Thursday, September 28, 2006

what I missed

I know that "what did I miss?" might be the norm but I'm pretty sure what I missed during my recent flu-inspired sabbatical: three days of work, The Raconteurs at Roseland, a BookForum cocktail reception (a particular shame there since lit types so rarely request my company).

there's still a rattle (not quite a death rattle, but a rattle nonetheless) emanating from my chestal region despite my patronage (and consumption) of numerous Vicks products so, even though I ventured out of the apartment today, I'm not all the way back to my usual level of relative health.

working on: From First To Last, Damien Jurado and Yo La Tengo pieces

currently reading: A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army, 1941-1945 (so far so good)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

lambchop rocks

I don't understand why everyone doesn't agree that Lambchop isn't the best band on the planet. or at least the neighborhood I was in (crowded with San Gennaro Feast goers) on Thursday night.
sure, they played lots of Damaged material (including "Paperback Bible" to open and "The Decline of Country and Western Civilization" to close the set), but the unsung (actually it was sung) star of the show was 2000's underrated (at least by Nixon as three tracks made appearances, including a righteous version of "You Masculine You" at the encore.

if you had told me I'd go to a Lambchop show where they played three cuts off of Nixon and none of them were "Up With People" I wouldn't have believed you. and I'm amazed that that's not more disappointing.

going without dinner will make you light-headed. and hungry.

Princeton this weekend.
go tigers. beat them leopards.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

buckner blogs

while riding the subway last night I felt overwhelmed almost to the point of tears, and it wasn't the subway's fault, or any of its riders. and in the interest of full disclosure, that's the second time this month that the feeling's come.

on the surface it had been a pretty good day (even week - I even received a royalty check for three of the baseball books - thank you, purchasers, for bettering my diet). received lots of music in the mail, including three box sets - The Byrds' There Is A Season, Waylon Jennings: Nashville Rebel, and Fats Waller's If You Got To Ask, You Ain't Got It - but I think even there the receipt was tempered by the realization that it'll probably be a year before I'm able to make it through every cut of even one of the collections. in any case, one positive (or three), like receiving a bunch of music in the mail (I like getting mail; always have), seems to be instantly cancelled out by even the smallest slight. I'm that much on edge.

nothing specific (though I have my suspicions), but certainly the ridiculous workload I've undertaken and extreme tiredness are the primary contributors/culprits.

so maybe it's fitting that I was taking the subway into Manhattan for Richard Buckner's show at the Bowery Ballroom. I've put (figurative) pen to paper about Buckner more than once in the past few weeks after we met for an interview at Lakeside Lounge back in August. and I still probably don't have a good handle (here's my latest stab, courtesy of Riverfront Times).

similar to the overwhelmedness, Buckner's music conjures, at least for me, powerful, though non-specific emotions. and that's pretty hard to put into words. of course, that is my fricking job (or at least one of them).

when Buckner (and former GBV guitarist Doug Gillard) took the stage as the middle of a three-act night (Eric Bachmann of Crooked Fingers headlined, and to me his voice sounds just like early Springsteen), the crowd wasn't nearly what it should be. so I moseyed on up to the middle front (where you will hardly ever find me) and tried to keep my vocal harmonies and air tom-tom playing to a minimum for the folks around me.

I was happy to hear the strong response to "Town," the first cut of Buckner's new Meadow album.

Buckner's a hero to many of my friends back home (and he's headed there soon: dates include Nashville on the 26th, St. Louis on the 27th, Austin on October 1st and Birmingham (at a new bar I've never been to called Bottletree) on October 4th), which is even less surprising after reading Buckner's recent blog entries (worth reading).

it sounds like a lively, though rough, tour (including a cell phone and passport theft) with plenty of road stories. and reminds me of the rather competitive comedic complaining I've participated in with several of those Southern Buckner fans (shout out to Willard and Rodney). soon enough they'll all be happy together (since misery does love its company). and I should probably be down there with 'em.

last book read: The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell by Mark Kurlansky (recommended)

