Monday, December 27, 2010

dearest 2010, don't let the door hit you in the ass while i kick your ugly mug to the fucking curb

yup, this year was quite the kick in the teeth. there were a few highs- all music-related. some shit went down and it was the kind of shit that helps you figure out who your real friends are and i was surprised and humbled by the grace and loyalty that several people heaped onto me. i have a difficult time thinking that i deserve such treatment even at the best of times so when as many showed me this level of loyalty as did this year i am humbled and endlessly grateful for my unbelievable fortune to have such awesome friends.
2011 i'm hoping will be a reconstruction year- a lot of end-points were met, mostly financial. like every year, i'd like to start getting my debt under control. one of the nice things about having a special needs cat is that we can't really afford to entertain the notion of touring next year. it's going to have to be daytrips here and there. we will most likely get to play in kansas city again next year- probably just as a two-piece, but it'll still be a lot of fun- and i'm hoping we can get one or two more similar trips in. i'm also looking forward to getting some more 'chinese blue' work in there. a few of the tapes with some key tracks have gone missing. i do hope to release the first two 'field of flowers' 7"es. i'm beginning to think that i might just go all microlabel and only press 100 of each of them. i'd also like to release 'christmas suite' as a 12" next christmas. i've got the dvd done and will probably bring a few copies of it to sell at the show tomorrow night, but i would love to get the damned thing pressed to vinyl. time shall tell- what's more i'm pretty sure it's a pipe dream to get two 7"es AND a 12" released in a year without some outside help. it's always been my custom to aim way too high and then, as a result, be pleased that anything turns out. it's kind of my life philosophy.
i'd also like to get myself a new (and better) job in 2011. i should take a number though- from what i've read and heard 85% of the workforce in america is looking to do the same thing. i think everyone who had a job during the recession just stuck it out there thinking that they were better off just staying at a job that was secure rather than looking for something new. what will this mean? i'm not entirely sure...
we shall see...
we shall see...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

'christmas suite' redux

finally finished it. i have burned a handful of dvds with these videos on them to give out at christmas. here it finally is- the whole enchilada.

'christmas suite'

'christmas song'

'christmas song revisited'

'christmas song, pt. iii'

'christmas song, pt. iv'

Friday, December 17, 2010

wrapping things up

things are coming to a close- the 'field of flowers' songs are mixed. i finally have figured out clearly what i want from them, the 'christmas suite' is finished (both the songs and the videos- just have to figure out a way to convert the massive 25 minute video for all four so as to make it uploadable) and 'chinese blue' is in a holding pattern for now. i can't do the final mix for 'field of flowers' until i get my tape machine fixed and i can't do that until i'm back from kc. by mixing down to DAT i've basically convinced myself that i need to mixdown to tape and therefore it would be wise of me to get my tape machine fixed as it's entirely possible that it's a fairly easy fix- i think it might just be some loose wiring as my old tapes still play perfectly fine through the machine.
so, given all of that i'm able to wrap up working on music for the year. this has been the most productive year probably since 2003 or 2006. it seems that when i'm having a troublesome year i throw myself into my work more and the results are quite impressive. 'christmas song, pt. iv' is quite nice, i've got to say- it's rickety in places but it sounds quite beautiful. i've unearthed a few nice mixing secrets lately that have come in handy that i'm going to take back to the troublesome 'field of flowers' tracks (there are only a few right now).
i'm really looking forward to going home for christmas- we'll be home next week, which is very exciting! i'm hoping it'll be very relaxing this year- we're staying at my parents' house which means that i can go across the street to the filling station any time i want (which always makes for a relaxing time for me) and i'm a good deal more comfortable at my parents' place than at the in-laws' place. it's closer to all of the places i like to visit as well. it's not necessarily bad to stay there, i'm just not always as comfortable there. i've also saved quite a bit of money, so i should be able to do lots of fun things while we're home. i'd like to coordinate a trip to the lovegarden in lawrence but, as always, time will be a factor as well as the fact that i won't know what stefanie has gotten me until after we get home.
i think that things are starting to calm down a bit again (for the moment, at least) since the little freakout of last week with the cat. things are getting easier to deal with in my opinion and while the situation is not ideal it's not as grim as i'd initially thought. that's worth something.
right now i'm in the process of uploading a bunch of videos to vimeo as my videos look like crap on youtube and they always look much better on vimeo. i might move everything over to there over the next couple of months.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

best tracks of 2010 mix

this is my best tracks of 2010 playlist- a lot of fun as i get to include songs on 7"es and eps. there are a few repeats from past playlists- it's mainly because they are very loved.

