The Friday Five: April 30, 2010

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

Would you believe I actually forgot it was Friday? I was able to sneak in a quick listening session during a short break between meetings, here’s what I heard:

“Let Me Love You Tonight” by Pure Prairie League (from The Best of Pure Prairie League, 1995)

“A Matter of Trust” by Billy Joel (from The Bridge, 1986)

“Rapture” by Seed (from Ling, 1994)

“Stars Fell on Alabama” by Cannonball Adderly & John Coltrane (from Cannonball & Coltrane, 1960)

“3×5” by John Mayer (from Room for Squares, 2001)

What’s on your shuffle today?

Recap: 2010’s McDowell Mountain Music Festival

I’ll admit, my first feeling was of disappointment when I found out a few months back that the 7th McDowell Mountain Music Festival was scaling down – from the spacious polo field of Scottsdale’s Westworld to the parking lot adjacent to the Compound Grill. But my feelings quickly changed to ones of thankfulness and support toward a genuinely good group of people who were determined not to fold it up and call it quits in these tough economic times.

After spending most of Saturday and all of Sunday at the festival, it was clear to me that not only had the festival organizers pulled it off, but they had created a very special and intimate experience for everyone involved. By scaling down the event and bringing everyone and everything closer together, it actually helped enhance the experience. I couldn’t help but feel a stronger sense of community than years past. By the end of the weekend, there were familiar and friendly faces everywhere I looked. And of course, the cozy atmosphere also brought us all closer to the great music.

There was no hot black asphalt to be found within the festival. Fresh green sod had been laid end to end, side to side. The food tent featured a delicious and unique menu provided by the adjoining Compound Grill – delicious turkey burgers, Korean BBQ tacos (teeny-tiny, but delicious), chicken & rice bowls, burritos, and churros with Prickly Pear Jam (a favorite of both my daughters). The beer tent featured about a dozen microbrews – New Belgium brews, Abita, Flying Dog, and others. There were vendors and crafts for the kids…

White Hinterland, “No Logic” (Alan Wilkis remix)

White Hinterland – “No Logic” (Alan Wilkis remix)

Remixing the ambient dream-pop of White Hinterland is not a task for the weak. Thankfully, electrofunketeer Alan Wilkis is no slouch in the remix chair. Taking the otherwise demure original “No Logic,” from the band’s new release Kairos, and spinning it on its end with a musical drumbeat and his signature sense of funk; Wilkis manages to breathe a gust of life into an otherwise lifeless track. Check it out:

White Hinterland – “No Logic” (Alan Wilkis remix)

The Friday Five: April 23, 2010

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

“Nothin’ On You (feat. Bruno Mars)” by B.o.B. (from The Adventures of Bobby Ray, 2010)

I remember first hearing B.o.B. — aka Bobby Ray – back in 2008 with his track “I’ll Be in the Sky,” and just as abruptly as he appeared, he was gone. A deft amalgam of Andre 3000 and Kanye with the sensibility and flow of Q-Tip, Bobby Ray manages to sound fresh, despite bringing some classic hip-hop clichés to bear. All that shit aside, this track made me giddy like a 12-year-old girl the first time I heard it. Evoking the classic summer single, there just in time to shake off the cold and ready to bump at maximum volume with the car windows down, this cut definitely deserves all the spins it’s getting. It may be “what the kids are listening to,” but in this case, I’m down.

“Hole Hearted” by Extreme (from Extreme II: Pornograffitti, 1990)

Take a open major D chord and shuffle it up the fretboard of a well mic’ed 12-string guitar and you’ve got yourself the recipe for the classic coda to Extreme’s magnum opus Extreme II: Pornograffitti. Seriously, could it get any more extreme? Is it cheesy as hell? Of course it is, let’s look at the lyrics: “If I’m not blind why can’t I see / that a circle can’t fit / where a square should be.” Pass the Gouda, please.

“Head Crusher” by Megadeth (from Endgame, 2009)

If given the choice between listening to a new Megadeth record and a new Metallica record, I will always choose the Megadeth, because no matter who is playing behind Dave Mustaine, you know exactly what it is going to sound like. Hell, at this point, the worst song on a new Megadeth record is still better than the best that James, Lars and company have to offer.

