Friday, December 30, 2011

My Favorite Albums of 2011

I guess I lose what little blogger cred that I have if I don't post an end-of-the-year "Best Of" list before 2012. I'm getting it in just under the wire. These are my favorite albums on this day, the 31st of December, in the year of our lord 2011, and it is subject to change whenever I feel like it. Seriously, it's been a great year for music, and it was really difficult for me to make this list. Feel free to heap praise on me or call me a pretentious overbearing wretch.

1. Hayes Carll - KMAG YOYO (and Other American Stories)
Such a solid country/alt country album. I saw Carll live twice this year which possibly (probably) biased this decision, but this was also the album I listen to the most in 2011. Country rockers, ballads, duets, trios, humor, slobber-into-your-beer heart-breakers, and even a Christmas song. This album has it all. See my review of his Boston show on April 23 for a song-by-song rundown. You were fallin' like the Alamo, drinkin' fast and talkin' slow, lookin' like it's time to go home.

Buy: KMAG YOYO (& other American stories)

2. Frank Turner - England Keep My Bones
Franky T. and his band put on my favorite show of 2011, which I never got around to reviewing (sorry). Asides from that killer show, this album was a huge leap in songwriting from a guy who was already pretty damn good at it. Lots of proud references to his homeland of England on this record, including a gorgeous a capella anthem, which he totally nailed at the Boston gig. Now who’d've thought, after all, something as simple as rock n’ roll would save us all?

I Am Disappeared.mp3
Buy: England Keep My Bones

3. Gillian Welch - The Harrow and the Harvest
Gillian Welch doesn't make a lot of records, but when she does they are stellar recordings. This album can be described as a neo-traditional country with elements of bluegrass and lots and lots of killer guitar playing from Welch and her co-writer/partner-in-crime Dave Rawlings. Check out this video from their appearance on Conan. That's the way that it ends, though there was a time when you and I were friends.

Scarlet Town.mp3
Buy: The Harrow & The Harvest

4. Deer Tick - Divine Providence
Loud, fun, drunken rock and roll. It's seems so easy, yet so many bands fuck it up. Then there's Deer Tick, the miscreants out of Providence, Rhode Island. I saw these juvenile delinquents at the Daytrotter Barnstormer tour in Maine, just before hurricane Irene, in a small, hot and sweaty hall. So fun, just like this album. We're full grown men, we act like kids. We'll face the music next time we roll in.

Let's All go to the Bar.mp3
Buy: Divine Providence

5. Chuck Ragan - Covering Ground
This is an album of folk music that only someone with the intensity of Chuck Ragan can deliver. The instrumentation is mostly acoustic guitar with backing fiddle and occasional harmonica. The loose theme throughout the record is Ragan's experience as a touring musician on the road. Some may say I'm a nomad by fate,
tempered from the road right after being forged in flames.
"Meet You in the Middle" is a standout track which features Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem on vocals.

Nothing Left to Prove.mp3
Buy: Covering Ground

6. Austin Lucas - A New Home In the Old World
Lucas does it again with a stellar country/alt country album with elements of bluegrass, rock, and even some hints of classic gospel music, with diverse instrumentation from fiddle to pedal-steel. The musicianship shines on this album, which is not a surprise when you learn that members of Lucero and Magnolia Electric Co. severed as the backing band during recording. The lyrics are just as good, with this former punk rocker finding his songwriting groove. More than mere highways rest between you and I, and that lonesome Nevada county line.

Run Around.mp3
Buy: A New Home In The Old World

7. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - Here We Rest
Here We Rest is a slight departure from his previous two solo albums in that it is more of a singer/songwriter type of album as opposed to the blues-based country rock that permeates his previous releases. For example, "Alabama Pines" is an homage or even a love song to his home state, which really shows Isbell's growth as a songwriter. Check out their Letterman appearance from November 4 with the song Codeine. If there's two things that I hate, it's having to cook and trying to date.

Go It Alone.mp3
Buy: Here We Rest

8. Robyn Ludwick - Out of These Blues
My colleague over at A Truer Sound introduced me to this album early in 2011, and I kept coming back to it. Robyn Ludwick's voice and music slightly resembles Lucinda Williams, only a little softer and sweeter with a Texas drawl. Ludwick sings about being down and out, broken hearted, and homesick. This album was produced by Gurf Morlix, one of the best in the business. Don't be hard on yourself, son, I knew you were leavin'. You always wanted to climb to the top of the world.

Fight Song.mp3
Buy: Out of These Blues

9. J. Mascis - Several Shades of Why
Raise your hand if you have ever had hearing damage after J. Mascis's band Dinosaur Jr. blasted you into next week at one of their live shows. (Aimz raises hand.) So you would think that a solo acoustic album by the god of the Jazzmaster may not be so good. You would be WRONG! It all comes down to songwriting, and Mascis excels at it. This record showcases Mascic's unique voice and stellar lyrics make this one of the sleeper albums of 2011. And I know in my mind, I know I should be grateful. But it's hard for me, I'm done so easily.

