Tag Archives: Son Volt

A Little Musical VD Help!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of the dear, sweet, gentle readers, I hope this post finds you with the one you love or at least someone you like a little. In honor of the beloved and mass marketed one day year love fest, I’m dropping a Mixed Tape Monday Special Edition VD List.

Click on the link below!

VD Mixed Tape

So, if you are one of those procrastinating types, take this list, hop on iTunes and download these fine tunes; run to your local grocery store, sift through the remaining sappy, mass produced cards and while you’re there pick up some not so fresh roses or other flowers conveniently available for this special day. To top it all off, grab a box of heart shaped chocolates and make your reservations at your local Applebee’s or Macaroni Grill, show that special someone how much you really care.

Great music awaits!


Tune In Tuesday: 6/22/10

Welcome back to another installment of Tune In Tuesday.  Today’s six albums are pretty diverse in regards to musical genre and over all style but have the commonality of not sucking at all. 

Mojo

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

This is Mr. Petty’s first studio album in eight and is well worth the wait.  The tunes are refreshingly reflective of the bands thirty plus years in the business. The songs have an air of fun and a cohesive quality that have always been a trademark of the Heartbreakers.  Heavy on the sweet southern rock sound, the songs have a classic vibe that sounds fresh yet familiar.  Petty’s voice is in fine form with the light, nasally, southern drawl, Campbell’s guitar playing is as tight as ever, and Trench’s ability to tickle the ivory brings it all together.  The album reminds you why Petty is so great and why he can take eight years off and come back just as relevant to the music scene.

Key Tracks: Running Man’s Bible, Something Good Coming, Takin’ My Time

American Slang

The Gaslight Anthem

This is the third album for the New Jersey band and a pretty dramatic departure for the heartland punk rockers.  It seems that the urgency and tension of the first two albums has dissipated and allowed them to grow as a band.  Obviously influenced by Springsteen, American Slang is a more mature sound for the band and allows them to better connect to their audience as well as bring new folks into the fold.  Don’t get me wrong, the band still rocks and a few songs have the speed and antagonism of their previous two albums.

Key Tracks: Bring It On, American Slang, Orphans

Fly Between Falls

Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO)

Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO) is the hippie, trippy, California band that brings the good time vibe to everything they play.  The band was formed by high school buddies Zach Gill, Steve Adams, Dan Lebowitz.  They all share vocal responsibilities and play a variety of instruments. 

Their debut album “Fly Between Falls” was originally released in 2004 and rereleased when ALO signed to Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records in 2006.

This album is just plain fun.  Each song is up tempo and quirky yet sucks you in a little deeper each time you listen. 

Key Tracks:  Girl I Wanna Lay You Down, Wasting Time (Isla Vista Song), Barbeque

I and Love and You

The Avett Brothers

The Avett Brothers are the folksy, rocking, alt/country with a tinge of bluegrass band from North Carolina.  With such a diverse pedigree, is it any wonder the Rick Rubin took notice, signed them to his label, and produced their major label debut “I and Love and You”?

The album is sonically rich with harmonies provided by Scott and Seth.  The melodies are tight and the musical arrangement has a certain level of complication but not in an overly dramatic fashion.

Key Tracks:  Ten Thousand Words, Kick Drum Heart, January Wedding

One Fast Move Or I’m Gone

Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard

Jay Farrar (Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo) and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service) teamed up to write and record an album for the documentary “One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s “Big Sur”

With Kerouac’s connection to jazz, both Farrar and Gibbard seem to be an odd choice to write and represent the spirit of Jack.  However, given the tragic nature of the book and Kerouac’s immersion into the depths of alcoholism and debilitating depression, Farrar with his naturally dour vocal styling and proclivity to writing deep emotionally damaged lyrics was a competent selection, while Gibbard seemed an awkward fit with his more melodic voice and previous synth heavy work with The Postal Service. 

Given the inspiration for the album it is no surprise that musically, the album is steeped in Americana with acoustic, electric, & steel guitar, lap & pedal steel, harmonica, piano, and percussions.  A majority of the lyrics were taken from Kerouac’s 1962 novel “Big Sur” and Jack gets writing credit on all of the songs except Gibbard’s lyrical contribution on the title track.

The irony of this project is that as dark and damaged as Kerouac was; the album is hopeful with a vulnerable beauty etched in the music and lyrics.

