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Archive for the ‘Neil Young’ Category

[ATTENDED: January 27, 2020] Illiterate Light

S. and I saw Illiterate Light open for The Head and the Heart back in October.  We were really impressed by them–their power (especially for just two people), their intensity, and their overall sense of fun.  In fact, because of annoying crowd people around me, I enjoyed Illiterate Light more than TH&TH.

I knew that they would be really great to see when they were the headline act, so when they announced a show at Johnny Brenda’s, I quickly got us both a ticket.

The band is a duo with Jeff Gorman on guitar and bass pedals (and what a huge difference those bass pedals make) and Jake Cochran on drums (and dancing).  The dancing is important because unlike most drummers, Cochran plays his drum kit standing up.  This allows him a lot of mobility–he wanders the stage, hangs out with Gorman and hits cymbals from all angles.

We couldn’t help but notice that there were several camera dudes all around the stage.  They told us that they’d be filming this show for some kind of upcoming something or other.  I’m looking forward to seeing it (we’re bound to be in it).  Although there was SO MUCH FOG (which is why my pictures are so hazy) that I have to wonder how good their video will be.

The guys came out and set up their gear (I was amused at how much more stuff Cochran had–I guess since his floor tom is removable?).  Although when Gorman brought in his foot pedals (a cool Moog device) he raised it over his head to much applause. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PEARL JAM-“Santa Cruz” (1993).

On December 2, Pearl Jam announced that their fan club holiday singles will be released to streaming services.  Their first holiday single was released back in 1991.  It was “Let Me Sleep (Christmas Time).” They are rolling out the songs one at a time under the banner 12 Days of Pearl Jam.

These releases are coming out as a daily surprise.

Pearl Jam released a song called “Santa God” the other day. This song also has Santa in the title, but it is not about Santa Claus.  It is indeed about Santa Cruz.

This song appeared on the b side of the band’s terrific take on the John Doe song “Golden State” (co-sung with Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney).

This song also has a folkie feel–acoustic guitars and multi-tracked vocals from Eddie.  It even opens with a harmonica!

It’s a delightful road song abut travelling to Santa Cruz:

Heading South a compass reads
Look at our speed, we’re going sixty-three
Look out the window as the trees go green
I look at them and they look at me
Got Neil Young on the stereo
He comes along whenever i go

It’s a really pretty song and deserves to get more airplay.  Frankly if Santa Cruz hasn’t used it their official anthem, the town leaders are fools.

[READ: December 9, 2019] “The Snow Man”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fourth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

The Short Story Advent Calendar is back! And to celebrate its fifth anniversary, we’ve decided to make the festivities even more festive, with five different coloured editions to help you ring in the holiday season.

No matter which colour you choose, the insides are the same: it’s another collection of expertly curated, individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America and beyond.

(This is a collection of literary, non-religious short stories for adults. For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.)

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

I’m pairing music this year with some Christmas songs that I have come across this year.

This story, written over a hundred years ago, felt rather timeless.  Aside from a few word choices and spelling, this story could have been written this year.

It’s also amusing that it is a Christmas story but is actually about a thief doing a job on Christmas Eve.

He starts the remembrance saying that he has both good and bad reasons for remembering Christmas of 189-.  He’d had his eye on Wharton manor “as a crib worth the cracking” (being ahead of MTV Cribs by over 100 years).  This particular job ended his thieving career and set him on the path to good.

The narrator assures us he was never the mere midnight marauder who is supposed to “lurk under the bed until the family is asleep.”  He fancied himself better than that.  He never carried a weapon and trusted fortune to be his guide:

if i were dolt enough to walk into a trap or let another man’s wits outwit mine…I ought to yield him the palm like a gentleman.

The manor was well protected–a large wall and a winding drive kept it hidden from sight.  The wall was there more as a protection from the precipitous drop on the other side of it than to keep people out.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DANKO JONES-Garage Rock! A Collection of Lost Songs From 1996-1998 (2014).

Danko Jones has released nine albums an a bunch of EPs.  Back in 2014 he released this collection of songs that he wrote and recorded before his first proper single (1998).

This is a collection of raw songs, but the essential elements of Danko are in place. Mostly fast guitars, simple, catchy riffs and Danko’s gruff voice, filled with braggadocio.  With a cover by Peter Bagge!

He describes it:

Back in the 90’s,the Garage Rock scene, as I knew it, was a warts-and-all approach that favoured low-fi recordings and rudimentary playing over any modicum of musical prowess in order to glean some Rock N’ Roll essence. However, once a band got better at their instruments, songwriting and stage performance, the inevitable crossroads would eventually appear. Deliberately continuing to play against their growing skill would only evolve into a pose. There were a lot of bands who did exactly this in order to sustain scenester favour. We did the opposite.