song- artist- album

1. earthquake- deerhunter- halcyon digest
2. marigold- disappears- lux
3. you can take your time- nina nastasia- outlaster
4. death rattles- woods- at echo lake
5. shake the shackles- crystal stilts- shake the shackles 7"
6. sitting sick- woven bones- hozac hookup klub volume one compilation
7. crossed wires- superchunk- majesty shredding
8. bellringer blues- grinderman- grinderman 2
9. flash bats- thee oh sees- warm slime
10. this is the first of your last warning (english version)- the brian jonestown massacre- one 12"
11. rest of our lives- dum dum girls- i will be
12. scotland's shame- mogwai- special moves
13. stranded- the walkmen- lisbon
14. my boat is sinking- the black angels- phosphene dream bonus tracks
15. i wanted everything- kurt vile- square shells ep
16. he's gone- vivian girls- my love will follow me 7"
17. '81- joanna newsom- have one on me
18. real love- beach house- teen dream

diary 12.15.10- 'tis the season

song- artist- album

1. christmas song- mogwai- ep+2
2. birthday- the jesus and mary chain- munki
3. last caress- dum dum girls- bhang bhang i'm a burnout 7"
4. inside looking out- the animals- inside looking out 7"
5. snowstorm- galaxie 500- on fire
6. grains of sand- opal- early recordings
7. how to bring a blush to the snow- cocteau twins- victorialand
8. basement scene- deerhunter- halcyon digest
9. ca a rate- françoise hardy- the yeh-yeh girl from paris
10. i love you- a band of bees- free the bees
11. blue christmas- low- christmas
12. winter- moon duo- silver bells 7"
13. o, tannenbaum- wooden shjips- o, tannenbaum 12"
14. christmas song- medicine- shot forth self living
15. julie don't go down- cheval sombre- cheval sombre
16. i do not care for the winter sun- beach house- i do not care for the winter sun
17. no provenance- joanna newsom- have one on me

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

best of 2010

1. beach house- ‘teen dream’

my criteria for picking my five favourite records released this year has been very simple- i’ve merely had to choose the five records i listened to repeatedly in order of frequency. ‘teen dream’ sweeps this category- never in my life have i become so addicted to a single record (or band for that matter) as i did for this record. the only parallel i can draw from my own life to this experience is the days when my cure obsession was in its infancy. i’m not entirely sure what to say about this record that would do it justice- the songs are gorgeous, buoyant and ridiculously well-written. everything is utilized to achieve maximum effect- this seems to be something that comes so naturally to these two gifted musicians- victoria legrand has an amazing voice and way with old keyboards that would be kitschy and obnoxious in less capable hands and alex scally is a fantastic guitarist- someone who has the proper amount of respect for and ability to properly utilize reverb, which is not even to mention his way with slide guitar and the simple, inventive lines that he seems to be able to come up with so effortlessly. sheer perfection. ‘real love’ is high up in my list of favourite songs ever- it’s almost like it was put on this earth for me to adore for the rest of my life. i’m pretty sure i’m not alone in feeling this way. best record released in quite a long time. i don’t really care what they do next- near complete immunity. ‘white moon’ on that itunes exclusive ep is certainly pointing in a promising direction.

2. deerhunter- ‘halcyon digest'

ah, the new deerhunter. i don’t know what it is about these guys, but they get me every time. they're a 'love or hate' band and i'm firmly in the former category. i didn’t think much of this album when i first listened to it- i’d thought they’d gone a bit soft and poppy but then upon repeated listens i found that they had done a more admirable job of tempering their pop tendencies with some very bold experimentalism than they had since ‘cryptograms’ (which will probably always be in a league of its own in their body of work which will most likely grow to a pretty generous size). it’s nice to see a pitchfork pet that actually lives up to all of the hype and accolades heaped upon them- most pitchfork pets don’t. i love the last track the best. they are great with their album-closing tracks and also a sublime ep band (check out ‘rainwater cassette exchange’- which also took some time for me to warm up to and goes with this record the way that ‘fluorescent grey’ went with ‘cryptograms’).

