. Braveheart, Cast Away, Sideways, Jaws, Inception, Letters from Iwo Jima, Pan’s Labyrinth, Forrest Gump, Ocean’s 11, The Edge, or even Peter’s Song, from Peter and the Wolf, all have special meaning to me.
What songs, bands, soundtracks, etc. elicit the most vivid memories and powerful emotions?

Jim James, of My Morning Jacket, Goes Solo

Jim James 1
Jim James went solo for his new album, Regions of Light and Sound of God, (listen here: http://www.npr.org/2013/01/27/170199655/first-listen-jim-james-regions-of-light-and-sound-of-god), which will come out on Feb. 5, 2013. There are only vague similarities with it and what we fans have come to love and rely upon from My Morning Jacket. That is not to say this is an inferior work. Think of it this way: it would be hard to compare the pleasure you receive from a perfectly grilled burger, topped with Port Salut, bacon, tomatoes onions, and avocado, to a chilled wedge of watermelon. Would you even want to imagine living without one of them, though? Moving on…
The thematic sound and effect projected by this music is haunting. Just James and complementary sounds and instruments make for an eerie sound, which borders on sad, but the second you start to feel sad from the song, that feeling is instantly replaced by great desire to hear the next part of the story. To listen to any of these songs, and to disappear into sadness, would be do yourself a disservice. Each song is a segment of time. They are connected, but nevertheless, distinct and independent, and self-sustaining. James has a story to unfold in each one of these songs, an issue, which has weighed on his mind, that he will sort out in ‘this’ song. These issues are not so rare as to be foreign to anyone, but I am captivated by listening and wanting to hear his take on it. I want to know, more than anything, what he think about “it.”
Talking musical technique is me shooting in the dark, and therefore, it’s not worth your time. In my area of expertise is a more sophisticated version of, “If you liked…You will also like…” I could not put my finger on it until I heard the song, “Of the Mother Again.” The beginning reminded me of John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy,” which made me think that the style of this entire solo album reminds me of Lennon’s solo work, only darker. Both succeeded with simplicity. So often, it was just Lennon at the piano, telling a story as he saw it, with perfect rhymes to draw your focus to the elements crucial to a complete understanding. Maybe John Lennon transfigured/translocated into Jim James.
I have only listened to the album once, all the way through, but it is playing for a second time right now. Since I lack the capability to delve into the technical aspects of music, and in many respects I am grateful for that kind of ignorance, I like to review new music just as I am hearing it for the first time. My reactions will be the most visceral, and I will be better able to convey the emotion the music elicits from me.
I was hooked from the very beginning, as one of my favorite songs is the first one, “State of the Art.” “A New Life” is simply perfect. And I wish “Exploding” was a longer instrumental, because I can see daydreaming to that song.
Listen to this album without expecting anything from My Morning Jacket, except the voice and genius of the lead singer (that’s it?), and you will be as happy as I. NPR featured the album on their program, First Listen, in which you can hear the whole thing for free. (http://www.npr.org/2013/01/27/170199655/first-listen-jim-james-regions-of-light-and-sound-of-god)

Check it out and let me know what you think.


Jim James 2

New Music: My Tears of Love, for “The Damnwells,” Changed to Tears of Sadness and Disappointment

Sad Day…

Calling all musicians! What the hell is happening? What is this plague of converting from instruments to computers that is even starting to infect the indie scene? I already moved Neon Trees from “favorites” to the “maybe” pile. They fell flat with their new album. An acquaintance of mine just reviewed the new Muse album that turned onto a one-way street, going in the wrong direction. (http://www.thedailyserge.com/2012/11/on-that-note.html) They incorporated dubstep into some of their songs. I like dubstep, but just as I would not want to go to a rave and grind to a Jim Croce song, I do not want to see bands blurring all the lines that once made music genres unique and desirable.

The Damnwells, a band you have probably only heard of if you read my review of them many months ago. I fell in love with the acoustic guitar, piano, and both cheery and depressing lyrics. Via Facebook, I came across a song they just created and released. It sucks. It really, really, really does. This is coming from someone who adores most of their other songs. Whether or not they used auto-tune with the vocals, that is the resulting sound, and it is not a good effect. Other than the piano, I detect no other instruments. There are several sounds that remind me of the ones your hear coming out of a $75 keyboard in a nursing home. Needless to say, the mix of sounds not unpleasant.

This being an indie band, presumably still seeking to be discovered by more potential fans, it got me thinking about a discussion I had with some friends about a year ago. The theme of the conversation was music, for the most part, is making a gradual, but inevitable transition from sounds coming from instruments, made by the fallible human, to the flawless, computer-generated mimicry, which has already taken over the pop music scene. That my friends, who love most of the music I do, said this with a straight, but candid face, terrified me. I considered, afterwards, that it might not be the case, and the fear drifted. This stark change in the Damnwell’s musical vision revitalized the fear. My question is how legitimate is my fear that the imperfections in voices and instrument-playing, I love so much, might one day be in a reservoir that is no longer being added to?

