Friday, August 24, 2007

playing kiss covers, beautiful and stoned

** update, monday 8/27...

good review of the show here. i'll agree with most of it save for the comment about sky blue sky bieng kind of sterile. yeah, it's mellow and precise, but it's a beautiful record. everytime i listen i hear new things in the playing and arranging that i didn't notice before. i'll agree that played live the band added some dynamic range to the sky blue sky songs, but that's the point -- i don't want to see a band recreate the studio versions when they play live.

in any event, a great show. they're such a solid band, full of amazing musicians playing songs that are superbly written and imaginatively arranged. the greek is a wonderful venue...clean sight-lines, good sound. it's quite a sight to see the lights reflecting off of the tree canpoy behind the crowd.

Wilco! Tonight! Hooray!

...doing "Heavy Metal Drummer" at Bonnaroo...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

you cast a long shadow and that is your testament

yes, i did just post about joe strummer last week. but it's his birthday today (he'd have been 55), so why not. from streetcore, the last mescaleros album..."coma girl"...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

she's got a new spell

the beginning of a new relationship can be such a roller coaster of emotions. you meet someone special and the chemistry and attraction can be an overwhelming rush...conflicting parts of your brain and heart (and yes, other organs) are sending simultaneous signals to "speed up!!" and "slow down!!". you want the "speed up" instincts to take over because there's no endorphin rush like what romance can give you, apologies to runners and adrenaline junkies out there who swear by the runner's high or the thrill of hurtling down a mountain on skis or a bike.

at the same time, especially if you've been through a few relationships, you want to be able to take time and take stock and make sure it's right. you don't want to get in too far and too quickly for fear of getting hurt (again). however, too much taking stock and too much caution dulls the rush. and you can't really experience the thrills of romance if you aren't willing to risk the hurt. so goes the internal dynamic, at least for us overly-analytical types. and especially for us overly-analytical types who also happen to be pisces...ruled by both rationality and emotion, by both the head and the heart.

then there's the interpersonal dynamic, the process of getting to know the other person. that's also terrain filled with the rush of exploration and the pause to make sure everything is as perfect as can be. you want to always be putting your best foot forward, not putting your foot in your mouth. you want to make sure you're reading signals correctly and responding appropriately, while at the same time signaling what you want and hoping that's taken the right way. you want to show off your best qualities and mute the less desirable traits (and let's be honest, we're all imperfect). you want to be both accommodating to the other person's desires and at the same time you have to be able to speak up when there's something that you're not totally happy with. it's a delicate dance for sure, but the best way is to just be yourself and be confident that if you've worked on making yourself into a good person that those qualities will shine through and that you'll be loved for those qualities.

it's complex and complicated and layered. it's exhilarating and a bit nerve-wracking. you as much want to dive into the deep end as you want to tip-toe in via the shallow end.

but in the end it's worth it, so says this unabashed romantic. at the moment i'm feeling as alive and on edge as i have in a while, but in a good way. there's something at hand that's worth making sure blossoms. i'm shedding the internal caution and hyper-rationality that marked my behavior in my last relationship and letting the moment take over, and it feels good.

Monday, August 13, 2007

they say the stars can’t see their rays, nor can they count their numbered days

sunday i finally got around to watching "let's rock again" a documentary about joe strummer and his last band, the mescaleros. shot in 2001 and 2002, it follows joe and the band as they tour japan and the united states. strummer passed away not long after the japanese tour and the recording of a final mescaleros record, streetcore.

preview clip here...

we see joe and the band on the road promoting their second record, global a go-go. in japan he is greeted backstage and on the street by people positively verklempt at meeting a true music legend. i know i'd have had a hard time not being a gushing idiot had i had the chance to met him.

we also see something remarkable -- a completely unaffected and blase joe, doing a cold call to a south jersey radio station to promote the album and the show in atlantic city. we see joe on the a.c boardwalk trying to drum up business for the show. we see joe sitting on the street and just hanging out with some kids who are presumably no older than his own kids...just chatting with them about music as if in fact they are his kids. joe *fucking* strummer doing what neophyte artists do to get noticed. that should serve as an object lesson to any artist who thinks he's too big to interact with the hoi polloi.

