Tonight, a neighbor called from the condo pool deck to ask, “Are you looking at the lunar eclipse right now? It’s BEAUTIFUL!” Feeling pretty lame (I didn’t even know it was supposed to happen tonight), I said, “Um, let me take a look…. gasp” So, I immediately retrieved the tripod from the storage closet and took some 15 second stills with the digital camera. Even with the glow from the Hoot Owl Market neon signage, I could still get this picture. With occasional phenomena like this, no wonder why so much mythology surrounded the moon.
:: Peder ::
As soon as I had put my bike in the storage shed and dried off (was a rainy one), my hip buddy Jason Barnes called to say that he had been given two free tickets to the Old 97’s show at the Aladdin tonight. Vague thoughts, sounds, and memories of this 90s alt.country turned rock/pop band swirled in my head - “Yes! I’d love to go” I heard myself telling the voice on the other end of the digital phone line. I never really was a fan. I never listened to a full CD of their music. I definitely had never bought (or downloaded) any of it either. Sure, I’d had several friends who had their music, but they were below my music radar for sure. Why would I need the Old 97’s, when I’ve got Uncle Tupelo and The Jayhawks, among others?
We agree to meet at the Aladdin at 21:30 sharp. We both concur that, while the doors open at 19:00 and given that there is an opening act, there ain’t no way the band will come on stange much before then. Well, let’s just say that, when I parked the car and was walking past the building to the front door, I easily surmised that the show was alread in full swing. Jason, who had arrived a bit earlier, informed me that they had, apparently, been on stage for a “long time” already. Well, that kind of information always puts you in a funk - you feel guilty and ignorant because you’ve missed out on X amount of Y music that costs Z amount of dollars.
Well, much to our surprise, the place was packed. We took a wall-spot in the balcony and waited until nearly the end until two seats opened up. The music was mediocre at best. I can honestly say that I wasn’t impressed with either the songwriting nor musicianship. The stage antics of the lead singer, Rhett Miller (he had a semi-successful solo project a few years ago, highlighted by the song “Come Around”), were so annoying that I found it difficult to concentrate on the lackluster music. I kept asking myself, “What is it about this band that so many people here love?” In fact, I still don’t know and probably never will. I did, however, like how the bassist held and played his bass like a guitar or banjo (no picks, though). And, the opening musician, Jon Rauhouse, joined the band on pedal steel guitar for a rousing 3 songs.
Overall: Thankfully, these were free tickets. Jason fell asleep at the end and was therefore semi-postictal during the encores (Rhett Miller flailed, solo acoustic, two of his own songs, including “Come Around”). Yikes.
Well, it’s been an extremely hectic last few months, and one person even e-mailed me, writing “Keep up the new music finds and suggestions! I miss them terribly!” So, without further delay, I shall resume the blog, focusing on, at least initially, some of the fanstatic new music that I’ve found over the last few months.
I’ve come across two Damien’s, Rice and Jurado, of late and a brief review of both shall follow.
Damien Rice - “O” (2003)
I came across Damien Rice sort of by accident. A knock-your-socks off local pianist singer/songwriter Bryan Free sent me a mix CD of songs he had been listening and grooving to. One of the last tracks on the CD was an intriquing song by Damien Rice, an Irish singer/songwriter guitarist. This song (I Remember) begins with Damien’s haunting acoustic guitar accompanied by Lisa Hannigan’s sterring vocals and later evolves into a louder, passionate outburst from Damien that is unforgettable. The rest of the CD is built around Damien’s lush songwriting with masterfully placed bits of cello, sparse drumming, and Lisa’s vocals. Of particular note, are the songs Volcano, with the great line “Don’t build your world around, volcanos melt you down” and the beautifully romatic ballad “The Blower’s Daughter.” The latter, I can often not get out of my head. This CD completely changed my paradigm on Irish folk, and I guarantee that it will change yours too.
Click here to visit the Damien Rice website.
Damien Jurado - “Where Shall You Take Me?” (2003)
Damien Jurado records (mostly) for the SubPop label, the label which brought us Iron and Wine, Nirvana’s Bleach, Reverand Horton Heat, Sunny Day Real Estate, Combustible Edison, Friends of Dean Martinez, and Sebadoh.
Anyway, Damien is a complex songwriter. His style seems to change from album to album. Where Shall You Take Me? is refreshingly acoustic and homegrown. Some songs do rock, however, most notably “Texas to Ohio”, which makes you want to turn the stereo up loud and annoy your neighbors. “Abilene” is a forelorn Texan love-story with tangible angst wrougt throughout with age-old Southern class warfare. No doubt, this is an album of simple, roots, music that is very pleasing.
“Window” is by far the best song on the CD, a beautiful neo-southern-gospel-hymn. Lyrics as follows:
And I am looking at a beautiful rainbow
The rainbow is your smile
Oh the only time I heard laughter
Was the day I took you as my bride
I am looking at a beautiful window
The window is your eyes
Oh the only time I saw rain fall
Was the day your mother died
Click here to visit the Damien Jurado website.
Well, that’s it for today. I’ve got much more new music to write about, hopefully soon.
:: Peder ::