3. dum dum girls- ‘i will be’

i was excited for this to come out. i managed to snag one of the hozac records copies (although not one of the 200 gold vinyl ones). i found the ‘catholicked’ 12” at reckless long after it’d gone out of print- something that i’m usually not lucky or savvy enough to accomplish. i saw it in the vinyl stacks three times before i finally bought it. what they’re doing seems so simple that anyone could do it and yet these songs are all so great in their own way. they are definitely mining similar territory to the vivian girls, but i’d say with a less punk-inspired, more tuneful bent. i seem cursed to never get to see them live. they have a way with covers that i would compare to galaxie 500’s (in other words, great). i am also one of those people who got into black tambourine after hearing the dum dum girls’ cover of ‘throw aggi off the bridge.’ really looking forward to what they do next and hopefully finally seeing them play live- i begin to wish that i’d dropped the $45 to see them and beach house open for vampire weekend. it’s kind of fun to do something like that and leave the venue just before the headliner comes on and all of the late-comers start showing up in droves.

4. thee oh sees- ‘warm slime’

i have loved nearly everything jon dwyer has done with thee oh sees so far. i find it effortless to love them in their mellow phase and their rocked-up garagey phase. this album combines pretty much everything i love about music of this ilk- long drawn-out jams, sheer noise and some wonderfully toe-tapping songs. i didn’t think much of this album when i first put it on mostly thinking to myself that ‘help!’ was better until i put ‘help!’ on one day right after listening to ‘warm slime’ and it revealed to me just how tame ‘help!’ sounded in comparison to this. what’s more one of the most satisfying and fantastic live experiences i’ve ever had was thee oh sees at lincoln hall this year. i figured they’d play for 45 minutes max considering how ridiculously fast they were playing. nope. try almost an hour and a half.

5. disappears- ‘lux'

this is what happens when pared-down music is done properly. this album is the textbook definition of finely honed and not in an auto-tune, pro-tools, tons of overdubs kind of way- disappears go for pure economy. wow, does it work here! not a single part, note, riff, tone or hook overstays its welcome. it’s also refreshing to hear that this was done in a purely live setting. can’t wait to hear what they release next. also a fantastic live band that somehow knows how to capture that frenetic energy on record. i’m very bummed to hear that their drummer is no longer with them as he is a crucial element to what makes this sound work so well.

honorable mentions-

normally i only buy about five or so of the new records released in any given year, but this year was a bonanza and there’ve been so many records that i’ve really loved that didn’t quite crack into the top five and these would be a good example of some of those records-

nina nastasia- ‘outlaster’

normally any new nina nastasia record would be a shoe-in for the top five as i love pretty much everything she’s done. this is also probably her all-around strongest record both in the arrangements and the material. ‘wakes’ is a fucking awesome song. yikes. ‘some familiar way’ is pretty amazing as well as some of the lighter songs like ‘cry, cry baby’ and ‘take your time.’ nina’s two-night stint at the hideout last year (which was supposedly recorded for a live release- when’s that one coming out?) was one of the best in my show-going experiences last year (the warlocks two-night stint at the empty bottle would probably be the only other experience that topped it). i also always love it when a record by one of my favourite artists somehow arrives out of nowhere- i didn’t even know this record was coming out until about a week after it was released.

woods- ‘at echo lake’

i didn’t get into woods until this year. i can’t remember what the impetus was for buying ‘songs of shame’- i think my friend mike can take the credit for that- but it motivated us to go see them at lincoln hall earlier this year just before this record came out. in a lot of ways i like this record more than ‘songs of shame’ although stefanie maintains that this is a silly comparison to make (because she thinks that ‘songs of shame’ is untouchable). to me these songs sound a bit more varied as far as instrumentation and mood. fantastic record!