For your consideration, have a listen to a couple songs from the Damnwells’ previous albums, and what they are producing now:

Golden Days – http://grooveshark.com/s/Golden+Days/uYTfH?src=5
Graceless – http://grooveshark.com/s/Graceless/3AnAiZ?src=5
Werewolves – http://grooveshark.com/s/Werewolves/3ADvnq?src=5
The Great Unkown – http://grooveshark.com/s/The+Great+Unknown/3ADwCQ?src=5
Soundtrack – http://grooveshark.com/s/Soundtrack/3IOGCl?src=5
Like It Is – http://grooveshark.com/s/Like+It+Is/3IOHEB?src=5

The New one:
Say What You Want – http://t.co/yYgpyqVy

New Music: Taylor Swift is the Next Bob Dylan?

I read it, it struck a nerve, or more accurately my entire CNS, so I must share…to see who’s with me and who thinks I am overreacting. I am pretty sure I can swing this post so it is more about revealing new and relevant-to-this-blog music for you all to listen to, and less about wagging my finger at Brian Hiatt. Who is Brian Hiatt? He is the writer who most recently interviewed Taylor Swift; she covers Rolling Stone this issue. Let me say, I listened to some Swift a couple years ago, and then kind of forgot about her; it appears few other listeners followed suit. I liked many of the songs I heard, but I was hesitant to become a fan, as I would feel awkward going to one of her shows, and screaming “Taaaaaaylor!!!” surrounded by 15 year old girls. Nevertheless, I read this article, and it referenced a couple of songs, which I then listened to, and they were good, especially “Ronan.” (here’s a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Una5ubk2GTY) “Dear John” was another song Hiatt mentioned, categorizing it as one of Swift’s ‘break-up’ songs…“She’s also written break-up tunes, that in their own way, rival “Idiot Wind” for mercilessness.” SCREEEEEEEEEEEECH! Stop! Wait! Hold on a second! Idiot Wind, huh?
I have already stated that I like Swift’s music, I like her voice, and her song-writing ability is noticeably good. As I sit here writing this, and as I sat there reading that article, both Bob’s autographed picture and a ‘Highway 61’ road sign, I promise I procured in the best way possible, sat above me, on the wall. One thing at a time…First, for comparing Dear John to Idiot Wind, suffice it to say we know who the real idiot is. Second, I am not critiquing Swift personally, or even her songs per se, but it is prudent to point out that at the same age Swift is, Bob was making:
You’re No Good
Talkin’ New York
In My Time of Dyin’
Man Of Constant Sorrow
Fixin’ To Die
Pretty Peggy-O
Highway 51
Gospel Plow
Baby, Let Me Follow You Down
House Of the Risin’ Sun
Freight Train Blues
Song To Woody
See That My Grave Is Kept Clean


Blowin’ In The Wind
Girl From The North Country
Masters Of War
Down The Highway
Bob Dylan’s Blues
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
Bob Dylan’s Dream
Oxford Town
Talkin’ World War III Blues
Corrina, Corrina
Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance
I Shall Be Free
After reading the article, I immediately located a place on the Rolling Stone’s site I could comment as directly as possible to Hiatt. His statement was borderline libel. Well, not really, but you get the point. Or maybe I have gone off my nut. You be the judge—here is a link to “Dear John,” as well as a song Hiatt said was almost as powerful, therefore implying it was worthy of being compared to a Dylan song, “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Finally, here is a link to Bob’s “Idiot Wind.”

Dear John – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y28pUGkk9vc
I Knew You Were Trouble – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2eCHdqFYj4

Idiot Wind – http://grooveshark.com/s/Idiot+Wind/2SBOo3?src=5

Anyway, here is the message I posted:

“ATTN: Brian Hiatt

As I read the Swift article, peering down on me was my autographed picture of Bob Dylan, and I swear I saw it weep when you compared “Dear John” to “Idiot Wind.” All joking aside, I listened to both of the break-up songs you made reference to, following along with the lyrics. Then I did the same with Dylan’s song. I was going to look up your age and then claim that you are just not old enough to get it, but I realized I am 24 and I get it. Rather than compare your assertion to the first word of the Dylan’s title, I will, instead, make it clear that Swift has a pretty voice, and she is a good song-writer. Hell, compared to the other singers and musicians she is competing with, she is amazing. However, it was just silly to make such a ridiculous comparison. At Swift’s age, Dylan was releasing “The Free Wheelin’ Bob Dylan,” so let’s be logical about our proclamations, shall we. Yes, brutality was present in Dear John, a clever, albeit ‘easy’, title, while Dylan’s title, clever on a whole different level, premises brutality of an irreparable magnitude. Making such a comparison is like saying Dr. Seuss’s “Cat in the Hat” rivals A.E. Housman’s “Eight O’ Clock;” it’s like comparing “The Girl Next Door” to “The Shawshank Redemption.” I hope my point is clear, that everything and everyone I mentioned are good, only that some are a lot better than others.”

