Monday, December 15, 2014

Album Listening Club - We Shall All Be Healed discussion post

The Mountain Goats!

Photo from Merge records - Photo by DL Anderson
You thought I was going to post a picture of actual goats on a mountain, didn't ya? Well, I almost did. But I thought better against it.

This The Mountain Goats is a band fronted and founded in 1991 by John Darnielle, who released a bunch of material under The Mountain Goats name without having a full-time backing band. Bass player Peter Hughes joined full-time in 2002, with drummer Jon Wurster joining in 2007. Wikipedia says that We Shall All Be Healed is an autobiographical record about "Darnielle's life with a group of friends and acquaintances addicted to methamphetamine in Portland, Oregon, though the album is set in Pomona, California."

At first listen, the music and lyrics remind me a bit of Robyn Hitchcock (maybe not the music style, necessarily, and Robyn's backing band tends to be a bit better produced, as in the drums and bass sound more full & deep), and the sound of John's voice reminds me of the singer for The Thermals, Hutch Harris. Or maybe it's more like Liz Phair, musically. Anyway.

Clearly I'm not a deep Mountain Goats listener. Yet. I like the indie feel to the album and the stories that John tells. I'll definitely be playing this & other Mountain Goats records more.

What about you? What's your experieince with this record? Let's club The Mountain Goats. (That's just a figure of speech. No Mountain Goats or mountain goats should be harmed.)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Album Listening Club - Blue Eyed Black Boy discussion

Once again, this is why I love the Album Listening Club. I had never heard of Balkan Beat Box before one of our club members suggested them and this record.



Nothing. Not sure where I would have heard of them, but from listening to their album, it's something I probably would have read about in Spin - If Spin were still a magazine, and I still read it, and it was still relevant. (Sorry, Spinners. You've devolved into the kind of bullshit clickbait articles and celebrity worship that I refuse to click on.)

The band itself is from Israel and consists of three core musicians, Ori Kaplan, Tamir Muskat, and Tomer Yosef. This album was recorded in Romania and from my listens has lots of musical influences from that area of the world, the Middle East and Balkan states. (Big surprise from the band name, right?)

So, now that we've heard of them - let's do what we do & chat it up!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Album Listening Club - Stained Class discussion

I'm no connoisseur of heavy metal music. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I've never heard even one of the songs on Stained Class, which is one of the most highly regarded Judas Priest albums.


Sure, I know "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" and "Breaking The Law" and "Living After Midnight," and I recognize the cover for their album British Steel - iconic. But I don't have the long listening history to differentiate the Priest in any meaningful way from, say, Iron Maiden. I mean, of course there's nobody who sings like Rob Halford, but I don't know what the central themes of their music are.

Stained Class is Judas Priest's fourth album, released in early 1978. So, while one subculture was being fed from Talking Heads 77, another was reaching out for Stained Class. Wikipedia says that before this record, the Priest played more prog-rock and this and subsequent albums were more heavy metal rock and roll.

So, let's club Stained Class, shall we?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Album Listening Club - Low discussion post

I just realized that I don't actually own any David Bowie records.

David Bowie - Low
Like, none. Never bought Let's Dance, and really, that's the only one by him that I would have bought for a long time. I knew and liked "Space Oddity" and "Changes" from the 70's, but I wasn't seeking out albums, those were just songs I heard on the radio. When Let's Dance came along, this David Bowie wrote pop songs that weren't as abstract as the previously mentioned songs. Verse/chorus/verse/bridge etc. He was dressed in a nice suit, no face paint. It was a David Bowie that a teenager in a small mountain town could get behind. (Me - I was that teenager.)

I never did buy that album, though, because my friend had it, so I could hear it whenever I wanted. (And now that I listen to it, I prefer the version of "Cat People" on Let's Dance to the soundtrack version. But I'm digressing, HARD.)

So, Low. Bowie's eleventh album, released in 1977, produced by Tony Visconti and featuring Brian Eno on side two, with a full writing credit on "Warszawa." Mixed critical acclaim upon release, the album seems to be widely lauded now. Low was the first album in what's now called the "Berlin trilogy", along with Heroes and Lodger.

The songs on side one all had vocals, whereas all of the songs on side two were instrumentals. It was nice to be able to divide a musical artistic work in such a way with LPs and cassettes.

Best bit of trivia I read about the album - Nick Lowe released an EP in 1977 that he titled "Bowi," in "retaliation." Now THAT'S funny!

Let's club this album!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

ThURGHsday! #9 - Jools Holland

I took up piano much later in life than most people. I believe I was a Junior in high school. I had been listening to lots of synth bands by the time we bought a piano and I started taking lessons. In fact, that was why I wanted a piano in the first place, was to start to learn those synth songs that I loved.