Is It Done.mp3
Buy: Several Shades of Why

10. Todd Snider - Todd Snider Live: The Storyteller
If you own zero Todd Snider albums you should get this one. If you own every Todd Snider album you should get this one. Here Snider captures his live show on a two disc set, where he plays most of his classics and tells stories behind some of the songs. It's almost a greatest hits style of album, only live and with intermittent story breaks. His live show in Boston in February played out like the record. Snider is the best in the business at this brand of hippie folk rock and storytelling. This record highlights Snider's wacky sense of humor, but even the serious, poignant songs will make you play the album again and again. That last song was such a touching little number about athleticism and hallucinogenic drugs. You don't really hear enough of that in folk music anymore. I'm just doing what I can.

KK Rider Story.mp3
Don't it Make You Wanna Dance.mp3
Buy: Todd Snider Live: The Storyteller

Friday, December 23, 2011

X-mas Mash-ups Yo!

I had a bunch of Christmas music posts planned, but here I am at my folk's place playing Ms. Computer Repairer, for both my parent's PC and my crappy netbook. Argh. It's not putting me in the holiday spirit, I tell you what. But anyhoo, who loves mash-ups? Me! Who really loves mash-ups with good (bad) Christmas tunes? MEEEEE!!!

The first three are a few of my favorites from the fantastic Santastic collection, which is a group of DJ's that have been putting out a disc worth of Christmas mash-ups and remixes since 2006. You can download all of the albums/tracks for free, and, if you are able, please make a donation to several charities that they support.

mojochronic - Yuletide Zeppelin.mp3 (various Led Zeppelin vs. various Christmas)
From (free download): Santastic III: In 3-D (2008)

mojochronic - Rudolph (You Don't Have To Put On The Red Light).mp3 (The Police vs. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer)
From (free download): Santastic V: Snow, Man! (2010)
Video: Rudolph (You Don't Have To Put On The Red Light)

Divide and Kreate - Santatage.mp3 (Beastie Boys vs. Otis Redding vs. Run DMC)
From (free download): Santastic Six: 100% Holiday Mash-ups and Remixes (2011)

I first found the below track from an article in the Toronto Star in 2007. It takes the worst Christmas song, and makes it into one of the best. Unfortunately, it's no longer posted on the website where I originally found it (

MP3J - Christmastime Firestarter.mp3 (Paul McCartney vs. The Prodigy)

Years ago when I was living in St. Louis I bought this comp by a bunch of local musicians put together as a charity project for a local food bank. While this isn't actually a mash-up, it's still one of the funniest things that I have ever heard.

Rocket Park - Rudolph the Redneck Reindeer.mp3 (Lynyrd Skynyrd vs. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer)
From: Better Than Fruitcake (2000, out of print)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Country Christmas Y'all

Christmas and country music go together like peas and carrots. It's that time of year where Santa corrals up his steeds, puts on his spurs, and delivers presents to all of the good little cowpokes who have never heard of, much less seen, snow. Don't mind that flask of shine that Santa has stashed in his leather vest. It's hard work delivering present all over the world! And if you are an extra good little rocker, Santa may bring you a new steel gee-tar for Christmas. Yeee-Haw!

Brenda Lee - I'm Gonna Lasso Santa Claus.mp3
From: Hillbilly Holiday (1990, out of print, song orig. 1956)

Hayes Carll - Grateful for Christmas.mp3
Buy: KMAG YO YO (2011)

Country Mike - Country Christmas.mp3
From: Country Mike's Greatest Hits (2000, out of print)

Asleep at the Wheel - Merry Texas Christmas Y'all.mp3
Buy: Merry Texas Christmas Y'all (1997)

Willie Nelson - Pretty Paper.mp3
Buy: Pretty Paper (1979)

Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison - Oklahoma Christmas.mp3
Buy: Happy Holidays (2006)

Loretta Lynn - Country Christmas.mp3
Buy: Christmas Collection: 20th Century Masters (2005)

Red Sovine - Santa is a Texas Cowboy.mp3
From: Christmas With Red Sovine (1978, out of print)

Oh man, I have tons of other Country Christmas music. Next year I'll make a comp, I promise.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Geriatric Rock

Twitter was abuzz today with a video of Jeff Tweedy, lead singer of Wilco, channeling his inner Al Roker by announcing the weather report for Chicago's WGN television on Thursday morning. First, who gets up that early to watch the morning weather report (especially if you are in the rock and roll business)? Second, who cares that much about the weather? The answer to both of these questions: my dad. 65-year-old father of two, grandfather of one, ice fisherman extraordinaire, not quite the Grumpy Old Men curmudgeon, but getting close.