the walkmen- ‘lisbon’

again, normally a shoe-in for the top five as i love the direction that the walkmen have been taking lately. ‘you and me’ was in the top five two years ago and i played (and continue to play) that thing constantly. i like ‘lisbon,’ but to me ‘you and me’ is still my favourite record of theirs. ‘lisbon’ i’d put in third place behind ‘everybody who pretended to like me is gone.’ my main gripe about this record is that it gets off to a bit of a sluggish start and doesn’t really get going until the nearly-perfect ‘blue as your blood’/’stranded’ one-two punch. those two songs are fantastic! ‘blue as your blood’ would’ve been a great lead-off track- the walkmen did open with it when they played at pitchfork last year. the strings on this track are in line with the kinds of emotional colours I’m going for in my own string arrangements. so. good. i also am enjoying this sort of winter-theme that keeps running through the walkmen’s music lately. ‘you and me’ had a distinctly winter/christmastime bent running through it. in keeping with that ‘while I shovel snow’ is one of my favourites on here as well. i hope that the walkmen keep going along these lines for a long time indeed- perhaps they’re entering a phase similar to neil young’s mid-70’s period.

grinderman- ‘grinderman 2'

i didn’t think much of the first grinderman album. it was definitely fun to hear nick cave do stuff that was similar to the birthday party stuff and ‘no pussy blues’ and ‘tell the women’ were great tracks, but then ‘dig, lazarus, dig!’ came out and blew that grinderman album right out of the water. in similar fashion this album has come along and blown ‘dig, lazarus, dig!’ out of the water. i am ceaselessly amazed at how nick cave is somehow able to continue to top himself lyrically as well as musically this late in his career. inspiring to say the least. this album is one that smolders. i also love pants-down shamelessly horny lyrics and this record is practically a graduate course in how no one else can pull this off as well as nick cave. ‘bellringer blues’ is one of the most brilliant tracks i’ve heard in years regardless of who’s done it. warren ellis’ genius is all over this monster of a record as well. great stuff!

superchunk- ‘majesty shredding’

yup, aptly named album. i keep thinking that ‘digging for something’ is a lost gem from the ‘on the mouth’ era. while listening to this record i often have to remind myself that this album just came out. while we didn’t see them at the metro this year, seeing them play at the metro in 2007 was a great experience- they’ve lost not an ounce of their vitality over time. superchunk records don’t exist to reinvent the wheel- they exist to showcase superchunk in their natural, superchunky state- which actually is a unique musical viewpoint in and of itself no matter what anyone says. furthermore who cares what anyone says. this record is the perfect example of this pure superchunk state of which i am speaking. i also never thought they’d make another record, let alone one like this.

the brian jonestown massacre- ‘who killed sgt. pepper’

while i did really enjoy this album it seems to me to be more of a diversion than an indication of a new direction from anton newcombe. while i enjoyed it more than ‘my bloody underground’ (which is still a very cool record) i can’t say i’ve put it on the turntable in a long time. ‘detka! detka! detka!’ is a fun, beautiful and very inspired song as are several other tracks on the record. it got knocked out of the frequently played records rotation very quickly by all of the other amazing stuff coming out this year (there really was a lot). it’s always a pleasure to hear what tangents anton is going off on, but i do sort of hope that he makes some kind of return to that somewhat classic bjm sound (whatever that means) or at least records another record with his fantastic live band. it seems silly to have someone like matt hollywood involved with the group again and not have him play on the records. when we saw them at the metro this year i was also disappointed that they didn’t play a single song from this record as i’ve always loved what they’ve done with the new stuff with that amazing live band that they’ve got going. i was hoping they would kick around ‘detka!’ or ‘our time’ would’ve worked beautifully as well. ‘feel it’ is an old track and i figured it would at least give them an excuse to wow us with a blistering, jammed-out version of that song (which i’ve heard on many a bootleg, but never in person). shit, they didn’t even play ‘yeah yeah’ or ‘someplace else unknown’ (which worked very well live, i have to say) like they did last year.

