Last night I sat down to write todays Manly Music Monday and just couldnt get out of first gear. I had a couple of bands that I have been wanting to share with you guys and even had a couple funny (d'apres moi) stories to go along with them. But I just wasn't feeling it. I wrote a couple of opening paragraphs and deleted them and for the first time since I started blogging I was kinda dreading "haftin" to write todays post. Today at work I had even settled on just findin a couple of songs by "Spoon" and leaving it at that. But on the way home some gray clouds rolled in and started to fall down on me. And when I got closer to home the smell of a far away campfire came blowing in and this came up on my playlist.
And for some reason I was immediately taken back to 7th grade and my first trip by myself to the county fair. No specific memories came to mind at first, just the feeling of being an awkward teenager and shifting in and out of the groups of kids that made up my friends at the time. The excitement of being grown up and alone and at the same time finally starting to feel like you fit in somewhere other than your family and being accepted for who you were as a person. Scared that someone might notice you used some of you mom's concealer to hide that zit on your chin and thrilled that Mellisa from Biology noticed you and smiled while you waited in line for the Vominator. Ok, maybe a couple specific memories.... but you get the idea. Anywho.. Camera Obscura is not my favorite band in the world, but today they hit that perfect chord of melancholy joy and longing for a simpler more exciting time when everything was fresh and you could be whoever you wanted and the world was big and discoverable.
So if you get a minute, and its not too cold where you live, walk outside, close you eyes and spend a few seconds remembering spring nights spent just sitting on the swings at the park with your first crush. And if you let go enough, maybe you can still remember what flavor her lip gloss was.....
When I do my weekly picks there is one of two factors at play. Either I have found a song that I have really connected with because of things going on in my own life or I am just really impressed by the artist and have decided to play them to DEATH and drive everyone else in the house insane. Today, it's both of those things.
I have always been a Dashboard Confessional fan. I think Chris Carrabba is not only HOT, but an amazing singer and songwriter. He has a very unique, distinctive voice that sets him apart from a lot of the other male artists today. I love the passion that comes from him through his lyrics as well. And that passion is reflected in his voice. Very raw, untrained , powerful....I love it. Here are a few of my favorite songs from them. Most of them come from the Dusk and Summer album, which is my favorite. But my suggestion, get the entire discography. It's fantastic.
This has to be one of the best bands ever. They are totally underrated and super to see in concert. Well, I almost died at their concert, but it wasn't their fault. In fact, I almost wasn't even allowed to go because when my mother asked who I was going to see I said "Live." She said I KNOW they're LIVE, that's why it's a concert... what is the name of the band? You're not going until you tell me. She finally got what i was saying and all was well with my world. I saw them perform at a little outdoor theatre. It was called Brown's Island, in VA. It was an island and it was the Saturday before Easter, 1993. Incidentally, the opening act was a little local band.. .they went by the name of their lead singer..... let me seee.... what WAS their name????
Oh yeah- The Dave Matthews Band. Maybe you've heard of them?
I was wearing sunglasses all day and I had a sunburn everywhere but my eyes.. My friend Amy and I were in the front row and Dave kept teasing me about my raccoon sunburn. He gave me about 500 stickers for my car. I was in love.
anyway- back to Live- they are a great band from a little town called York, PA. and I love them. My favorite album by them is Mental Jewelry- it was their debut album and it was great all the way through. Not one song I didn't love. I remember driving in the car on a summer evening with the windows down, the wind blowing my hair and Live blasting on my radio.
"All eyes on me in the center of the ring just like asparagus ..... When I crack that whip ev'ry body gon' trip just like asparagus.....Evry' body let go we can make a dance floor just like asparagus. Like like like like like asparagus.... uh huh"
Wow. I guess the bearded lady hasn't changed a whole lot.
And don't even think for one SECOND I didn't catch the plug for your wretched "perfume".
I'm never gonna be able to eat animal crackers again.... Thanks Brit.
This is gonna come as a shock to many of my fans but I was not well liked as a child. No, no, its true. The problem was that a keen wit, sharp mind and dry sense of humor were not as appreciated amongst my fellow 10 yr olds as I would have liked. They valued the ability to hit a small round object with a stick over reading at a High School level and upper body strength over IQ. Not only was I picked last for kickball, most of the time the team that had me left as their only option would choose to be one man short rather than be saddled with my dead weight. During recess I would generally walk laps around the basketball court where the other boys were playing. They called this "Target Practice". Obviously, 4th grade was not a love fest. About mid way through the school year the constant abuse was starting to erode even my notoriously high self-confidence. I was really starting to hate going to school and my grades were slipping along with my sense of self worth. Then one day my teacher, Mr Mitchell, called me over to his desk while we were reading. He just chatted with me for a sec and then he pulled out a black cassette tape with a gold label and the letters "CCR" written in black sharpie on the front. He told me it was a group that he really liked and that he thought I might appreciate. He said he noticed I was a little different and that this music wasnt like the stuff the other kids listened to but that he thought I was mature enough to appreciate it. ( I realize as I write this that it sounds like the set-up for a long term highly inappropriate relationship but times was different back then.) The rest of that day felt like December 24th and I ran home as fast as my little legs would go. I jammed that bad boy in my tape player and heard this...
