The Music of Glen Deven Ranch

January 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

I’m walking now. Well not right this minute but I’m walking each day for exercise. Actually I’m not even walking daily yet, I have only made it one night so far in what I hope becomes a daily ritual.

I need to exercise. I’m 35 and I hate running. I actually got into running for a few months last year and then my left foot caught a case of plantar fasciitis, twice, and I gave up running. Also I didn’t want to become one of those marathon junkies that talk about running constantly. I should apologize to anyone reading this who fits that profile but even they would admit they talk about running too much.

I live a very sedentary life. I sit behind a desk in a cubicle 8+ hours a day then I get home and sit down for dinner then sit down to read or watch tv then I lie down to go to bed. The only time that changes is when I meet a friend for a drink after work where I end up sitting at a bar instead.

One night, while being completely sedentary at home, I clicked on this list from Mark Saleski of the best jazz releases of 2013. I decided to look up each release in Spotify and listen to the first song of each album.

I immediately fell in love with this track, The Music of Glen Deven Ranch by Bill Frisell from his 2013 album, Big Sur:

I’ll admit I was not aware of Bill’s previous work but after some digging around I think I found a new favorite.

Also, for giggles, here’s a video of Bill playing with Nels Cline in 2010 – total improv baby:

I saw Nels Cline perform years ago with Mike Watt but that’s worth a post of it’s own sometime…

On My Way To Absence

January 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

Today is my first back in the office after a two week holiday vacation. It’s one of the hardest days of the year which seems totally irresponsible to say considering I have been on vacation for two weeks. Today is always greeted with a sense of dread and that feeling of regret for not using my time off in a more productive way.

It doesn’t help to have a rainy/snowy morning drive into work. I keep thinking today is Monday just because it’s our first day back but in reality it’s actually Thursday. After tomorrow the weekend will be here so I should stop complaining.

The first few hours back are spent sorting through emails and trying to figure out where I left certain things before the break. Then I’ll begin lining up all 2014 projects, a few of which are very exciting.

One email I had waiting for me this morning was from Spotify telling me that Damien Jurado’s 2005 album, On My Way To Absence, was now available to listen to.

Turns out this is the perfect soundtrack for getting back to work after a two week vacation on a wet and cold Thursday morning.

I have to admit that I took a break from Damien’s work between I Break Chairs and Saint Bartlett so I was happy to see this album reappear.

Lion Tamer:

Damien has a new album out on January 21st called Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son which I have pre-ordered and can’t wait for it to arrive:

I have ignored getting back to work enough…on to it…happy 2014.

Ice Water

January 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

I spent part of the holidays in my hometown of Huntsville, AL, and went record shopping at Vertical House where I stumbled on a copy of Leo Kottke’s Ice Water LP.

Released by Capitol Records in 1974, the album contains Kottke’s only charting single, Pamela Brown:

Pamela Brown was written by Nashville songwriter Tom T Hall:

I just recently discovered Kottke’s debut album, 6- and 12-String Guitar in my family’s record collection and have been listening to it a lot lately. When I found Ice Water last week I picked it up immediately. Here’s to hoping I find more of his albums on vinyl in the new year.

One last thing…a video from 1987 Prairie Home Companion with Kottke playing with Doc Watson:

1984

December 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

Well it’s that time of the year when everyone picks their favorite songs and albums of 2013. This year I’m celebrating by picking all of my songs from the year 1984. 

Included below is a full list of my favorite jams on a Spotify playlist if you want to throw a log in the fire, get out a few board games, open a bottle of wine and casually debate whether or not the Big Brother concept is alive and well today…

John Waite – Missing You

I have no idea why I’m starting with this song but here are two interesting facts you probably never cared to know about Mr Waite…1) This song beat out Tina Turner’s What’s Love Got To Do With It? for #1 on the US charts so Tina decided to record Missing You herself which became a top 100 hit again. 2) John Waite was in Bad English and had a #1 hit in 1989 with this song

Prince – When Doves Cry

I can’t find a video on youtube that doesn’t rickroll you so here is a clip of Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner presenting Prince an Oscar for Purple Rain and him accepting in a resplendent shiny purple hooded wardrobe thing. Important side note: One of my favorite movies as a kid was Romancing The Stone starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner therefore this clip has even more meaning to me than you originally cared to know. Bruce Springsteen has to have a personal disdain for this song as it forever blocked Dancing In The Dark from reaching #1 keeping the Boss from NEVER having a #1 hit on the Billboard Top 100 chart.