What you hold in your hands is a document of what we were and where we came from. We didn’t know how to write songs and could barely play but we wanted to be near to the music we loved so badly. We ate, slept and drank this music. We still do. That’s why we have never had to reunite because we’ve never broken up. After 18 years, we’ve stayed the course, got tough when the going did and, above all else, we have never stopped. This album is the proof.

The first two songs are the best quality, with the rest slowly deteriorating with more tape hiss.

1. “Who Got It?” a big fat bass sound with lots of mentioning of Danko Jones in the lyrics. [2 minutes]
2. “Make You Mine” is 90 seconds long.  With big loud chords and rumbling bass Danko says “one day I’m going to write a book and let everybody know how to do it.  Seems to me there a lot of people around who want to see if I can prove it.  I been a rock prodigy since the age of 20 and my proof… my proof is right now.”
3. “I’m Your Man” is a bit longer.  The quality isn’t as good but the raw bass sound is great.
4. “She’s Got A Bomb” is good early Danko strutting music.
5. “Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue.”  He would name an album this many years later.  This song is fast and raw and only 90 seconds long.
6. “Dirty Mind Too” This is a fast stomping one-two-three song that rocks for less than a minute.
7. I’m Drinking Alcohol? This is funny because later he says he doesn’t drink.  I don’t know what the words are but the music is great–rumbling bass and feedbacky guitars with lots of screaming.
8. “Love Travel Demo” and 9. “Bounce Demo” are decent demo recordings.  “Bounce” has what might be his first guitar solo.
10. Sexual Interlude” “ladies it’s time to take a chance on a real man.  I’m sick and tired of seeing you women selling yourselves short, going out with a lesser man.
11. “I Stand Accused” Unexpectedly he stands accused of “loving you to much.  If that’s a crime, then I’m guilty.”
12. “Best Good Looking Girl In Town” a fast chugging riff, “oh mama you sure look fine.”
13. “Payback” This one sounds really rough but it totally rocks.
14. “Lowdown” Danko gives the lowdown: “You want a bit of romance?  I got you an bouquet of Flowers and a box of chocolates.  Why you crying for?  That ain’t enough?  Me and the fellas wrote this song just for you.”
15. “One Night Stand” garage swinging sound: Danko is a one woman man and you’re just his type.
16. “Instrumental” is great.
17. “Move On” is a long, slow long bluesy track about love.

It’s not a great introduction to Danko, but if you like him, you won;t be disappointed by this early baby-Danko period.

[READ: August 10, 2019] I’ve Got Something to Say

In the introduction (after the foreword by Duff McKagan), Jones introduces himself not as a writer but as a hack.  He also acknowledges that having something to say doesn’t mean much.  He has too many opinions on music and needed to get them out or his insides would explode.  He acknowledges that obsessing over the minutiae of bands is a waste of time, “but goddammit, it’s a ton of fun.”

So this collection collects some of Danko’s writing over the last dozen or so years. He’s written for many publications, some regularly.  Most of these pieces are a couple of pages.  And pretty much all of them will have you laughing (if you enjoy opinionated music writers).

“Vibing for Thin Lizzy” [Rock Hard magazine, March 2015]
Danko says he was lured into rock music by the theatrics of KISS, Crue and WASP.  But then he really got into the music while his friends seemed to move on.  Thin Lizzy bridged the gap by providing substance without losing its sheen or bite.  And Phil Lynott was a mixed race bassist and singer who didn’t look like the quintessential rock star.  What more could Danko ask for? (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 8, 2019] Illiterate Light

I had heard of Illiterate Light from NPR, but didn’t really know them.  They played at Newport Folk Festival but were early on Saturday and we arrived after them.

Traffic getting to this show was terrible and I was annoyed that we’d miss Illiterate Light (or part of their set anyhow).  S. said she didn’t mind missing the opening act as long as we made it for The Head and the Heart.

We walked in just as Illiterate Light took the stage and we got seated around the middle of the first song.  And I couldn’t get over how loud they were (particularly opening for a not-especially-loud band like The Head and the Heart).  They had big rocking guitar and crashing drums.

Then I looked up and realized that there were only two of them on stage. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 27, 2019] Darlingside

This is now the fourth time we’ve seen Darlingside and our second time seeing them at SOPAC.  SOPAC is a great intimate seated venue with excellent sound (and a very strong air conditioner apparently, holy cow was it cold in there).

The last time we saw them there, there was an opening band.  But this time there was no opener.  Rather, Darlingside would play two forty-five minute sets with an intermission between.

We also brought S.’s mom as a treat, believing that she would love their harmonies.  And she sure did.  I think we know what to get her for Christmas.

Our seats were great–second row, although I joked with S. that we were too far to the left (instead of dead center).