“Ice Cream (feat. Ghostface Killah, Method Man & Cappadonna)” by Raekwon (from Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, 1995)

Speaking of songs that scream “summer,” this track was the jam back in the day, when I had a stereo system in the car that was worthy of turning up. While it might just be me, does anyone else feel like the Wu-Tang fell off after this? Take Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Method Man’s Tical, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s The Return To The 36 Chambers – The Dirty Version, Genius/GZA’s Liquid SwordsOnly Built 4 Cuban Linx…, and maybe Ghostface Killah’s Ironman – and that’s a big maybe – and you’ve got the makings of a legacy by which almost anything short of “classic” is really lesser. Sure, there have been shining moments after, but nothing that feels as raw and real as the freshmen releases.

“You Are the Woman” by Firefall (from Greatest Hits, 1992)

I’m not going to lie; I love this song. I love its stupid flute solo. I love just about every stupid thing about it.

What’s on your shuffle today?

Live from Daryl’s House: T-Bone’s Last Performance

It’s been almost 2 months since the world lost Tom “T-Bone” Wolk from a heart attack at the age of 58. It’ll be an odd feeling to watch Daryl Hall go forward without T-Bone at his side.

The latest episode of Live From Daryl’s House is bittersweet, to put it mildly. It marks the final time that Daryl Hall and John Oates played with their longtime pal and music director. It takes place at the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival early this year. Joining Daryl, John and T-Bone are Maxi Priest and gray-dreadlocked Billy Ocean.

As usual with this great series, the behind the scenes footage between songs is just as enjoyable as the music (as is Shanique, the bartender at Memorabilia bar).

But it’s hard not to feel a helpless sadness as you watch T-Bone, so full of life and good humor at the time, knowing what was soon to come. At the same time, it’s a blessing to have footage like this, documenting his passion for music and life.

Maybe it’ll all make sense some day. For now though, it sure doesn’t. RIP T-Bone.

Watch Episode 29 of Live From Daryl’s House, featuring John Oates, Maxi Priest, and Billy Ocean

Ticket Giveaway: Late Night at the Compound with Steve Kimock & Crazy Engine

What are you up to this weekend? If you can make your way to north Scottsdale’s Compound Grill, you’ll find the surroundings taken over by the McDowell Mountain Music Festival. Vehicles will be kicked to the curb, sod will be laid down, a big stage will go up, and the people… they will come. Look forward to sets by Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Trombone Shorty, Robert Randolph & the Family Band and others (see MMMF’s site for full lineup details).

Late Saturday night (showtime @ 11pm), within the cozy confines of the Compound Grill, Bay Area guitar whiz Steve Kimock will take the stage with his new band, Crazy Engine. Steve has been part of the jam/psychedelic/prog rock scene for a number of years. He co-founded Zero in the 80’s, formed his own Steve Kimock Band in 2000, and has played a part in Bob Weir’s Ratdog, Phil Lesh & Friends, and the Other Ones.

Joining Steve in Crazy Engine is longtime Jerry Garcia Band member Melvin Seals on Hammond B-3 and keys, Trevor Extor on bass and vocals, and his 22-year old son John Morgan Kimock on drums.

I’ll be there enjoying the show, so why don’t you? I’m giving away a pair of tickets. All you need to do to enter is leave a comment below. Keep in mind this is a late night show that starts at 11pm and will jam into the wee hours of the morning. If you’re serious about rocking out all night long with Steve Kimock & Crazy Engine, drop a comment in below. I’ve heard Steve’s a pretty amazing guitarist to see live, so this should be something extra special given the small club feel of the Compound Grill.

I’ll pick a winner from the Comments section on Thursday. Good luck!

New Music From The Guggenheim Grotto, “Wisdom”

The Guggenheim Grotto
Having seen the band a handful of times in the last month, I’ve heard the track “Wisdom” as many times in it’s raw form. The tune — which comes from the band’s forthcoming record, Master of the Universe — is partly inspired by the long hours the band has logged crossing the country in support of their brilliant Happy the Man. There is currently no date set for the release of the record, though I’d expect it would be sometime in June. Stay tuned!

You can purchase “Wisdom” here.

