Friday, December 22, 2006

Obligatory Christmas post

Sunday I succumbed to the dreaded "list of 2006" it's the feared Christmas post. Instead of posting loads of songs that every other blog in the Milky Way Galaxy has, I'm simply putting up one. AND, it's not even a happy one! So take that. Call me Scrooge if you'd like, but while you're doing it, enjoy this anti-happiness track:

Trainwreck Riders - Christmas Time Blues : Lonely Road Revival

If you want to take some more time off from shopping or gift wrapping, check out the video for the song on YouTube in which Pete and the band hit their old stomping grounds in San Francisco while sporting a Santa suit.

Visit their website, their label Alive Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

11 Albums of 2006

I'm making a list...checking it twice...

Notice the title? Although I've been fighting it for the last couple of weeks, I'm finally caving to blog pressure to post some sort of 2006 list. That being said, I'm not willing to completely bow to meet the norm. Therefor, 11 albums, not 10, and notice no adjectives such as "best," "most artistic," "creatively unique," or even "with the catchiest cover art" (although the last one sounds promising...maybe I'll work on that one next). In fact, I'm not even going to number these albums, I'm going to list them alphabetically!

That being said, here are 11 albums from 2006 that I find myself listening to long after giving them a spin for the first time.

Lily Allen - Alright, Still

This girl just has got a lot of spunk to her. Couple that with the British accent, and you wouldn't mind this girl rejecting you in a bar. Sure there might not be a lot of substance here, but it sure is a lot of fun!

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

What a huge year for the Monkeys. Maybe it's no longer cool to admit liking these blokes due to their sudden ascent, but I'm willing to place my reputation on the line.

Bitter:Sweet - The Mating Game

This has got to be the wild card out of the bunch. Shana Halligan's sultry voice seduces you into this music taken straight from the lounge.

Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out Of This Country

I can't wait to check out this group next month when they start their new tour. This album, their third, just cuts right to the heart with some truly tender and emotional songs.

Johnny Cash - American V - A Hundred Highways

Thank goodness for Rick Rubin, that's all I've got to say. If not for Rick, Johnny's American series probably would have never been imagined, nerver mind recorded. And this, the 5th in the series, an unexpected treasure after such a great loss. Stripped, bare, sometimes haunting recordings that are the last will and testament of musical icon.

The Decemberists - The Crane Wife

With the haunting specter of sell-out status hanging in the background, these guys proved that you could artistically stick to your guns with Big Brother marketing your album.

The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea

Although disappointed with their live performance, I'm still enjoying their latest album. Compared to their previous release, Rehearsing the Choir, this album could have been the number one pick on TRL. Not to say they've lost any of their quirky charm...just reigned it in a bit so the rest of us could connect with it.

Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings The Flood

This is the year that I fell in love with Neko's voice. I couldn't help it. She's convinced me that a little country isn't all that bad.

Page France - Hello, Dear Wind

Not since Stryper have I enjoyed a band that makes so many biblical allusions in their music. There's just something so light about them; it feels like weight (and your sins) is lifting off your shoulders as you listen.

Josh Ritter - The Animal Years

The only thing better than listening to this album over and over again is seeing him perform these songs live. In a world of acoustic folk singers, Josh shines out about the rest with his sincere and introspective lyrics.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones

This group screams raw emotional intensity and urgency, there's no two ways about it.


That wraps it up folks. My "11 Albums from 2006" list...hope you enjoyed it.

Friday, December 15, 2006

An Oasis in the Snow

I just got a copy of Oasis' latest release: the 2 CD "best of" collection titled Stop the Clocks. Although any Oasis fan will have complaints about ommisions, a good number of their obvious crowd-pleasers are here: Rock 'N' Roll Star, Wonderwall, Live Forever, Champagne Supernova, etc... Sprinkled in with the hits are a few b-sides (also found on their previous album, The Masterplan).

I don't think I need to make any comments on brotherly love (Noel chose the songs and order for this affair) or Beatles comparisons. I don't think anything I can say will convince you to like Oasis if you don't already. Since there is nothing really new here, I don't think I can get you to buy this album if you already have all of their previous releases. I would suggest this 2 CD album if you don't have all of their super-hits, or if you are looking for a special non-denominational holiday gift for someone special. Nothing says "I Love You" like an Oasis CD!

