Say Cheese

Just Right...

Chuck Klosterman hates the idea of bands being overrated and underrated. So he decided to identify the ten artists that are rated just right. It's a fun article. Check it out. I think he's pretty much on the money with this one.

Posted by Mr. Eff on 12/16/2004 || link

This Day in Music History

On this day in 1967, there was a plane crash in Wisconsin that killed Otis Redding, his road manager, and four members of the Bar-Kays. Redding's death came not long after he penned and recorded "Dock of the Bay," which signaled a new and obviously exciting new direction for him musically. He, like so many other musicians, was taken just when he was hitting his prime as a musician.

I've often wondered if any singer had as much soul as Otis did. I'm not really an authority on the subject, but it's hard for me not to be overcome with feeling when I hear songs like "I've Got Dreams to Remember," "These Arms of Mine," or "Come to Me." It's hard for me not to move when I hear "Shake," or "Hard to Handle." His voice was powerful, distinctive, and conveyed a level of feeling we have not seen since his death.

I won't deny that he had many talented contemporaries, from Al Green to Wilson Pickett, and I'd recommend them to anyone. But on this day, you all need to give some of Otis's music a spin. His songs will remind you of how painful it can be trying to find someone to love. They'll also help you remember why it's worth it.

I'll try to make my next post a little less cheesy...but Otis's music tends to make me all mushy. Have a good weekend, peeps!

Posted by Mr. Eff on 12/10/2004 || link

Music (What else?)

Well, here are some quick thoughts about various bits of music news.

1) Dimebag Darrell, guitarist, formerly with Pantera, was shot and killed last night. There is the possibility that Vinnie Paul, former drummer for Pantera, was also shot. Details are still being withheld by the police.

During high school, I was into a lot of metal (and had a closet full of black t-shirts). Pantera, especially, were great to listen to before soccer games. They gave me some good memories and made some well crafted metal. This is really awful news.

2) I finally got my hands on Elliott Smith's, From a Basement on the Hill, and I must say, he created an outstanding record before he died. The disc contains a bit more diverse songwriting than on past discs, and really has a number of exceptional hooks. I personally can't stop listening to "King's Crossing." He was such a sad man, but he was able to channel that sadness into some powerfully good songs. I would recommend this cd to anyone...but especially if you're a sad bastard looking for outstanding sad bastard music.

3) I figured out the answer to this question. The misery definitely comes first.

4) Hopefully, following the holidays, good bands will start to flow through the District again. The Fall flood has given way to the Winter wasteland. I will, however, get to see Me First and the Gimme Gimmes in January. If you are in DC on the 7th, it's imperative that you get out to see them play.

5) I'm trying, desperately hard, not to buy a record player. But a part of me has the overwhelming urge to get a really expensive set of a headphones, a turntable and some old vinyl records. I'm sliding, slowly, steadily, towards becoming a real life, Rob. You know, I wouldn't mind opening my own record store...

Posted by Mr. Eff on 12/09/2004 || link

This Monkey's Gone to Heaven

Well, I did what I said I'd do. I saw The Pixies play. I was in the same building with that foursome, one of the most important rock bands of the past 20 years, and they sounded fantastic. Sure, Black Francis/Frank Black/Charles Thompson has a lot less hair than he did in '88. Actually, most of them have a lot less hair. And Frank is a bit more rotund then he was then as well. But, the fact that they don't really look like important indie rockers anymore didn't stop them from laying the rock down, hard and heavy.

They covered every song you'd expect in the close to two hour set, starting with "Wave of Mutilation" and ending the night with "Where Is My Mind." Despite the efforts of many a hipster to remain stoic and unflinching in the face of these classic songs, most of the diverse, sold out crowd soaked it up with notable and authentic enthusiasm. The ovations were loud, and from the looks of it, the band genuinely appreciated the appreciation.

Was it the best show I've ever seen? Probably not. It would have been amazing to see them between '89 and '91, back when they were young and still hungry for success. Their energy level back then would probably have dwarfed last night's effort. But I can't go back in time, and ultimately, they still rock quite hard. Joey Santiago, especially, wrenched an ungodly sound from his guitars. It was powerful, and really drove songs like "Crackity Jones" steamrolling over everyone. It reminded me why Les Pauls and Marshalls work so well as a guitar/amp combination. That's the good stuff right there, folks.

One last note about the crowd. My buddy, Doug, excitedly noted that we passed Eric Axelson, former bassist of The Dismemberment Plan and current bassist of Maritime, on the sidewalk after the show. Besides recognizing the cute, woman that works the door at the Black Cat, that was the one notable crowd member of the evening.

All in all, I bet you've already guessed that it was good times, my friends. Definitely good times.