joanna newsom- ‘have one on me’

we were way late to the game on this one. we fell off of the joanna newsom wagon with ‘y’s’- we heard it wasn’t any good so neither of us either bothered to buy it. by the time this record arrived we had all but forgotten about her. i’d heard that this one was a good record, but didn’t end up buying it until stefanie’s birthday. not sure if it would’ve placed higher had i known about it’s beauty earlier or not, but regardless this is a fantastic record! this is a triple record that somehow manages to retain a sense of being pared-down. these are very complex songs that are handled in a very restrained way- a very curious approach as most songwriters attempting something as dangerous as a triple lp would either go the complete saturation route (i.e. ‘sandinista!’ by the clash, which is actually the only other triple lp that comes to mind) or probably dive straight into the whole self-indulgent route head first. joanna newsom does neither. even tracks that feature more than piano or harp and voice do so in an interesting way- the tracks wind through passages where they wander in and out of a more fleshed-out form. since ‘sandinista!’ is the only other triple lp i’ve ever encountered i’m going to have to say that this record succeeds more as a fully conceived record than ‘sandinista!’ does. newsom’s voice takes on a completely new form here as well. she sounds uncannily like kate bush at multiple points. how could that be a bad thing?! one final note- perfect winter album.

moon duo- ‘escape,’ plus pretty much everything else they put out this year, which is a lot

i scrambled to buy everything that moon duo released as i’ve always had problems scooping up those wooden shjips releases that appear out of nowhere and then are eaten up in a feeding frenzy and then impossible to come by often days after the fact. ‘escape’ was ironically probably my least favourite of their releases- i always thought of it as the counter image of the much better ‘killing time’ ep- which was more restrained and succinct where ‘escape’ was sprawling, droney and quite loud. now that it comes to mind i find it difficult to believe that that’s a bad thing. such is the nature of pretty much everything i’ve heard so far by moon duo. seeing them live was pretty cool this year (not to mention the fact that wooden shjips finally played in chicago a few weeks before) and their holiday single is fantastic (as is the wooden shjips one- impossible not to mention them when speaking of moon duo). i’d listened to this record (and the ‘love on the sea’ 12”, the ‘catch as catch can’ 7”, the ‘bopper’s hat’ split 7” and the ‘killing time’ ep) so many times that i’d completely forgotten that this record had actually come out in 2010- it seems like moon duo has been around for years. could there be a better testament to such a band? stay tuned for the december diary playlist, in which i shall place their cover of the rolling stones song ‘winter’ (which is fucking AMAZING) which was purchased today (along with the wooden shjips christmas release). they can be as repetitive and droney as they want at this point if these are the results.

biggest disappointments-

best coast- ‘crazy for you’

i’m beginning to think that i’m sitting on this lp waiting for it to go out of print so i can sell it on ebay because i don’t listen to it anymore. i bought it based on a review that i read for it in ‘the onion.’ i even listened to all of their songs on their myspace page. i find the lyrics and general lyrical theme to be repetitive, annoying and riddled with seemingly purposely chosen clichés. it’s even the kind of subject matter i like in songs, but done in such a hacky, tossed-off way. don’t want to ‘dress up’ your lyrics about yearning in a poetic way like all those losers do? guess what, yearning is poetic (read any lovelorn poem about longing or yearning written since the fucking middle ages for evidence) so you might as well make a contribution if that’s what you’re feeling. the music is pretty good most of the time, but it’s mining the same territory that so many other bands are drawing from and most of them in a way that is better, more inventive and varied than this (the dum dum girls record mentioned earlier is a good example or even the vivian girls’ album ‘everything goes wrong’ from last year). i’m beginning to think that this is a band that’s best taken in small doses and the explanation for their ridiculous hype is the fact that all of their previous releases were 7”es. this happens sometimes.

the black angels- ‘phosphene dream’

