that's one giant mess o'potamia

Presidential debates? Live coverage? Emmy awards? Oh the humanity!

The first debate between Bush & Kerry will be interrupting your must-see-tv tonite, though given the guidelines set forth by the so-called Commision on Presidential debates, what you're likely to see will probably be as scripted as anything you'd normally watch on ER. While the always frustrating punditry will likely focus on who was sweating & who managed not to drool, I'll be watching to see if either candidate can muster up anything of actual worth and/or truth. Foreign policy is the central theme of this first debate, so expect Dubya to be wearing Rove-colored sunglasses while Kerry does his best to hammer away at what a quagmire Iraq has become thanks largely to the bungling of President Bush & the rest of the neo-cons.

Following the 90 minute televised debate, The Daily Show will be providing live coverage at its regular time of 11pm ET/10pm CT on Comedy Central. On last nite's Daily, host Jon Stewart mentioned how Fox's Bill O'Reilly referred to Stewart's viewers as "stoned slackers" last week. Apparently, they're both high & well informed, at least according to a recent study from the Annenberg Policy Center that shows that Daily Show viewers are actually quite knowledgeable about the presidential race (via Business Journal Online). Heads up via NYT magazine cover girl Wonkette.

MP3 George W. Bush on the '02 Iraq resolution
MP3 John Kerry on the '02 Iraq resolution

The good folks over at the Majority Report have provided the above bits of audio, which were recorded around the time of the initial congressional vote to give Bush the authority to use force in Iraq. At the time, Bush needed the authority to use force in order to get weapons inspectors back into the country - "to keep the peace," not to go to war. And that's why Kerry voted for the initial resolution, but refused to vote for the second resolution (which was going to pass with or without him) once it was clear that Bush was hellbent on invasion. Flip-flop my ass - Kerry has been consistent.

MP3 Majority Report - David O. Russell interview

Tuesday's edition of Air America's Majority Report was missing birthday girl (happy 40th!) Janeane Garofalo, but her co-host Sam Seder did interview director David O. Russell, whose new film I ♥ Huckabees opens in select cities tomorrow (next friday here in Mpls). In the interview, Russell talks about the short documentary he recently directed called Soldiers Pay, which was supposed to be a companion-piece to his last film, the 1999 gulf war extravaganza Three Kings, which was due to be re-released into theaters this fall (given the timely subject matter) to help hype an eventual new special edition dvd of the excellent film.

Soldiers Pay was going to be screened along with the feature & included as a special feature on the dvd, but Warner Brothers has shelved the doc due to its "hot button" political content (read the 9/3 E! News story). While the doc won't be included on the new Kings dvd, it is being shown in theaters around the country with the Robert Greenwald documentary Uncovered: The War on Iraq, and will be included on the dvd release of that film, due out October 19 (according to this 9/23 press release).

a kinder, gentler waits wednesday

Director & co-hort Jim Jarmusch with Waits from back in their ol' carousing days.

I caught most of Tom Waits' appearance on Letterman last nite. He told some stories about artistic-minded horses & played "Make It Rain" from his forthcoming album Real Gone, which comes out next Tuesday (10/5) through Anti records. I posted a couple of tracks from the new record a short while ago, and they actually managed to sorta scare my good pal Rachel. I think it's to his credit that Waits can create such an intense & frightening soundscape, and I imagine Rachel was more than a little unprepared for his dark side. So for her benefit, here are a couple of early-era Waits tracks that show off the man's softer, more sensitive side.

MP3 Tom Waits - "New Coat of Paint"
Back in ye ole college days, the first Waits album I ever bought was his second full-length LP, The Heart of Saturday Night. IIRC, I picked it up primarily because it was in the cheapo bin at Tower & I thought the cover artwork looked intriguing. As you can probably guess by my Wednesday-themed posts, it was a quality purchase indeed. This is the album's lead-off track, which finds Waits encouraging his ladyfriend (or special lady) to go out on the town in order to spice up their relationship:
All your scribbled lovedreams, are lost or thrown away
Here amidst the shuffle of an overflowing day
Our love needs a transfusion so let's shoot it full of wine
Fishin' for a good time starts with throwin' in your line

For those who are interested, check out this old press release from when the album came out back in 1974. I found it at a great fansite I just stumbled onto called the Tom Waits Supplement, which also features a running news blog about Waits entitled The Eyeball Kid. I haven't fully explored it yet, but it seems like a solid source for Waits information etc.

MP3 Tom Waits - "Little Trip To Heaven (On The Wings Of Your Love)"
This track comes from Waits' 1973 debut album Closing Time, and as the album's penultimate track is kind of a foil for the album's second track, "I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You." It's a crooning love song that glides by over piano & saxomophone, even ending with a jazzy, "shoo-be-doo, ba-da-da." A lot of Waits' early work (especially these first two albums) are boozy, more loungey affairs that complement the singer's younger (and far smoother) voice. Nowadays, he's been the most gruff-sounding man in music going on two decades, but he wasn't always like that.

MOV Here's video of that Letterman performance (via largehearted boy).

MOV Also, here's video of the interview (16.7mb) via

looking for my own peace of mind

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the best movie I've seen all year (heck, in several years), and the dvd is out today. If you haven't seen it yet, you no longer have any excuse. Check out the film's official site. There's good reason why it's been on my "see x 5" list since this blog's infancy.

