Thursday, August 28, 2008

my mind is filled with radio cures

this song, telephone (link to mp3) by petracovich just kills me every time i listen to it. so tender, so sad, so direct. there's another mp3 on the website and more music at her myspace page.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

hot soft spots on a hard rock planet.

This was quite a week for music. Eight bands at three events, and while I liked some more than others, none sucked. Which is always good.

Wednesday night, a friend who I hadn't seen in a long time was singing back-up on a few songs at the record release show for Goh Nakamura, so I figured I'd go check it out. A bonus was that Scrabbel were playing as well. I hadn't heard of them until I got the email announcement for the show. So I clicked through their website and was instantly hooked by their infectious pop. The show was as good as I'd hoped. Scrabbel were charming and Goh Nakamaurah was outstanding. His songs are soulful and (especially on the new album Ulysses) you can hear the Beatle influence loud and clear.

Thursday my band hosted (but did not play this time) our monthly Vive le Rock night of indie music at Mr. Smiths. Our guests this month were The French Semester (from LA), Man Versus and The Lag.

The French Semester, friends of our drummer Carter, were outstanding. Crisp, tight, and energetic. The latest record, Open Letter to the Disappeared, is a solid collection of lo-fi, laconic pop that reminded me of their fellow LA bands Irving and (Irving spin-off) Sea Wolf (now with a song in a car commercial!). The theme of the night (for me) was cool instruments, and bassist Gil Disloquez's Hofner bass (strung for his left-handed playing...just like Paul!) made me want one of my own. And for only $349 at Musician's Friend, that just might happen.

Man Versus, who are based down in San Jose, brought out a good crowd and delivered with an excellent set. The most obvious comparison is Mates of State, thanks to the piano-heavy arrangements. MV's sound is more expansive, however. Next to the music, the coolest thing (following my theme for the show) had to be guitarist Jennifer Roye's bad-ass flying-V Gibson (like Gil's bass, strung to be played left handed) which she played through a Marshall head and cabinet. I mention this because you'd think, seeing that gear, that she'd be a total shredding rocker. Turns out a relative is, which is where she got the gear. And while she didn't fire up any 80's hair-metal riffs, her playing was excellent.

Sunday afternoon was the inaugural Rock Make Festival deep in the heart of the Mission. A gaggle of bands were scheduled. I managed to catch French Miami, Rademacher and Man/Miracle. Besides the music, a bunch of area independent artists, jewlery and clothing designers had tables full of good stuff.

You'd think this would be enough to sate me, but in addition to our own rehearsals, there's upcoming shows by Calexico, Spoon, and My Bloody Valentine among others. And this without going to the Outside Lands and Treasure Island Music Festivals.

And of course, the September installment of Vive le Rock, featuring us, The Sleepover Disaster, and short films by Waylon Bacon. September 18 at Mr. Smiths.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

despite all the amputation you could dance to the rock 'n' roll station

The USGS runs a research project where they've put sensor-activated remote-controlled cameras in Glacier National Park.

Go to the page and you can see videos of bear cubs fighting wolves and dancing bears. No, it's got nothing to do with the Grateful Dead or Russian music or the circus. Just bears doing their tree rub thing, which makes it looks like they're dancing.

Try watching it and not smiling. But heed the warning at the end...don't dance with the bears.

big ol' jet airliner

This piece in the New Republic (which I saw via TPM) dicusses how much longer it will be before airline travel becomes too pricey for most of us. The main problem of course is the cost of oil. In fact, the article contains this startling nugget:
Despite recent fluctuations, a growing number of economists are bracing for oil to hit or surpass $200 per barrel in a few years, and most industry analysts agree with Douglas Runte, of RBS Greenwich Capital, who told The Wall Street Journal in June, "Many airline business models cease to work at $135-a-barrel oil prices."
So what happens then? Does the joke commercial from a year or so back, where we have to pay for overhead storage and the bathroom, come true? We already have to pay to check bags on most airlines. The airlines even charge more for exit row seating now. So what's next?

Beyond the prices it's also the experience that has become dismal. Fewer flights means almost all of them are packed, even the red eyes. Packed flights are also more likely to create tense passengers. And going through secrurity becomes more annoying and demoralizing year after year. Shoes off, no liquids in > 3oz containers. This despite any solid evidence that anyone can bring down a plane with a shoe-bomb or a regular sized container of shampoo.

Now there's word that TSA can seize laptops and other data devices *without probable cause*, download the data and can take their sweet time getting the evice back to the owner. And the standards seem to differ at every ariport. At Lihue Airport in Kauai recently, I was asked to remove my digital camera because it looked too much like a video camera (I'll add that the TSA crew there were totally pleasant about it, so no disrespect to them). This was a surprise because I didn't realize video cameras were a problem in and of themselves. It's not that I don't appreciate security measures - I certainly don't want to be blown up mid-air. But please, can we get some sanity back into the process?

Between high prices, deterioriating services and annoying and just plain incomprehensible (and possibly unconstitutional) security processes, it's like the airlines and the government would rather we don't fly at all.