Tina Turner – What’s Love Got To Do With It

This is Tina Turner’s only solo #1 hit in America. She was without a hit on the charts for over 24 years until this song was released in 1984 on her fifth solo album. Tina was 44 when went it reached #1 and she held the record for the oldest solo female to have a #1 hit until Cher’s Believe made it the top of the charts when she was 53 years old.

Madonna – Lucky Star

Lucky Star was the first top 5 hit in a record breaking string of 16 top ten hits for Madonna.

Bruce Springsteen – Dancing In The Dark

This was the last song written for the Born in the USA album because some guy named Landau “needed a hit”.

Also, never forget:

And never forget that Prince forever blocked Bruce from his closest shot at a #1 song.

Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time

I have a soft spot for this song in a big way. Supposedly the title was inspired by Malcolm McDowell’s sci fi flick and was written with Rob Hyman of the Hooters who would be named best new band of 1985 by Rolling Stone.

Until tonight I had no idea that Miles Davis covered Time After Time on his album You’re Under Arrest:

Here’s a live performance of the song as well:

Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now

I just love this song for some reason…maybe it’s the falsetto near the end?

Sheila E – The Glamorous Life

Prince’s reign continues in 1984 by writing this song and giving it to Sheila E – no surprise there.

Also, am I crazy or does it sound like this hit from 2005 ripped off this song?

Huey Lewis & The News – The Heart of Rock & Roll

There is nothing I can write that will explain Huey Lewis better than Christian Bale in American Psycho:

The Cars – Drive

Benjamin Orr, not Ric Ocasek, sang The Cars’ biggest hit. I love this song.

Banarama – Cruel Summer

Evidently this song floated around without a home on a chart in for a year in 1983 and finally blew up in 1984 thanks to the song’s inclusion in the Karate Kid movie meaning the Banarama holiday card that year looked something like this:

Van Halen – Jump

This is the only number one song for the Van Halen bros and they loved 1984 so much they named their album after it.

Ray Parker, Jr – Ghostbusters

It’s hard to imagine this song being #1 for three weeks but alas it was…it was also the basis for a fun law suit between our friends Huey Lewis & The News who claimed the song sounded too much like I Want A New Drug. The lawsuit was settled out of court once they found out who the judge of the case would be:

Phil Collins – Against All Odds

Our good friend Phil won a Grammy for this song, his first #1 as a solo artist. Later that year he released the classic Easy Lover and just rolled right into 1985 by releasing No Jacket Required which gave him three #1 hits, the most of any other artist that year.

Stevie Wonder – I Just Called To Say I Love You

Remember when Claire Huxtable sang this song with Mr. Wonder:

Corey Hart – Sunglasses At Night

You can’t have a best of list from the 80’s with a little Corey Hart:

Michael Jackson – Thriller

The fact that this album has sold over 29 million copies in the United States ALONE warrants inclusion on any list and seems fitting to end with.

Here’s wishing everyone a safe and happy new year’s eve…

Spotify Playlist:

Steve Gunn

September 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

William Tyler tipped me to Steve Gunn’s new album. Time Off, a few months back and it has quickly become one of my favorite releases this year.

I had the opportunity to see Steve live on Saturday night at Fond Object here in Nashville.