i can’t put this in with my favourites out of sheer frustration. while the majority of this record is so great there are some gripes about the way that it was released as well as one other bone of great contention for me- the single ‘telephone.’ two minutes of music by one of my favourite bands has never caused me as much rage as that song does- it’s the kind of hacky, sloppy, lazy, pandering crap that i’d expect from so many other bands, but never in a million years from the band that created something as sprawling, inspired and brilliant as ‘directions to see a ghost’- which is a masterpiece of modern-day psychedelic drone music. anyone who claims it’s not an overt and obvious grab at mainstream stardom is full of shit. playing pure, passionate psychedelic music is not going to endear you to the mainstream these days, but one of the reasons that the best modern-day psych bands are such treasures is that they are so passionate and dedicated that this is a sacrifice they are willing to make for the sake of doing something new with a type of music that has very deep roots and endless potential for expansion. i can’t help but feel like this is the sound of the black angels taking all of the brilliant work that they have done in the past and diluting it to the point where they are using up all of their previously built-up cache. there’s bone of contention number one. bone of contention number two is the issue of the six bonus tracks offered with different versions of the digital album through separate digital outlets. this is probably the result of record company meddling as is a lot of the previous griping. several of the six tracks outshine several of the tracks that made the final album that had more of a mainstream bent. ‘my boat is sinking’ is a track that hints at an entirely new direction that the black angels could take- why the fuck isn’t it on the fucking album? even if they had put it as the last track the album would’ve still clocked in at under 45 minutes and it wouldn’t’ve just ground to a halt after ‘the sniper’ (which is also a great track). as it is the album is very lean with a running time of 35 minutes. the single lp (which i thought was a double lp with some bonus material) cost me $23. shame, shame, shame record company- you’ve left a really bad taste in my mouth under the guise of one of my favourite modern-day psych bands. there are times where i’m endlessly frustrated with the fact that the warlocks will probably never get the attention and popularity that they are due, but then there are times like these where it makes me not want them to get pulled into this kind of record-company-marshalled mainstream corralling and corruption of a great band and then it makes me admire the dogged determination and purity of spirit that permeates a band like the warlocks, because this is an example of what happens when a psych band goes for the mainstream. all of that said as a whole i enjoy ‘phosphene dream’ and do find that this pared-down setup works for a majority of the songs and the album has a very nice flow (until you get to ‘telephone’) with only a few crassly pandering tracks. this is why the fans of the band banded together to gather the six bonus tracks and sent out links to downloads of all of them. illegal, yes, but consider it a lesson for the record companies- sometimes they leave us no choice but to steal it rather than willingly be fleeced. given all of the gripes about mainstream pandering the band IS mining new territory on this album- which is incredibly admirable as a band in a similar position to them probably would’ve been able and willing to coast on carbon copies of albums as great as ‘directions to see a ghost’ or ‘passover.’ i HIGHLY recommend that you track down the six bonus tracks as they are an essential companion to this album.