Another piece of Jeff Tweedy/Wilco news filtered under the twitter radar last night/this morning. As my colleague Cowbelle first pointed out to me, Wilco's latest album The Whole Love was named to the American Association of Retired People's 2011 Top 10 Albums for Grownups, along with albums from Tony Bennett, Barbara Streisand, and Paul Simon. I've been saying since 2004's A Ghost is Born that Wilco is "Dad Rock," i.e. something that dads listen to in order to try to convince their kids that they are cool. Thanks to AARP for validating this theory! Now I know what to get my dad for Christmas.

AARP's 2011 Top 10 Albums for Grownups
• Paul Simon, So Beautiful or So What
• Adele, 21
• Jill Scott, The Light Of The Sun
• Tom Waits, Bad As Me
• Raphael Saadiq, Stone Rollin'
• Tony Bennett, Duets II
• Barbra Streisand, What Matters Most
• Alison Krauss and Union Station, Paper Airplane
• Wilco, The Whole Love
• Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile, The Goat Rodeo Sessions

Somewhere Jay Farrar and Jay Bennett are giggling.

Born Alone.mp3
Buy: The Whole Love

I know I bust on Wilco a lot, but let's face it: they are low hanging fruit. Catch their show sometime. They are a tremendous live act. No joke.

December Feel Bad For You

The monthly Feel Bad for You comp from various bloggers, tweeters, members of the forum, and other jokers. And this one is spiked with X-mas tunes. Yay!!!


1. The Duke Spirit - This Ship Was Built To Last
Neptune (2008)
Submitted By: Shooter
Comments: Why don't you go over there and blow me and come back over here and fuck you.

2. Leonard Cohen - The Stranger Song
Songs of Leonard Cohen (1968)
Submitted By: Adam Sheets

3. Yo Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer, Stuart Duncan - Quarter Chicken Dark
The Goat Rodeo Sessions (2011)
Submitted By: Phil Norman
Comments: You should need no comment after seeing the names of the four masters making this music.

4. Sidewinders - Solitary Man.mp3
From: Witchdoctor (1989, out of print)
Submitted By: BoogieStudio22
Comments: Who can resist a great Neil Diamond cover?

5. Mudlow - Zane Merite
Zane Merite (2006)
Submitted By: April @ Now This Sound Is Brave
Comments: I knew what Mudlow looked like (thanks to this photo set on Flickr) a few years before I knew what they sounded like (which seems fair enough since Mudlow takes their time between albums). And what they sound like is the noir soundtrack of my (rougher, dustier) dreams. This song will make a reappearance on their next, just-finished album, so think of it as an early preview.

6. Billy Joe Shaver - Presents From The Past.mp3
Buy: Victory (1989)
Submitted By: Truersound
Comments: It’s a Billy Joe xmas.

7. Peter Himmelman - Impermanent Things
Mission Of My Soul: The Best of Peter Himmelman (2005)
Submitted By: toomuchcountry
Comments: My knee-jerk reaction was to offer Ray LaMontagne’s "Beg, Steal or Borrow" as a Dirty Santa submission for this month's compilation. However, I'm a sucker for Christmas. I want to believe – I have to believe – that there is still a shred of relevance to it. Even if the time and events surrounding it have been bastardized by black days, cyber weeks, thoughtless gift cards, hair-graying stress over time at "your folks or mine this year?", apathetic efforts in helping the truly needy, gluttony, etc., there is still something magical about The Day. Being Jewish, Himmelman clearly didn't write this song about Christmas. Nonetheless, I think its a good kick-in-the-gut reminder where my priorities need to be - and where they shouldn't. Thus endeth the soapbox. Enjoy the track. And thanks to those who sampled, listened, downloaded, commented, and ignored my submissions this year – and to FBFY overall. See ya in 12.

8. Chris Difford - Up the Junction
Uncut Magazine Playlist (Sept 2006)
Submitted By: Simon
Comments: Had this track stuck in my head for a few days now, like this version with a little bit of steel.

9. Don Ryan - This Town.mp3
Buy (bandcamp): Tangle Town (2011)
Submitted By: popa2unes
Comments: Staying in my own backyard again this month, Don Ryan is from Hawthorne, NJ. The 18 song album is available on his bandcamp page, name your price. fantastic witty dark lyrics and multi influenced music mixed together by a mad scientist. "As defeat licks the jaws of victory, The rotten teeth of injury and insult gnaw at me, The local stigmatic handsome gentleman detonates, incinerates the town he’s living in”

10. Joe Pug - Speak Plainly Diana
Live at Lincoln Hall (2011)
Submitted By: Autopsy IV
Comments: A live album with no new songs on it a Top 10 of the year? Better fucking believe it.

11. Ronnie Lane & Steve Marriott - Ruby Jack
The Legendary Majik Mijits (1980)
Submitted By: Erschen

12. The High Score - Merry Christmas To You.mp3
Free Download: Christmas Split (2009)
Submitted By: annieTUFF
Comments: I know this wasn't technically a Christmas themed mix, but I’ve been listening to this song a bunch today…so you should too. AND it talks about New Years Eve too…soooo really it's fitting for the entire month of December (yay). This is actually one half a free split that Mic Harrison and The High Score put out for download on their website last year (it's still up, you can download both songs @ By the way, I kept going back and forth between this song, and the Dwarves "Drinkin’ Up Christmas" and the Vandals "My first X-mas As a Woman" so, go find those (slightly offensive) Christmas songs too.