In trying to describe Steve’s music the Pitchfork review by Amanda Petrusich does so best:

Like all acoustic guitarists with extensive record collections, Gunn has endured plenty of comparisons to John Fahey, but the association feels almost too facile to perpetuate: While Gunn’s produced some more explicitly cerebral work (for a time, he was into manipulating tapes of field recordings), Time Off’s biggest asset is its ease. There’s a real sense, listening to these tracks, that everything could be a little simpler if we all stopped trying so hard. It is deeply mellow in a way that the famously cantankerous Fahey would have likely found confounding.

The sentence I chose to emphasize is a sentiment I have recently pondered as technology now allows the addition of unlimited possibilities in today’s recording process and even live performances.

Plenty of times Gunn’s guitar work is described as circular…here’s an example with a personal favorite, Lurker:

Another great performance, Old Strange, takes time to invest, but is worth it:

The irony in the Pitchfork review of course is that even though the music has a sense of ease, Gunn’s performances are anything but easy.

Time Off is available from Paradise of Bachelors, a North Carolina label with four great releases this year including Hiss Golden Messenger’s Haw, Chance’s In Search Of  and Promised Land Sounds’ self titled debut.

Check out their label sampler below:

In Steve Albini’s Utero

September 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

The 20th anniversary for Nirvana’s In Utero was released this week featuring a new mixed version of the album by Steve Albini.

Pitchfork gave the reissue a perfect 10 and the review brought up a few old memories.

My favorite Nirvana album is actually Incesticide which is really a b-sides and rarities album that was quietly released. I remember stumbling on it in the CD bin at a store in Shreveport, Louisiana, while visiting my grandmother.

Nevermind is a confusing album for any teenager of the nineties because you want to like it, but all it can remind you of is mall rat goth girls wearing shirts of Kurt Cobain from the MTV Unplugged session and your favorite bros who like Smells Like Teen Spirit and Come As Your Are and then, well, everything off MTV Unplugged.

Bleached was the card you pulled when all your non-music friends starting buying Nevermind.

In Utero was the album I remember waiting for. I lived in Huntsville, AL, where rock radio didn’t exist. We used to get this really fuzzy feed of a station from Birmingham that would play “alternative” music for two hours on a Sunday night which is where I first heard Heart-Shaped Box and the release date was Sept 21st…In Utero was the first album I purchased on a Tuesday, the actual release date.

I’m not a big fan of reissues…they are always filled with fluff and it would appear to be the case with this one. But whenever controversy surrounds an album’s recording process, or more specifically, Steve Albini, things appear that make it interesting to revisit:

Steve Albini’s four page letter to Nirvana

Steve Albini podcast with Vish Khanna

Josh Modell at A.V. Club has my favorite review of the reissue so far.

In Utero is the album all my friends didn’t like, which is why I gravitated towards it so much. My favorite songs are the most abrasive ones, Scentless Apprentice, Very Ape, Milk It, Radio Friendly Unit Shifter and Tourette’s.

All Apologies benefits the most from the new mix by Albini. It gives the song those Shellac sounding drums it deserves. Unfortunately modern rock radio has managed to water down the song by always playing the Unplugged version.

After listening to the new Albini mixes I turned on At Action Park by Shellac (which is probably exactly what Nirvana would have wanted):

Stream the new 2013 mixes only on this playlist:

Superchunk Forever

August 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

Superchunk has a new record available on August 20th, I Hate Music.

Growing up in Alabama caused me to be a late bloomer to Superchunk. My freshman roommate Aaron Ford played me No Pocket For Kitty in the Pembroke dorm and I fell in love.

Nashville – was anyone at the Superchunk show at Exit In when Trail of Dead and Erich Bachmann’s Crooked Fingers opened? Eric joined Superchunk during their encore to play Harnessed In Slums, my favorite Archers of Loaf song.

In celebration of the new album (which is streaming at NPR), here are my favorite tracks from Superchunk over the years…

Hyper Enough

Punch Me Harder

For Tension

My Gap Feels Weird

Good Dreams

Slack Motherf*cker

Precision Auto

What Do I 

Nu Bruises

Water Wings

Yeah, It’s Beautiful Here Too