It blew my little white bread mind. It was raw, it was rough, it was visceral and it was completely alien to what I knew music to be. It talked about drug use, poor southern kids, bayous, and for the first time in my life music took me some place wild and foreign. Sure it was old news at the time, but compared to "Walk Like An Egyptian" and "There'll Be Sad Songs" it just seemed so dirty and real and the polar opposite of the music I heard on the radio. I had never seen a music video but I knew these guys had beards, overgrown sideburns and bad teeth. I could picture them kickin back on someones porch and just jammin out. They weren't cool, they didn't have nice clothes and they were still freakin awesome. And that meant there was hope for me. I went to sleep that night with visions of elephants on flying spoons being serenaded by hicks in overalls and little kids with messed up teeth dancing a jig for thrown quarters and I was happy. Because I could see myself with them.
I got up early the next morning and could not wait to get to school. I wanted to tell Mr Mitchell how much I loved Creedence Clearwater Revival and talk to about all the things I was feeling and thinking about and wanted to do and what I though of their music and how it had changed the way I though about musicians and how we would be best freinds and on and on. Unfortunately he was still just my teacher. And I was still the dorky skinny kid that sucked at kickball. And I still got beat up that afternoon. But I was ok with that. Every now and then Mr Mitchell would slip in an obscure CCR reference in his lesson and give me knowing smile. And I knew that I was different. And that somewhere there were other kids that were different too. And no amount of wedgies could take that away from me.
I usually try to bring you something you probably havent heard of for Manly Music Mondays but I just saw the video for Santigold's "L. E. S. Artistes" while I was cruising around the other day and sweet Professor and MaryAnne it blew my mind. I mean I've heard this song over and over in the background at Macy's, during commercials, at the gym, shoot, even the DMV had this bad boy blaring through the P.A. at one time. But for some reason the video made me see the song in a whole new light. I always just kinda blew Santigold off as another dance/techno artist that made songs with a nice beat but no soul. I owe the young lady an apology.
What I'm searching for to tell it straight, I'm trying to build a wall Walking by myself down avenues that reek of time to kill If you see me keep going be a pass by waver Build me up, bring me down just leave me out you name dropper Stop trying to catch my eye I see you good you forced faker Just make it easy You're my enemy you fast talker I can say I hope it will be worth what I give up If I could stand up mean for the things that I believe What am I here for I left my home to disappear is all I'm here for myself Not to know you I don't need no one else Fit in so good the hope is that you cannot see me later You don't know me I am an introvert an excavator I'm duckin' out for now a face in dodgy elevators Creep up and suddenly I found myself an innovator
Thats some wicked sweet poetry right there.
I think what impresses me the most is how she is kinda genre defying. She says she was heavily influenced by Siouxsie and the Banshees, Blondie and other New Wave bands from the 80's. And you can really hear that in a lot of her songs, especially "My Superman". But I would definitely not put her in that same category, shes not that simple.
Anywho, she has earned herself a spot on my favorites playlist, and that is a rare and special honor. If I ever see her in person I will tell her she looks worn out, thats how I say I love you.
For Friday the 13th last month Cleo posted the classic, Thriller by Michael Jackson. Although this was incredibly scary, I believe I have out done her. Michael Jackson was frightening in his zombie make up, but really that doesn't hold a candle to todays version of skeletal Michael. He was still a man under all that make up back then. Now, I'm not so sure.
Anyway...Here is something truly terrifying. I dare you to not tremble in fear.
There was this girl in High School I really liked. And oddly enough she seemed to like me too. All the signs were there. She leaned in close when I talked to her. She laughed at everything I said regardless of its genuine humor. Thing was though she was really hot. REALLY hot. Like waaaaaaaaaay out of my league hot. So I was really confused as to her true intentions. It wouldnt have been the first time a pretty girl had pretended to like me as part of a joke so I was wary. But after a week or so she wore me down and I asked her out. She said yes and a date was set. And then I screwed everything up.
