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Monday, October 31, 2005

fast car


I'm dedicating this post to the vehicles that make my heart pitter patter. The shots above are just a few jems that cruise Montpelier. The ever classy MUDSLUT and the slammed Escort wagon. But my love of cars, especially the usually overlooked beauties, can be demonstrated by this:

Ride This was a section of my high school paper, the Shen Pen, written by a couple friends and me. We never wrote anything that amounted to much, which is typified by my Subaru BRAT trivia question and Lewis' longwinded article entitled "Ban Ride This." Nothing like the days of our youth. Funny thing is that the member that sketched that drawing actually does that for a living. And I'm still writing nothing for nothing. Some things never change.

By the way, BRAT stands for Bi-drive Recreational All Terrain.

I'm heading to Denver for work. Hopefully I'll have something fun to report when I return. I'm excited to see Broken Social Scene tomorrow night at the Boulder Theater.

The Rentals - These Days.mp3 (Demo)

Happy Halloween

As you can tell I had fun with the pumkin carving kit (and the camera). I can't believe that I've been using dangerous kitchen knives for so long. The kit from the pharmacy was so worth the 5 bucks. Maybe next year I'll move on to something more difficult, like the Dick Cheney or Cobra.

Here's a political pumpkin that I noticed while at a get-together at Maple Wind Farm in Huntington. Boy did they have some snow up there!

Here's a great made for Halloween song from Rob Schneider of Apples in Stereo:

Marbles - Dracula.mp3

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Salvation Through Spending

I got a call from a sister of mine late last week who wanted to share with me all of the environmentalism that she learned from Oprah. I guess Leonardo DiCaprio was on with some scientists talking about how dire of an issue global warming is. The piece highlighted how human activity is exhausting the natural environment's ability to regulate itself and provided simple ways we all can help slow down global warming and save our planet. The Top Three Things to Stop Global Warming are:
  1. Drive an energy-efficient car
  2. Buy energy-efficient appliances
  3. Use energy-saving light bulbs

I have a problem with this. All three of these options require consumption; not only consumption, but heavy consumption. Consumption isn't the answer; it's the problem. Purchasing our way out of environmental degradation is like waging war for peace. The overarching consumptive world view that is prevalent throughout nearly every country (and not just the "First World," but also China, Zimbabwe, Chile, etc.) is at the core of the global warming crisis. In this country the issues are compounded by one important issue: Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP is the most widely used indicator of the national economy, as it is the annual aggregate production of all goods and services in a country. GDP does not necessarily indicate the economic well-being of a country since activities that are detrimental to the long-term economy (like deforestation, strip mining, over-fishing, murders, terrorism) increase today's GDP. Therefore environmental degradation is rarely accounted for in GDP calculations. A classic example is the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill, which showed up as a net economic gain in the US because of the expenditures associated with the clean-up effort. These expenditures outweighed the eleven million gallons of oil spilled into Alaskan waters.

The bottom line is that not all growth is good. Just as the wrong form of uncontrolled human growth, cancer, can be damaging and even fatal, so can the wrong sort of economic growth. I'm a firm believer that as a people we need to be smarter about our consumption habits. I herald Oprah for bringing the issue of environmental degradation to the table and for providing options. They are good options, but the most appropriate first step is questioning whether we need anything more. Do we need a new car, a dishwasher, 37 light bulbs? The order is Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. As a country we have a long heritage of thriftiness and penny pinching. If only we could flex our ingenuity and be more discernable about whether we need to purchase something new.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Killing Television


Wilco's live double album, Killing Television - Live in Chicago, is slated for release on November 15th. It is a 23 song collection of live Wilco recorded this past May at the Vic Theatre in Chicago.
The tracks focus mostly on the last two great albums, the Pitchfork perfect 10 Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born, but includes tracks from the older album's such as the opening track Misunderstood from 1998's Being There.

The tracks remind me of the Memorial Auditorium show they put on in Burlington last September with the Fiery Furnaces. They are one of the few bands in my book that retain the quality of their studio recordings and move beyond it (along with Built to Spill and Stereolab).

Wico - Killing Television preview

And for BIG fans, check out WilcoBase, which provides a baseball level of stats on all things Wilco (every set list, every time a song's been played, search live appearances by state, tour paths on Google Earth!).