So this was their second time in the same venue.  Some things were the same.  I don’t remember exactly, but I feel like at the last show they were lit by these same very cool old-fashioned bulbs (which you can see in a picture below) as well as the stage lights.  I enjoyed that they were somewhat connected to the music–growing brighter as things got more intense. (more…)

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oct30SOUNDTRACK: NEIL YOUNG-Arc (1991).

arcArc came with Neil Young’s outstanding live album Weld (and then later on its own).  It contains one 35 minute track called “Arc (A Compilation Composition).”

This album was recorded during Neil Young’s tour with Sonic Youth opening (MAN, I wish I had seen that tour).

Because it was 1991 and you couldn’t really look up this kind of information, I just assumed that Neil and Crazy Horse had created some kind of 35 minute jam (even though it doesn’t really sound like all one song, but how closely does one listen to Arc?).

Of course, listening to it now, it is pretty obvious that it’s pieces of shows strung together.  (the subtitle also gives it away, although I don’t think that the subtitle was on the actual disc).

Wikipedia talks about an interview that Neil Young gave in which he says he recorded a film in 1987 called Muddy Track

 which consisted of the beginnings and endings of various songs from his 1987 European tour. Young placed a video camera on his amplifier during the 1987 tour and recorded the beginnings and endings of various songs, and later edited them down into the film’s soundtrack. “It was the sound of the entire band being sucked into this little limiter, being compressed and fuckin’ distorted to hell,”

And in what makes 100% sense, on this 1991 tour,

Young then showed the video to Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, who suggested that he record an entire album in a similar manner. However, Arc was not recorded through video camera microphones, as was the case with Muddy Track, but instead was compiled from various professional multi-track recordings made throughout the tour.

So what you get is 35 minutes of noise (not so much feedback, as guitar rumblings that a band might do as a song slowly grinds to a rumbling halt).

You can hear snippets of vocals.  In particular, you can hear him singing “Like a Hurricane” and “Love and Only Love” in what definitely sounds like the end of a take–as the band’s instruments ring out.

There’s occasional moments where the rumble is interrupted by a burst of drums from Ralph Molina or you can clearly hear some of Frank “Poncho” Sampedro’s guitar and univox stringman.

There’s a little bit of audience response.  At the opening of the disc but especially at the 25 minute mark as a song feedbacks out and the crowd cheers before the band puts out  rocking drum-filled cacophonous ending.

At 28 minutes the “song” actually sort of turns into an actual song with Billy Talbot playing a simple four note bass line.  But that doesn’t last too long before another ending is tacked on.

The last few minutes has someone singing “No more pain” and then shouting a story that is somewhat inaudible although I think I hear “mom” and “post office.”

This is certainly not something to listen to much.  But I found it an interesting sonic experience today.  if nothing else, it made me really wish I had seen that 1991 show.

[READ: August 30, 2019] “Beyond the Pale”

I really like Nick Hornby’s music (and book) reviews.  He and I don’t share the same taste, but we have a lot of moments that overlap (he’s more traditional while I’m more experimental).

In many ways it is no surprise that he hated Radiohead’s Kid A, but the amount of savagery he does to it is quite astonishing.

He essentially compares it to Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music and Neil Young’s Arc.  Not in content, but in the giant middle finger he feels it is to fans of the band.  Although he does admit that Kid A is “nowhere near as teeth-grindingly tedious” as Metal Machine Music.

He feels that the album stems from the idea that fans are interested in “every twist and turn of the band’s career no matter how trivial or pretentious.”  Although a valid question is what has earned Radiohead its huge audience.  I have not figured that one out myself. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 18, 2018] Car Seat Headrest

Car Seat Headrest had one of the most annoying crowds I’ve ever been a part of.  The show was sold out and I got there later than I meant to.  So I was more in the middle of the crowd than up front.  Usually this is a pretty tame spot, but this crowd was rowdy, with a lot of individuals pogoing pretty hard (enough to get me pretty angry at one particular guy–which rather spoiled my mood for a couple of songs).

In fact a few things were irritating me this night which made it kind of hard for me to get into Car Seat Headrest.  The crowd was one but also was the fact that they took forever to get on stage after Naked Giants left (I realize now that Naked Giants were in the live Car Seat Headrest band, and they probably could use a breather, but it was a long wait between bands).

Car Seat Headrest was just Will Toledo for many years.  From 2010-2015 he released 12 albums (!) on bandcamp.  He has gotten a band [Will Toledo (vocals, guitar, piano), Ethan Ives (guitar, bass, backing vocals), Seth Dalby (bass), and Andrew Katz (drums, percussion)], then he/they signed to Matador, re-recorded a bunch of old songs for a compilation, made a new album and then re-recorded one of his older albums.

I was really surprised by how rocking and crazy the band were live.  I love when a band is bigger than their album makes them seem, so this boded well. (more…)

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