13. Darby O’Gill and the Little People - Whiskey Christmas
Christmas Songs For Drunken Atheists (2007)
Submitted By: Rockstar Aimz
Comments: Christmas brings psychotic family, massive consumerism, loneliness, huge expectations, and getting stuck overnight in an airport somewhere during a goddamn snowstorm. But at least there's booze!

14. The Decemberists - Foregone
Long Live the King (2011)
Submitted By: Verbow
Comments: I never thought I would like anything by the Decemberists, but The King is Dead is my favorite album of 2011. The follow up EP Long Live the King is a pretty good addendum, with "Foregone" being the best of the bunch. Cannot believe this song didn’t make the album proper – listen to that pedal steel!

15. Riviera - Destiny
Watching Western Skies EP (2011)
Submitted By: Cowbelle
Comments: Riviera were an group in Chicago, now re-located and re-grouped in Portland, OR.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Cheer

This blog has seen better days. I'm trying to get back into the swing of things, but I could use a little help. Maybe some Holiday Cheer from Old St. Nick? In other words, BOOZE!

Better Off Dead - All I Got For Christmas Was Drunk.mp3
Buy (CD Baby): A King Family Christmas (2006)

Darby O'Gill and the Little People - Christmas Whiskey.mp3
Buy: Christmas Songs for Drunken Atheists (2007)

Robert Earl Keen - Merry Christmas From the Family.mp3
Buy: Live at the Ryman (2006)

Clyde Lasley and the Cadillac Baby Specials - Santa Came Home Drunk.mp3
From: Bummed Out Christmas! (1989, out of print)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Remembering Freddie Mercury

A few weeks ago at his gig in Cambridge, MA, Frank Turner lead everyone in a singalong to Queen's "Somebody to Love." (More on that later) Since then I have been on a huge Queen kick.

Today is American Thanksgiving, but it is also the 20th anniversary of the death of Queen's lead singer Freddie Mercury. Mercury was the greatest rock singer of all time, with a vocal range of four octaves, which is pretty amazing considering he had to formal vocal training. You can read the rest of his biography on line in various places, but for today I'll summarize by saying that I am thankful that Freddie Mercury was part of my musical life.

I remember when this video came out in 1981. It totally freaked me out. It's still pretty relevant 30 years later.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gigs you should see in Boston Oct 27-28

It seems like I'm always out of town when there are bands/artists touring through Boston who I really want to see. While I am away visiting family in Detroit Rock City, here are some gigs to check out.

Thursday, October 27
Gillian Welch at the Wilbur Theater

Update (from Due to Laryngitis, Gillian Welch is unable to perform tonight (October 27, 2011). The show has been postponed to Tuesday, December 13th at 8 PM. All original tickets will be honored night of show. If for some reason you cannot attend, refunds are available at point of purchase.

I did a search for tickets a few days ago and it seemed that the original show was sold out. The postponement may be a good thing for those of us who didn't get tickets the first time around.

Gillian Welch - The Way it Goes.mp3
Buy: The Harrow & The Harvest (2011)

Friday, October 28
Biltzen Trapper with Dawes at the Royale

Oh man I really want to go to this show. I saw Blitzen Trapper a few years ago in Toronto and they were great! If anyone wants to do a guest post on this gig please e-mail me at rockstaraimz at gmail dot com.

Blitzen Trapper - Might Find It Cheap.mp3
Buy: American Goldwing (2011)

Dawes - Coming Back to a Man.mp3
Buy: Nothing Is Wrong (2011)

Friday, October 28
The Civil Wars with Milo Greene at the Berklee Performance Center

This show appears to be sold out, but there are a shitload of tickets for sale on Craigs List and Stub Hub.

The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow.mp3
Buy: Barton Hollow (2011)

I don'n know very much about Milo Greene, but Jess from New Music Collaborative, a Boston-based music blog which is a lot better than mine, tweeted a link to their video for the song "1957" and it sounds pretty damn cool.

Embedding is disabled, so watch the video here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Our Lady Peace and the Occupy movement

A day before the Canadian music blog NXEW tweeted "The U.S. sites are full of live performances from well known acts, why aren't Canada's musicians turning up at #OccupyCanada?" this below message came through my inbox via Bob Lefsetz and his music musings newsletter. Our Lady Peace is one of my favorite Canadian rock bands, even from before I lived in Toronto. While they may not be performing in the Occupy movement, they are definitely getting involved. Check out their latest song/video entitled "Fight The Good Fight" and see lead singer Raine Maida's letter to Bob Lefsetz below.

From: raine maida
Subject: Our Lady Peace/OCCUPY movement

Hi Bob,

I'm the singer in the band Our Lady Peace. We were signed to Columbia for 10 years,1997-2007 had a cpl platinum records blah blah blah.