Key Tracks: California Zephyr, One Fast Move or I’m Gone, Big Sur, San Francisco

One Day as a Lion

One Day as a Lion

One Day as a Lion is the musical collaboration and eponymous debut EP of acid tongue, fire and brimstone, anti politico Zack de la Rocha (Rage Against the Machine) and drummer Jon Theodore (Mars Volta). 

The overall vibe on the EP is not an exodus sonically or lyrically for either musician.  The lyrics are politically and emotionally charged, the music is in your face antagonistic, and the overall delivery is the equivalent of a sledgehammer.  Bombastic drums and hypnotic keyboards bolster the fiery vocal release of de la Rocha.  The album has urgency to it in both the spirit of the music and the delivery of the lyrics. 

While the five songs seem to play quickly, what the album lacks in length, it more than makes up for with the strength of each song.  It also brings the realization the potency of de la Rocha’s delivery and the void that has existed musically since the disbanding of Rage Against the Machine.

Key Tracks: All 5 Songs!

 Great music awaits!


You should be listening to Jay Farrar!

Jay Farrar is the incredibly gifted singer/songwriter/musician who has been part of the creative process for two influential bands (Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt).  He has also had a nice solo career and most recently ventured out with Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) on the soundtrack for “One Fast Move or I’m Gone”. 

Musically he is just as adept in the sparse folksy acoustic of Americana music or the powerful roar of rock and roll.  In addition to the guitar, Farrar also knows his way around the harmonica. 

Jay Farrar Discography:

  • Sebastopol (2001)
  • ThirdShiftGrottoSlack (EP 2002)
  • Terroir Blues (2003)
  • Live EP (2004)
  • Stone, Steel, & Bright Lights (2004)

Upon the demise of Uncle Tupelo, Farrar formed Son Volt and released three albums before going on a six year hiatus.  Upon return in 2005, Farrar was the only original member of Son Volt and the newly designed band released an additional four albums. 

In 2006 Farrar and Anders Parker created Gob Iron and released one album while he was in the process of recording another Son Volt album. 

Farrar’s distinctive vocals are the glue that holds all of his music together.  While he has respectable writing and musical skills, it is his voice that puts the energy and emotion into the songs.   At times, it is low and deeply emotive, conveying the world weary troubadour.  Others times, it is painfully hidden behind the weirdly tuned guitar.

Top Five Jay Farrar Songs:

  1. No Rolling Back (Terroir Blues)
  2. Damn Shame (Sebastopol)
  3. California (Terroir Blues)
  4. Feel Free (Sebastopol)
  5. Station to Station (ThirdShiftGrottoSlack)

Check out Jay Farrar at www.jayfarrar.net

www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9UNSyisYG8

www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9N4fDkSLUE&feature=related

Great music awaits!


Concerts

We hear a song, purchase/download some music; it raises our awareness of the band and then we become a fan.  The concert is the culmination of our musical inclinations.  It is the holy grail of the musical experience.  At least, in our mind, it is. 

The concert is the musical equivalent of craps (the game of chance, not Jack in the Box 2 for $1 greasy tacos passing through your bowels)

Some nights go like this:

You purchase your ticket with the expectation that it will be musical bliss and a night to remember.  You get there, fight the crowd, listen to the mediocre, at best, opening act, and wait impatiently for the headlining show.   After what seems like an eternity, out stumbles the drunk/high lead singer, forgets the words to your favorite song, becomes enraged at the crowds displeasure and walks of the stage giving you the double fisted one finger salute. 

While other nights go like this:

You show up at some little dive barbeque joint and begin to think the show has been canceled because there are only four cars in the parking lot.  You go in, order some food and a beer, take you pick of the abundantly available tables and notice two chairs on the stage and a couple of guitars.  You take a seat, sip your bear and out strolls the singer and his buddy and the play for several hours, come sit down and thank you for coming to the show and take your request and play it before the night is over.

I’ve regaled you with some stories of concerts from my past and touted the greatness of Austin City Limits Music Festival but today, I’m going to chronologically list the concerts, to the best of my recollection, I’ve attended over the years.