Antics, the great new record from NYC indie rockers Interpol (which leaked a few months back) is also finally in stores today. Add it to your shopping cart when you're picking up Eternal Sunshine. All the cool kids will be doing it.

BTW: Just to be clear, I will also be buying it.

better propaganda x 20 (september 04)

Once again, I am lacking for anything particularly interesting to post. So as I did back in August, I've simply taken twenty solid tracks from the ever-fabulous better Propaganda & thrown together a makeshift mix for y'all. Of course, there's plenty more where these came from over at bP. Enjoy.

MP3 The Stills - "Lola Stars & Stripes"
MP3 American Analog Set - "Hard To Find"
MP3 The Postal Service - "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight"
MP3 Macha - "Smash & Grab"
MP3 The Joggers - "Hot Autism"
MP3 Clinic - "WDDYB"
MP3 Electrelane - "On Parade"
MP3 Camera Obscura - "Teenager"
MP3 Destroyer - "It's Gonna Take An Airplane"
MP3 Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - "The High Party"
MP3 Preston School of Industry - "Get Your Crayons Out!"
MP3 Deerhoof - "Milking"
MP3 Enon - "Shave"
MP3 Mouse on Mars - "Mine is in Yours"
MP3 Murs - "3:16"
MP3 I Am The World Trade Center - "Future Sightings"
MP3 The Helio Sequence - "Everyone Knows Everyone"
MP3 Iron & Wine - "Naked As We Came"
MP3 Rogue Wave - "Endless Shovel"
MP3 The Mountain Goats - "Palmcorder Yajna"

you rock, rock

The official website for the film I ♥ Huckabees, which opens in select cities on October 1, is now open. It's full of flash & is kinda fun to play around with. The first time you visit the site, writer/director welcomes you to the website. If you go back a second time, Russell & actor Jason Schwartzman pop up & say in an odd, monotone way, "You're back." It's a little creepy. I am really looking forward to this movie.

On the music front today, I am lacking for both inspiration & theme, so I'm just going to offer up some of what I've been listening to lately & hope I can come up with something more interesting over the weekend.

MP3 Sahara Hotnights - "Who Do You Dance For?"
Yes, I posted another Sahara Hotnights song back in early August, but their latest album Kiss & Tell has actually managed to stay in my cd rotation since that time. While perhaps I should be spending more of my time listening to stuff that I've bought more recently, I keep coming back to these Swedish girls & their early 80's pop-rock hooks. I posted the album's closing track last time, so here's the album opener to start off the weekend.

MP3 The Black Keys - "Grown So Ugly"
Despite a general lack of energy/enthusiasm on my part, I managed to drag my sorry butt out to First Avenue on Tuesday nite to see Akron, OH's favorite blues-rock duo, The Black Keys. My buddy Marc had gone apesh** over these guys after seeing them play in Chicago earlier this year, so I would be remiss if I missed my own opportunity to catch their live show. I'm not much of a big blues fan myself, but I have to say that guitarist Dan Auerbach & drummer Patrick Carney were mighty impressive. This track, from the band's new Rubber Factory LP, is a "tragic prison blues penned by Robert Pete Williams and covered in the 1970s by Captain Beefheart" according to the knowledgeable folks over at Pitchfork. Thanks for the info.

Dude, that goofy drummer is wearing a fake moustache - just like Bobby V did!

slacker perhaps, stoned i am not

We all know the old saying, "where there's smoke, there's fire." Likewise, where there are wraps, you will also logically find smoothies. And probably low-fat muffins. So says Janeane Garofalo on an almost daily basis on her Air America radio show the Majority Report, which airs weeknites from 7pm-10pm ET. I have become strangely addicted to the lefty rants & insights of Janeane & her co-host Sam Seder, who don't run the slickest operation you'll ever hear, but for me that's part of the charm. Personally, I find their semi-constant, sibling-like bickering quite amusing, though it's easy to see how others might see it as just annoying (Janeane is of the latter opinion).

This week, Sam has been making the most of the "days of awe," the ten days between Rosh Hashannah & Yom Kippur, the jewish high holy days. He has been using a sound effect of someone blowing the shofar (aka sounding a ram's horn, which is done to announce the jewish new year - and is not a double entendre, people) to encourage New York Times' chief political corospondent Adam Nagourney to atone for his shoddy reporting. It's a part of the Majority Report's new Media Accountability Project, Sam & Janeane's attempt to hold the cowed corporate mass media responsible for the hack journalism that's become so prevalent since 9/11/01. You can read some of Sam's views on the subject in this Gothamist interview from late August.

MP3 Billy Bragg & Wilco - "All You Fascists"
Each broadcast of the Majority Report begins with this Billy Bragg track, which appears on the 2000 album (which featured Wilco as his backing band) Mermaid Avenue Vol. II. It's a call to arms, albeit a repetitive one, for people to come together & organize to defeat said fascists, which in this case would be the Bushies & the neo-cons. Sam & Janeane are big on supporting grass-roots organizations & helping to raise money for the worthy political candidates they have on their show, so this song is an appropriate way to start off each nite. FYI: For the first month or so, the show began with Radiohead's "The National Anthem."