On the night we went out I was so nervous about impressing her that I did everything wrong. I wore clothes I wasn't comfortable in, I took her to places I didn't really like, I acted like someone I wasn't and generally just behaved like an ass. I didn't do it on purpose and kept trying to get the ship back on track. Every time I said something stupid I knew as soon as it fell out of my mouth that it was going to land on her foot like a warm turd but I was powerless to stop myself. I could see by the scared look in her eyes that things were going as poorly as I thought they were but the harder I tried to be who I thought she wanted me to be the creepier I got. I relate this sad tale only as a lengthy preface and an excuse for my behavior last night at the Ra Ra Riot show.
I havent been to a concert in a long time and I am so enamored of Ra Ra Riot that all night I had to make a conscious effort just to keep my breathing regular. I didnt help that when Cleo, Mrs Chops and I walked up to Walters on Washington to get in line we were so obviously the oldest people there that I'm pretty sure a lot of the kids were just expecting us to ask one of them for directions to the nearest Luby's. We got in line and the two gentlemen in front of us both turned around and stared for a minute. Normally staring so blatantly is socially unacceptable but we were such sore thumbs that we accepted it and just smiled and hoped that we would pass whatever inspection they saw fit to put us though. The decided against a direct interrogation and left us alone. We waited our turn and got inside. We started working our way to the front of the smallish room that is Walters in order to get the best view of the stage in consideration of Cleo's substantial height challenges. We found a good spot and Cleo and Mrs Chops left me guarding our space and went to hit the merch' table to score some shirts. As I was waiting for them to return I started looking around and noticed the young lady manning the T-shirt booth was rather comely. She had long brown hair, a slight build and delicate features. And then it hit me. Sweet heaven above it was Alexandra Lawn! The goddess of the cello was hawking wares like a mere mortal!
My breath started to come in shallow gasps and I could feel myself getting flush. I realized that if I acted quickly I may get a chance to actually meet her. I gave the ladies a few minutes to come back and save our spot but when they didn't return soon I started to panic. The show was scheduled to start almost immediately and I didn't know if Ra Ra Riot was opening or not. I was afraid that the show would start and Aly would leave the table. But I didn't want to abandon my place as the crowd had grown measurably since we had come in and I was afraid of losing my primo spot in front of the stage. I weighed the two and chose a few minutes with Aly over a good spot in the crowd and left to be by her side. And then there I was. Within feet of her. She was smaller than I had pictured her but just as lovely. Also there was some guy helping her at the table, but my focus was on Aly. But she wasnt looking up anymore. She was involved in something on her laptop. And the selling duties had fallen completely to her assistant. I made my shirt pick and we traded money for cloth. I had completed my transaction and it was time for to go. But I couldn't leave. I stood there clutching my newly purchased teal shirt (why the HELL had I chosen teal!) like a maiden watching her lovers ship sail from shore. Roady boy was trying to smile politely as the line built up behind me but he was obviously getting irritated. But Aly had yet to even look up, I couldnt just walk away, I had to do something.
I leaned over the table and said her name. "Alexandra?" She looked up in surprise and looked around to see who had called her name and saw only a bald middle aged man with disproportionately large chops beaming back at her. I asked her if she would mind signing my t-shirt, the one I was clinging to like a blanky. She politley agreed and then did so. Then she asked if I would like the rest of the band to sign it as well. The rest of the band! Holy hell, was that an option? Apparently it was. And then I saw to whom she passed my shirt and sharpie to. Just to my left was Rebecca Zeller, the violinist. And just behind her was Wes, Mathieu and Milo! Just hangin out like ordinary people and not the musical geniuses I knew them to be! Rebecca signed my shirt with me breathing over her like a bad Napoleon Dynamite impersonator and then passed it on to Milo. As I stood there waiting, Rebecca tried valiantly not to notice that I was staring at her with an idiotic smile on my face. I realized I needed to make conversation because thats what cool people do. Rebecca looked a little tired and because thats the first thing that popped into my head and because cool people always say the first thing that pops in their head I said "Have you had a long day?" She smiled politely and replied simply "No." Not knowing how to leave well enough alone I followed with "Cause you look worn out"
Her expression immedialtly changed from patient resolve to scorching disdain. "Thanks" was her reply. OH NO! Did I really just tell a beatiful talented young woman that she looked "Worn Out!?" What the hell did I say that for! Thats not what I meant! I could feel the situation slipping away from me and I felt far away from my body. "No, thats not what I meant! I was just trying to say that you look like you've had a hard day, I'm not trying to be an asshole." (because saying what you are NOT is a great way to make someone believe you) "No, no... it's... it's cool. Don't worry." She assured me. But the damage was done. It was starting again. I tried to think of something else really cool to say but she put me out of my misery by collecting my newly signed shirt from the remaining band members and handing it back to me with a smile that you would give a dog turd as you scraped it off your foot. I think I said something else about how great I thought she was but she just nodded and smiled as she walked away. I cant imagine what I might have said if she hadn't left.
