Category Archives: Music

A Christmas Gift for You from Me

Macy's Window Display

One of my annual Holiday traditions is adding to an already unwieldy collection of Christmas music. And, when you end up with a whole bunch of Christmas songs sitting on your computer, you’re kinda forced to do something with them. So here’s a 2014 Christmas mix, with the title straight stolen from the best actual Christmas album ever.

This one’s of the non-traditional variety, featuring songs compiled over the last, I don’t know, five years. Maybe I’ll put together a more traditional companion disc as well.

1. “It’s Christmas Time” – Yo La Tengo

A reminder near the end of the year that I probably should’ve listened to more Yo La Tengo during the year.

2. “Christmas Reindeer” – The Knife

Let’s just dispense with the weird early. This is a very easy song to hate. I happen to like it.

3. “White Havoc” – Deer Tick

Love all things Deer Tick around here. This is the first of two tracks on this mix from the latest Converse collection.

4. “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)” – The Decemberists

The Decemberists covering just about the saddest thing you could ever imagine, originally written by John Denver. It’s quite the juxtaposition.

5. “In the Cold, Cold Night” – Tracey Thorn

Not a Christmas song, but it works just as well.

6. “I Wish It Was Christmas Today” – Julian Casablancas

Yes, that’s the lead singer from the Strokes and yes this is a song from an SNL skit.

7. “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” – Neko Case

Also not a Christmas song per se, but it is Neko Case covering Tom Waits and I’m always in on that.

8. “On Christmas” – Dum Dum Girls

Track two from that Converse compilation. A little synth-pop under your tree.

9. “Holiday Road” – Matt Pond PA

Vacation. That is all.

10. “Please Come Home for Christmas” – My Morning Jacket

Jim James’ voice is well-suited for this classic.

11. “Christmas Cake” – Rilo Kiley

Reminds me to go listen to The Execution of All Things again, which, random fact, I once used as a title for a Nebraska football story about a Huskers’ press conference.

12. “Christmas Tree on Fire” – Holly Golightly

Been listening to this one for ages and it’s become something of a household favorite.

13. “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” – Slow Moving Millie

A Smiths cover that might seem like a pretty crappy Christmas message, but you have to see the context in which it was presented. (Seriously, you have to.) These “adverts” from British retailer John Lewis are quite the thing over there it appears. Here’s this year’s, which people also seem to love. (Music in that one’s “Real Love” by Tom Odell.)

14. “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” – Nick Lowe

Lowe’s holiday album Quality Street was released last year and I wish I could listen to it every day. It’s not good holiday music, but good music, period. This is a Wizzard cover, I believe, and, while I like the version below better, you definitely want to check out the original just for spectacle of it.

15. “Last Christmas” – The xx

Plenty of Wham! covers out there, but this is the best one. Take that, Jimmy Eat World.

16. “2,000 Miles” – Mark Kozelek

Been a minute since I’d listened to any Kozelek, but always liked him and this is a great song by the Pretenders.

Happy Holidays.

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I Only Want to Read Reviews Written by Lou Reed

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…Eventually I left, went to college, moved to the East Coast for grad school. I went to the world I’d been reading about and the reading became less vital. Read music reviews—or anything for that matter—long enough and you’ll start to notice the patterns, the same turns of phrase, the common syntax, the shortcuts taken to meet expectations of how a music review should read.

Once you notice these things, there’s no forgetting. Every album review started to sound the same. Reading them became unbearable. Despite the carefully wrangled and wrought efforts of reviewers trying to describe a sound—“gone are the cheap garage guitars of Band X’s debut album, traded in for a synthesizer and a Swollen Pickle resulting in a sweaty stew of New Gaze/Shoe Wave anthems”—the discussion of music didn’t resemble the experience of listening to music at all.

Until Lou Reed decided to write about Yeezus. Allow me to be the 10,000th person in the past two days to tell you to go read it.

Read the rest at Medium.com.

(Image via yeezygraffiti.com)

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Here’s a music video trailer

iNDEED – Black Tears (Trailer) from Tamarcus Brown on Vimeo.