I've been reading some interesting stories regarding The OCCUPY movement lately. Some asking, "Where is this movement's Dylan or Joan Baez or Lennon?" Others telling bands/artists to fuck off and stay away from the movement. In a day and age when branding is such an ingrained part of our culture i find this a very compelling issue.

I've been involved in different social causes ever since the day i was handed an Amnesty Int. sticker at a Peter Gabriel concert back in the late 80's. Adbusters has always been my preferred reading material. (great counter culture mag from Vancouver & initiators of this movement). i've traveled to and filmed Docs in Iraq and Darfur and helped rebuild schools in D.R of Congo with an organization i trust called Warchild.

On Oct 15th the 4 members of OLP occupied in Detroit ,LA, Toronto and NY. We marched, spoke to protesters and shot footage over the course of last weekend and have now edited a video with that footage to a song we recently recorded called "Fight The Good Fight."

Interestingly enough we've received numerous hate emails, dislikes on facebook etc for supporting the movement. I fully understand the pitfalls for an artist involving themselves with certain issues. This one i'm baffled by though...isn't everybody concerned with the future? Are we not all worried about our jobs, education, healthcare, the fact that there is no transparency in Govt or big business these days? This movement has suffered from disinformation and shameful reporting by the mainstream media.

Much like the artists with the courage to voice their opinions in days past, this song/video is our way of supporting the movement and getting the message out. Nothing Machiavellian about this. We're speaking from our hearts. Hell, I brought my young kids to the Los Angeles rally. This song is for them!

Friday, October 21, 2011

October Feel Bad For You: Instrumentals

Your monthly comp from your favorite musical delinquents, only this time, with a theme! Most people submitted instrumentals, but some people can't follow directions (I'll leave you to figure that one out). It's a pretty interesting comp this month - everything from country to hip-hop to metal to stoner rock. And I forgot the link to the stream, so if you want to stream the entire comp, go here. Otherwise, download here.

1. Chelsea Crowell - For Stormy.mp3
Buy (mp3): Crystal City (2011)
Submitted By: Mando_lines
Comments: "For Stormy" is an instrumental track off of Chelsea Crowell’s record, Crystal City. The song originally had lyrics, but Ms. Crowell made the decision to jettison the lyrics and had her producer, Loney Hutchins, play lap steel in place of her vocal track. A Tennessee thunder storm (and tornado siren) are in the background, if you listen closely. Conveniently, the siren was in the same key as the song.

2. Lil’ Cap’n Travis - Twilight On Sometimes Island (SoulQuest 17)
Twilight On Sometimes Island (2007)
Submitted By: Erschen
Comment: Love me some Pedal Steel

3. Los Straitjackets - Fortune Cookie
The Further Adventures of Los Straitjackets (2009)
Submitted By: popa2unes
Comments: Everyone’s favorite Mexican wrestling mask-wearing, Chuck Taylor-clad, surf and garage instrumental rock band, we had these guys play at a traditional Hot Rod Show I was involved with a couple summers ago, they know how to have a good time and get everyone dancing.

4. The Royal Court of China - Townsend, TN
The Royal Court of China (1989)
Submitted by: toomuchcountry
Comments: The Royal Court of China was a Nashville-based, Elliston Place/Rock Block staple band in the late 1980s who later took a shot at the big time with a relo to LA. Bands such as The Questionnaires (featuring great songwriter Tom Littlefield), Government Cheese, Will & The Bushmen (fronted by Will Kimbrough), and RCC were among the second and larger wave of memorable bands that followed the original Nashville rockers, Jason & The Scorchers. The band got its name from a magazine interview with Jimmy Page and Paul Rodgers. In the interview, the two of them mentioned that they had rejected RCC as a name for their name and instead chose The Firm. RCC’s second album, Geared & Primed, was hard-edged and included their only hit – "Half The Truth" ( But their first and self-titled release included a wider range of guitar playing, a mandolin, some slide to give it a distinctly-Nashville touch, a few more harmonies, and this instrumental named for one of the most beautiful, tranquil parts of East Tennessee.

5. Paul Simon & Stéphane Grappelli - Hobo’s Blues
Paul Simon (1972)
Submitted By: Phil Norman
Comments: I’ve been on a Paul Simon binge lately, and I was already thinking of submitting a gypsy jazz track when I remembered this little ditty with the master himself, Stéphane Grappelli.

6. Japancakes – Only Shallow
Loveless (2007)
Submitted by: Corey Flegel
Comments: featuring pedal steel God John Neff of DBT before he was John Neff of DBT…always a badass.

7. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Drivin’ South
Radio One (1989)
Submitted By: BoogieStudio22
Comments: What else is there to say?

8. The Volebeats - Maggot Brain
Bloodshot Records: Making Singles, Drinking Doubles (2002)
Submitted By: Truersound
Comments: in the pantheon of great rock instrumentals, Funkadelic’s "Maggot Brain" is certainly near the top. This is a killer version with some absolutely necessary steel guitar.