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Sixfifteens

Did you hear the one about the indie rock group whose members consist of an asian, a black, a jew, and a w.a.s.p.? No it isn't an intro to a joke and they aren't a Disney product. They are The Sixfifteens.

Hailing from Saratoga Springs, NY, this 4 piece plays indie rock filled with power, catchy lyrics, and a distinct style. The core can be traced back to a previous Saratoga outfit, Dryer. Dryer was a relatively successful poppy rock outfit consisting of drums, guitar, and bass. Two of the members took their guitars (Bob Carlton) and drums (Joel Libby) and set out to create something more experiential and loud. When one meets Jeff Fox, experiential and loud aren't a bad description. Jeff brought to this new outfit song writing prowess, an appreciation for the obscure, a basement studio, and a desire to become a rock star. The group's bass playing duties have been shared by Matt Bombard (formerly of Gohbi) and Dan Triller (Clam of God).

This summer saw the release of Feature, Conference, Transfer, the bands debut full length. At times their sound can have the power pop simplicity of Sloan or Supergrass, while at other times be complex and reminiscent of Braid or Sonic Youth. No matter how it's cut, the Sixfifteens are a powerful and fun indie rock treat.

This Thursday finds the Sixfifteens opening for the Death Cab for Cutie like sounds of Jim Yoshi Pile Up (label mates of the scary Goblin Cock) at Bennington College's Downcaf.

The Sixfifteens at Myspace
Jim Yoshi Pile Up - Silver Sparkler.mp3
Jim Yoshi Pile Up - A Deep Deep Lake.mp3
Jim Yoshi Pile Up - Haunted Rooms.mp3

Sledding season has begun

Woke up yesterday morning with a big surprise; brightness. We had received a substantial amount of snow and big flakes were still falling. Above is the view out the front window (surprised that we received so much more then Montpelier). All in all we only received around two inches, but it was quite the shock given that we still have a week left of October! It was something to have bright yellow leaves falling on the bright white snow. All that was left this morning were some sledding tracks. Let's see if we get the winter storm that they are predicting for tomorrow night. I fear it's going to be a long 7 months.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Toubab Krewe & Sound Tribe Sector Nine

One of the highlights of my college career was working with the Common Ground African Drum & Dance group. Sure they were a collection of suburban white kids from a liberal arts college (emphasis on the liberal) playing the music that they had been exposed to during "school" trips to the motherland, but they pulled it off. Between the late 90s and early 00s they were a fixture on the world music scene within and beyond the South East.

I'm not a drummer or a dancer, but what I brought to the group was lighting. I guess it was only two shows, but for those two I was honored to design, build, and control the lighting while the Common Ground frenzied hundreds of hairy armpited girls and smelly bearded boys. I was only a small part of the experience, but for me it was really special.

Common Ground has provided the roots of Toubab Krewe (which has a pretty rad website). What started as a percussion and dance ensemble (including obvious trips to Guinea, Mali, & Senegal), became realized with the addition of guitar, bass, and exposure to Wassoulou music. Their sound represents a "fusion" between traditional Malian songs, West African drumming arrangements, and contemporary jam elements. I see it as the most accessible version of the sounds that come from the are in and beyond the Ivory Coast.

Since their official first show as a five piece in Cabot, VT last summer, the Krewe have had a nearly non-stop touring schedule. Their summer has included three nights of the Bonnaroo Festival, the North East Kingdom Music Festival, a 500 person cd release party at Asheville's The Orange Peel, and now an opening slot for Sound Tribe Sector Nine (STS9).

I had the pleasure of taking in the Krewe last night at The Higher Ground. It's always a kick to hear the people around me attempt to understand what is the 21-stringed instrument with the gourd base (kora) or the 6-stringed harp (kamelengoni). But this show was so much more then crazy instruments. The Krewe brought a strong focused performance that fed off the energy of the crowd. I attend very few shows that create a positive energy that is so utterly infectious. Last night the Krewe mastered it and left many hoodied kids with large sincere grins.

Then came the main act. STS9 have been bringing their live hopdub-influenced, breakbeat-infused psychedelic music with a heavy emphasis on group improvisation to the masses since the late 90s. They have been a fixture on the touring scene and continue to sell-out venues all around the globe (as was the case during the past two evenings in S. Burlington). Now I don't usually listen to the work of jam band groups such as STS9 and their peers the Disco Biscuits, Lake Trout, and the New Deal, but my wife went to high school with a couple of the members and was good friends with their amazing drummer, Zack Velmer. Zack used to play parties in her basement (I thought those type of parties only happened in movies; guess things are different in suburban Georgia), so the least I could do is see them when they've come to my neck of the woods.

