Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Karen O is a performance artist, but she also is a bit of a throwback. She’s a rock star in an era where rock stars are dead, but she has also maintained some of the teenage innocence that reminds the audience that this “act” is just that. She is having fun dressing up in outrageous gear, she’s chuckling as the songs end and the crowd starts cheering and she’s basically reminding you not to take everything so seriously. She may look like a cross between Joan Jett and Pat Benatar, but the show she puts on is distinct to her. I have much respek for this band because they have created something new and unique while looking back to past influences, without losing their own current identity.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
I feel like Josh Ritter is in a tough spot – he seems stuck between the indie taste-maker world of Pitchfork and the easy-listening adult contemporary crowd of WFUV. At least he’s a huge star in Ireland.
Whatever the case, he has put out a bunch of solid albums this decade, none of them breaking any real new ground, but all very solid in the rootsy folk singer-songwriting genre. Lovers of Joanna Newsome, Devendra Banhart or Smog might find Ritter a little too safe for their ears, but I don’t buy into that. Ritter is what he is and he does it quite well. He rarely blows the mind, but he’s tuneful, a good songwriter and a solid lyricist. “Girl In The War”, for example, is a fantastic song, a perfect example of what he does so well.
“Me and Jiggs” follows Ritter’s template to a tee, but it packs a late-night lack of cohesion that some of his other songs maybe lack a little bit. We love this song because we love singing Townes Van Zandt and painting our names on the water towers and all the other things that Ritter makes sound so fucking enticing after drinking 10 Harpoon IPAs on a front porch in Shaftsbury, Vermont. (Grave apologies to Robert Frost. It wasn’t you, it was me).
“Please, remember me fondly.
I heard from someone you're still pretty.
And then they went on to say that the pearly gates had such eloquent graffiti, like: 'We'll meet again' and 'Fuck the man' and 'Tell my mother not to worry'.
And angels with their great handshakes were always done in such a hurry.”
I knew I’d be including this song after I’d heard the most recent album version of it on the B-Sides record, “Around the Well” that just came out this past year. It was the third version I’d heard of it and each time the song was powerful and affecting and really nice to listen to.
The first time I’d heard this was from the “Live at Bonnaroo 2006” double disc that someone made for me – a stark acoustic-only version that closed the set and really sounded great. Two years after that, I saw them on Austin City Limits and they again closed with this one, this time with some female backing vocals. Then I heard the album version, which has a different rhythm to it, a little more studio production and some backing vocals looped throughout. Every version of this 9-minute tune is vintage Sam Beam. Make sure you check it out.