9. Willy Vlautin & Paul Brainard - A New Life
Northline (Soundtrack To The Book) (2008)
Submitted By: Simon
Comments: Love Willie Vlautin’s writing for Richmond Fontaine and his books are equally fantastic – the book and soundtrack idea works wonderfully well.

10. Megadeth - Into the Lungs of Hell.mp3
Buy: So Far, So Good...So What! (1988, reissued 2004)
Submitted By: Gorrck
Comment: Having sent instrumentals the last 2 months, this actually was a challenge this month. Pulled up Glenn Miller’s “Goin’ Home” — way too mellow and sad. Fired up some Xavier Cugat and remembered I had a cover of Ray Charles doing “One Mint Julep”. Then I realized I submitted the Cugat in 2008. Dammit. So here’s some Megadeth. Enjoy!

11. Slithering Beast - Ghost Song
Werewolf Ballads (2006)
Submitted By: bootlegend
Comments: One of my favorites from a criminally underexposed band out of Louisville.

12. Norman Blake - Arkansas Traveler
Live at McCabes (1976)
Submitted By: Bowood
Comments: This could be why I play guitar, or it could be why I don’t.

13. Rodrigo y Gabriela - Stairway to Heaven
Rodrigo y Gabriela (2006)
Submitted By: Rockstar Aimz

14. Outkast - Bombs Over Baghdad
Stainonia (2000)
Submitted By: Autopsy IV
Comments: Bob your head. Rag top.

15. The Queers - Squid Omelet.mp3
Buy: Grow Up (1990)
Submitted By: annieTUFF
Comments: Ok, so when I think instrumental I automatically think surf music. And I LOVE surf music. Dick Dale and the Dale Tones, The Ventures, Frogmen, Sentinals, The Rumblers, Beach Boys (although honestly I don’t listen to them as much as the others I’ve mentioned). I could go on and on about surf music. BUT I wouldn’t have ever gotten started listening to surf music if it weren’t thru a weird backdoor way of getting exposed to it, thru punk. So, I decided to put up the song that got me started really listening to surf instead of one of the other surf bands I mentioned. The Queers are a great band that are pretty heavily influenced by surf music, and you can really hear it in their songs, I love them. Although I had heard surf before I didn’t really appreciate it until after getting into punk. Confused now? Me too. By the way, this song ends kind of abruptly, because it’s supposed to lead right into the next track…so this might not really be the greatest pick for a random mixtape….but I’m telling a story with this song, so, suck it.

16. Mark III Trio - Good Grease
Single (Unknown)
Submitted By: mikeorren
Comments: Off a great bootleg instrumental soul compilation that sadly seems to be unavailable on now. The comp disc was called “Bucket o’ Grease”

17. Sun Kil Moon - Si Paloma.mp3
Buy: Ghosts of the Great Highway (2003)
Submitted By: Trailer
Comments: I’m not a big fan of instrumentals, but that’s the theme…so here’s a submission from one of my favorite albums of all time.

18. Ray Charles - Moanin’
Genius + Soul = Jazz (1961)
Submitted By: Adam Sheets

19. Butch Cassidy Sound System - Cissy Strut
Butches Brew (2004)
Submitted By: noteethleroy

20. Earth - Peace in Mississippi (Jimi Hendrix cover)
Pentastar: In the Style of Demons (1996)
Submitted by: TheSecondSingle
Comment: Stoner rock at its best. This may not be most people’s cup o’ tea, but you have to admit: it’s pretty badass.

21. Booker T. & the M.G.s - Green Onions.mp3
Buy: Green Onions (1962, reissued 1991)
Submitted By: TheOtherBrit
Comments: Thanks to TheSecondSingle for the inspiration via Spotify!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Your Past Life As A Blast

A few weeks ago Okkervil River released a video for their song "Your Past Life as a Blast" from the 2011 album I Am Very Far. This song is one of my favorites on an otherwise mediocre record, and the video is cute as hell. Here's what Okkervill River lead singer/ songwriter Will Sheff has to say about it.
When I was writing the lyrics for I Am Very Far I kept fixating on the idea of being new, specifically memories of being very little and being conscious of the fact that I was a new person, that I hadn’t existed before. I kept thinking about the way the brain works when it’s not trying overly hard to put ideas or thoughts in order, either because it’s new or maybe because it’s dreaming or maybe because it’s been disarranged in some way.

The lyrics to “Your Past Life as a Blast” deal with a lot of different things and in a kind of disarranged way, but it felt to me like it was the sweetest moment on the record, a moment of nostalgia and tenderness and sunnyness. When I was writing the lyrics, certain images flashed in my head, and some of those images were specifically from my childhood, or of the way I remember earliest childhood feeling to me.