If Toubab created the mood, then Sound Tribe lifted it and brought it into unknown regions. I'm rarely one to speak in terms of "vibe" and "energy" (Sound Tribe's all sorts of into crystals, etc), but that was what was happening. The music ebbed and flowed. The bands control of releasing tension was evident with the cheers and jubilation of the crowd (which was aided by a fantastic light show including blinding white lights on the masses during peak moments). While I noticed similarities with a Mogwai show I had caughtin New York 5 years ago, the smiles, head bobs and blissed faces at this show proved the happiness contagious (while the Mogwai show left me asleep in the fetal position in the basement of Irving Plaza).

By default I can't help but see what STS9 is doing is tending to the jam band flame. When I think about the obvious jam lineage, it becomes evident that each group reflected the ideals and resultant limits of its fan base. The Grateful Dead sheparded the first wave with its roots music base and a sense of naivete. Phish melded sounds of a more conscious, but still wandering, populace and was influenced not only by its jam/rock/Americana forefathers, but also pop music and the spirit awakened by the likes of The Talking Heads. Sound Tribe Sector 9 appears to take what's deep and primal, but fuses it with today's technologically aware audience, while all-the-while staying focused on the positive. This has resulted in a connection with the Volvo driving suburban children who have lived through scandal and heartship, but are longing for something more.

Sound Tribe Sector 9 - Live at the Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA - 12.31.04

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Powerball

I won the lotto! The 340 Million jackpot went to some dude in Oregon, but I'm bringing home $16.60. I'm not much of a betting man, but I'm ahead during my lifetime. The only other time I've "played" the lottery was 5 years ago at a gas station in north Georgia on the way back from an Elliott Smith show in Atlanta. I lost, but weirdly enough I've come to associate Elliott Smith with winning.

A bunch of us in the office put in five bucks each, giving us 30 tickets. Whatever winnings we were to get would be split 6 ways. One of the tickets matched 4 of the 6 numbers (the 5th number was off by only 6 digits which would of brought in $200k). We won 100 bucks as a group. We were postulating that if we got the big prize, then the office would be shut down. That didn't happen. But I'm now $10.66 in the black during my lifetime. Just like my Vegas trip, where I gambled 7 bucks and left with $12. Low amounts for sure, but percentage wise I'm kicking some ass.

The real question is what am I going to spend my cash on?
I could say it's for the $3.99 mp3 player that I ordered two days ago (thanks Dalton). But that's the past.
Perhaps I'll use it to attend tonight's Sound Tribe Sector Nine and Toubab Krewe show (if I can get my hands on some tickets).

On a side, people were really using the numbers from LOST? Are they crazy? Not only would you have to deal with all of the lore surrounding those numbers, but do they really think they're original? If those numbers did win, then the per person winnings would be akin to bringing home 16 bucks and change.

Also, for a set list and pics of that Elliott show (in addition to the mp3 link above) look over here. That Hank Williams Jr. shirt must of been mad nasty, as I saw him wear it on at least one other occasion.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Good Neighbors

Neighborhoodies is feeding my addiction and I love them for it.
A couple weeks ago I decided to purchase a bunch of cd's from their fairly new music section. By a bunch I mean 6. To me that's a really big purchase. But thanks to their low prices ($9.99 or $11.99 each, including shipping) and Pitchforkmedia type selection, I picked up cd's that I've been looking at for $66. Two days is what it took to receive my order and I've slowly been digesting them since.

I'm not going to give a run down of these cd's; every possible description has already been posted across the blogosphere. What I am going to do is rank them. My tastes for these albums will most likely change over time, but for now I'm going to try to put them in order by the likelyhood of being inserted into my cd player. Here we go:


Clap Your Hands Say Yeah -
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah



Broken Social Scene -
Broken Social Scene




Okkervil River -
Black Sheep Boy




Wolf Parade -
Apologies to the Queen Mary




Death Cab for Cutie - Plans




New Pornographers - Twin Cinema



There isn't a bad cd out of this bunch, but the order did come to me as sort of a surprise. I would of thought Death Cab would of ranked much higher and had no idea how happy CYH&SY would make me. Each album has a few great tracks (Okkervil River's For Real is my favorite out of the group), but this is how I feel about the albums as a whole.