MP3 Atmosphere - "National Disgrace"
This track from local Mpls MC Slug's Atmopshere (from last year's Seven's Travels LP) is often used as bumper music during the Majority Report. It's a bit preachy, though it does manage to get its point across & has a sorta likeminded point-of-view about the media. Of course, Janeane also likes to call the Bush administration a "national disgrace" in its own right. This song also mentions Max Fish, one of my favorite bars in NYC (on "Houston & Ludlow") and where I got the drunkest I have ever been (on 9/19/00). What can I say? People just kept giving me free drinks.

To catch up on the Majority Report (or to put it on your iPod and listen at your leisure), check out the mp3 audio archives over at Air America Place. Also stop by the Majority Reporter fansite, which was recently overhauled.

Sam Seder searches in vain for gay republicans at last month's RNC in NYC.

In other political-related nonsense, head over to Wonkette to check out the transcript from Jon Stewart's appearance on The O'Reilly Factor earlier this week. Bill O'Reilly makes the ridiculous claim that 87% of The Daily Show's viewers are "intoxicated" when they watch it, referring to them as "stoned slackers" to Stewart's understandible disbelief. Heads up via Info Typewriter.

Check out the new "book" from Stewart & his Daily Show crew, America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction. I got it for my buddy Sam's birthday earlier this week, and it seemed pretty funny from what I read of it. And to hate more on O'Reilly, check out O'Reilly Sucks & Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly, as well as News Hounds, a site that kindly documents the lousy reporting of Fox News "so you don't have to."

If you haven't done so already, check out the very solid speech that John Kerry gave at my old stomping grounds of NYU early this week, before making appearances on Regis & Letterman on a swing through NYC.

Lastly, Oveis has some fascinating insights on how the hurricanes in Florida & the 2000 presidential election may be inter-related. Spooky stuff.

BTW: I'm really backed up on my e-mail, so if you've contacted me over the past few weeks & have yet to receive a response, I apologize. I'll do my best to get back to people by the weekend, but don't hold me to that.

girls with low self-esteem

I am truly a fair weather awards show guy. I get annoyed & dismissive when undeserving crap takes home trophies, but I am also delighted when the best shows actually manage to get recognized. Now I didn't see much of Sunday nite's Emmy awards, but I was pleased with some of the results.

For the second year in a row, Jon Stewart won for best variety show for his utterly essential The Daily Show, beating out fellow Comedy Central employee Dave Chappelle and his likewise deserving Show. Another highlight was James Spader's win for his work on the final season of The Practice. Spader's oddball performance breathed new life into the aging Practice, which had long since jumped the shark. Now I didn't watch that show much last year (I was pretty bored by all the other characters), but I may end up tuning into Spader's Practice spin-off Boston Legal post HBO/Law & Order: Criminal Intent on Sunday nites this fall.

Lastly, the best comedy series prize was awarded to Arrested Development, whose lackluster ratings had the show on the verge of cancellation all year despite across-the-board critical acclaim. Fox wisely rolled the dice & ordered a second season, and one can only hope that this Emmy win will help solidify its place on the primetime schedule. AD is one of the smartest & funniest shows I've ever come across, and I highly recommend picking up the season 1 dvd, which comes out October 19. For more info, visit our friends over at The O.P., the best AD fansite I've come across.

The best drama category went to The Sopranos, which won almost be default since most of the shows that usually get nominated had sub-par years. Appropriately, the best show on television IMO, HBO's The Wire - which received zero emmy nods - had its season premiere airing opposite the awards ceremony. The show's third season will bring take a look at how local Baltimore politics impacts on the city's street level drug trade & the police whose job it is to put a stop to it. The Wire is packed to the gills with detail, personality & nuance (no, it's not a dirty word). It's smart, gritty, real television, and I am incredibly psyched that it's finally back.

better believe it's freezing cold

So here's a lousy & forced segueway: I caught a bit of David Cross (AD's Tobias) on the cringe-worthy E! post-Emmys wrap-up, and he was doing his best to poke fun at the silliness of pompous awards show coverage. In the liner notes for his most recent comedy cd It's Not Funny (out on Sub Pop), Cross rather randomly mentions:

Also, check out the Fiery Furnaces' album, Gallowsbird's Bark. It's great.

Hey, I just saw those guys! And holy crap, were they great!

Toshi Yano (bass/synth)'s setlist; Eleanor's was slightly different, btw.

Saturday nite's show at the 400 Bar turned out to be a triple bill, with the French Kicks playing playing first. JRDN (who gifted me a sweet November 2 T for my b-day) & I saw the Kicks open for The Walkmen at the 400 back in March & weren't all that impressed, so we chilled it out & had a few beers during their set before heading toward the stage to get a better view.

MP3 White Magic - "One-Note"
I was impressed with White Magic, who played next on the bill. I had picked up their Through The Sun Door EP (from which this is the lead-off track) at Other Music when I was in NYC this summer after hearing a couple tracks via blogs, so I at least knew what they sounded like, unlike JRDN who hadn't heard a thing. The trio began their set wearing asian-style masks (except for vocalist/keyboardist Mira Billotte, who kept hers propped above her face so she could sing), which actually complimented their semi-haunting melodies quite well. Their live set was both intense & groovy, and though they didn't play "Keeping The Wolves From The Door" like I wanted them to, I was pretty happy with what I heard/saw of White Magic. Good stuff & a nice warm-up for the main attraction.