Like many kids of the late 70s and early 80s, my dad was often hovering around with a Super 8 camera, filming my mom and me and – as time passed – my younger brother and sister. I remember him projecting these movies on a bare wall and, eventually, the movies becoming as much a part of my memory as the original events he had filmed. I thought it would be cool to use actual footage of those memories in the video itself, to make a really personal kind of rock video.

For the “Your Past Life as a Blast” video, I worked with the editor Alan Del Río Ortíz to turn my dad’s home movies into a short condensed film of someone’s childhood, a little home-movie music video, about moms and dads and kids, and how it felt.

Your Past Life As A Blast from Okkervil River on Vimeo.

I saw Okkervil River at the Royale in Boston back in June. I have since moved to a new apartment and subsequently misplaced my notes from that show, but I will say that despite the fact that the I Am Very Far as an album didn't do a lot for me, OR is still one of the best live bands out there. What was interesting to me that night is that the band personal has completely changed over since I first saw them in 2007; only two of the six musicians I saw four years ago are still in the band. And from the original band founded in 2001, only Will Sheff remains. It's only natural for a band to rotate members, especially in the early years, but when this current OR lineup played the older songs, they sounded just a little bit different than the original band. This isn't necessarily good or bad, just different. Anyway, the entire show kicked ass, and I even liked the I Am Very Far songs. OR played everything I wanted to hear, and if I ever find my notes from that show, I'll post the official set list, but here are a few that I remember.

Wake and Be Fine
For Real
The Valley
A Girl in Port
John Allyn Smith Sails
Your Past Life as a Blast.mp3
Buy: I Am Very Far (2011)
A Stone (Will Sheff solo)
Lost Coastlines
Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe.mp3
Buy: Stage Names (2007)
Unless It's Kicks

And some others.....

Okkervil River is currently touring Australia. I highly recommend that you check them out.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Amanda Palmer covers Rebecca Black

But it's not exactly what you would expect. Yesterday Amanda Palmer entertained the folks protesting corporate and government shenanigans at Occupy Boston. In addition to playing one of her own songs, covering Neutral Milk Hotel, and performing the old English folk song "The World Turned Upside Down" popularized by Billy Bragg, she also rewrote the pop song "Friday" from the perspective of a truck stop hooker. Now, the premise of this cover sounds hysterical, but listen to the lyrics, especially in context of what the people at the Occupy events are protesting. Very poignant and well done.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

American Dream

"Its called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it." - George Carlin

Listen carefully to these lyrics:

Willie Nelson featuring Bob Dylan - Heartland.mp3
Buy: Across the Borderline (1993)

The Dead Exs - Shut Up and Love Me.mp3
Buy (mp3, name your price): Resurrection (2011)

Monday, October 3, 2011

September Feel Bad For You

Only a month or so late! From your favorite bloggers, twitterers, forum members at, and other slack-jawed yokels, September's mix tape! Check out the homepage at Feel Bad for You. Stream or download the comp below.

1. Blue Oyster Cult - Astronomy
Secret Treaties (1974)
Submitted by: Shooter Jennings
Comments: Part of one of the most expansive and confusing concept albums ever written which involves Aliens, Dark Mirrors and Lesbians (supposedly).

2. Nicki Bluhm - Stick With Me
Driftwood (2011)
Submitted by: noteethleroy
Comments: This one has gotten under my skin lately, to me it brings back memories of the classic duets I grew up on.

3. Jonny Corndawg - Red on the Head
Down On The Bikini Line (2011)
Submitted By: toomuchcountry
Comments: As the calendar turns to September, what comes to mind? State fairs. And with state fairs, what comes to mind? Corn dogs, right? Well, maybe. I first heard Jonny Corndawg in 2009 when he opened for the legendary Billy Joe Shaver at Nashville’s Exit-In. In the two years since, I’ve learned he is a leather worker, an avid runner, a gypsy-like touring machine, and an artist with a brand new release with some pretty witty – even bordering on juvenile – lyrics. Right in my wheelhouse.

4. Brontide - Matador
San Souci (2011)
Submitted By: Erschen
Comments: Interesting instrumental rock. Kind of all over the place.

5. Mic Harrison and the High Score - Keep On Letting Me Down
Great Commotion (2010)
Submitted By: annieTUFF
Comments: I might be a little partial to this band…. But, I truly love this song, it was my instant favorite from this album (Great Commotion), and I think it stands as one of my top songs from Mic and The High Score.

6. Johnny "Guitar" Watson - Space Guitar.mp3
From: Single (1954)
Submitted By: Bowood
Comments: This record influenced everyone from Dick Dale to Jimi Hendrix. Watson later made records that influenced 70′s funk and 80′s rap. Great performer and singer. Quite a character too.

7. Lauderdale - Stars Fell
Moving On (2011)
Submitted By: Corey Flegel
Comments: My favorite song I’ve heard this year…Yeah, I’m biased and I don’t care. Go get it here if you want:

8. Emmylou Harris - Orphan Girl
Wrecking Ball (1995)
Submitted By: Phil Norman
Comments: A Gillian Welch tune, sung by Emmylou, produced by Daniel Lanois. One of my all-time favorite albums.

