i always loved you to the max
Okay, so I've fallen way behind on my attempt to get the entire double-disc Mix '05 out before Christmas. All of disc one will be up this week, and I hope to cram in disc two before the end of the year. Three tracks today:
While I wasn't paying attention over the last couple of years, David Berman apparently did the stereotypical Behind The Music-style rockstar flame-out & nearly boozed & drugged himself to death. He even cops to the cliché in an extensive interview with Pitchfork's Ashford Tucker back in August:
My Y2K party lasted four years longer than I expected it to. It was fun. Not the last year. The last year was bad. I went to rehab. Relapsed a couple of times. Doing good now. I went down in 1999 for a long, suitcase-battering journey of sub-aqueous intoxication, only resurfacing on January 1, 2004 in a tiny Minnesota village. There is a recent Fader (PDF) article that does a good filmic version of my time away. After that article came out, I read someone on the internet who felt betrayed, by me; that I'd become a cliche. There's nothing I can do about that. The problems of performance have begun already.
Ironically enough, the man behind the Silver Jews is anything but a typical rockstar, deciding not to play his music live (until now), choosing instead to make public appearances only at his poetry readings. Berman seems insolar, not so much a man of excess, with his own demons that drove him toward substance abuse in the past, but likely also informed his lyrical content. This year's Tanglewood Numbers, the Silver Jews' first album in four years, comes off as a recovery record in both content & style, more clear-headed & focused than previous efforts. It's ten tracks of straightforward rock songs cut with an alt-country twang, it's Berman's tightest disc yet, and it's one of my top releases from 2005 - and I knew it would be during (not after) my first listen. With Stephen Malkmus on board to rip it up on guitar, this track opens Tanglewood Numbers with confidence & authority ("punks in the beerlight, burnouts in love!") and refuses to let up until Berman's final, breathless "MAX!" fades away. Correction: I knew Tanglewood Numbers would be one of my '05 faves during (not after) my first listen to this song.
ETA: LA-based director Todd Lincoln chops up Planet of the Apes & Beneath the Planet of the Apes to suit his own devices (via goldenfiddle). Yes, it's very random & fairly bizarre. I suppose it figures:
MOV Silver Jews - "Punks in the Beerlight" (37.9 mb)
MOV Silver Jews - "How Can I Love You If You Won't Lie Down" (3.6 mb)
Berman's label Drag City hosts this video for another of Tanglewood Numbers' stand-out tracks, featuring Berman along with his wife Cassie (who does all the female voicework on the album) and sometimes Silver Jew & former-Pavement "percussionist" Bob Nastanovich (lounging around, not playing the drums). Also appearing is the Berman family dog, Jackson.
It's no coincidence that this track is the meat in the Silver Jews/Malkmus sandwich that makes up this post (and it's corresponding section of Mix '05). Frontman Noah Chernin, bassist Jack Dolgen, guitarist Sean "Bones" Sullivan & RANA drummer Ryan "Tugboat" Thornton make up Brooklyn NY's Sam Champion, whose debut album Slow Rewind is another top ten (maybe top five) '05 release for yours truly. Caveat: I suppose I am somewhat biased toward these guys, seeing as I worship the Jersey-loving f**k out of RANA (how I found them, duh) and have hung out with them on a few occasions. That said, their first outing on Razor & Tie is still an impressive one IMO. Chernin & company aren't re-inventing the wheel here, and they don't hide their obvious influences (see tracks 15 & 17). They just put together a solid-yet-loose rock record, and oftentimes that's all that you need. I could have picked from any of the songs on Slow Rewind, but I went with this one because it just seemed to fit best with the surrounding tracks.
MOV Sam Champion - "TV Fever" (23.2 mb) WMV RAM
Sam Champion's first video: home movies cut with band footage.
