Saturday, February 27, 2010

Uncle Tupelo: Critcial Mass Pt. Two

Here is the second part to the interview/ performance from the UT practice space in December 1988. Enjoy!

Vintage Uncle Tupelo: Critical Mass Live 1988 Pt. One

I love this clip! This was recorded in December 1988 in the bands practice space/ apartment in their hometown of Belleville, IL for the local public access show "Critical Mass". Jay, Jeff & Mike are all so young and eager at this point. You can see thier discomfort in the interview section, but once they start jamming their skill and confidence really shine through. I find it fascinating that even then- they had just put out two self- produced demos and were completing their third and final one (Not Forever, Just For Now) and were about to start making their debut album "No Depression" the following year- Jay's voice remains unchanged from today. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Midlake "The Courage Of Others" album review

I found this great review of Midlake's amazing new album "The Courage Of Others" and wanted to post it for you all. I really couldn't have described it any better myself, so many thanks to King George over at Check out his site, he has some great content over there.

The Courage Of Others review Pt. 1

"Album number three from Midlake finds the band edging away from past glories and indulging in something new - or new for them, at least. Their first album, Bamnan And Silvercork, was indebted to Radiohead while the splendid The Trials Of Van Occupanther was steeped in the influence of '70s smooth rock. The Courage Of Others takes on the world of folk and assimilates it perfectly.
As such it is something of a departure from its predecessor. Electric guitars take a back seat, only being introduced cautiously to add colour where needed. The songs themselves possess no particularly great hooks, relying instead on subtle nuances and a wonderfully assured vocal performance from Tim Smith to ensure their individuality.
But any concerns that this is a collection of uninspiring folk songs should be instantly banished. This being Midlake, The Courage Of Others is an utterly perfect piece of work from start to finish. The spirits of Fairport Convention, The Moody Blues and Barclay James Harvest inform much of this album, but Midlake have taken their influences and created something quite wonderful.
It's not clear whether The Courage Of Others is a concept album, but the theme of the natural world and its fall into decline seems to be a key premise. Many folk songs are concerned with fertility and the wonder of the natural world, but Midlake's world seems to be crumbling and bleak, with only shafts of light giving the smallest slivers of hope. This is the sound of the pastoral landscape being mourned as it disappears under a sea of cement and concrete. It's almost Hardyesque."

The Courage Of Others review Pt. 2

"Kicking things off with Acts Of Man we're instantly in a world of dreamily apocalyptic folk. Smith intones, 'When the acts of man cause the ground to break open, oh let me inside'. If Warren Ellis And Nick Cave hadn't so eloquently scored the soundtrack for The Road, Midlake could probably have done a reasonable job of it. Interestingly, Core Of Nature seems to follow similar themes to that of Cormac McCarthy's novel, featuring a protagonist who walks through a wood accepting his bleak fate.
Children Of The Ground is possibly the album's finest moment. It's seemingly based in a feral landscape where 'they jump on your back' and 'leave an imprint on your shoulder blades'. It notes that 'we're all undone in this town' at the climax of one of the finest vocal sections on the album - a dénouement that suggests the absence of hope, despite the anthemic leanings of elements of the song.
Although the vocal harmonies are exquisite throughout and the production is warm and inviting, almost everything else on the album is unsettlingly cold. The electric guitars tend to be scabrous, like thorns on a wilting rose (Winter Dies), and at times they are brutal, such as on the strangulated solo amongst the haunting flutes on the title track.
The Courage Of Others is bleak. Many will find it a struggle at first, but there is beauty amongst the laments; it just takes time for it to become apparent."

The Masterplan Is...

I am going to post music here real soon. Promise.

Please bear with me, folks, I'm trying to figure this out as I go.

But here's the masterplan. I am a music collector who has accumulated a lot of rare, impossible to find live, import , unreleased, and out of print music. I've been collecting since I was a kid and have a massive amount of stuff here, a lot of which is irreplaceable and extremely valuable. What gives me great pleasure is having the opportunity to share what I have with other music fanatics like myself. I scan different sites online and the local indie record stores to find material to add to my collection constantly, and having created this blog, I would like to post some of that music here for fellow music geeks to download and enjoy for themselves.

I am a novice on the computer and am still learning how to post music on this blog. Once I figure it out I can guarantee you all a steady stream of priceless gems for your listening pleasure. I just expect, of course, that they be downloaded for your personal listening pleasure ONLY and not sold to the highest bidder on ebay. Let's not ruin it for the rest, folks. Respect the music and respect the artists who create it.

That being said, I hope to get some stuff up here in the next day or two. Until then, go out and buy Midlake's new album "The Courage Of Others". I am telling you - it's a huge step forward for them and a landmark piece of artistic expression. And if you won't take my word for it, pull up some online reviews.