Posted by Mr. Eff on 12/09/2004 || link

What I'm Listening To This Week

Right now, I'm listening to Amon Tobin, a drum and bass virtuoso who's major distinction comes from the layers of old jazz samples he uses to liven up old drum and base standards. He's been around for years, and I'm sure anyone who listens to any drum and bass has digested his stuff and moved on to the next big thing by now.

But for me, this is exciting, new, and intoxicating. Most techno based music seems too digital to me, too clean even, leaving it empty sounding. But this music has life. It has a soul. It has feeling. It also has ungodly bass (like all good drum and bass).

His music has all of the normal drum and bass staples: thumping bass, spastic synth, and layers, upon layers, of percussion. What ultimately makes his music so appealing to me is the warmth of the old, analog jazz sounds amidst the sanitized digital layers. They hook me in, and hours after I take off my headphones, I can still hear that instrumental hook.

Nowhere is this more evident than on "Nightlife," off Permutation. Find it, give it a listen, and see what you think. Another good choice would be "Switch," which swings along with piano, wails with lonely horns, bops with stand up bass, and is punctuated with some snappy brush work on a snare. They're all standard jazz bits that are mashed together, churned, washed, rinsed, and spit back out into a driving jazz-infused piece of pounding drum and bass.

Eh, I've babbled enough. Give him a shot. He brings the good shiznit. And as usual, I run out of things to say. I can't describe what you need to hear...I really just need to put headphones on your head and make you listen. Alas, I don't have the bandwidth for that...someday maybe.

Posted by Mr. Eff on 11/24/2004 || link

Life Not Like Porn Movies: Film at 11

Norwegian teenagers are despairing because they can't perform like porn stars in the bedroom. They're finding out that hour long erections and rapid-fire multiple orgasms aren't all that common. They wonder if there is something wrong with them if they don't like anal sex (This post should generate some new traffic from the search engines). And people around the world say American kids are stupid. Well, maybe that's a little harsh, but I remember learning not to believe everything I saw on TV at a rather young age.

Sorry for the lack of updates, folks. My life has been filled with a little more drama than I've felt like sharing. I've also been running around more than is healthy. I'll have more music recommendations later this week. Until then, stay frosty.

Posted by Mr. Eff on 11/10/2004 || link

Speechless

I'm speechless. I'm in shock. I never really thought this would happen. I only wish I could have been sitting with my family the night the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series. I'm not complaining...just sayin' is all.

I'm going to giggle and babble incoherently for a bit. When I say "for a bit," I mean for about 10 years.

Posted by Mr. Eff on 10/28/2004 || link

Listen to This: John Lee Hooker

I'm going to try to commit to recommending one band or artist every Friday. In some cases, I may write a lot and in others, like today, I'll keep it quick. I'll also try to make sure that every recommendation I give is a quality one. I can't think of a better place to start than with John Lee Hooker.

Most people might remember Hooker from the movie, The Blues Brothers, where he plays "Boom Boom" on the streets of Chicago. He looks like an old bluesman. I've seen pictures of him from when he was younger. I think he's always looked like an old bluesman. His music is one of the definitive sounds of the blues between the 50's and 70's.

Right now, I'm playing a 1970 recording of "Burning Hell" over and over again. It's completely, and utterly, badass. Just a steady bass beat; a muted, chugging guitar; an intense electric harp; and Hooker's deep, blues soaked voice. I'm pretty sure the devil was sitting in the recording booth when it was recorded.

Find songs like "Boogie Chillen," "Boom Boom," "Huckle Up Baby," and especially "Burning Hell" to get an idea of what makes Hooker's blues so good. If you get hooked, go buy some of his cds. A good place to start would be "The Very Best of John Lee Hooker," which has a really great selection of his best material. It's good stuff, my friends. Most definitely.

Posted by Mr. Eff on 10/15/2004 || link

Birthday

Well, another birthday has come and gone. This birthday, I must say, was one of the calmest, nicest, least melancholy birthdays I've had in a long, long time.

One of these days, I'm going to write something of substance on this site (like maybe a cd or concert review), but for right now, all ten of you will only get highlights, which included:

1) Five concerts in six days. Kings of Leon, Do Make Say Think, The Killers, Explosions in the Sky and The Black Keys. Every show was less than twenty dollars and every show was outstanding. Explosions in the Sky was damn-near a religious experience.

2) My mom and dad both made substantial contributions to my musical obsession. My mom decimated my Amazon wishlist while my dad helped me upgrade to a better acoustic guitar. I wish I had realized how important music was going to be to me when I was younger. I know they would have supported me then too. Better late than never, I suppose.

3) Received lots of love from my friends. Gifts of candy, books, lunch, fondue, Elixer acoustic guitar strings, and a pancake making kit complete with dinosaur pancake molds (Note, when pancake dinosaurs battle, your tummy is the winner!) were all quite appreciated.

