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Archive for the ‘Ben Kweller’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: GUSTER-Keep It Together Live from The Beacon Theatre (2014).

In 2014, Guster released three CDs of them playing their early CDs live in their entirety (excluding for some reason their second disc Goldfly).  This is their fourth CD ‘Keep It Together’ recorded live in concert at The Beacon Theatre on November 30, 2013, ten years after its release.

As the disc opens, Ryan shouts, “Keep It Together starts now.”  This makes me think that they played other songs before it?  It would be great to hear an album in its entirety but not if that’s all they played.

After the first song, “Diane,” Ryan jokes,  “I guess there no real surprises in the setlist from here on out.”

Midway through the show, he comments that as an active band making new music, you want to be careful not to trade in nostalgia.  But he also knows that if one of his favorite bands played one of his favorite albums…it would be magical.

The band sounds great.  And, fortunately, it’s one of those shows where the live recording sounds at times even better than the original.

The only real divergence from the album is that after “Homecoming “King” they play “Chariots of Fire” on piano and strings.  I’m not sure why, but it’s fun.

One of the great moments of any Guster concert is when they play “Come Downstairs and Say Hello” and the Thundergod plays the bongos and smashes the cymbals with his hands.  It’s more fun to see it, but it’s great in this case to hear it.

“Red Oyster Cult” sounds great with the horns as an addition and Ben Kweller comes out and sings lead on the first verse of “I Hope Tomorrow is Like Today” (I had no idea he co-wrote it!).  They even leave a slight pause for the “hidden track” of “Two at a Time.”

This is a great version of this album, and well worth the listen.

[READ: June 2, 2018] “Fungus”

This is a story about carrying on after the unthinkable. But not just carrying on, carrying on with the mundane things that you can’t live without but remind you of exactly what happened.

The story opens with an insurance check and talk of geckos.  But the tone is not lighthearted like Geico commercials.  Andrew has access to Ingrid and Ron’s car, but really, he can only borrow it for so long.  It is time to buy a new one.

So Andrew and his daughter Willa go to the Subaru dealer.

These two scenes are simple enough, but they are fraught with meaning–with the undertone of what happened and how Andrew is allowed and allowing himself to deal with it.   There’s darkly funny thoughts (he’d like a homemade sign around his next that says “I don’t know”).  But the reality is that he has to go on for Willa’s sake, if not his own.

And then there’s this idea which is perfect for the story but works wonders in everyday life: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: Future Soundtrack for America (2004).

This CD came with the McSweeney’s Future Dictionary for America.  It was released on Barsuk Records (home of Death Cab for Cutie and other great bands) and it was compiled by Spike Jonze and one of the Johns from They Might Be Giants.

This is a solid compilation of indie rock tracks.  At the time of the release most of the songs were rare or hard to find (since then I’ve seen a number of these tracks elsewhere).

TMBG obviously include a piece (a rendition of the old political song “Tippicanoe and Tyler Too”).  Other featured artists include: OK Go, David Byrne, Jimmy Eat World (covering Guided by Voices), Mike Doughty (with a song called Move On, that I have to wonder if it was written for this compilation as proceeds went to MoveOn.org), Ben Kweller (great song title: “Jerry Falwell Destroyed the Earth”), Blink 182 (with the only song I know by them, “I Miss You” that reminds me When in Rome’s The Promise“), the much missed Sleater-Kinney, a remix by R.E.M., a great track from Nada Surf, a live piano version of “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” from The Flaming Lips, a staggering song by Laura Cantrell (who I only know from her work with TMBG, this song is a cover of a John Prine song), Tom Waits’ amazingly powerful and very emotional “Day After Tomorrow,” and a rocking piece from Elliott Smith.

Proceeds for the disc went to MoveOn.org in an attempt to raise money to defeat Bush in the 2004 election. We know how that turned out.  But, as that is not relevant anymore, if you like your indie music good, this is a wholly worthy collection.

[READ: December 17, 2009] Maintenance Volume 1

Now this is a comic that I can get into.  And I’m already delighted to see that there are two more volumes out.

The premise of the comic is that the two guys on the cover, Doug and Manny, work as maintenance men for TerroMax, Inc., the world’s biggest and best evil science think tank!  Their work is sometimes scary, often disgusting and always interesting.

There are three stories in this volume.  In the first one, the guys encounter a ManShark.  In the second, they are sent back in time to the cavemen era (where they learn that a scientist has already visited them) and in the third, a minor character from the first story comes back to play a large role in an alien invasion. (more…)

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