I was drawn to the piano before that, however. My dad had the soundtrack to the movie The Sting, a 1930's period piece with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The music was mostly Scott Joplin ragtime tunes and I loved the elegance of the arrangements, coupled with the bounce of the melodies. And of course in the 70's there was Elton John and Billy Joel, but by the time I saw Jools in URGH! (1982 or 83), both of them had moved on bigger, more full pop and rock arrangements than just the piano songs for which they were originally known.

The dawn of the 80's also brought synth bands Devo (also in URGH!) and Ultravox to my ears. Neither band was mainstream in the USA, so I had to catch snippets of them on our local public access music video show, FM-TV (later called Teletunes).

Seeing Jools Holland in URGH! hammer out a boogie-woogie song on an electric piano in less than a minute was exhilarating. The lyrics tell of a boy who is in love, with Jools' falsetto not quite hitting the right note towards the end, but that only lends to the charm.

I'm not sure what it says that a couple of my favorite performers in the film were solo acts (John Cooper-Clarke & Jools) or were such huge personalities out front (Klaus Nomi, Jello Biafra, Jim Skafish) that they dwarfed their backing bands to a degree. Just a sucker for the cult of personality, I guess.

Curiously, the version of "Foolish I Know" on the URGH! soundtrack is almost 2 minutes long - the song basically just repeats - and there's a short intro by Jools where he says "Little song that might be on my next album…might not! But this is a jazz song! Written by me! Which I think is pretty good show, really!" I love that intro because it's a little window into Jools' confidence, up there by himself and seemingly loving it.

Where URGH! They Now?

Jools has been a staple of the BBC with his program "Later with Jools Holland" since 1992. I believe I first saw it on BBC America in the late 90's. It's a great show, each guest playing a song or two, with the stage "in the round" - all acts on various stages around the perimeter of the studio, where Jools does a quick spoken segue between acts and throws to the next band who plays live there on the spot, with the occasional interview with certain special guests.


Of course, Jools was a founding member of Squeeze and has played with all sorts of musicians over the years, both as guests on his records and him guesting on theirs. He's been a television presenter in the UK, dating back to the early 80's on other programs that I've not seen or heard of until I read his Wikipedia entry.

One day in the 80's as I watched The Young Ones on MTV, I was surprised to see "that piano guy from URGH!" directing a band that included Stewart Copeland from The Police among others, doing a cover of Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues."


Jools has always been the picture of cool in my eyes. Kind of a dorky, dapper guy with a lot of energy who is passionate about music and can play the hell out of the keyboards.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

Last ThURGHsday! - Echo and the Bunnymen, "The Puppet"
Next ThURGHsday! - XTC - "Respectable Street"


As always, purchasing from the iTunes links in this post help support YourOlderBrother.com

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Album Listening Club - If You're Feeling Sinister discussion post

I chose this picture because there's something sinister about a town named Kill Devil Hills
Belle and Sebastian are a Scottish group that formed in 1996 in Glasgow. I recall reading about them in the music magazines of the time, like Spin and maybe Rolling Stone. 1996 was a down musical period for me - having just parted ways with my band the year before, and then marrying my wife, getting a "real" job and buying a house, I was doing other things than concentrating on music. My house was out in the suburbs where there wasn't a good record store close, and this was just as the Internet was getting going so we didn't have a way to preview albums. I read about them, but never heard them.

I'll save my "when I heard them" story for my review. I'd like to hear how you heard of B&S and where/when you heard them. Gimme some stories!

Now - let's get clubbing!

iTunes link helps support Your Older Brother if you buy. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

All Hallows' Eve - The Playlist!


It seems that every year I make this playlist for a new music service or a home playlist or something, and it always ends up a little different. I add a song here or there and leave some off 'cause I'm not feelin' 'em anymore.

This year, I'll make two playlists, one for Spotify and one for Rdio. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. I love this time of year, Hallowe'en through Christmas. Lots of good music and dropping temperatures and warm drinks. And blood. Lots of blood.




These playlists are more designed for shuffle play than straight through. I don't have the time nor inclination to make perfect segues. It's for a party! Shuffle & go.

Send me links to your Hallowe'en playlist! I'd love to hear them, too.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Riot Fest 2014 - Denver Day 3

While day 2 was fun and energizing, I'll be honest - I had a difficult time getting up on Sunday morning for day 3. Which sucked, because I really wanted to get to Sports Authority Field's parking lot to see Denver's Dendrites and In The Whale. I haven't seen The Dendrites, but I do love ska. I have seen In The Whale, and they put on one hell of a live show. Waking up at 10:30 to make it to a 12:45 show is not a good sign, however. One of my kids already declined to attend day 3, and my other kid was moving just as slowly as I was.