Okkervil River - For Real.mp3
CYH&SY - Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood.mp3
Broken Social Scene - Hotel.mp3
Wolf Parade - Shine a Light.mp3
Death Cab for Cutie - Marching Bands on Manhattan.mp3
New Pornographers - Use It.mp3

Youth Group

When I hear the name Youth Group I think of Umbros, creamed whistles, and Pretty Woman (It happened when I was in 6th grade; that was the youth leader's last day). What I don't think about is good indie rock. Well that's starting to change.

Youth Group is an Australian outfit that's getting all sorts of mention due to their amazing trifecta: supporting role on Death Cab for Cutie's current tour, being Ben Gibbard and Chris Walla's favoritest band, and having their cover of the 80's new wave hit Forever Young playing in the background of The O.C. (the original could be heard during the school dance scene in Napolean Dynamite). I guess that's one way to solidify indie cred. All this may have something to do with them getting picked up by my radar, but their sound is keeping them in my head.

Their second Album, Skeleton Jar, was released earlier this year and has cover art that's very reminiscent of My Morning Jacket's It Still Moves. The album as a whole isn't all that spectacular and that may be why I've been enjoying the occasional track; the entire album can run by unnoticed. Perhaps they have a bit of the poor man's syndrome (Jet a poor man's Strokes, Engelbert Humperdinck a poor man's Tom Jones), since they are so intertwined with Death Cab. Take a listen to a few tracks and decide for yourself if they are more then ipod shuffle material (which isn't a bad thing):

Youth Group - Skeleton Jar.mp3
Youth Group - Shadowland.mp3
Youth Group - Forever Young.mp3 (Alphaville Cover)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Best Week Ever

Last week was great. The sun was shinning, the weather was warm, the trees were ablaze in colors, a great friend was visiting and it was the anniversary of my wedding. We have a knack of celebrating milestones with an activity instead of material gifts.

This year the wife surprised me with an introductory glider lesson with Sugarbush Soaring down in Warren, VT. After an hour on the ground, the instructor and I were towed up to 4,700 ft and spent another hour cruising thermals and checking out the view. It was out of sight (and I'm a tool for not bringing my camera up with me).

The next day we went to a local stable for a trail ride. It wasn't as amazing, but still was a fun experience (lesson learned: don't ride a horse right after you receive a chiropractic adjustment!).

We usually aren't your horse rides and afternoon soaring type of folks, but it was fun to try out a different style and see how the other half lives. Now back to the mac & cheese and cold rain.

To commemorate, here are two topical tunes:

Matt Pond PA - In the Areoplane Over the Sea.mp3 (Neutral Milk Hotel Cover)
Laid Back - White Horse.mp3

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

All the Real Girls

All The Real Girls (2003): Small-town love story of a young man with a reputation for womanizing and his best friend's sister. Starring Paul Schneider, Zooey Deschanel, written and directed by David Gordon Green.

I had a free rental coupon about to expire late last week so I decided to run in and redeem it. I was amazed that I was unable to find a single dvd worth renting after two laps around the perimeter of the store. Right when I was contemplating picking up Miss Congeniality 2 (for the notoriety of it; my wife works for "Sandy's" sister), I decided to enter the center of the rentals. I'm glad I did, because I ended up with David Gorden Green's All the Real Girls. I had seen this film back in 2003 when it came out and thought it was pretty good. We were visiting Asheville, NC and had heard buzz about this NC film project (writers and many actors hail from the Tar Heel state and it was filmed in one of the nearby small towns).

When I watched it this second time I was really blown away. The first time around I loved the variety of characters (Bust-Ass, Tip, Uncle Leland) and thought they were well developed, but that was about as deep as I went. This time I really caught some of the movie's amazing lines ("I had a bad dream, you were a river and you weren't moving. You were frozen and I watched you crying") and generally strong dialogue. But beyond that I was really struck by the sense of sadness and feeling of emptiness that runs through the film (of course there's a bit of hope at the end). It's a rite of passage film with a script chockfull of understanding and honest reflection.