4) I realized that I would really, really, really like to own my own music club someday. Or I'd really, really, really, really like to find some way to get paid to listen to music. I really would. No, really...I would.

Good times, my friends.

Posted by Mr. Eff on 10/14/2004 || link

Molly Was Flogged

I've lost my urge to write anything poetic or cohesive. So, I'm just going to write some important points about last night's Flogging Molly concert at the 9:30 Club.

1) Flogging Molly is a FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC live band. Take one, three-piece punk band, add on a four-piece Irish Folk band, and you have Flogging Molly. It is an absolutely winning combination, my friends.

2) The punk shows in DC are better than any other shows in the area. The crowds are always wild and they always stick around until the very end. The FM show was no exception. The 9:30 Club felt like a sauna by the end of the show.

3) I had never seen a band that employed a mandolin, violin and accordian inspire a wicked mosh pit. Flogging Molly did. It was an awesome sight to behold.

4) A message to all the young punks in DC: Don't be that guy. Don't be the guy that wears the shirt of the band he's there to see. Just don't do it. Please. Have some respect for yourself.

5) If you know nothing of Floggin Molly, go watch this video (MOV). It perfectly captures exactly what makes them so fun.

Last night was a warmup. This weekend will be the real gauntlet for me. I'll be seeing the Kings of Leon on Friday, Do Make Say Think on Saturday, The Killers on Sunday, and then Explosions in the Sky on my birthday. Good times, good times, I say.

Expect me to be deaf by November.

Posted by Mr. Eff on 09/28/2004 || link

I Wonder...

Is naked roller coaster riding (NSFW) very enjoyable? The same could be asked of naked skydivers as well. Would you get windburn on your tender bits?

Also, I wonder if a nudist colony ever rented out an amusement park? Is there enough disinfectant in the world to ever make a park like that clean again?

These are the things I wonder about when the email server at work is down.

Posted by Mr. Eff on 09/09/2004 || link

RIP Peanut

One of the cutest and friendliest dogs I've ever had the pleasure of meeting died last week after a long battle with bone cancer. Many people think of Pomeranians as annoying, little, yippee dogs, but Peanut wasn't anything like that. He was just a happy, little guy.

I'm sending any good karma I've accrued to Jay and Betsy, who took care of Peanut and gave him good times (and cheese) before he passed away.

Posted by Mr. Eff on 09/08/2004 || link

A Plague of Locusts

Well, one of my favorite vacation spots has been overrun by locusts. West African countries are quickly trying to combat the swarms, but the damage is likely to be extensive and devastating to the crops of the region.

According to Reuters, the groundskeepers in Dakar made sure to protect the turf at the soccer stadium with pesticide though, just in case you were worried.

For those of us who lived through the cicada swarms in DC this Spring, we should count ourselves lucky. These locusts are frickin' huge!

Posted by Mr. Eff on 09/03/2004 || link

Good Times...

I've been looking over the concert schedules for the next few months, and I'm stunned at how many good shows are coming through DC and Baltimore. Here's a short list.

Sept. 23 -- The Walkmen, with Metric
Sept. 25 -- The Weakerthans
Sept. 26 -- The Decemberists
Sept. 27 -- Flogging Molly
Oct. 1 -- Kings of Leon
Oct. 2 -- Do Make Say Think
Oct. 3 -- The Killers, with Ambulance Ltd.
Oct. 4 -- Explosions in the Sky
Oct. 5 -- The 5.6.7.8's
Oct. 6 -- The Black Keys
Oct. 10 -- Rilo Kiley
Oct. 15 -- Mission of Burma
Oct. 27 -- The Dresden Dolls
Nov. 9 -- Interpol

It's pretty much decided that I will go to half of those shows, but I don't know if my hearing (or bank account) will hold up for all of them.

Anyone want to join me?

Posted by Mr. Eff on 09/02/2004 || link

If I Only Learned One Thing...

If I've only learned one thing over my years of watching "Alien" movies, it's this: Don't touch the goo!

Just don't. For some reason though, every character, whether they are an alien predator, a marine, or just some regular shmoe, sees some shiny goo-like substance on the wall or the floor and immediately sticks their hand in it.

Who would do something like that? Would you? Would you just stick your hand in some unknown, sticky looking substance? No, you'd poke it with a stick first, for crying out loud.

My outrage is shared by this sensible woman.

So remember, don't touch the goo!

Posted by Mr. Eff on 08/18/2004 || link

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For the moment...

Book: Deep Blues, by Robert Palmer

CD: Brothers, by The Black Keys

Song: "Oh My God," by Ida Maria

Link: Shut Up & Sit Down

Ramble: Just An Idea