What really helped us both get going were the messages that came in on our phones from the Riot Fest app. This one came in first, but I was asleep:


And then this one actually woke me up:


So…Riot Fest Mom said it was time to rally and conquer day 3.  So we rallied. (Spoiler alert: Day 3 conquered us.)

Riot Food!
I have to say, though, I was really impressed with the Riot Fest food. Compared to Warped Tour food, there was a bevy of choice and quality, and at pretty decent prices, I thought. One stand had french bread pizzas made on-site with all sorts of toppings (that's what my kids had Friday & Saturday), there was an abundance of gyros, there were ice cream trucks (like, food trucks that made ice cream, not your average ice cream truck selling bomb pops & Drumsticks), sausages, asian food, tacos…and on and on. I got burgers from Steuben's food truck. The truck's name is Pearl.

Steuben's Food Truck - AKA "Pearl"
Steuben's is a well-known Denver restaurant that opened in 2006 and serves regional comfort food from around the country - cayenne etouffe, Maine lobster roll, Memphis ribs - as well as plain old comfort food - pot roast, meat loaf, fried chicken. Pearl doesn't have that range of menu items, but the food was good and fresh. I'll definitely be heading in to the restaurant sometime.

So, back to the festival. My youngest and I got out the door a little before 2pm, which put us walking in to the festival about 2:30, just in time to catch the end of The Menzingers set.

The Menzingers - Greg Barnett, Tom May, Joe Godina, Eric Keen
I was glad we got there for this, I liked the songs I previewed before the fest - good, earnest rock. Not earnest in a bad way, but earnest like passionate and not fucking around. Besides, any group with a song called "I Don't Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore" deserves a longer look.

Bob. Fucking. Mould.
Bob Mould was the first must-see act for me on Sunday, and when the Menzingers' set ended, we turned around and walked the short distance to the May Stage.

Bob Mould band - Jason Narducy, Jon Wurster, Bob Mould
I've been a big fan of Bob's solo work and with Sugar. I got into Hüsker Dü a little later than most, and never quite as fervently as some, but I dig their music all right. This left me a little outside of the set, because he opened with three Hüsker songs and closed with four. It didn't matter to me, though, as it's always fun to watch Bob play, bouncing around the stage as he shows his guitar skills. And the music is always great.

Touché Amoré - Jeremy Bolm
The next band on my list was Touché Amoré, a band I saw for the first time at last year's Riot Fest. They had a great set and a ton of energy last year and the band delivered again, big time.

Touché Amoré - Nick Steinhardt, Tyler Kirby, Jeremy Bolm, Elliot Babin, Clayton Stevens
Touché Amoré - Jeremy Bolm in the crowd, Tyler Kirby on bass
I cut out after a few songs to go catch the Violent Femmes, another band that I've loved for years but haven't seen live. I'd seen them play their debut album plus other hits on the Coachella feed last year and it was pretty fun to see and hear the songs in person.

Violent Femmes - Gordon Gano nip slip
It's amazing that their music still resonates so strongly with people, even still. There's something in the songs - the folk punk, the aching nasal pleas of Gordon Gano, the xylophone - something that still speaks to people, young and old.

Violent Femmes - Brian Viglione
After the Femmes, my kid wanted to see 3OH!3, so we walked over to the Byers Country Feed stage for some of their set. At this point, we were both slowing way down, however, so we backtracked a bit and sat on the hay bales by the merch tent and pondered what our next move would be. My kid sat head-down for a while and it didn't take long for us to call "uncle" and make our way toward the exit. Which, happily, was just behind the Byers General Store stage where Me First and the Gimme Gimmes were playing.


We got our second dose of Fat Mike for the weekend, and got to see a bunch of punks fist-pump "oh-oh-oh" during the Gimme's version of Paula Abdul's "Straight Up," which was pretty amusing to me. As was Spike's pre-every-song ritual of announcing "This next one's a cover…"

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - Fat Mike, Dave Raun, Scott Shiflett
MF&tGGs - Fat Mike, Spike Slawson, Dave Raun
And thus ended our 2nd consecutive Riot Fest. It was just starting to rain a tiny bit and we got home fairly quickly. I took my kid's temperature - 102.8°F. Good call on leaving, dad.

Sometimes it's easy to second guess leaving a show early, but once the rain started coming down - hard - I knew we had made the right decision. Later that night I fell asleep for an hour or so and woke up about 7:30. Knowing that The National wouldn't go onstage for another two hours assured me (again) that I had chosen sadly, but wisely. My time to see The National will come, but the time hasn't been right, yet.

Thanks again for another great year, Riot Fest. You really suck.