The band is also doing a residency every Wednesday in June at The Bowery Electric, NYC, and every Thursday at the Tin Angel in Philly.

The Friday Five: April 16, 2010

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

“Uptown Girl” by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (from Have a Ball, 1997)

This week’s shuffle accompanied me during my early morning visit to the gym. This sped-up version of the Billy Joel classic got my blood pumping!

“I Won’t Spend Another Night Alone” by The Ataris (from Blue Skies, Broken Hearts…Next 12 Exits, 1999)

Before the band covered Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer,” and climbed aboard the MTV-fueled wave of pop-punk in the early aught’s, they were just a little band from Indiana with a penchant for writing the intensely personal songs. This little ditty was sent to me by a friend back in 2000, and I promptly ran out and purchased the CD after hearing it.

“Would?” by Alice in Chains (from Dirt, 1992)

This is, without a doubt, my favorite Alice in Chains tune.

“Sweetness” by Jimmy Eat World (from Bleed American, 2001)

In the groove, just listen…

“Fell on Black Days” by Soundgarden (from Superunknown, 1994)

By the time this track came up, it completely disturbed my groove; I was mid-sprint and lost my steam. Making for a less-than productive treadmill session, I hit stop and headed to the next machine.

What’s on your shuffle today?

You Just Do: The xx at the Varsity in Minneapolis

With the big acts of my summer concert series set (Simon and Garfunkel, Tom Petty and U2), I was lamenting not jumping immediately at the chance of buying tickets for a smaller show in the form of The xx at the Varsity. I should have guessed that this emo, shoegazy band would sell out in less than a day in my emo, shoegazy home town of Minneapolis.

So, I poked around online to see what tickets were going for….75 dollars for a 25 dollar ticket! Great Scott!!!! I had more or less given up on going but then a phone call came about a week before the show. My friends Jeremy and Rea had an extra ticket and it was mine if I so desired. Mega.

We met up at the Loring Pasta Bar for pre-show conversation and then headed over to the venue at about 10:30pm. The xx were scheduled to go on at 11pm. The Varsity was packed but there as still plenty of space in the middle of the floor.  As we watched the alarmingly sucky warm up band (a female performer named JJ who sang to pre-recorded tracks with a video of herself striking pretentious poses in the background), I thought about how different The xx are compared to the other bands I like.

They are very sparse..almost hollow. I usually like lush sounds and a chorus of vocals. The guitar work is quite simplistic and they mostly use programmed drums. Yet their music betrays both a haunting isolation and a tender caress of comfort which I always thoroughly enjoy in my music. Take the lyrics to “VCR”:

“Watch things on VCRs with me…And talk about big love…I think we are superstars…You say you think we are the best thing…But you, you just know…You just do…”

This is EXACTLY what I look for when I listen to illustration of intimacy that stirs a commonality. How many of us out there have felt like this before? Knowing someone who just gets you…without even saying a word. It’s magnificent. These were the thoughts and feelings that were comforting me as the first song began.

They opened, not surprisingly, with “Intro” and as they did, the white curtain in front of the stage kept the band hidden from us. Flickering lights bounced their shadows all over the venue. At the conclusion of the song, the curtain dropped to reveal the band-all dressed in black.

It was interesting to watch the audience, clearly revved up with excitement, try to make sense of how to cheer for the methadone-like tunage. The xx’s songs just aren’t mosh pit ready. They are sewn from a different quilt – one of introspection and quiet solitude. The song “Shelter” is a perfect example of this and one of the two best tracks of the night. The other was, of course, was “Islands.”

The song “Islands” will always be my favorite xx song. It’s a metaphor for all the wonderful aspects of romance. Romy sings by herself first – then she sings with Oliver – then they sing together, all they while backed by a happy-skippy melody and beat. I fell into that Bogart-Bergman in Casablanca dream when they sang:

“I am yours now…so I now I don’t ever have to leave…I’ve been found out…so now I’ll never explore.”

The dim lights and the red velvet of the Varsity really made my mood sublimely sanguine in the most exquisite of ways and that dreamer in me that I love so much was transported to a million worlds, known and unknown, across all of time itself.

Check out The xx’s tour page for their latest shows.