My Top 25 Of The Decade: 1- 14

I have seen alot of Top 10 lists this time of the year. Recently, I saw a top 20 albums of the decade list in one of the local papers that really infuriated me. I could not fathom how they made their selections, and some seemed outright dumb- not to mention all the great albums mysteriously overlooked.
So here it is folks- my TOP 25 ALBUMS OF THE DECADE (In no particular order)
1. B.R.MC. 'Howl' 2007
2. Fleet Foxes 'Fleet Foxes' 2008
3. Hope Sandoval 'Through The Devil Softly' 2009
4. Brian Jonestown Massacre 'Bravery, Repetition & Noise' 2001
5. Luke Doucet 'Broken' 2005
6. Mark Lanegan 'Field Songs' 2001
7. Ryan Adams 'Love Is Hell' 2003
8. Doves 'Lost Souls' 2000
9. The Thrills 'So Much For The City' 2003
10. My Morning Jacket 'It Still Moves' 2003
11. Dead Meadow 'Old Growth' 2008
12. Dandy Warhols '13 Tales From Urban Bohemia' 2000
13. Son Volt 'Okemah & The Melody Of Riot' 2005
14. Neko Case 'Blacklisted' 2003

My Top 25 Of The Decade: 15- 25

15. Mark Pickeral 'Snake In the Radio' 2006
16. Raising The Fawn 'The North Sea' 2004
17. The Hangdogs 'Wallace '48' 2003
18. Kathleen Edwards 'Back To Me' 2005
19. Drive-by Truckers 'The Great Southern Rock Opera' 2001
20. Old 97's 'Satellite Rides' 2001
21. Hayden 'The Place Where We Lived' 2009
22. Jose Gonzalez 'Veneer' 2006
23. Roscoe's Gang 'Loud & Lonesome' 2004
24. Alejandro Escovedo 'A Man Under The Influence' 2001
25. Tyler Ramsey 'A Long Dream About Swimming Across The Sea' 2007

Part Three:

He was making the best music of his career this last year. The collaboration with Guy Picciotto from Fugazi that yielded the magnificent album 'At The Cut' and the tour that followed showed Vic in top form. It seemed that the burden of living without health insurance ( a nightmare for anyone like Vic with constant health issues) and facing medical lawsuits and mounting doctors bills became too much to take (I have heard they were threatening to seize his assets as well). As someone who is disabled and living without health insurance, I am in exactly the same position myself. I know what Vic faced here, and I can totally see how it could drive someone to check out for good.
Vic's decision to exit this world was his own. I know some of the burdens the man faced, and although I cannot know the physical pain he carrried with him each day in that body of his, I had the privilege of sharing some intimate moments with him that will stay with me the rest of my life. I am grateful for that. As well as the music, which will stand the test of time.
Let's please not forget Vic. And if there is ever a way to change this fucked up health care system in this country- let's do it for Vic Chesnutt. Maybe his example can promote change. That is my hope. What a wonderful legacy that would be.

Part Two:

I was able to spend alot of quiet, intimate moments with Vic before shows. In the hours leading up to a concert there was very little for myself to do, a situation Vic found himself in as well. In the quiet stillness of a darkened venue with only a few friends and crew members about we often had the occasion to chat. It's those moments I find myself thinking of now. Vic was a complex man. He could be incredibly self loathing at times, but I never thought of him as a negative person. He had such a sweetness about him and empathy. When you talked with him he was funny, engaging and full of wit and humor. And one of the only musicians I ever knew who seemed generally interested in what you had to say when he spoke.
Vic was a very physically fragile person, but he spirit was so strong you never looked at him as being weak. There were so many times before shows where his body was convulsing from various pains and ailments and you couldn't imagine him being able to get up on stage and play a show... but he always did.
I would always stand mesmerized by the stage watching him play that little guitar. I knew he had limited use of his hands. Greeting Vic was a always an adventure in that way, because you didn't know if you were going to get a good handshake or not. His hands were often bent like claws or twitching uncontrollably. His fingers were stiff and at times barely able to move at all. But, up on stage clutching that guitar he could manipulate the strings in very unique ways to get the sound he wanted. It was a magnificent thing to watch. I know.

Part One:

On Xmas day Vic Chesnutt died of an apparent suicide. I knew Vic and his death came as a huge shock to me. It's been hard for me to process and I wanted to share some of my thoughts on a truly wonderful man whom I fear will fade way from public conscious prematurely.
For the early part of the decade I was involved in the music industry in NYC. I worked for Vic's record label New West Records for a while and was able to cover a number of shows with him.
Vic was a complex man. He hated being in that wheelchair and hated having to depend on other people. But, it was a necessity in his situation, and one I am sure he never grew comfortable with. I recall the logistical problems he faced being confined to that chair. Concert venues don't generally have access ramps to the stage (they are not the most handicap- friendly places by nature). So, it took a team of helpers to lift him on and off the stage. And then, as most venues have their dressing rooms up or down a typically long flight of stairs- they would have to carry him back and forth to there as well. It was a task that I know he felt burdened by. He never liked having to ask anyone to do something he couldn't do for himself.

A Comment On The Untimely Death Of Vic Chesnutt

I had written this after the death of Vic Chesnutt, someone I'd gotten to know when I was working for his record label in the early part of this decade. His death made me very sad, not only for the personal effect of his loss, but the sad commentary it offered on this nation's healthcare system. I wanted to re-post what I had written at the time for anyone who may be interested :

Let The Future Begin...

I have envisioned this for a long time- and procrastinated even longer. Here it is folks- my official blog. As I take my first giant leap into the cyberworld I want to lay down my personal doctrine here for all the world to see.
You see, I have big plans for this here blog. It's going to be an extension of me. My interests, my thoughts, my personal philosophies of living. So, stand back, and prepare for a healthy dose of the truth- and some great music you may have never heard before.
This here little blog is going to feature movie reviews, concert reviews, social commentary, interviews, and lots of links to hard or impossible to find music that you need to take a listen to. I'll post photos that I may find interesting and ones that are just plain weird. Like I said folks- this is all me.
So, welcome, one and all!
The first order of business is sleep. It is almost 6am and I have yet to bed down for the night.
I'll post more content upon my re-awakening.
There is a storm brewing here in the Northeast. Fleet Foxes "White Winter Hymnal" is stuck in my head for some reason... Goodnight, all :)