Friday, December 10, 2010

dean and britta play galaxie 500 review

i went to see dean and britta on friday night (the first of the two nights) play galaxie 500 songs. it was interesting because i was mainly interested in seeing them play some of their own stuff and figured that they'd mix in a bunch of old galaxie 500 songs but played in their own way. i was completely wrong- all they did was play galaxie songs and pretty much exactly the way that they were on the records. britta phillips even played naomi yang's bass parts exactly the same as well damon's drum parts being completely carbon copied by the drummer. to me what this ended up doing was underscoring the awkwardness of damon and naomi's absence and their inimitable contributions to galaxie 500's sound. granted dean wareham's stamp is the one that looms the largest, but for wareham to give out the parts that they contributed to be reproduced ad nauseum seemed very audacious and a little offensive to me (i can only imagine how damon and naomi feel about it). i wasn't able to get past this the entire night. another thing that i found to be a massive bummer was how clean, neat and polished the band sounded. wareham's guitar sound was spit-shined practically and one of my favourite things about galaxie has always been the abandoned passionate playing of three people who are going for heart over perfection. in a lot of ways at the end of the night i felt like i should've just stayed home and watched 'don't let our youth go to waste.' they even played 'listen, the snow is falling' and had britta sing it. she sang it beautifully and the music sounded spot-on and wareham was able to coax some really cool sounds out of his guitar during the ending section that i really enjoyed, but the whole thing just felt so wrong- of all of the songs that they played i think that that was one that i cherish that i actually wished they would've had the decency not to play. the way that naomi yang sang this song was so representative of everything about galaxie that i've always loved and for them to play it the way that they did having someone else sing it was to trample it. i sat there listening to it thinking of the murky single-camcorder bootleg version that's on 'don't let our youth go to waste.' to me, that is the definitive live version of the song and i would've preferred it over watching what i saw live.
basically this show is the perfect example of everything that's troubling about this plague of reunion shows by bands from the golden era of alternative music that's been going on for years and years at this point. 90% of the time the fire has long since gone out even if you can get all of the original members up on the stage together. there are reasons for all things that end. the only exception i would make to this statement would be the my bloody valentine show at the aragon two years ago- that was a case of pushing things forward and settling unfinished business and (hopefully, although it's rapidly becoming a fainter and fainter hope) delivering on the promise of new material that never surfaced. also, my bloody valentine never officially disbanded so for them to get back together is more dignified. they didn't play any new material, but at least there is some in the works even though it's taken over a decade to not hear any of it. on the other side of the spectrum was what i experienced at lincoln hall on friday. they played all of my favourites of theirs that i'd always wished i could've experienced live, classic after classic- 'blue thunder,' 'strange,' 'tugboat,' 'fourth of july,' 'don't let our youth go to waste,' basically any galaxie 500 you would ever want to hear and they were all played note-perfectly but a majority of them lacked that fire and passion that is so evident on those old recordings and live videos on the aforementioned dvd. there was such a passion and intensity there that it drove three very ordinary people to pick up their chosen instruments and create something incredibly unique that the most experienced and virtuosic musicians couldn't create if they were locked in a room for ten years. it was so inspiring and unique and brilliant. they were also smart enough to leave all of their mistakes and studied awkwardness in- their bravery and passion made them all the more admirable for what they were doing because they had those fantastic songs that still sound so simple, fresh and inimitable even today. this is simply a spirit that couldn't possibly be recreated, let alone by only one member backed up by a bunch of others playing carbon-copies of the parts laid down on the albums. the only song that came across to me as an impassioned performance was 'strange' which sounded great and was emotionally stirring and resonant. even 'blue thunder' did nothing for me and it's probably my favourite galaxie 500 song- you'd think that hearing it live by anyone would be enough to get me excited, but by the middle the song had been drained of all of it's feeling. it just felt like someone who wrote a ton of great songs twenty years ago out for a fat payday, which is a shame because dean wareham is still writing great material. another highlight of the night for me was their cover of 'i'll keep it with mine' from the newest dean and britta record (the only non-galaxie song that they played all night). i read that sean eden turned up at the second show and they played a few classic luna songs- personally i think that that would've been preferable to what i saw. i was so excited when these shows were announced that i almost bought a ticket for the second show as well. i'm quite glad that i didn't now.
so all in all this was probably the last 'big' show that i'll be seeing this year and it was a gigantic disappointment- probably as big of a disappointment as seeing spectrum last year at the darkroom. i can tell i've seen a crappy show when i lumber into work the next day on only three hours of sleep (i have to get up and go to work on saturday mornings at 5:45am) and in my mind i can tell whether or not it was worth the sleep deprivation. dean and britta play galaxie 500 was not worth it i'm sorry to say.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

'julie, don't go down'

in the on-going cat drama that has taken over our lives stefanie took robin to the vet yesterday because he got really fussy with his food and quit eatting. they did his blood work a week early and the findings were not good- his levels were elevated again and he was headed for another crash. now we have to do the sub-q treatments every day- which is terrible news. not necessarily because of what it means for us but more for him. stefanie spent some time taking back the rental car she'd gotten to take him in and while she was gone i had some time to myself to think about it and get upset and angry. by the time she came back i was really angry. mainly i was just upset because there's always all of this extraneous bullshit going on all around us and coming from every angle and frankly none of it matters to me a whit now- robin could leave us at any minute and this is very sad. i thought we were doing such a good job and he seemed to be feeling so much better but it just underscored the fact that no matter how much we do we can only postpone the inevitable and that eventually it will not be enough to keep him around. such bad news kind of underscored the 'sooner than later' aspect of this whole thing. supposedly he'll be fine if we give him a treatment on the morning we leave (which stefanie will have to do with a friend of ours' help as i'll be opening the shop that day) to visit kansas city for four days. it's going to be difficult to be away for four days wondering if he's going to be okay and it's already going to be difficult enough to relax while we're home (some mild and petty family bullshit is already beginning to erupt that i frankly don't have the patience for at this point given all that's going on and has gone down with the cat) and now we'll be worried about him the whole time we're gone. i want to go home still, though- i've left town twice this entire year and both for incredibly rushed visits. i would open up a vein for a proper vacation. the last kc trip was fun, but very rushed and i think i had a grand total of three whole hours to myself where i didn't have to do anything. i didn't even have time to get together with mike. this whole thing with our cat is adding a whole dimension to the whole thing. we're not ready to lose him, but it appears that we're going to very soon and i've been bracing myself for it from the moment we heard this really awful news. however much i do so i'm sure it won't be enough to prepare me for when it actually happens, i'd just like to enjoy the time that we have left with him and do whatever i can to extend that time as long as he's happy and has a good quality of life. because of all of this my tolerance and caring for most daily bullshit is nonexistant. it's kind of nice because i don't care about much of anything now. it makes it incredibly easy to be at work now. it's helped give me a lot of perspective.