Here’s one-seventh of this song from iNDEED. I guess this means an official video is coming? It also looks like a New York Times story is forthcoming. All good things.

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Oktoberfest Music

We’re all planning to hit the Oktoberfest celebration at the Huber Haus this weekend right? Free admission, polka bands and, of course, German beer. Love the setup here. Buy yourself a ceramic mug–half liter or liter is good enough, you don’t really want a boot–and get it filled with the same marzen brews flowing through Munich right now.  And while the guys at Beer Corner will have the music covered Friday and Saturday, if you’re of the country bent and looking for something to fuel your own celebration the answer is Texas Bohemia, Vol. 2: the Texas Bohemian-Moravian-German Bands.

Of course this collection comes from Germany. All the best weird and forgotten trad-country does. Recorded at Texas dance halls and dives between 1970 and 1987, the collection features a score of jukebox hits from “Elvira” to “Ride Me Down Easy”.  Some later stuff from my personal Holy Grail Adolph Hofner and the Pearl Wranglers but the true highlights are the brass-stained versions of “Okie from Muskogee” by the Ellinger Combo and “Apartment No. 9” by Jimmy Brosch and his Happy Country Boys.

Not from the album, but this video from Buffalo Touch will give you an idea of what’s on the album.

Would love to share more information from the liner notes–featuring some killer photographs–but they’re in German and I can’t read those…yet.

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I Want More Information on Little Joey Farr for Christmas

Every year I supplement my Christmas music collection with one new album. This year the choice was Rockabilly Christmas. It’s full of original recordings from the 50’s and hits all the usual greaser fare, rocking (the word rock appears in 13 song titles on the 31 song collection), Elvis, and, of course, Cadillacs. Be sure to listen to the little spoken word interlude around the 1:20 mark, it’ll warm your heart.

If you want the physical album, Amazon has it but you can get all 31 tracks for the low, low price of $9.99 on iTunes.

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Things to Hear: Those Darlins & Deer Tick


Those Darlins play the HiTone

Originally uploaded by BullyRook

I don’t listen to much “new” music these days. Not since it became my mission to become an aficionado in classic honky tonk about six years ago.

I accomplished that and I’m constantly on the search for more old country music worth a damn, but there’s only a finite amount out there. From time to time I hearken back to my college days where I fancied myself on the cutting edge of new, hip music. Being neither of those things anymore means I’m constantly a bit late to the new music game, so forgive me if you’ve been listening to these bands forever, but here’s what I’m hearing now:

Those Darlins Those Darlins

The irreverence of the Ramones viewed through the prism of a youth spent listening to Bill Monroe records. Those Darlins are three hillbilly hipster chicks from Tennessee or Kentucky or some other bluegrassian state–if you really need to know their website is here–and it’s really hard not to fall for a band with song titles like “Snaggle Tooth Mama” and “DUI or Die.” They do cow-punk as earnestly and as good as anyone which is saying quite a bit. Catchy enough for non-country fans.

Deer TickBorn on Flag Day and War Elephant

Not seeing this Providence, RI band live was one of the gross oversights of my time in Boston. I haven’t been this excited about a “rock band” since picking up My Morning Jacket’s At Dawn in 2002. After buying Born on Flag Day I was compelled to pick up their debut and, while quite good, it’s not quite the album their latest effort is. Flag Day has at least three songs–“Sam Hill,” “Houston, TX,” and “Friday XIII”–that will be in my permanent mix tape rotation. I defy you to not like these songs. Deer Tick has enough of a country tinge to keep me happy but more than Country–which is their iTunes classification–this is American music. Don’t believe me? What if I told you that Bruce Springsteen and NBC’s Brian Williams are fans?

How American is that?

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Things to Buy: A German designed Johnny Cash shirt

Anyone looking to get me a late Oktoberfest/early Halloween gift would do well to order this shirt:

Johnny Cash shirt

Finally a Cash t-shirt that’s distinctly Cash. My love for Bear Family Records continues to grow.

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