From what I recall from when I saw them at the 7th Street Entry last year, Matthew & Eleanor Friedberger (aka the Fiery Furnaces) had quite a few people on stage with them as their live backing band. Or least I think there were more than the somewhat stripped down four piece we saw at the 400, which included (wildman) Andy Knowles on drums and Toshi Yano on bass & synthesizer. And unlike the last time around, Eleanor stuck to being the woman out front & decided not to pick up her own guitar. I didn't mind.

MP3 The Fiery Furnaces - "My Dog"
I found this version of "My Dog" (entitled "My Dog Was Lost But Now He's Found" on the Blueberry Boat LP) on some Furnaces website (I remember having to register or something) way back when. It was labeled as an outtake from the "sbn session," which I know nothing about. However, you can clearly hear that this was recorded around the time of their debut album Gallowsbird's Bark, as it sounds a lot like the material on that cd rather than the stripped down, piano-driven version that appears on BB. Frankly, I like this version better.

Likewise, the Furnaces' live set sounded a lot more like the gruff, punkish blues-pop of Gallowsbird's Bark, though it was structured more like the long & complex Blueberry Boat, with many songs interwoven as part of a larger whole. At last year's Entry show, the Friedbergers played one of their more extended BB songs (I think it was "Quay Cur," but I'm not sure) toward the end of their set & lost much of the audience. Of course, this was long before BB was released & nobody really knew the song, but it was also stripped down more instrumentally, sounding pretty similar to how it does on the album IIRC - which didn't translate well in a live setting IMO.

From what I saw at the 400 Bar, the Furnaces have retooled their live performance in order to better integrate their Blueberry Boat material for an audience. Their whole set was a non-stop, high energy showcase for their brainy yet oddball lyrics & eclectic blues-rock musicianship, and the audience just ate it up. Instead of playing all of the ten minute "Quay Cur," they played parts of it at different places in the set, interspersing them between songs from Gallowsbird's Bark and parts of other BB songs in a organized yet chaotic fashion that pushed & pulled at exactly the right moments. It all made for a truly excellent rock set, which didn't need to be a minute longer (though we certainly asked for them to keep playing).

Aside from Matt having some keyboard issues ("Sorry, my piano is broken," he said before launching into one of his vocal sections) & a couple weirdos shouting, "I love you, Eleanor!" it was an amazing show, and a great way to celebrate turning 26 (which I did about mid-way through the Furnaces' set). If you have a chance to see them, don't think twice about it. Do it.

minnesota - we like it here!

Gold glove centerfielder Torii Hunter dons his oh-so-classy champagne goggles.

Congrats to my hometown Minnesota Twins, who clinched the AL Central title for the third consecutive year with tonite's 8-2 win in Chicago. Third baseman Corey Koskie returned from injury to go yard in the victory, one of four Twins to hit a homerun in the division-clinching game. Twins pitcher Johan Santana, coming off a dominant 14 strikeout game on Sunday with a 30 inning scoreless streak intact, was also named AL player of the week. The postseason is just weeks bring on the fu**kin' Yankees!

Alas, the hometown Vikes got whooped by Philly on MNF. Can't win 'em all.

we go out of the mainstream

MP3 Sam Champion - "Now Look At Me"
I can't help but draw Pavement comparisons when I talk or write about Brooklyn-based Sam Champion, whom I last wrote about back in July. "Now Look At Me" (from the band's 2003 EP) begins with some plugging-in guitar distortion, then launches into a very "Summer Babe"-ish dirty rock groove. Guitarist/vocalist Noah Chernin proclaims his indie-lovin' roots with the "we out of the mainstream & into the jungle" line, which is a also a great pop hook, of course. Noah isn't one to hide his affinity for all things pop.

MP3 Sam Champion - "TV Fever"
Also from that 2003 EP, "TV Fever" is a slower-paced, more calculated rock tune driven by thunderous beats of drummer (and future Tiger Beat heart-throb) Ryan Thornton. When I saw Sam Champion open for RANA on the Rocks Off boat cruise a couple months ago, they seriously rocked out on this song to end their set, with Chernin wailing away on his axe during the stretched-out closing section. Again, there's more "sounds-like" Slanted & Enchanted riffage here, but that's a good thing, folks.

bonus MP3 Sam Champion - "Sally"
In honor of my upcoming birthday, here's an extra Sam Champion track that I found hidden on their website (all these tracks are hosted by the band, so my thanks to them). I don't know a lot about "Sally," but I believe it's a more recent recording, as it sounds more like the material (that I've managed to hear thus far) from their forthcoming debut LP, Slow Rewind. It's a more upbeat number, mixing a poppy rock beat with a little alt-country twang that certainly leaves me smiling. Hello, weekend.

Sam Champion will be playing next Thursday (9/23) at Pianos in NYC with Burnside Project (see yesterday's Music (For Robots) post) for a Trampoline House magazine party. The following nite (9/24) finds the band playing a hometown show at Freddy's Backroom in Brooklyn w/The Zambonis (who only sing about hockey) & The Non-Hockeys (who don't). Interested NYC locals should stay also tuned on Sam Champion's website for details on their October CMJ show with fellow rockers These Bones.

and into the jungle, we go out (x 3)

So this Sunday marks the aforementioned 26th anniversary of my birth, which I'm not all that excited about, but oh well. I don't have any big plans for Sunday besides catching the third season premiere of the best damn show on television, HBO's The Wire. Saturday nite I will be heading out to the 400 Bar here in Mpls w/JRDN to catch what should be an excellent Fiery Furnaces/White Magic double bill. I've been trying to brush up on my Blueberry Boat over the course of this week, and I should probably give White Magic's Through The Sun Door EP a few more listens before the show tomorrow. It should be a good time, and I'm sure I'll do some celebratin'.