While you're waiting for Amazon to ship it to you, here's a live show at the Whiskey A GoGo in Hollywood, CA from September 29th, 1994.

Oasis - Rock 'N' Roll Star (live)

Oasis - Columbia (live)

Oasis - Fade Away (live)

Oasis - Digsy's Dinner (live)

Oasis - Shakermaker (live)

Oasis - Live Forever (live)

Oasis - Bring It On Down (live)

Oasis - Up In The Sky (live)

Oasis - Slide Away (live)

Oasis - Cigarettes & Alcohol (live)

Oasis - Married With Children (live)

Oasis - Supersonic (live)

Oasis - I Am The Walrus (live Beatles cover)

download the entire show in one tidy zip file by
pointing your mouse here.

Visit their website or become their friends on MySpace.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


It's hard to believe. 100 posts. I certainly didn't break any speed records, but I made it to the one double zero. Here's to a hundred more.

Snow Patrol - One Hundred Things You Should Have Done In Bed : Songs For Polar Bears

Belle & Sebastian - A Century of Fakers (live) : Live on KEXP 3-25-06 (Studio version on 3.. 6.. 9 Seconds of Light)

Five for Fighting - 100 Years : The Battle For Everything

David Gray - A Century Ends (live) : Live 3/25/00 at the Tractor Tavern (Studio version on A Century Ends)

For those of you who live in the Western Massachusetts area, don't forget to check out my SLIP ticket contest.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The SLIP Contest - See them LIVE!

Do you live anywhere near the Northampton, Massachusetts area? Have you been itching to get you hands on The SLIP's new album Eisenhower? Have you been yearning to get out for a night of music at the Pearl Street Night Club? If so, here's a joyous prize pack that will make your holiday special. Thanks to the nice folks over at Filter Magazine, you have a chance to win the following:
  • Two tickets to The SLIP's show at Pearl Street in Northampton, MA on December 30th
  • An autographed copy of their latest release, Eisenhower
  • An authentic SLIP T-shirt
All you have to do is leave your name and e-mail address in the comments (or e-mail me) and you'll be in the running for all of these goodies. The entry deadline is 11:59 PM on Saturday, December 16th. I'll throw all entries into a hat and randomly pick a winner.

PLEASE only enter if you, or someone you know, are interested and able to actually attend the show.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Page France (and friends) - Live

Thanks to Bekah over at Suicide Squeeze Records, I was able to check out a band that I've been digging A LOT lately, Page France, in concert with some friends, Denison Witmer and Anathallo. The three were playing at the Webster Underground, in Hartford, CT, on Tuesday night (December 5th).


The night opened with Denison Witmer, supported by his guitar, taking the stage. I had only heard a smidgen of Denison's music but was eager to hear more. His set was short, about a half hour, and rather subdued, even more than most of his music since he had no instrumentation to add oomph behind him. Quiet, pensive, and reflective would sum up the 8 or so songs he played for a rather paltry crowd of about 25 people.

For those fans out there, you've probably heard his birthday had passed by recently (November 4th) and that in celebration of said event, Denison has put together a website full of gifts: "30 new recordings of songs from my entire catalog, a few covers, a few unreleased songs, and a some podcasts of stories from my touring and my life in general." How much does said collection cost? Well, that all depends on how generous a soul you are. Technically speaking, they are absolutely, completely free, however Denison asks that you donate however much you feel comfortable giving to a couple of very worthwhile charities. Even if you've already spent a boatload of cash on Christmas gifts, visit Happy Birthday Denison Witmer to download some fantastic songs and donate to some worthy causes.

Denison Witmer - California Brown And Blue : Are You A Dreamer?

Denison Witmer - The '80s
: Happy Birthday Denison

Visit his website, his label The Militia Group, and become his friend on MySpace.