Year Band
1983 Quiet Riot
Interesting Facts
7th grade, first concert to attend and broke my ankle that afternoon after being chased by a large classmate who took off his belt and began swinging it at me.  I left the hospital on crutches and planned on going to concert while my mother drove along beside me screaming at me to get in the car.  Being 12 and disabled, mom won and I missed the concert.  I did, however, get the t shirt as a consolation prize from my buddy who I gave the ticket to.
1985 Def Leppard
Interesting Facts
My first official concert that I actually got to attend.  Reunion Arena in Dallas, TX.  Oddly enough, I do not remember much about the concert other than it kicked much 14 year old musical butt.
1985-1989 Tom Petty

Stevie Nicks

Elton John

Don Henley

White Snake

Tesla

The Cult

Metallica

Interesting Facts
This period was the high school years and while there are funny stories, time has blurred the lines a bit.

  • One concert I went to with a group of girls and as soon as we got to Starplex Amphitheater, they all had to go to the rest room.  So, they opened the passenger door and all took turns squatting in the parking lot under the shroud of secrecy that was the afore mentioned door.  Don’t worry ladies; your identity is safe with me.
  • Another concert had some of the above mentioned girls and on the way home we got lost and drove around through an amazing fog which we likened to the moors, a Sherlock Holmes reference at the time, and eventually made it home.  Some of attendees were really upset with the turn of events.
  • White Snake concert we bought tickets from scalpers and got totally ripped off but thought we were so cool because we were seeing White Snake.
  • Metallica was an amazing show and the first time I had seen mosh pits and thoroughly enjoyed the frantic pace of the music.  Some fans really enjoyed the show and started lighting the lawn on fire and once security came out, the fire just seemed to move to another location.

 

1989-1992 Travis Tritt

Shenandoah

Various country acts at Billy Bobs

Interesting Facts
Some of my buddies were really in to country music and I would often tag along because I had nothing else to do and wanted to make some new female acquaintances. The Shenandoah concert was particularly memorable, not because the concert was good, in fact, I never actually saw them.  I got kicked out of the bar because I was 18 and using a fake ID to buy beer.  My buddies, of course, stayed and watched the show.  The crushing event of the night was that the girl I took to the show also stayed inside and I sat alone in the back of my friend’s truck for several hours.  The night was not a total loss, because I drank all of the beer in the cooler while sitting in the parking lot of Billy Bob’s.
1993-1995 Lots of local acts in the musical mecca of Denton, TX

Rush

Interesting Facts
The Rush show stands out for two reasons:To procure the tickets for this concert, my buddy and I left Denton very, very early on a Saturday morning after a very, very, late Friday night to go to Lewisville Mall to get tickets.  We arrived way too early and drove to Braums and got a double order of biscuits and gravy.  While this might not read as funny as it was, we were way hung over and those biscuits and gravy were the magic elixir that restored our health. Night of the concert we pick up our dates, have dinner and head to Dallas.  There is mild drinking, as colleges kids are known to do, and before you know it, we are on the floor of Reunion Arena basking in the glory of Rush.  On the way home there is some conversation of the concert and the girl that I took begins to nod off a bit and then suddenly hurls into and on the door.  We stop and ask if she is ok and she looks at us as if nothing happened and denies what is clearly on her chin, clothes, seat, floor, and of course door.  We get home she gets out like nothing happened.
1995-2005 The Dave Matthews BandMetallica

Linkin Park

Beastie Boys

Pat Green

Willie Nelson

Jack Johnson

Bob Dylan

Bruce Springsteen

Beck

G. Love & Special Sauce

Merle Haggard

Tori Amos

Korn

Chevelle

Robert Earl Keen

Interesting Facts
All pretty good shows and some artist like Dave Matthews and Pat Green I’ve seen multiple times.  The one stand out concert story is this:A group of folks went to see Willie Nelson at Lone Star Park which is an outdoor horse track.  His stage was set back a bit and there were risers and bleachers that elevated the fans to better see the stage.  I am walking up, wearing loose cargo shorts and minding my own business, when I feel something moving up my leg and heading north central.  I look down and there is an older woman with her hand up my shorts grabbing my junk.  I jump up and swat at her as if she is some form of annoying insect and she looks up, smiles with what teeth she has left and says “Oh, excuse me” as if she had accidently bumped into me as were passing on a sidewalk.  She then turned and walked away as if nothing had happened.
2006-Present Pearl JamBen Harper