At this point I was starting to really freak out. I had really offended sweet Rebecca. Cleo and Mrs Chops finally showed up and I told them what had happened. I was hoping they would tell me the situation wasn't as bad as I was imagining but as I related the story thier eyes got wider and thier lower jaws got farther and farther from their uppers. When I finshed recounting my sad tale Cleo just stared at me and said "You basically just told her that she looked like fat #$@." I was devastated. I was crushed. My one shot to impress the band and become best friends for life and I had blown it. Completely and thoroughly. Cleo and Mrs Chops bought their shirts from Aly and I tried to put on a happy face but inside I was dying.
But here is where the story gets a happy ending. Mrs Chops asked me to ask the band to sign her shirt as well. As Wes, Milo and Mathieu signed it I told them how much I enjoyed their music. I think because I was already so disappointed with myself and believed that I had so completely made a fool of myself I was actually relaxed a little. I told Mathieu that this was the first show I had been to in almost 15 yrs. Wes asked what the last band a saw live was and I told him I had seen Public Image Limited back in High School. All three of them brightened up and asked about the show. I honestly don't remember exactly what I told them. But they nodded cheerfully and I felt much better. I was talking to cool people and not acting like a moron! A few minutes later as Cleo, Mrs Chops and I were regrouping and getting ready to fight our way back to the stage Mathieu made his way up to us and held out his hand in greeting. "I'm Matt" he said. "I know" I replied, "we are so excited to be here and meet you." Then he talked to us. Just chatted. Just stood there and talked to us like we were real people. I told him about how Cleo had introduced me to them and about our lowly little blog. He seemed genuinely interested and he asked us more about ourselves. We asked him about what it was like to be on tour, if he missed his family, and how he liked this go around compared to last time. He said he loved being on tour and playing music. He said he did miss his family and friends back in Syracuse but that he liked getting to see his friends around the country and that this tour was much better than last time. I dont have a great recollection of the entire conversation but thats the gist of it. Unfortunately for me, acting like a total buffoon tends to sear events into my mind but the details of a casual conversation with a fantastic bassist slip away from me.
Eventually Mathieu had to go, he had to get ready for their set. We found a spot near the side of the stage where Rebecca was playing and I did my best to make up for my previous behavior by constantly shouting "WE LOVE YOU REBECCA!" and the old standby, "YOU ROCK REBECCA!" I'm pretty sure it worked. The show itself was absolutely fantastic. There were, to my ears, flawless. Milo and Gabe wailed and rocked. Wes' voice was a perfect mix of forceful and soothing. Of course Rebecca and Alexandra were outstanding but I cant think of word to describe what they did with their instruments. They are what really set Ra Ra Riot apart. And I thank them for it. My only criticism would be that they didn't play long enough. I have a much deeper respect for what they do as musicians and continue to be in awe of what they were able to do with their considerable musical ability to make me feel and smile.
In the end we had an amazing time. I am in debt to Mathieu for making an old man feel cool again. I do have a bone to pick with Gabe, their drummer. He was either staring at Mrs Chops the entire show or there was a fascinating sticker just above her head on the wall behind us. Either way she was ecstatic. Afterward she accosted him to sign her shirt and forced him to have her picture taken with him. Some people just lose their cool when they get around someone famous.
What could provoke such behavior in a generally mild mannered person, you ask? Well, the person I usually have unprotected casual sex with has been out of town for awhile. And, I've been watching a lot of Top Gear.
Ummmmm.................Richard Hammond. Ya'll know I laaaaaaaa me some British dudes!!!
I am going out of town this weekend, so I wanted to do my pick today. Since our blog is apparently on Spring Break, except for Chops, I figured no one would care. I am in love with this song. Love It!!!
It is sad sad commentary on our society, what we deem important, and the truly disgusting things we will do to achieve our goals.
Plus, I wish I could sound that fantastic dropping the F bomb!!!