I'd like to extend a blanket "thank you" to all the kind-hearted folks out there who took the time to write some awfully nice & encouraging words following my pity-party Donnie Darko post from several weeks back. From time to time, I fall into my dark moods & on that occasion I used this blog as an outlet for talking my way through it (as is my right, dammit). I truly appreciate the support some of y'all out there offered in response, and I apologize for not getting back to each & every one of you in a timely fashion. I suppose I need to manage my time a little better (to say the least). Anyway, it really did mean a lot, & I always like good feedback.

Lastly, I'd like to give a shout out to Sean over at Said The Gramaphone, who sent a whole heap of traffic my way yesterday & will soon be taking a hiatus from his trendsetting blog to walk the earth, like Caine in Kung Fu ("walk from place to place, meet people, get in adventures"). While the site will continue in his absence, his eclectic musical selections & skillfull way with words will certainly be missed. I'd like to second Keith TTIKTDA's well wishes on all of Sean's future travels. Be safe, man.

came here to rock the microphone

No, I don't have any new tracks from recent blog favorites The Go! Team to offer. Sorry to be such a tease. After finding out about them through the diligent work of TTIKTDA, Said The Gramophone, Spoilt Victorian Child & Smashed Robot!, and proceding to listen to the six or seven tracks I had repeatedy for weeks, I couldn't wait any longer. I went ahead & finally ordered their debut LP Thunder, Lightning, Strike from their UK label Memphis Industries, as it seemed unlikely that the disc would be getting a stateside release anytime in the relatively near future.

I'm still waiting for the cd to arrive from across the pond, as I was a couple days ago when I discovered that the album, along with the Junior Kickstart and The Power Is On EP's that preceded it, became available for purchase & download from the iTunes music store this past Monday. So while I'll have to wait a little longer to hear the rest of The Go! Team's pop breakdown grooves, cheerleader hip-hop vocals & lo-fi remix-style sound, the rest of you can go get it for yourselves right now. So do it already!

ETA: Music For Robots has a couple of related posts up, with two tracks from Go! Team and another two tracks from last year's Memphis Industries compilation, Estuary English. Get 'em while they're hot. (9/23/04)

For those of you who, like me, are impatiently awaiting the December release of Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, the trailer is now up at Apple and the film's official site is open, although there isn't really anything of note to check out there thus far. However, you can take a look at the one-sheet artwork, from which the above graphic is a taste.

didya cover your tracks? yessir

Yup kiddies, it's time for another edition of Waits Wednesday.

Real Gone, the new album which will hit stores October 5, leaked a short while back & I just recently got to hear some of it for myself. Here's a couple of raucous tracks to tide you over until the release date:

MP3 Tom Waits - "Hoist That Rag"
The second track on Real Gone has Tom Waits sounding suprisingly topical, as it certainly comes off like a screed criticizing the incessant flag-waving & blind patriotism we've seen here in the US over the past few years. This is a somewhat unusual move for Waits, who apparently also tackles the war in Iraq in the album's final track, "The Day After Tomorrow" (which I still haven't heard, btw). From a recent interview in the LA Times:
You have to be able to write about what goes on around you. Pick up a newspaper, write a tune. That's all I was trying to do. Not like I'm making speeches at the U.N. But there's nothing but war in the papers now. The whole world's at war.

"Hoist That Rag" also features some fantastic work from guitarist & longtime Waits collaborator Marc Ribot, who plays on much of Real Gone. Ribot is a veteran/icon of NYC's downtown jazz scene, which also produced comtemporaries like John Zorn and Medeski Martin & Wood. His guitar style is unmistakeable - I could pick him out of a guitar line-up any day. Ribot put out a couple of notable albums a couple years back with his band Los Cubanos Postizos, which mixed a downtown jazz groove with the music of legendary Cuban bandleader Arsenio Rodriguez. Trust me, it's much cooler (and more accessible) than that description makes it out to be.

MP3 Tom Waits - "Don't Go Into That Barn"
The press release for Real Gone over at Anti website lists Tom Waits "on vocal mouth percussion," and you can hear why from the first note of this intense track. It's Tommy's own growling & grunting that sets the tone, and the beat, in this song. "Don't Go Into That Barn" strikes up frightening, dark, nightmarish, running-through-the-woods-at-night kind of imagery, which Waits has always excelled at creating. I also have to wonder if this song doesn't also speak a little to the general sense of American paranoia in the post-9/11 era, or then again maybe that's just me.

BTW: Site traffic here at The Big Ticket has been noticeably up the last couple of days, thanks largely to Scott Stereogum linking to last week's Apostle of Hustle post. Be sure to drop by his site for the latest news on Britney's descent into skankitude & other fun stuff.

really getting into the swing

MP3 The Concretes - "Seems Fine"
This is the lead-off track on the latest Heavy compilation, Sumosonic 29, which was waiting for me upon my return from Los Angeles a week or so ago. It's totally smiley, make-your-Monday-morning-more-pleasant pop music from Swedes The Concretes, and it also appears on the band's self-titled album. Sweetly coy girly vocals + a driving horn section = a more upbeat beginning to the new week.