Due to the general busy busy busy, I never got around to posting much about the show-packed month that was October. I hope to recap some of the backlog before the end of Mix '05, and I'd like to start with Sam Champion's first visit to Mpls in early November. Even though Okkervil River (I'll get to them soon) was also playing the 400 Bar that Saturday nite (11/5), I just had to see the Champion, especially since I hadn't seen them sine Sean joined the band. I dragged Sam out with me to the 7th Street Entry, where the band played to a sparsely population (aka nearly empty) room. The lack of attendance was regrettable, but the guys rocked out nonetheless, playing a solid that that concluded with a cover of the Beatles' "Get Back" IIRC. A good time was had by me at least, and even Sam was impressed enough to pick up a copy of Slow Rewind. The road-weary warriors actually crashed back at the Gilbert resort (aka the rents' house) before heading out the next day, and I was happy to offer the hospitality. As-per-usual, I snapped some digital pics because I'm dorky like that:
Finishing off the trifeca is none other than Stephen Malkmus, whose third solo album Face The Truth was yet another stellar release from the former Pavement frontman. S.M. played a lot of his new material when I saw him play First Avenue in June, shortly after Face The Truth dropped at the end of May (but long after it sprung a leak, obvs) on Matador. This track has a light, airy feeling to it that is infectiously smile-inducing. I think "It Kills" sounds optimistic, even without paying any attention to Malkmus' lyrics.
WMV Stephen Malkmus - "Mama" RAM
Here's a streaming video for another track off Face The Truth, starring a bikini-clad asian chick for who knows what reason. Random as ever, S.M.
Track 01: The Constantines - "Draw Us Lines"
Track 02: Spoon - "The Beast & Dragon, Adored"
Track 03: The Russian Futurists - "Our Pen's Out of Ink"
Track 04: Broken Social Scene - "7/4 (Shoreline)"
Track 05: Bunky - "Chuy"
Track 06: The New Pornographers - "The Bleeding Heart Show"
Track 07: Stars - "Ageless Beauty"
Track 08: Danger Doom f/Cee-Lo - "Benzie Box"
Track 09: Legendary K.O. - "GWB Doesn't Care About Black People"
Track 10: M.I.A. - "10 Dollar"
Track 11: Soulwax vs Lipps Inc. - "NY Lipps (Kazasaki Dub)"
Track 12: Vitalic - "My Friend Dario"
Track 13: Low - "When I Go Deaf"
Track 14: Gogol Bordello - "Undestructable"
It's list-mania! Aside from every blogger & their blogger cousin's year-end lists, the online rags have put out theirs. Cokemachine Glow has its top 50 albums list, as does Pitchfork, Stylus & PopMatters. Pitchfork & Stylus also run down 2005's top 50 singles, for those of us with short attention spans. Read up on what you should've been listening to, but probably weren't.
Though it happened last week, I still wanted to mention the death of Emmy-winning West Wing actor John Spencer, who suffered a heart attack that claimed is life on Friday. It's terribly sad news, and there isn't much else to say about it. A John Spencer fansite has gone black in his memory, leaving only a truly apt WW quote, written by series creator Aaron Sorkin.
And while it has been posted everywhere (from Boing Boing to the Huffington Post) over the last couple of days, I'll happily add to the echo chamber of folks laughing at this past weekend's SNL "digital short" Lazy Sunday by my boys The Lonely Island, whose Samberg & Parnell hip-hop jam about Magnolia cupcakes & The Chronic-WHA!?!-cles of Narnia was the highlight of the show. I got the heads-up about the online buzz from goldenfiddle, and found a WMV link from Gorilla Mask. And after two days of hype, the video is now currently featured on both the NBC's front page as well as the network's SNL page. Ardy, Kiv, Jorm, Parn - well done.
My favorite line: "Mr. Pibb + Redvines = CRAZY DELICIOUS!"
ETA: Oh, snap. Now you can get Lazy Sunday as an iPod-ready free download from iTunes, likewise posted on their store's front page ("a holiday gift from NBC & SNL"). Damn, this got huge fast. God bless the internets.
This is my 300th post. Aren't round numbers a fun reason to celebrate?
ETA: Rep. John Conyers of Ohio calls for investigations to impeach or censure Bush & Cheney. I don't like calls to sign this or e-mail that etc, but I'll just say that I did so here & here. Y'all can do as you see fit. That is all.