Foo Fighters

Tom Petty

Beck

G. Love & Special Sauce

Wilco

Son Volt

Drive-By Truckers

State Radio

Brett Dennen

Bruce Springsteen

B-52’s

Robert Plant & Allison Krause

Joe Purdy

Cross Canadian Ragweed

The Killers

The Tragically Hip

The Eli Young Band

Pete Yorn

Bob Schneider

James McMurtry

Kris Kristofferson

Merle Haggard

Damien RiceDonovan Frankenreiter

Arcade Fire

The Shins

Okkervil River

Mason Jennings

The Black Keys

Ray LaMontagne

Queens of the Stone Age

Bob Dylan

Willie Nelson

Van Morrison

The Toadies

The Killers

John Mayer

Steve Earle

Bjork

Iron & Wine

Walt Wilkins

The Dead Weather

The Raconteurs

Lucinda Williams

Erin Ivey

Amos Lee

Interesting Facts
The majority of these artists have been seen at the Austin City Limits Music Festival which is an annual pilgrimage for me.  Some artist I have seen both at ACL and their own headlining tour.

So, there you have it, a little stroll down concert memory lane.  Let me know about some of your favorite or at least memorable concert experiences and who is a must see when they roll through town.

Great music awaits!


You should be listening to Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard!

Jay Farrar (Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo) and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service) teamed up to write and record an album for the documentary “One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s “Big Sur”.  While originally set to record a few songs, the process and collaboration was so fruitful that it turned into a full length album which is named after the movie.

With Kerouac’s connection to jazz, both Farrar and Gibbard seem to be an odd choice to write and represent the spirit of Jack.  However, given the tragic nature of the book and Kerouac’s immersion into the depths of alcoholism and debilitating depression, Farrar with his naturally dour vocal styling and proclivity to writing deep emotionally damaged lyrics was a competent selection, while Gibbard seemed an awkward fit with his more melodic voice and previous synth heavy work with The Postal Service. 

Any trepidation I had concerning the pairing was quickly assuaged as Gibbard vocals leapt off the first track “California Zephyr”.  I was amazed at how natural he sounded reciting the words of Farrar who wrote eleven of the twelve songs on the album.  Gibbard wrote the title track “One Fast Move or I’m Gone”. 

Given the inspiration for the album it is no surprise that musically, the album is steeped in Americana with acoustic, electric, & steel guitar, lap & pedal steel, harmonica, piano, and percussions.  A majority of the lyrics were taken from Kerouac’s 1962 novel “Big Sur” and Jack gets writing credit on all of the songs except Gibbard’s lyrical contribution on the title track.

The irony of this project is that as dark and damaged as Kerouac was; the album is hopeful with a vulnerable beauty etched in the music and lyrics.

Check out Jay Farrar & Ben and Ben Gibbard:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXfUSmdGa6E

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNIWA5esH4o&feature=related

Great music awaits!


You should be listening to Wilco!

And from the ashes of Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy and Wilco rose like a phoenix!  Created in 1994 after the demise of the oft contentious Uncle Tupelo, the original line up of Wilco consisted of the entire band of Uncle Tupelo minus Jay Farrar.  Wilco was named after the voice procedure idiom “wilco” meaning “Will Comply” which Tweedy found to be an ironic choice for a rock band.

With their debut album A.M., released in 1995, Wilco was still well-established in the Alt/Country sound, however, their musical evolution has found them experimenting with alternative rock and pop.  The band considered the album a failure due to the modest reception by critics and fans alike and the fact that Jay Farrar’s new band Son Volt had released their debut album Trace and it fared better both critically and commercially. 

Being There was the overly ambitious (19 songs) sophomore effort that was released as a double album but sold for a single album price.  This was accomplished by Tweedy agreeing to give the label (Reprise) Wilco’s share of album royalties.  It is estimated that the band lost more than half a million dollars.  The album was a hit with critics and reached 73 on the Billboard album chart. 

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was released in 2001, after much turmoil and confusion, and eventual dismissal from their previous label. It became their best selling album and to date has sold almost 600,000 copies.  In addition to the commercial success, critics raved and Billboard ranked it 13 on its charts and Rolling Stone Magazine listed as one of the 50 best albums of the decade.  With the follow up release of A Ghost is Born Wilco received a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album and became the bands first top ten album. 

Wilco discography:

  • A.M.
  • Being There
  • Summerteeth
  • Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
  • A Ghost is Born
  • Kicking Television (Live in Chicago)
  • Sky Blue Sky
  • Wilco (The Album)

Top 5 Wilco Songs:

  1. Either Way (Sky Blue Sky)
  2. Box Full of Letters (A.M.)
  3. Sunken Treasure (Being There)
  4. Jesus, Etc. (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot)
  5. Theologians (A Ghost is Born)

Wilco, in the face of their career long major label affiliation, is seen more as an indie band and have been categorized as alt/country, alternative rock, pop, and roots-rock.  Critics have even referred to them as an Americanized adaptation of Radiohead; this is in large part to the diversity of their sound and catalog.  The diversity has certainly been enabled by the rotating members of the band.  Since their inception, Jeff Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt are the only original members. 