After Denison left the stage, and a short change-over, Page France took the stage. Having originally come to the show to see them, I was understandably excited. Michael Nau and company opened with an energetic presentation of Junkyard, and then proceded to play mostly songs from their new (and very enjoyable) album Hello, Dear Wind. Other notable songs played included Windy, Antarctica, and Elephant, with a stirring Chariot wrapping it all up. Hearing the band live is a little different than their studio recordings. Tracks that have a carefree, light, airy feel on the album tend to rock out more in person. The set was wonderful, albeit a little short (only about 35 minutes!). I asked Whitney about it while she was manning the "goodies for sale" table and her reply was something close to "we don't want to overstay our welcome." Oh Whitney, I would have been in nirvana with a whole night of Page France. Also according to Whitney, they'll be touring again early next year...I'll be looking forward to it and dreaming of a longer set.

While shopping at the goodies table, I was hoping to pick up a Page France tour shirt, but to my chagrin, they were completely sold out: not a single one in any size left! Instead, I picked up their latest recording, the 4 song Tomoto Morning Tour EP. If you don't get a chance to see them on the last few days of the tour, don't can order it from the Suicide Squeeze website.

Page France - Junkyard : Live on WDET (studio version on Hello, Dear Wind)

Page France - Give Him A Blanket : Tomato Morning Tour E.P.

Visit their website, their label Suicide Squeeze Records, and become their friend on MySpace.


The night ended with Anathallo squeezing onto the stage, and I do mean squeezing. For those of you who have never been to the Webster Underground before, the stage is just about big enough for a band of 4 to semi-comfortably play. With 7 members assembled into this tight space, the band almost had to rotate all at once when someone wanted to move to a different spot on the stage.

Anathallo was the band I had heard and knew least about before seeing them. On one hand, I have to be honest and admit I didn't really get into them. On the other hand, I have to admit that they are a talented group of musicians who clearly immersed themselves in their music. Matt Joynt, the lead singer, has a voice that seems made for a broadway musical: powerful, clear yet loud, and space filling. The rest of the band plays a wide range of instruments, with plenty of percussion and even a horn section in some of the arrangements. Anyway, don't let my jaded view influence your musical tastes (except when I'm right, of course). Check them out yourself and make up your own mind.

Anathallo - Hoodwink : Floating World

Visit their website and become their friend on MySpace.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Memphis - Canadian, not country!

I know that i'm way behind the 8 ball on this album. I've been meaning to post on it...REALLY! I've been listening to it off and on for weeks now, but whenever I make up my mind to sit down and write, something else comes up, and off it goes, back into the queue of works in progress floating around in my mind.

Canadian readers probably are more familiar with Memphis than I am (or most of you yanks reading this post). Not so recently they released their second album, A Little Place In the Wilderness, in Canada, slated to be released here in the states in early '07. Memphis is headed up by Torquil Campbell, lead singer also for another Canadian band, Stars. As a side project, Torquil teamed up with Chris Dumont, an American, to form Memphis back in 2003.

What can you expect from this import from up north? Lush, melodic songs that sweep you up and through the album. Mellow sounds that sooth instead of rock. Melancholy lyrics that make you wish someone was holding you tight.

Memphis - I Dreamed We Fell Apart : A Little Place In the Wilderness

Memphis - Incredibly Drunk On Whiskey : A Little Place In the Wilderness

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Kristoffer Ragnstam - Swedish Style

In this day and age, 5 song EPs are fairly common. What is rather UNcommon is a 5 song EP that doesn't have 5 songs that mostly sound alike. Kristoffer Ragnstam's EP, Do You Want A Piece Of Me, although employing much electronic sounding instrumentation, offers such a wide range of sounds for such a tight little package that you truly get your money's worth. This musical nugget is the teaser for his upcoming full-length release, Sweet Bills.

Hailing from Sweden, the land of fellow countryman Jens Lekman, Kristoffer got his break into the industry by cutting his demo flying solo. Since then, he's added some back-up, a band named the Electric -4-.

The first song I offer up to you here, Fashion, starts out with a driving drum beat that just doesn't let up. It insists that you somehow move your body with the beat, whether it's just bopping your head or getting your whole body into it. Coupled with some electronic instrumentation backing it up, it reminds me somewhat of a lighter version of the opening drum line of Nine Inch Nails' March of the Pigs and its incessant beat that won't let you go.

Kristoffer Ragnstam - Fashion (Alternate Version)
: Do You Want A Piece of Me EP

This next song, the EP's title track, sounds like it could be right off of Van Morrison's Moondance.