Friday, December 3, 2010

the three week endurance test

i'm happy that i have so much to do in the coming weeks as it would be hugely beneficial to me to not have to spend much money as i'm way behind on my christmas shopping. so far i've only bought one birthday present for my dad. i haven't even started any of my christmas shopping. yikes.
things are things right now. i dunno. the band is pretty much ready for the martyrs' show- we have our first full band practice for it on tuesday. we're also going to record strings for 'christmas song pt. iv.' i'm still trying to figure out what to do for a video for that one. i don't have a terrible amount of ideas for it- a few little loose bits in there, but not much more... it hasn't snowed much yet, so that's made it a bit tough. i'm pretty happy with the new 'christmas song, pt. iii' video- much moreso than the old one. i wanted to get the videos together and try to burn dvd-r's of them. i was going to have the tracks mastered as well. i will probably take 'pale' off of the current release and put 'christmas song, pt. iv' in there and use 'pale' as a b-side for the 'falling stars' digital single along with 'all hope is blind' and possibly 'your pictures' or 'down to the willows.' i was also thinking of finishing 'flowers' by adding a bass part and a few guitars to stand in for what i thought up for a string part. i suppose i'd better get going on that stuff.
nothing much else to report- i haven't recorded anything new in quite a while. the day after thanksgiving i spent doing some post-production stuff- adding reverbs to a few things- our 'real love' cover (which i fleshed out with a few extra parts) and 'christmas song, pt. iv' which turned out really beautifully. i'm going to secretly keep the original strings part and double the new one. i think it might work very nicely and make things extra dreamy. the track is really starting to come along and i'm much more happy with it than i was when i did the first mixes and i think re-recording the strings with everyone around will be a bit easier this time out. at least i hope so.
i've figured out a solution to my tape calibration blues- i need to get to work on that asap. i started messing around with the tone generator on audacity and i have the right tones loaded into my itunes- i was going to calibrate the record function first and then record the tones onto a tape and keep that as my calibration tape. at first i'd thought that this wouldn't work, but i believe that it definitely should. we'll see, i suppose. yikes. maybe that's what i should get to work on when i get home. i'm a little afraid to give it a shot, but i think it should be fine. i've been able to figure out how to do all sorts of things on my own and i have a little how-to guide that i found online and it makes sense to me, so it should work just fine, dammit! it'll probably take several hours, but i have that kind of time today. i have visions of it getting very dark in the music room as i'm in there working away.
tonight we're going to a show at lincoln hall and then i have to work in the morning nice and early. i believe stefanie is going to want to cab it back to our place as the show doesn't start until 10. i'm beginning to think that my show-going days are coming to a close. several great shows are coming through next year during the months of february and march. i keep meaning to get godspeed tickets, for example. i think that katelyn and aleksa want to go, but i'm reticent to buy them tickets after the kurt vile incident... other than that it's two shows at the empty bottle- disappears and dum dum girls. hopefully we'll finally get to see the dum dum girls live- it's only taken a fucking age for them to come through without being an opening band.
so it goes i suppose... so it goes...
also i might almost be finished mixing the 'field of flowers' tracks and then i'm hoping that i can get those tracks mastered along with the 'christmas suite' tracks with my christmas money. at least that's what i hope will happen... haw haw haw...