Also waiting for me when I got back from LA was a strange box of records entitled "Diesel's Greatest Hips" that frankly had me stumped for several days. Finally, I did some snooping & discovered that they must have been a free gift through my subscription to Heavy. Isn't getting random & cool stuff in the mail totally unexpectedly fun? I just wish I had a decent turntable.

MP3 Kings of Convenience - "I'd Rather Dance With You"
Okay, so I'm been listening to this bouncy Kings of Convenience track somewhat obsessively since I turned my attention back to it last week, when I found the song's video online & started watching it repeatedly. The song is from the excellent Riot on an Empty Street LP released by Astralwerks, and it's one of the album's most uptempo numbers - so it's not too suprising that it's the latest single. I get a kick out of how KoC takes on simple subjects with a their wry sense of humor, in this case poking fun at the silly pretense of making conversation when out at the club:
Even if I could hear what you said,
I doubt my reply would be interesting for you to hear.
Because I haven't read a single book all year,
and the only film I saw, I didn't like it at all.

Rockstar Jessica & One-Eyed Willy make a frightening combination.

I'm recovering from an annoying cold. I've had it since last week, though for some odd reason it gave me a day off. Thursday was JRDN's 26th birthday (the pix are from our nite out @ Psycho Suzi's), and for whatever reason I felt fine (if not downright dandy) the whole day, despite being ill both before & after. Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.

Earlier that same nite, Rachel & I headed downtown for the Killers show at the f**king Quest (which I may be calling it from now on). The evening got off to an auspicious start when I tried to buy some advance tickets & was denied on two occasions. Rachel had expressed interest in this week's Scissor Sisters show at the Fine Line, which was (not all that surprisingly) sold out a week in advance. While I should have planned ahead better for that show, I certainly should have better anticipated that the fantastic September 29 triple bill of Franz Ferdinand, Delays & The Futureheads would sell out well in advance. After blowing my opportunity to see Franz Ferdinand back in June, you might have expected me to learn from my past mistakes. I guess not. I was trying to avoid extra Ticketbastard/Clear Channel fees, but I simply waited too long. Thankfully, as you can see, there are still plenty of good shows to see here in Mpls this fall.

Once we got to the f**king Quest, Rachel & I were forced to go up to the balcony in order to drink at the all ages event, where it was damn near impossible to get a view of openers Ambulance LTD unless you were positioned right on the railing. We decided not to even make an attempt, choosing instead to sit & relax with our beverages. We went down to the floor at the end of Ambulance LTD's set & managed to find a pretty decent spot towards the front of the crowd. Unfortunately, we were nearly surrounded by lots of very stupid high school kids, some of whom had even brought their 11 year old sisters. There was a little bit of pre-set bickering between us & a couple of young guys who were making bad jokes about "black tar heroin" and looking forward to all the "techno beats," but it was more amusing than truly annoying.

Once The Killers finally took the stage, it stopped being so funny. The band put on a great show, but there were far too many idiots in the crowd. There was so much pushing & shoving that you could see the whole audience move this way & that, as kids who thought it was 1992 decided that borderline-moshing was a novel idea. Rachel & I were separated for most of the show, and she almost had to throw down with a underage drunk girl who had nailed her in the head several times. It was all quite frustrating.

I had an odd moment toward the end of their main set, when the Killers played "Indie Rock 'n' Roll" (which Said The Gramophone wrote about back in May). The song is only on the British release of the band's debut album Hot Fuss, so many in the audience weren't all that familiar with it. Now I go back & forth about this song, and I still don't know what to think. Is it a nice tribute to the stereotypical "indie" lifestyle? Is it a honest jab at a scene that often thinks too much of itself? Or is it just a horrible, horrible song that should never have been written? So I'm pondering this while all of these kids are being utterly obnoxious, and this guy behind me says, "I can't wait to hear the single." The next song was "Somebody Told Me" and some other doofus yelled, "Alright! The radio song!" My mouth was agape. Something was terribly wrong. I'm still perplexed by the whole incident.

My thanks to JRDN, whose birthday celebration helped salvage the nite.

JRDN finished this gigantic drink, called "The Erupting Volcano" or something like that.

everything's in place. it's on.

Those nutty heartfelt scamps from the Broken Social Scene crew have done it yet again. Besides creating one of last year's most incredible albums with their sophomore effort You Forgot It In People, the members of the Canadian indie pop collective have kept themselves busy with their own (some might call them "side") projects like Metric, Stars & Feist. There are so many BSS offshoots, they even have their own family tree.

Guitarist Andrew Whiteman throws his hat into the ring with his group Apostle of Hustle & their debut record Folkloric Feel, which was recently released through BSS's Arts & Crafts label. The disc features guest turns from BSS regulars Brendan Canning, Kevin Drew, Leslie Feist and Evan Cranley, as well as Amy Milan of Stars to complement Whiteman & his other bandmates, drummer Dean Stone and bassist Julian Brown. You can read more about how AoH came together here or at their website, where you can also stream the whole album (via flash).