Kristoffer Ragnstam - Do You Want A Piece Of Me : Do You Want A Piece Of Me EP

You can get the full EP off of iTunes, and look forward to the complete album early next year.

And this last track is a bonus freebie off of his label's website. Just in case you aren't already swimming in more Christmas music that you can shake a peppermint stick at! It's got a nice Motown feel to it...try it, you might like it.

Kristoffer Ragnstam - Merry Christmas Baby

Visit his website, his label bluhammock music, or become his friend on MySpace.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Dear Santa,

I've been a very good blogger this year and am hoping that you'll bring me Frank Sinatra's new box set,

Your truly,

Just in case Santa doesn't get this letter (or I wasn't as good as I'm pretending I was), and one of you, my loyal readers, would like to thank me for my inarticulate ramblings, here's your chance!

Rhino Records is releasing a 4 CD / 1 DVD box set of Sinatra performances in Sin City (Vegas that is), titled simply Vegas. No one epitomizes Vegas' lifestyle of high rolling nights on the town better than the Chairman of the Boards, and Rhino has captured 5 live performances that Frank gave at Caesers Palace, the Sands, and the Golden Nugget from his heyday in the 60's, the 70's, and the 80's. Frank's music is eternal, but to really experience his charisma and sense of style, you really need to enjoy him in a live setting.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Over the last month, I've gotten a few e-mails from individuals representing companies who publish social websites with a musical bent to them. Many times they describe themselves as musical "communities" that allow users to share music they love and find new artists other users recommend.

Personally, I use MySpace occasionally to look for free downloads or sometimes to find pictures or tour schedules, but not as a utility for making "friends." Notice the quotation marks.

Please, don't get me wrong...I don't want to seem critical of those folks who claim to have thousands of friends on MySpace...if that's your thing then stick with it.

I think it was last week when I saw a news article about online addictions. Any connection ya think?

"Employing state-of-the-art Web 2.0 technology, MOG is an online destination where music lovers can quickly and easily show the world what they're listening to, express their musical tastes, and discover people through music and music through people."

Once you sign up for MOG, according to their hype, MOG uploads a list of all the music you have and creates a homepage for you that anyone can visit to check out what you're listening to. You can do the same, presumably finding new bands that people who like the same music as you like. In addition, MOG has some big names (the spotlight now is on Ben Gibbard) that share what THEY listen to (similar to Celebrity Playlists on iTunes) as well as post entries about what's happening in their "more interesting than yours" life. I have to admit, I have no clue what they mean by their "state-of-the-art Web 2.0 technology," but it must be better than the stuff I'm using.

In addition to sharing what you are listening to, you can create a profile (similar to MySpace) where you can paint vivid, and possibly true, descriptions of yourself and your varied experiences from around the globe (or around the mall, depending on how honest you are) as well as post blog-like entries.

"PhilaFunk Records is a social network that allows all musicians to distribute their music online and keep 80 percent of each sale that they make. Everyone in the Philafunk community is helping support independent musicians, and everyone can make new friends and discover new music by joining the community."

Unlike, you can actually buy music on this site. I'm not sure that you will recognize any of the musicians, unless perhaps they are local to you and you've seen them at the bar on the corner. In addition to being able to purchase music, you can create a profile (not quite as detailed as MOG) as well a new identity for yourself. If MOG is using "state-of-the-art Web 2.0 technology," PhilaFunk must have "state-of-the-art in the 90's .5 technology", and it shows. This site is much simpler, with more focus on the music that you can actually buy. To go along with this, you'll see banner ads for things like "Bid4Me Dating Auctions."

Before you think that I'm totally down on the PhilaFunk their defense, they do supposedly give the bands who sell music on the site .80 cents out of every dollar browsers spend on their music.

I'm not even going to start on MySpace...instead, here are some songs:

Demetri Martin - I Got 9000 Friends : Demetri Martin's MySpace site

Biz Markie - Just A Friend : Tribute to D12

Je Suis France - Thank You For Being A Friend : Tittania

Lily Allen - Friend Of Mine : Alright, Still

The Rembrandts - I'll Be There For You (Theme From Friends) : L.P.

Whodini - Friends : Escape