Friday, September 15, 2006

when, exactly, did r.e.m. jump the shark?

after a few days without my spouse, my hours have become so twisted, tangled that they're really not even my own anymore. naps (needed due to lack of sleep the night before) run overtime, which keeps me up until odd hours, and the cycle continues.
today after lunch my body really started barking, saying awful, awful things to me. and it was right.

tried to skip the nap this evening in order to get back on schedule (and watch the season opener of Survivor; then tried to watch Junebug (primarily because Yo La Tengo provided the score and I've got an interview coming up (I assume with Ira) on Tuesday, but I didn't make it past the 45 minute mark. and, as so often happens, woke up when the credits rolled, which thankfully brought me out of a bad dream, and all the bad dreams seem to hold a thematic tie nowadays; tonight a former boyfriend of my spouse's, a guy named Reidling (awful close to reisling, don't you think?), called my cell phone asking to talk to her (no one named Reidling exists, to my knowledge, by the way); the other similarity with the dreams is that my right arm in nearly always completely asleep when I wake, from shoulder on down).

Little Steven stood me up on a phoner yesterday, though I guess he had a good excuse. it seems the Underground Garage tour (featuring The Zombies) is cancelling their two or three Florida dates (it never did appear certain) in favor of a Nashville re-routing. and though I haven't seen any announcements anywhere, I trust that's the case. it's still obviously new news: I was the one who informed one of the bands on the bill.
nevertheless, I won't be spending the weekend writing a feature on the Hollywood, FL tour stop, which'll hopefully make for a more relaxing weekend, an opportunity to catch up on some much, much overdue work, and a guilt-free viewing of the LSU-Auburn game.

also yesterday, down in Athens, reports suggest that R.E.M. made an appearance at the 40 Watt to watch (and participate in) a night of R.E.M. covers before they're inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame this weekend.
"That was probably one of the most fun nights I've ever had," lead Drive-By Trucker Patterson Hood is quoted as saying (Patterson and the DBTs and Bobby Bare Jr and The Woggles and Lambchop will all be in New York City (three different venues) this coming Thursday in some sort of accidental "The South Will Rise Again" theme night in Manhattan).
R.E.M. also reportedly recorded (with Bill Berry on drums) this week with local producer David Barbe (a sweetheart of a guy - my sympathies to his Red Sox this season).

so when did the band officially jump the shark?
I'm listening, right this very second, to the brand new And I Feel Fine . . . The Best of the I.R.S. Years compilation, so it certainly wasn't before the Warner Brothers contract.
not that every track holds up exceedingly well.
I mean, I certainly had, at one time at least, much better bootleg material than is included here. and the set is another reminder that the production on Fables of the Reconstruction (not that they should've stayed with Don Dixon and Mitch Easter forever) is pretty damn horrible. of course, that album showed the very first obvious, impossible to ignore cracks in the songwriting armor too.
not everyone agrees, of course. on AMG Buffalo Tom leader Bill Janovitz writes about "Wendell Gee": "For my money, this is still the prettiest R.E.M. song, from a catalog that contains of some of the loveliest songs in pop music."
I think I can name five "prettier" off the top of my head. for starters, "Perfect Circle." "Gardening at Night." "Time After Time (Ann Elise)." "Swan Swan H." "King of Birds." all before the Warners contract (count "Let Me In" if you want to go past the I.R.S. years).
and even though they certainly never ran away from it, "pretty" wasn't really R.E.M.'s thing (good luck finding more than a track or two of the slow tempo stuff on any early years album).
so we may be onto something here, because the pace has recently decreased in recent years.
you can make a case, of course, that the Warners contract was when the band "lost it." after all, their first WB album, Green, contained "I Remember California," undoubtedly R.E.M.'s entry in the category of "What The Fuck Were They Thinking?" (Springsteen's "Mary, Queen of Arkansas" has maintained its position on top of the leader board for over thirty years now).
but likely as not R.E.M. jumped the shark when Bill Berry suffered the aneurysm in Switzerland in 1995. which, unfortunately, was a long, long time ago.