What I also realized this time around was the soundtrack. I was psyched to heard Will Oldham's voice opening up the film with "All These Vicious Dogs." I couldn't believe that I missed that the first time around. Other great melancholy tunes find their way behind dialogue and crystallized shots of the defunct factory town and meandering rivers; such as works by Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Sparklehorse, and The Promise Ring.

The Promise Ring - Say Goodbye Good.mp3
Explosions in the Sky - The Moon is Down.mp3 (shortened version, sorry)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Phish Boots

Earlier this week I stopped by a rummage sale at local church on the way home from work. I have always had a weakness for a good deal. I had actually gone to a rummage sale at this church in the spring and scored a sweet pair of old school all leather Limmer hiking boots and a Blackburn bike rack for 2 bucks. So when I stumbled across the sign this week, I was stoked. In a matter of 5 minutes I came out a dollar poorer, but with a green t-shirt and a pair of rubber boots. I'd been looking for a pair of boots to throw on during snowy mornings, and these seemed as good as any. There were actually three to choose from. Two were muddy and taped together and the third was an ancient green pair stuffed with newspaper from 1971! I obviously chose the non-descript pair.

Two days later I came to discover that the normal old mud boots were far from normal. I brought the boots outside to clean them off and noticed something sitting inside of the right boot. I stuck my hand inside and pulled out two pieces of paper. The first item was the note on the left and the second was a self-addressed postage paid envelope made out to an individual in Newport, VT. Now I'm not a big Phish fan (even though I had spent many days of my youth noodling to Trey and company at venues across the Northeast), but I found this all pretty amazing. I guess it's all self-explanatory; someone came across these boots during the cleanup from the big Phish finale Coventry shows last August and decided to take a stab at keeping track of them. It's a pretty novel idea.

I'm planning on sending the postcard out tomorrow and will share any developments. I don't imagine much will come of this, but I never could have imagined that 50 cents spent on a pair of boots would result in me sending a postcard to Newport.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Goats & Mr. Sellers

I've come to know the Mountain Goats in what I believe to be a very strange manner. I first became familiar with John Darnielle through his wonderful bloglike website Last Plane to Jakarta. Soon there after I mistook many of his tunes for that of the political activist folk singer David Rovics. It may seem odd that I thought he was the "musical version of Democracy Now," but they both share a low-fi sound and a knife-like nasaly voice spewing strongly held visions for the future and solemn memories of days past.

After a few listens to Tallahassee, however, I started to understand his gut-level honesty. His penchant for round about stream of thought storytelling explored the world of a broken marriage and the couple's desperate attempts at fixing it. Hopeless saps are not new song characters, but what I found so intriguing was how demanding these tracks were of my attention. I establish connections with the characters and was caught up in their tumultuous life. And that was it; no turning back. I've counted myself as a follower and have been awaiting an opportunity to see the Mountain Goats on tour.

We'll the wait's over. The Goats are currently touring in support of their 9th disc, The Sunset Tree (released last April), with The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers. I bought The Prayers & Tears' The Mother of Love Emulates the Shapes of Cynthia earlier this year and have greatly enjoyed it (Like Pedro the Lion or Sufjan Stevens, Wright's music has a solemn, prayerful aura and an oblique religious bent - Pitchfork). I do have to admit, however, my original interest was in part due to The Big Lebowski reference.

For those of us in VT, the three best opportunities to see this double bill are:

I for one will be traveling to Hanover. Not only is it the closest venue, but the show is FREE.

Here's a couple tracks for your listening pleasure:

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Props

I'm usually not a fan of bringing unnecessary attention to myself, but I couldn't help but let Cathy Resmer of Seven Days' (our great little independent) 802 Online blog know that I've joined the blogging army. That was a month or so ago. Today it was brought to my attention (thanks false45th) that she plugged this site in addition to a handful of other newbies in her VT Blogs section. Thanks Cathy (I know you aren't much a fan of anonymity, but I find comfort in a little cover). Her site serves as the hub for Vermont bloggers. I can't imagine that my non-existent counter will start spinning uncontrollably, but it is motivation to keep on posting.

On that note, I've been out of touch for a bit. I can only blame so much on my father's failing heart and broken internet connection at home. I'm vowing to do better, because its fun to share my "musings and political rants."

Oh and by the way, amazing cover photo Seven Days. But was the line pushing up against the back of the animal for deeper penetration really necessary?