Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fleet Foxes in the Morning

In a year full of amazing albums, I think my favorite may still be the Fleet Foxes "Helplessness Blues". These guys blew me away on their debut a few years ago and certainly did not disappoint with their sophomore effort. Theirs is the kind of sound that wouldn't have sounded out of place in 1969 or 1970, yet it doesn't feel dated or derivative in any way. And those harmonies are truly something of beauty to hear. Name one other band that comes close to this sound today....nope you can't.

And while I liked their first album when I first heard it, their songs did not sync in with me until I heard them live on an NPR broadcast. They simply blew me away with how they were able to translate those rich textures and vocals into a live setting. Today the band stopped by KCRW to do a gorgeous 40 minute Morning Becomes Eclectic set. Brew some of your favorite tea, crank the volume, and enjoy it for yourself below:

Fleet Foxes-KCRW Studios: September 28, 2011
The Plains/ Bitter Dancer"
"Battery Kinzie"
"Sim Sala Bim"
"The Shrine/An Argument"
"Grown Ocean"
"Helplessness Blues"

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bridge School 25'th Anniversary Set

Put this in the must have DVD collection! Every summer for the past 25 years, I have read about the amazing Bridge School concerts that Neil Young puts on in California. Every legendary artist under the sun has done it (Bruce Springsteen, Wilco, Tom Waits, David Bowie, The Who, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, etc) and the gigs are all acoustic in nature. This leads to some really unique and special performances that you don't get anywhere else (Metallica acoustic??).

You can watch the trailer for the set below, which talks about what the Bridge School is and does. 100% of the profits from the set go to the school so if you only buy one piece of music this year, make it this one!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ryan Adams Covers Maiden

Since I'm a sucker for great cover versions, here's one for your Monday. While doing press for his insanely good new album, Ryan Adams stopped by the BBC to wow them with his take on the Iron Maiden classic. What I love is how he completely turns this into his own!
Ryan Adams - "Wasted Years" (Iron Maiden Cover) by

And now crank up the hand-bangingly awesome original. Devil horns to you all....

Friday, September 23, 2011

Eddie Vedder's R.E.M. Tribute

As if I needed another reason to love Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam....

While performing in Calgary, Alberta the night the news hit that R.E.M. broke up, Eddie choose to play a stunning version of "It Happened Today" from R.E.M.'s latest (and apparently last) album. With R.E.M.'s music playing non-stop all week on my Ipod, this couldn't have been a more fitting tribute. Thanks Eddie!!

Pearl Jam-"It Happened Today", September 21, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wilco Rock Letterman

Unless you've been living under a rock of late, you already know that Wilco are back next week with a fantastic new album titled "The Whole Love". For a band that for the first time has no major label support, they seem to be everywhere. I can't hit a music blog or entertainment site without seeing an interview with them or an article on the new record. This is great news for the band I have known and loved for almost 16 years now. While it's getting much harder to get tickets to their shows, I am thrilled that a band of their quality is getting the recognition they deserve.

Last night, the band played an explosive hour long set for the David Letterman audience highlighted by some of the newer material. Check it out below....and make sure you're speakers are LOUD!!

Wilco: NYC-September 22,2011

Art of Almost
I Might
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
One Wing
Born Alone
Whole Love
Handshake Drugs
Jesus, etc...
Impossible Germany
Dawned on Me
War on War
Shot in the Arm

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's the End of the World As We Know It

After an amazing 31 years, R.E.M. has decided to call it quits today. A short statement on their website reads:

"To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening." R.E.M.

As a longtime fan this saddens me. There are some bands you wish would actually break up because their newer material will never live up to the past. I would have put R.E.M. in that category just a year ago, but this year they released the shockingly good "Collapse Into Now", which I contend is as good as anything they ever put out. But keeping in mind The Beatles were only together for 7 years, getting 31 mostly quality years out of of any rock and roll band is amazing.

R.E.M. were one of the first bands I fell in love which I felt were really MINE. In the early days before "The One I Love" catapulted them into stadiums, listening to them you felt like you were invited to a party at some underground place that only you and your closest friends were allowed into. R.E.M. brilliantly fused the music of The Byrds with the sound of New Wave and featured one of the most enigmatic and gifted vocalists of all time. It shouldn't have worked at all, but their sound was so unique and frankly strange, that you couldn't help but listen over and over again trying to put it all together.

So today bust out your cassette deck, crank up your warn-out copy of "Life's Rich Pageant", and enjoy the sounds of one of the greatest American rock and roll bands of all time.

October 2, 1985: Germany

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams

A Bob Dylan-produced project of modern artists recording lost songs by the late great Hank Williams featuring Dylan, Norah Jones, and Jack White? Bring it on!

Growing up, I never appreciated country music at all. But thanks to my love of Dylan, The Grateful Dead, The Byrds (with Gram Parsons), and eventually bands like Uncle Tupelo and The Jayhawks, country music seemed to seep into my brain to the point where it feels like it's been there all my life. And maybe it's some of the life changes that happen to many a 40 year old dude, but the lyrics of Hank Williams have simply rocked my world over the past few years. I can't think of another artist who wrote with such simplicity, yet perfectly was able to capture the various emotions that all of us go through at some point in our lives. Hank was country music that even a city kid could fall in love with and when I hear him sing, I feel like I have some sort of musical guardian angel playing me songs. Thanks Hank!!

Check out a short documentary about the project below:

The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams EPK from Columbia Records on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"I Walk On Guilded Splinters"-A Trip to the Doctor

As a 40-something dude finally falling in love with the music of New Orleans, of course one of the touchstones to explore is Dr. John (a.k.a. "Mac" Rebennack). The guy has been recording and playing New Orleans-style piano awesomeness since the late 50's; most famously the 1970's megahit "Right Place, Wrong Time".

While listening to some of his earlier works today; this freaky, funky, piece of late-60's weirdness slithered into my earphones and hypnotised me for a joyful seven minutes. Dim the lights, light some candles and incense, and prepare for a nice ride.

And to bring you back to reality, below it is the good Dr's standout moment from the film "The Last Waltz" with The Band. Always one of my favorites.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Return and Reflection

Greetings friends! After over a one year absence, I have decided to return to this hollowed space. At the time I stopped posting, I just no longer felt the need for it nor the motivation. I realized there were a million sites that filter and discuss music content and this one seemed like a grain of sand in the desert. But what I am finding recently is the more options we have to find content, the harder it is to find and share the stuff that REALLY moves us. As the Internet continues to grew, it seems we are getting ever more disconnected from our true passions. A year ago, I unfortunately had lost my passion for music. While I always continued to listen to it, I didn't feel that emotional connection I always had with it. Well, for many wonderful reasons, I am again feeling the joy and passion that music had always provided me. Anyway, that's a long winded introduction to say that I continue to, in the beautiful words of Dylan, "try to harmonize with songs" and share those songs with whomever would like to come along for the ride here.

This week I, like many others, have been reflecting on that horrible and fateful day of 9/11/01. Specifically, I have been thinking about what that day meant to New York and how New Yorkers must still hold on to it, but somehow had to carry on.

Today I came across this recent short interview and performance from the great Ryan Adams discussing his song "New York, New York" and how even though it was released just before the tragedy, many heard it and took it as a tribute to the city post-9/11. Make sure to listen past the interview for a hauntingly beautiful version of the song which sounds radically different from it's original, celebratory upbeat tone.

Ryan Adams-Interview and "New York, New York" (Piano)