Whatever the comparison or classification, they simple truth is that Wilco is a great band that has maintained their integrity while staying relevant.  As fickle as critics and consumes are, this band has persevered and in many ways influenced countless bands along the way.

Check out Wilco at www.wilcoweb.com.

Wilco’s music is available at iTunes, record stores, and www.wilcoweb.com.

Great music awaits!


You should partake in Austin City Limits Music Festival!

Austin City Limits Music Festival is a three day music festival that takes place in Austin, Texas at Zilker Park and unites 65,000 people (music lovers, drunks, stoners, hippies, college kids who don’t own shirts, middle aged men and their 20 something mid life crisis, middle aged women wearing their mid life crisis, etc…) and showcases 130 bands that range from established acts, up and coming artists, and cult bands.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am a huge fan of Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) and have attended each year since 2005.  In addition to being a fan of the event, Austin is my favorite city in Texas and ranks in the top five in the country.  Shout out to San Francisco and Chicago as well.

Each year is special and I recall fondly my time spent with the mass of people who endure a new environmental nemesis while responding to the siren sound of the multi staged musical extravaganza.  In five wonderful years, I have seen fire (burning trailers while Pete Yorn performed and burning speaker while Bjork performed) and I’ve seen rain (thanks James Taylor), I’ve seen dust (Foo Fighters were absolutely worth the 2 weeks of brown soot seeping from my nose) and I’ve seen what some thought was mud (Eddie Vedder became one with the crowd and slid in it) but smelled a bit more pungent and was actually some animal fecal matter. 

Over the course of my attendance, I have seen some pretty amazing shows.  Listed below are just some of the high lights: 

Ben Harper Tom Petty Foo Fighters Pearl Jam
Beck Robert Plant & Allison Krause The Raconteurs Drive-By Truckers
Son Volt Donavon Frankenreiter State Radio Brett Dennen
The Dead Weather Damien Rice Cross Canadian Ragweed Arcade Fire
Amos Lee Robert Earl Keen Iron & Wine Mason Jennings
Van Morrison John Mayer Ray LaMontagne Wilco
G Love & Special Sauce The Toadies The Shins B-52’s
Slightly Stoopid Eli Young Band The Black Keys Okkervil River
Queens of the Stone Age Bjork The Killers Steve Earle
Bob Dylan Lucinda Williams The Tragically Hip Willie Nelson

Over the last few years, it has become a tradition for me and my long term, heterosexual, significant other, life partner to attend.  We eagerly anticipate the sale of the early bird tickets and the unveiling of the lineup.  She too is a huge fan of the festival and city.  Which makes the trip all the better.  While our musical tastes are similar, with the variety of acts available at the festival, we have a ritual of mapping out the days and comparing our schedules and see how close they match.  There is usually some slight difference with the day shows but most of the evening shows are fairly in-line

Last year was particularly memorable because we took our oldest children (her daughter, my son). It was my son’s first concert, he is fifteen and we share a pretty strong bond over music.  Several of his favorite bands were playing and I surprised him by waking him up early Sunday morning and driving to Austin and living vicariously through him as he excitedly took in the whole seen.  His first concert consisted of Brett Dennen, The Toadies, State Radio (his favorite), Ben Harper, and Pearl Jam.  Not a bad first concert.  As if this were not enough, he got to meet State Radio, get a picture with the band and their brand new CD “Let It Go” signed. The look on his face was priceless as he posed for a picture and the band talked to him for a few minutes.   Add to this day, Home Slice Pizza, two concert shirts, and the use of port-a-pots on the last day of a three day festival.  It was indeed a day to remember.

All this, is to say, if you have not attended ACL, I strongly suggest you take the time and attend a day or two if the thought of three days is too grueling.  I am a fan of the three days and love every minute of the music and the experience.  However, I recognize it is not for everyone and as I have gotten older I have come to realize that the recovery time is just a bit longer with each passing year.  My days include less beer, more water, sunscreen, comfortable shoes, and a chair.

So, if you have some time and disposable income, check out www.aclfestival.com.

Great music awaits!