9. David "Honeyboy" Edwards - Roamin' and Ramblin' Blues
Alan Lomax Field Recording, 1942, taken from Delta Bluesman (1992), Earwig/Indigo Records
Submitted By: Brad Kelley
Comments: This one was easy. Honeyboy Edwards died August 29, 2011, at the age of 96. He traveled and performed with Robert Johnson during the 1930s. He moved to Chicago and performed nearly 100 shows a year until 2008, but continued to play concerts until earlier this year. This guy is the real thing, and his death is the end of an era. He knew and played with everyone in that first generation of Delta Blues. (This might look like two mp3s, but the first is just a brief introduction by the folklorist Alan Lomax.)

10. The Whiskey Gentry - Eula Mae
Please Make Welcome (2011)
Submitted By: Bryan Childs
Comments: Band out of Atlanta I really dig.

11. The Hangdogs - The World Is Yours.mp3
Buy (mp3): Beware Of Dog (2000)
Submitted By: Truersound
Comments: Been in a conspiratorial anti-gov mood lately, and this song follows that trail nicely.

12. Coma Cinema - Blue Suicide
Blue Suicide (2011)
Submitted By: Lord Summerisle
Comments: Just discovered this band in August only to find that they are calling it quits at the end of this year. All of their stuff is available for free download at

13. Frank Bang and the Secret Stash - Burning up the Wind
Wonder Woman (2011)
Submitted By: popa2unes
Comments: Chicago based, unsigned Kick Arse Rock n Blues band – Frank "Bang" Blinkal – Vocals/Guitar Bob Spelbring – Drums/Vocals Josh Hyland – Bass/ vocals – Tony MacQuaid – Guitar/Vocals and by the way, ifin ya like em 3 downloads available on their Reverbnation or Facebook page.

14. Lou Reed - September Song
Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill (1994)
Submitted By: mikeorren
Comments: It’s September. Kurt Weill was German. Lou Reed is back, doing an album about a German character, with Metallica. So, all logic screams that this is the only song to submit this month.

15. Trombone Shorty - Hurricane Season.mp3
Buy: Backatown (2010)
Submitted By: Gorrck
Comments: Gorrck’s Axiom: Carrying a trombone simultaneously increases *AND* decreases your risk of being detained by law enforcement authorities.

16. Prison Book Club - Six Pack
Prison Book Club (2011)
Submitted By: TheOtherBrit
Comments: I love this album and this band.

17. Stephen W. Terrell - Solar Broken Home
Picnic Time for Potatoheads (2003)
Submitted by: Adam Sheets

18. Nirvana - Verse Chorus Verse (aka In His Hands)
With the Lights Out (2004)
Submitted By: Verbow
Comments: This month marks 20 years since the release of Nevermind. In 1991, I was an 11 year old with horrible taste in music (MC Hammer anyone?). One day I stopped on MTV while the video for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was on, and I was hooked from there on out. More than anything, Nirvana was a gateway to a whole new world of music that I continue to explore to this day. Is Nevermind my favorite album of all time? No, but its one that I still enjoy and still takes me back to that time like no other. Since everyone knows most of those songs by heart, I thought this outtake from the Nevermind sessions would be a good selection. Enjoy.

19. Dolorean - Benito’s Dust.mp3
From: 7″ Split with Holy Sons (2004)(out of print)
Submitted By: Slowcoustic
Comments: Just your standard hard luck song to rip your guts out.

20. The Cute Lepers - Noisy Song
Adventure Time (2011)
Submitted By: Simon
Comments: Retro pop-punk from Seattle.

21. The [REDACTED] - Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey
The [REDACTED] (1968)
Submitted By: Mario Garcia
Comments: I’ve been obsessed with this song over the last few days so it seemed like a good one to submit. It’s one of the best songs ever and a top 5 for me from The [REDACTED]. Great riff, great energy, great lyrics.

22. The Afghan Whigs - Gentleman.mp3
Buy: Gentlemen (1993)
Submitted By: Now This Sound Is Brave
Comments: The Afghan Whigs formed in 1986, disbanded in 2001 and remain my favorite band. Gentlemen is a practically perfect album. "Gentleman" is a practically perfect song. Rough, depraved, menacing… perfect.

23. Little Lisa Dixie - Bonnie and Clyde
Little Lisa Dixie (2011)
Submitted By: BoogieStudio22
Comments: An artist I stumbled onto quite some time ago. Just learned she put out an album in March 2011. Nice debut.

24. Star Anna - Alone In This Together
Alone In This Together (2011)
Submitted By: Cowbelle
Comments: A six-minute song is a little obnoxious but worth every second.

25. Glen Campbell - Ghost on the Canvas.mp3
Buy: Ghost On The Canvas (2011)
Submitted By: Rockstar Aimz
Comments: How bad-ass is it that Campbell selects a song written by Paul Westerberg.