So it turns out Cleo may have put my marriage in jeopardy. She recently introduced me to a new band, and I have fallen head over heels in love. Remember last week when I said I loved her music, but didnt have a crush on Leslie Feist? Despite her many charms I am able to maintain a professional relationship. I have had no such luck with Alexandra Lawn, the young and comely cellist from Ra Ra Riot, she has completely stolen my heart. Whats that? No, you heard right. She is the the Cellist, the one who plays the cello. Yep, they have a freakin cello..... AND a violin! No, your right, it doesn't get much cooler than that. So without further ado, souhaitez le bienvenue a Ra Ra Riot.
Ra Ra Riot is a quintet from Syracuse, NY and they have only been around for a little over 2 years, having formed up in 2006. Unlike most new bands however they have a very mature and developed sound. They are accomplished musicians and it shows. I generally like a little bit of a rough edge in my music but Wesley Miles' voice is sincere and pure enough to carry thier complex sound without getting to heavy despite the polish. They are currently touring with Tokyo Police Club but have toured with Cold War Kids and Vampire Weekend and Wesley was roomates with Ezra Koenig at one time.
The group lost thier drummer, founding member and lyricist John Pike in 2007 after he drowned while walking in Massachusetts. The band stayed together despite the personal loss and later released "Dying is fine". While not a direct tribute to John, I cant imagine that did not have an influence on them. I love that they were able to tackle such a hard subject and still make such a happy song about it by admitting that dying is craptacular, but still be ok with it.
Death oh baby You know that dying is fine but maybe I wouldn't like death if death were good Not even if death were good
As a side not, Cleo is joining Mrs Chops and I at their show on Wednesday (if Cleo doesn't wuss out that is). I'll give ya the full run down when we get back. I sure hope Alexandra doesn't wear anything like that little pink number she had on when they did David Letterman, my marriage could be threatened. Maybe I should shave the chops for the night just so I don't tempt the poor lass beyond what she can bear......
'Leave the Bourbon on the Shelf' is the first part: He gets totally drunk after Jenny left him "Shakin' like the Devil when she lets me go..." because of his jealousy. He can't get over the fact that she's left him and is seeing someone else. " Oh,Jennifer, tell me where I stand and who's that boy holdin' your hand?"
'Midnight Show' is the second part: He kills Jenny by choking her and throwing her body into the sea because of her infidelity... "The crashing tide can't hide a guilty girl... with jealous hearts that start with gloss and curls" "I took my baby's breath beneath the chandelier of stars and atmosphere and watched her disappear into the midnight show" "If you can keep a secret, baby I can keep a secret..." "She said she loved me." Live he says "Isn't she lovely?"
- 'Jenny Was A Friend of Mine' is the third part: He's been caught and is defending himself by lying to the police. "There ain't no motive for this crime; Jenny was a friend of mine." He tells the police he wouldn't kill her because she was his friend so he explains with: "She couldn't scream while I held I close/I swore I'd never let her go." but when he sings it live he says "She kicked and screamed while I held her throat".
It seems that all of our throwbacks are falling squarely in the 80's new wave category. So today I wanted to post something a little different. This band formed in 1986 when singer Glen Philips was only 14 years old and a freshman in High School. They had two albums that didn't get much attention, then in 1991 they released Fear and we finally got to meet..Toad the Wet Sprocket...
There first song released was All I Want...
This song is from their follow up album Dulcinea....Fly From Heaven
Although this never got much air play, it is probably my most favorite Toad song. Being a person of Faith, I love the religious undertones in this song. They are pretty blatant if you know anything about religion, but are easily personalized if you don't.
Toad broke up in 1998 and I cried actual tears. They were easily my favorite band all through High School. Ask Cleo if you don't believe me. I think I may have actually wore a hole through Dulcinea.
Anyway.....Toad....A couple of dorky looking guys with mad skillz.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I need to correct a grave injustice. I have given a lot of thought to todays selection and I had a couple of new bands I would have liked to introduce. But then I noticed someone was missing from our current library. I'm not sure how we have gone this long without giving the young lady her proper respect but the oversight is hereby officially corrected. Say hello and a give a big welcome to Leslie Feist.
I dont have a crush on Leslie. I dont even think shes that good looking. Not that shes bad looking. It's just that she seems more like a sister. Or maybe a first cousin. Either way, someone you've known for a long time but could never, ever have sexual feelings about. She's someone I would call up if I really needed someone to talk to to about something important. I think she would give sound advice.
Her songs all leave me feeling warm and comforted after I listen to them. Not elated, not sad, just mellow and content. Like a warm cup of milk before you go to bed. It's not always the best thing to drink but in the right situation it's exactly what you were looking for. She made it big after Apple featured "1 2 4 3" on one of thier Ipod commercials a while back so I didn't bother reposting that one but instead you get a couple of my favorites I hope you haven't heard. Enjoy.