MP3 Apostle of Hustle - "Folkloric Feel"
The album's title track is a doozy. Clocking in at nearly eight minutes, the mostly instrumental lead-off song covers a lot of territory. It begins with a sniff, and a few random plucks of guitar strings before Whiteman begins to strum a simple, intensifying tune. We hear "folkloric feel" & the drums kick in, launching us into the kind of layered, atmospheric pop you might hear on the back half of You Forgot It In People. From there the song shifts into a groove reminicent of parts of "Stars & Sons" or "Cause=Time" (from the aforementioned BSS album) with some random lyrics about "6/8 time" added in passing, as if the song is being worked out right before your ears. But it's really, really good. And suddenly, you're smiling. The song slows down again, as Whiteman repeats the phrase, "Everything's in place. It's on." It may be a little cheesy, but it's still a helluva way to start an album.

MP3 Apostle of Hustle - "Energy of Death"
in the rhythm of this song
we drink, we fu** & we fight, we bring it on

Now that's a kick ass opening line for a song. "Energy of Death" is probably the most upbeat number on Folkloric Feel, and not suprisingly it has several BSS members chipping in (notice Cranley's trombone work somewhere in the dense pop bliss). The lyrics may get a tad bit preachy at times ("the children of the dying earth, our possessions & our money have no worth"), but I'm too busy rocking out to get jaded & really care. This is the album's fourth track, and by the time I finished it, I was sold on the rest.

In other BSS news, the band recently finished a score for The Love Crimes of Gillian Guess, a new film by Bruce McDonald. They are heading back into the studio to work on their follow-up to You Forgot It In People, which they are currently calling Windsurfing Nation & hope to release on Valentine's Day 2005. Feist's latest album Let It Die still needs an American release, though you can get it through Arts & Crafts (like I did). Stars will have their follow-up to last year's lovely Heart out October 12, entitled Set Yourself on Fire. Lastly, if you have any trouble finding the AoH cd in stores, it's also available for purchase & download through the iTunes music store.

bypassing my hometown

Left of the Dial tipped me off to the fall tour dates for indie rocker Ted Leo & his band the Pharmacists. Guess what? They're skipping Mpls again. Urgh. The lucky folks up at UMD will get to see him instead.

Also not bothering to stop by are NYC's favorite gypsy punks Gogol Bordello, who also just released new fall tour dates. Check them out if they're coming to your town - they threw down my favorite show of the year thus far. You will be hard-pressed to find a better time out at a rock club, folks.

BTW: Happy b-day, JRDN! See you tonite @ Psycho Suzi's post-Killers.

shakin' your new charm bracelet

I've got to plug a relatively new blog on the market, which I've been itching to do since it popped up last week. Matt Trowbridge (aka Matt Durant of RANA) has started up a personal blog appropriately titled itsmatt. Already Matt has shared tales of rock shows, life-altering car accidents & blunt-smoking Bush daughters, as well as several demos from a solo project called Leafcutter. Matt once told me that he didn't like to be called a rock star, though I truly believe that's what he is. He's a helluva keyboard player, a great songwriter, and good people in general. Stop by & say howdy.

now, on to the music videos

Last nite, I happened across Revolver Films, a director-based production company based in Toronto & LA that specializes in music videos. Their directors have done a lot of cool stuff, and there are plenty more vids to check out on their site (besides those linked below).

directed by Christopher Mills
MOV Modest Mouse - "Float On" (23.3mb)
MOV Interpol - "PDA" (16.2mb)
MOV Broken Social Scene - "Stars & Sons" (29.1mb)

directed by Wendy Morgan
MOV The Unicorns - "Jelly Bones" (17.8mb)
MOV Ambulance LTD - "Primitive" (26mb)
MOV Stars - "Elevator Love Letter" (37mb)

directed by Bruce Dickson
MOV ...Trail Of Dead - "Relative Ways" (27.7mb)
MOV ...Trail Of Dead - "Another Morning Stoner" (26.4mb)
MOV The Secret Machines - "Sad & Lonely" (27.6mb)

I've finally added, which is sort of a communal music video blog, to the blogroll on the sidebar. It's a great resource. Here's a couple of vids I've found through them recently, one with small children dancing in a cute manner with Erlend Øye, and the other with small children mutilating each other & giving you the finger. Enjoy!

MOV Kings of Convenience - "I'd Rather Dance With You" (17.4mb)
MOV Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Y Control" (16.7mb) directed by Spike Jonze

cable television worth watching

For those tv viewers who get the Trio network, their acclaimed Brilliant But Cancelled series is back. BBC features great shows that were killed before they found an audience, along with original programming detailing the pilot process & how many of these shows met their demise. Last year, I managed to catch all of the bizarre-yet-great Profit, including several episodes that never made it to air originally. Pretty sweet.

This time around, Trio is featuring the original comedy Pilot Season, a mockumentary series written/directed/starring Sam Seder of the Majority Report. A sequel to Seder's 1997 indie film Who's The Caboose? (which is also airing on Trio over the next week), Pilot Season also stars Sarah Silverman, Andy Dick, and features an appearance by David Cross. The show is showing two episodes each nite this week at 9pm ET, with marathons of all six episodes airing over the weekend. Tune in.