more of my prose is newly available on the World Wide Web: a feature on The Black Keys is now up at Phoenix New Times.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I blame cat power

after a week of annoying taped message phone calls (including one from Hillary Clinton, one from Susan Sarandon on behalf of whoever was running against Hillary Clinton, and the worst, a 9:21 Saturday morning solicitation from Andrew Cuomo (who I would've voted for if he'd exhibited enough sense to not engage the automatic dialers before 10 a.m. on a Saturday)), the New York State primaries are over. and everything ended exactly as predicted. right now (knock wood) it looks like November may yield the first ever statewide Democratic sweep in history (which is a little surprising, actually).

in other news: Sunday we went to see Cat Power's early show at Irving Plaza (she seems like a one-trick pony to me, though the sound system, and video, at the club, has improved greatly since I was last there) and last Friday I spent multiple hours in the back of a town car riding back and forth through Brooklyn and Queens. for sixty minutes of the trip I was joined by Ben Kweller, whose self-titled album will be released on the 19th, for an interview that'll show up in the Village Voice sometime in October.

worthy new releases this week: Richard Buckner's Meadow, Tara Jane O'Neil's In Circles and Yo La Tengo's I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass.

and I've got a couple of very short album previews in the current issue of Philadelphia Weekly.

finally, I'm a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Oakland Raiders (could they have looked any worse on Monday night?). I do not yet have a favorite NBA team. if you would like to pay me not to cheer for your team (or perhaps compensate me for rooting for your archrival), please send me an e-mail. I'm certain something can be arranged.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

do not call me at home

not that I ever answer the phone anyway, but there's now an ironclad moratorium for the next seven days.

yes, it's that time of every four years again: the last week of primary season. next Tuesday the Democrats and the Republicans (yep, there are a couple here in New York City) face off in a hair vs. hair, loser leave town match (don't I wish), which means that after weeks of beautiful silence the damn phone is now ringing off the damn hook. four recorded messages today alone.

leave me alone, dammit.

two more publications popped this afternoon: a feature on Minus 5 frontman Scott McCaughey for Riverfront Times and a review of former Fugazi drummer turned filmmaker Brendan Canty's Burn to Shine 03: Portland (with an unnecessarily clogged intro) in Phoenix New Times.

happy reading.

(photo credit: Jim Saah)

there's absolutely nothing like

lying down to take a nap and waking up to learn that it's 3:11 in the morning and you have ironing to do before dawn.
yes, quite a few things beat the experience, but there's absolutely nothing else like it.

fortunately the ironing chore coincided with an episode of "The Alternative" on VH1 Classic.
highlights included Jesus & Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey," Smashing Pumpkins' "Disarm," "I Don't Like Mondays" by The Boomtown Rats and "Disappointed" by PiL.

recent pubs have elevated from a slow trickle, and may well become a steady stream within the next couple of weeks (lots of writing work this past weekend).
there's a review of Paul Burch's East to West in the current issue of No Depression, a short interview with Spyro Gyra leader Jay Beckenstein in New Times Broward-Palm Beach week before last and a review of Lambchop's Damaged popped today at the Village Voice.

currently listening to: Camper Van Beethoven II & III
the CD before that: The Zombies' Odessey & Oracle: 30th Anniversary Edition
the CD before that: Bob Dylan's Modern Times

Friday, September 1, 2006

even with low expectations

I thought the MTV Video Awards absolutely sucked last night. couldn't make it past the 20 minute mark and every time I checked back in during another program's commercial break I questioned why I even made that small effort.

praise be for the almost unbelievably good Agassi-Baghdatis match (though I still think Andre looks like Alan Arkin).

last three CDs listened to in their entirety (and I have no explanation (I'm slammed with writing assignments but nothing's due on any of these)):

The Pernice Brothers - Discover A Lovelier You
Calexico - Garden Ruin
The Decemberists - Picaresque

and yes, Virginia, we're headed towards Princeton.