Dec
2008

2

’08 Music Roundup

I found my musical interests really splintered in ’08. I was super into funk, jazz, and downtempo. I was also trying to discovering music that really pushes the envelope while remaining fun to listen to – a tricky balance indeed. As a result, my music collection really blossomed this year. Joy.

I still fit in a fair number of concerts, but less then I had in previous years. This is fine. I’m ok if I peaked. Music will always be part of my life. It doesn’t have to take over.

So, in review, top ten shows:

1. Lettuce. Two nights at the Indy. I boogied so hard that it hurt, and it hurt so good. I will see them anytime, any place. They bring the funk like no white people can.

2. Las Tortugas, round 2 (On the One takes top honors). Yosemite + Bands + Cabin + Friends = all shit lost. Yessir.

3. Phil Lesh Mardi Gras show. Dumpstaphunk opened it up hot, and the backstage hookup plus riding on a float during the show was a really special experience. Thanks Rob.

4. The Bad Plus. Never heard a note before seeing them, and I’m glad I had my trusty show spatula to scrape my jaw off the floor. Exploratory jazzy deliciousness, they are what I whish MMW would be. Really excited to see them again in ’09.

5. Outside Lands (Broken Social Scene takes top honors). Bonaroo in my backyard is a good time. Hope it happens again next year.

6. Turisas. Shanty Nordic Metal. They made quite an impression. Accept no substitute.

7. On the One + New Mastersounds. I’m loving the funk this year.

8. Phil Lesh playing “Workingman’s Dead” and “American Beauty“ in their entirety. I was crazy lucky to have tickets to that show. I saw a ton of Phil this year, and have no regrets.

9. The Black Crowes. I saw them recently at the Fillmore, and they were better then ever. Adding Luther Dickinson from the North Mississippi Allstars was an excellent idea. They are aging along with me, and getting better with time. They jam, they rip, and Chris Robinson is one the best vocalists alive.

10. Styx + Boston. I’m not ashamed to say that this was one really fun concert. The cheeze factor was off the charts, but Styx could still pull off high kicks, and it was a great way for us to celebrate our wedding anniversary.

Top Album of the year: Sigur Ros, með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust. I only discovered Sigur Ros this year, and I dove pretty deep. I now own most of their albums, and find them often in rotation. Inspiring, original, and deeply moving – and I don’t understand a single word that they speak. Their music transcends language.

Top electronic music album of the year: Trifonic‘s Emergence. Mind expanding downtempo tracks that merits repeat listens. It also a pay you want download, so you could check it out for free if nothing else.

I only recently discovered Telefon Tel Aviv’s “Map of What Is Effortless” (2004), and it has been really blowing my mind in the last two months. I had to delete one of the tracks, but whats left behind is pure brilliance. I’m actually learning how to play some of the tracks to understand how they were constructed.

I spent a lot of time in 08 crafting a really mellow album while listening to mostly uptempo music. This was quite challenging. It was a relief to finish the album, but the reality is that I’m waffling musically right now. I always have trouble finding my musical footing after finishing an album, and get crazy frustrated and moody as a result. After going through this process five times now, I’ve far more laid back about it. I’ll either write music later, or I won’t. Work has taken up so much time lately that the point is moot anyhow. I’m tinkering around on a couple disjointed tracks. It may be a while till the next album, which is fine. I’m thinking I may release a few EPs, exploring a couple different electronic music genres. We’ll see.

It has been an awesome trip back in MA. I’ve had a change to recharge before the work tidal wave resumes. Hopefully the reward will be to keep my job. We’ve run the gambit in weather, and I’m feeling connected with our family and friends. We’re fortunate that everyone’s pretty healthy, but some of our friends have had a very difficult year.

’09 is shaping up to be an insane year, which makes me nervous. Usually the year ahead is more of a blank slate that fills up over time. Not this time. I bet it will be one for the books. We’ll start it with a bang though, with a NYE rager at the Kruddens. We’ll let the carpets know who’s boss.

Dec
2008

3

Echoes ’08

As the year comes to a close, I’m very proud to say that I ranked on both of the ’08 echoes polls. I’m #9 on the listener poll (thanks very much for voting for me!) and #12 for the echoes essential picks. This is really quite an honor.

I recently received an email from a music student which said that while its a great gift that I give my music away, its disheartening for someone like him who wants to make a living from his music. This is something which I’ve thought about a great deal in the last few years. Its a tough to justify against the argument that I’m devaluing something that people do as a means to support themselves. I hope that free music doesn’t discourage people from supporting other artists. The bottom line is that I am very fortunate. Its a joy to create music, its amazing to have such powerful tools at my disposal, and that I’m lucky enough to have a day job which pays the bills. I do it because I can, and I try not to take that for granted. I hope its helping make the world a better place. It’s certainly is something that fulfills me.