i'm not too much affected by celebrity death and misadventure. paris hilton in jail means nothing to me. however, i was upset when kurt cobain killed himself...though i sometimes wonder if he -- or rather his legacy -- like james dean and marilyn monroe, was better served by dying young.

with joe, though...his sudden death, at a point in his life where he was still making good music, still passionate about his work...any time i hear his voice i get a little sad. in fact, i stumbled on this clip for his version of bob marley's "redemption song" recently...

it affects me every time i watch it...i'll cop to getting a bit misty-eyed (and it's playing now as i finish this post, and well, let's say the room's a bit dusty). check out the comments, especially the oldest ones. you can see what strummer and his music meant to people. and this comment by zeke7777 speaks to the scenes i mentioned in "let's rock again" where joe is tirelessly promoting his show and the record -- "joe strummer was never bigger than his smallest fan."

joe was a true original, a true punk in the sense of living his values, even if the values cost him material goods. the clash really were for a while "the only band that really matters", because their music was so infused with politics and passion. joe never wavered from that combination. check out the voice-over that starts the clip. that was joe...idealism and passion, not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve.

so hard to choose between conceit and rock

the music spigot's been on full blast lately...lots of shows seen and yet to see, lots of records to get...

saturday kp and i headed to amoeba in the haight for an in-store by john vanderslice. like the national and spoon (see below) vanderslice is a guy who for some reason i just hadn't gotten into yet, despite the fact that his music is right in line with what i tend to like. after his set, during which he was warm, engaging and fun, i think i'll pay a bit more attention.

thursday was my friend sadie's band, invisible cities. awesome indie pop, moving from upbeat and charming to moody to arty to straight out rocking. the new album should be a good one.

the last time i saw yo la tengo was most likely back in the early 1990s. yeah, a long time ago. seeing them again at the kusf birthday show brought back memories of my indie rock college days. they were in good form, opening with a cover of the ramones' "sheena is a punk rocker", part of a set-long tribute to the year 1977. they also slipped in a fleetwood mac song, as well as jonathan richman's "roadrunner" among their own songs. all that and the bass player looked a bit like ricky from "better off dead".

two bands that i'm surprisingly late to the party on are spoon and the national. spoon i saw last year open for death cab for cutie. seeing them live i came away liking them more than i had just from hearing some songs now and again on kexp. for whatever reason not enough to buy any records, but enough to open my mind. then hearing some tracks off of ga ga ga ga ga something clicked and i bought the last few albums. got-damn if girls can tell isn't as good as the hype. likewise with the newest record. seriously, where have i been the last 6 years or so on these guys, huh?

kexp has been playing the national for a while, and again, like with vanderslice and spoon, i'd dig them on the radio but for whatever reason didn't move on it. then i went to see them play along with the broken west a month or so ago, and as i noted, i was blown away. i've been playing boxer and alligator almost non-stop as of late.

and upcoming? well this week is patti smith for sure, and possibly the magic numbers and then detroit cobras. not to mention wilco the week after next!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

listen, do you want to know a secret, do you promise not to tell?

** update...August 13 -- almost a week later and still no response to an email I sent to Sen. Feinstein's office. Shameful. I did get an unsolicited email fron Sen. Boxer about her sponsoring of legislation to prevent illegal spyware downloads. I'd like to know from Sen. Boxer how she could let her colleague vote for a bill with more pernicious spying capabilities than any software.

I can't begin to describe how disappointed I am in Democrats on Capitol Hill for capitulating to the fear-mongering and pressure from the Bush administration and passing a truly excereble piece of legislation, the update of FISA legislation. Twelve Senate Democrats, including one of my Senators, Dianne Feinstein, voted for it. Shame on you. Forty-one House Democrats voted for it (thankfully NOT my Rep. Nancy Pelosi). Shame on the 41 of you. Glenn Greenwald does his usualy masterful job of explaining why this is bad, so I won't rehash. Suffice to say that the party has control of Congress and thus the upper-hand in crafting legislation that would safeguard civil liberties without weakening security. All they had to do was pass that legislation and either let the GOP filibuster it or let Bush veto it and turn the "weak on national security" argument against them. As is the Dems now get painted as weaklings who bowed to pressure when things got heavy. It's like they forgot that they *won* in the fall precisely because people are fed up with current GOP policy in just about everything.

The legislation sunsets in 6 months. One can only hope that Congressional Democrats will grow a spine between now and then.