Austin City Limits Enjoyed from My Bed

Of course it is not as good as living the real thing, but neither is experiencing no version of period. Austen City Limits is taking place a I type this, and furthermore as I type this, Ben Howard is wrapping up his set. I do not remember where I first came across him, perhaps on another music blog, but in any event, I already featured him a post many months ago. https://liv4music.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/new-music-pulverized-by-ben-howard/
Watching the live stream of Ben Howard was pretty amazing. While he went through his set list, when he played a song I was unfamiliar with, I would continue editing the post that is about to go up on my food blog, at http://www.thedailyserge.com. Like I had electrodes running up and down my spine, the second I heard the beginning of a song I knew, I would instantly get chills and shivers of pleasure. I definitely made the most of watching a live show from bed.
I wanted to share the news that the whole festival is streaming through Youtube, (here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNZlxoohoHXnaVPVfmifNYQ) over this weekend, so I would check it out. Earlier today, I listened to First Aid Kit, a group from Sweden, and Tegan and Sara, from Canada, perform, and both are now on my ever-growing list of bands I listen to regularly. (Yeah, having been on break from school, I continued my typical school work routine, but augmented with several hours of lovely, distracting, music-listening sessions each day)

Waits that Lift Me Up

In the last couple of weeks, my ‘world’ has been changed in virtually every single way. I moved from my hometown, to a new state, 1000 miles away, in a state I do not know anyone in, I am starting at a new school, a law school which operates unlike any school I have ever attended, I am living in a house with four other people, due to tripled insurance premiums in my new locale, I will be relinquishing the use of my car, I am running in a new park, I am working out in a new gym, my recreational time has swapped out reading and writing blog posts (except this one) with reading and annotating law cases, and my ‘new’ mattress of my ‘new’ bed does not have any springs. The last time something like this happened (the start of undergrad), I had a couple of emotional breakdowns at the start. I thought this transition would result in similar outcomes, but since undergrad, I suppose I have learned what I need at arm’s reach to keep me happy. I need my music and some personal items I cannot part with. Since this is a music blog, I will focus on the former, and a specific piece of the former at that.
Tom Waits!!! I was introduced to his music during the summer of 2009, on a road trip in the Southwest. At first, I hated him. My god his voice was terrible; the melodies were barely melodies, and some of the instrumental sounds were like I have heard on a street corner. It had happened before, and it will happen again. Over some time, I revisited him, as the friend who first played Waits for me had respectable music taste. I love’em!
His lyrics are as clever and funny and brilliant as Bob Dylan. His voice(s) is/are as distinct as Dylan’s. The number of songs of his that I would say are favorites rivals that of Dylan. I am not suggesting, whatsoever, that Tom Waits is as good, better, or worth comparing, in detail, to him at all. I am pointing out that since Bob’s incredible talent is indisputable, anyone mentioned in the same breath is definitely worth taking a look at. What I once hated about Dylan, I now love, and the same is true of Tom Waits. That is not even the point either, though. The point is that while settling into my new life, Tom Waits has acted as one of the primary crutches (Dylan being one of the others, in the form of music and also his auto-ed pic that overlooks my bed) I have used to keep myself tied to a chapter of a, now-passed, life, one which was among my favorites. My greatest, indirect pleasure I receive from Tom Waits is that everyone of his songs I listen to reminds me of Bill, one of my best and loved friends, even if he never played some of them. That combined with his lyrics, his occasionally soft and soothing voice, his guitar and piano, and when I sing along with him that tears me apart (in a good way) and causes throbs of chills (also of the good variety).
Like a post about Dylan (I have been considering writing one for months, but I am terrified), song recommendations are permissible due to the sheer quantity one would otherwise have to navigate through. (Honestly, how many explorers were there in the ‘old world’?) So…..

Tango Till We’re Sore (the haphazard, yet precise, opening piano, and the ragged voice project the title)
Blue Valentine
Closing Time and Midnight Lullaby – go hand-in-hand
Grapefruit Moon (I giggle every time he says “grapefruit moon”)
Rain Dogs
Downtown Train (Yeah! I bet you thought this was a Rod Stewart song…he wishes)
Had Me A Girl (I heard this one for the first time as I was writing this. You can start singing along the first time you hear it)
Jersey Girl
On The Nickel
Ol’ 55
God’s Away On Business
Christmas from a Hooker in Minneapolis
Ice Cream Man (ONE OF MY ALL TIME’S) Here’s a link for this one; you can Youtube the others, just like I did for this one. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1TLD98iOB4
I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You
Tom Traubert’s Blues
Come On Up To The House
Eggs And Sausage
Warm Beer and Cold Women
Fumblin’ With The Blues
Misery Is The River Of The World

….Note how many of his songs are titled with proper names, and also notice how different his voice sounds, depending on the song (true of Bob Dylan too, but I don’t think he has a choice).