I was fuming much like Sam Seder does (on his radio show) last nite after sitting through Uncovered: The War on Iraq on the Sundance Channel. Uncovered, from Outfoxed (which I still need to see) director Robert Greenwald, is an hour-long documentary about the lead-up to the Iraq war, featuring many intelligence veterans who debunk the faulty case President Bush sold to the nation. Urgh, it gets me so freakin' mad! I wish the damn media would quit treating the upcoming election like a sporting event and actually pay attention to real issues. Holy crap. I can't believe this bullsh**.

End of rant. I'm off to watch Nip/Tuck.

take a long drive with me

My cousin Gabe lives a block from this. Can you friggin' believe that?

Hey folks, I'm back. I got home from LA last Wednesday, but catching up & sloth have kept me from posting until now. I spent much of yesterday on computer maintenance & updating/editing my sidebar links, all a part of what has become a fairly anti-social Labor Day weekend. But alas, I am finally back to blogging. Sorry to be away from my desk for so long.

MP3 The Decemberists - "California One/Youth & Beauty Brigade"
Okay, I know I've been going a little overboard with Portland, OR's The Decemberists in the last month or two, so I'll try to mix it up a little more in the near future. But it's hard to resist sharing such melancholy pop bliss when it seems to jibe so well with what's been going on with yours truly. In this case, I was actually driving down California highway #1 on a number of occasions while I was out on the west coast, so this track, from Castaways & Cutouts, seemed like an obvious, yet appropriate choice to accompany my Cali wrap-up. The lovely & wistful "California One" segues into the album-closing, borderline athemic & tongue-in-cheek (I suspect) "Youth & Beauty Brigade", which again provides a ying & yang viewpoint on a state governed by Mr. Freeze (can you believe that fu**in' "girlie men" crack, btw?).

our hearts become sweetly untied

So, I really didn't see any good celebrities while I was out in Los Angeles, though I don't really thrive on that sort of thing anyway. I did manage to run across a couple of C-list actresses though, as I caught Wayne's World babe Tia Carrere (wearing a gaudy-but-not-too-gaudy leopard-print skirt suit) on her way into my hotel for an Elizabeth Edwards luncheon, and I spotted Starship Trooper & 90210 alum Dina Meyer (on rollerblades) in the Apple store in Santa Monica. My cousins saw cool celebrities like Sharon Stone, Morgan Freeman & Alec Baldwin amongst others, as those famous faces turned out for a dinner/fundraiser for John Kerry at my hotel earlier in the week. While my fam & I went out to dinner, my cousins all hung out in the lobby to spot celebrities. By the time we got back that nite, the celebs were gone, though the joint was lousy with California democrats.

The best part of the trip was the family stuff. The initial reason for going out to Los Angeles was my cousin Craig's son Simon (the suity young man above), who was going through with his bar mitzvah. Normally the whole jewish "becoming a man" thing is pretty banal for me, but I've got to hand it to Simon for going above & beyond. Here's a kid who at age 9 told his parents he wanted to do this, despite little to no pressure to do so, and went through with it. If I had actually been given a real choice when I was that age, being faced with three years of preparation & going to hebrew school etc, I doubt I would have followed through like he has done. Here's a kid who totally walks to his own drummer at his age, which I think is remarkable. And he's bilingual. Mad respect, Simon.

The whole bar mitzvah extravaganza came off exquisitely, from the suprisingly powerful service, to the outstanding dinners (I over-ate the whole damn week) to the eye-popping party on the Warner Brothers studio lot. Good times. So much of my extended fam is freakin' amazing. My cousin Steve & his wife Jen have the cutest kids ever, my cousin Carolyn & her husband Stuart's kids are incredibly smart & funny & brilliant, and Simon's older sister Marta has got to be one of the happiest, most well-adjusted teenagers I've ever met. They all astound me, and I just had to say so. Please forgive me for getting so darn familial on y'all.

While my folks & sibs left town after the weekend, I stayed on for a couple of days since I hadn't been out to LA in forever & it's always a possibility that I might move out there at some point (probably sooner than later). It also provided me with an opportunity to see a few people that I haven't seen in quite some time since they left behind NYC for the left coast. My cousin Gabe was kind enough to put me up for a couple of days (thanks again, dude) at his little place in Hermosa Beach, which he said is the first city in California (and perhaps beyond) to be completely hooked up via Wi-Fi. I don't know if that's true, but I was able to jump online with my old school iBook & stay at least somewhat connected during my stay. Now I wasn't able to see everyone I wanted to (due to my own lack of time & poor prior planning), but I did manage to meet up with old pals like Emily, Mimi & Andy H, who I hadn't seen in several years, not to mention my friends Dayna, Kait & Sarah (and their dog Ella), who I hadn't even talked to since they made their move out west last year. It was nice to touch base with them & see how the all the sun & smog was effecting their dispositions.

I also managed to catch the end of this month's Channel 101 screenings at Cine-Space in Hollywood, which was fun even though I got their late & missed many of the shows. I saw Mimi's boyfriend Andy from The Lonely Island, whose latest episode of the popular OC send-up The 'Bu dropped from the #1 spot, mostly because this month's episode was all a set-up for the big climactic showdown that should take place in the next episode. All the new shows & failed pilots from the screening are now up at the Channel 101 website, so head on over for a good chuckle.

BTW: Thanks again to JRDN & Marc for their brief stint at guest blogging. You might just hear from those two again - if you're lucky.