In no way should this devalue other peoples art. There is going to be an accelerating amount of freely available art whose sole purpose is to be shared. The Internet, the availability of inexpensive sophisticated tools, and a digital native population will ensure that. It will always take a combination of hard work and luck for your art to be seen beyond the scope of your peers.

Music is very much a thing of value, and I can’t imagine that will ever change.

Dec
2008

0

Brilliant

At 8 drinks, you switch the torrent from FreeBSD to Microsoft Bob.  C'mon, it'll be fun!From xkcd.com

Dec
2008

1

Unscripted

It feels life has taken a slightly more oppressive turn for the fine citizens of this planet. Interesting times we live in, to say the least. I’ve been super busy at work and life, hence the lack of personal internet fodder.

This time of year – the time between thanksgiving and x-mas – has so many famaliar rituals: The writing of the holiday letter, ungraciously aquiring a dead tree, the frenzy of Stina present creation, internet gift trolling, the preperation for our returning home to Boston. 

Last week, we duked Haber with a contrived plot to take him out to dinner, only to lead him to a fully improvised bollywood themed puppet show. We really had no idea what we getting into. An improv comedy troupe named un-scripted puts on shows in their fancy little theater hidden in the depths of downtown SF. They conjured up an entire two act show loosely based around plot elements culled from the audience at the beginning of the show. The lack of a safety net really heightened the excitement. They occasionally stumbled, and they needled each other mercilessly when plot developments didn’t make sense. The integration of puppets was really excellent. There was lots of breaking into bad bollywood song, which was always a gamble. All in all, it was really fun, and I want to go see the same “show” again to see how much it varies from night to night.

There were actually another little theater in the building, and the other show was titled “Abraham Lincolns Big Gay Dance Party” I was a little saddened by our selection, since the other show had a title that really grabbed you by the balls. After chatting with a patron who was attending that show during the shared intermission, I determined that we had made the right choice after all.

Dec
2008

3

Thanksgiving ’08

Thanksgiving weekend was a fabulous transition from being plugged in at work to being plugged into the tv. Ah, TV, how I missed you. And now that I have netflix and hulu available on the tv, it can be an endless journey of brain deadeaning goodness.

First, though, we hosted Thanksgiving. That was a good time. Stina spent far too much time making food, which left the couch all empty and inviting. She made three kinds of stuffing. I got to become very close with our bird, insofar as spending some quality naked time together, cleaning off the brine in the shower. Then 14 people arrived, I put some clothes on, and the snacking commenced. We had ourselves a right feast, and satiation was duly achieved. It was an excellent day, especially because everyone really pitched in with the cleanup. Good work folks.

We invoked the friday after Thanksgiving open door policy, where folks trickled by for a little round two. This evolved into poker, and climaxed into my personal highlight, when I made a bad situation much worse with no hesitation. It was both glorious and regretful, something not easily achieved.

We even fit some fun concerts into the fray. On Saturday we caught Guitarmageddon (TLG’s Josh Clark side project) open up for Bustle in your Hedgrow (instrumental Led Zepplin). It all started when Josh walked up to the mic and said, “I gotta warn you, this shit is gonna be loud” and then they just tore into an incredible set of Nirvana covers. It was pretty epic. Sean Leahy does an excellent Cobain. Nirvana with extended, shredding guitar solos just tore my head apart. Then Bustle ripped it pretty good. Joe Russo has got to be one of the best drummers alive. I wish they would add a singer though – they would cover Zepplin better then Zepplin could now.

On Sunday, I scraped together enough inertia to go check out The Herbalizer, and I really glad I did. A seven piece trip hop funk outfit, they defied genres and kept me fully interested during their entire set. This band constructs music that normally would just be a dj – but with two versatile horn players, a singer from another planet, drummer, keys, bass, augmented by a ridiculous dj. It was inspiringly good.

Speaking of Josh Clark, another side project show I saw recently that blew me away was Region of Darkness. This was Josh Clark, Steve Molitz, Steve Adams, a singer name Adam Iscove, and fucking Steven Perkins on drums (Jane’s Addiction). Steven Perkins is an absolute MONSTER on the kit, and it was awe inspiring to be 10 feet away from his nonstop onslaught of rock. I caught a taste on the ole camera: