Thursday, March 29, 2007

Vastergotland Spotlight: Dungen

There’s just something inherently musical about Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Italian. Romance languages, they’re called. The same shouldn’t and couldn't be said of Swedish (or, for that matter, English), and I think that’s why Dungen is just so damned appealing. If you like these tracks off of Dungen’s Ta Det Lugnt (Take It Easy), watch out for Tio Bitar coming up in May.

Dungen – Festival
Dungen – Du E För Fin För Mig

Buy Ta Det Lugt here.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Today is a different kind of summer than last week. Today's summer is the kind where every time you move, you sweat, so you end up sitting still for hours at a time. It's the kind where your brain melts and putting together sentences becomes next to impossible. It's the kind where your friends are somehow having fun outside playing frisbee and are about to go see Peyton Manning speak, but if you leave your fan for a second you think you'll die, or worse. It's the kind of day way too miserable for lyrics, so here's some good (mostly) instrumental music.

Soko – In November Sunlight
Taj Mahal – Ain’t Gwine To Whistle Dixie (Any Mo’) (Live)
Don Ross – Michael, Michael, Michael
Hem – Eveningland
Béla Fleck and the Flecktones – Big Country
Nick Drake – Sunday
William Galison & Madeleine Peyroux – Jealous Guy
Rebirth Brass Band – Cassanova
Spiritualized – Cool Waves
Sigur Rós – Untitled 4
Dave Matthews Band – One Sweet World Intro


Saturday, March 24, 2007


I just want to call attention to the fact that has updated their look to include a new logo.

Neil Young -- America the Beautiful


Philadelphia Spotlight: Dr. Dog

I was a little late catching the Dr. Dog train. Formed in 1999 as a temporary departure from the Philadelphia based indie-rock group Raccoon, Dr. Dog began as drummer Scott McMicken (now guitarist/vocals) and guitarist Toby Leaman (now bass/vocals) and their lo-fi, 35 track album The Psychedelic Swamp. They started to blast off when they were chosen to tour with My Morning Jacket and, later, when Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times praised their terrific 2004 release, Easy Beat. Since then they’ve released three full albums and one EP.

On a promotional tour last month to hype the release of their most recent album, We All Belong, Dr. Dog watched the Canals watch them in concert in the back of AKA Music. I think we were two of six people there not wearing flannel. We felt a little out of place, yet there was something magical about the whole event. Amidst the clamor and jingle-jangle of the riffs and beats, I spotted a long-lost amigo from my Arlington, Massachusetts days, now attending school at LaSalle. The whole crowd exploded with the reunion; all except one be-flannelled female fan, who complained, “Um… you’re kinda taking my space.” She just couldn’t appreciate the moment. Despite their tendency to attract disgruntled little women and alienate their non-flannel-wearing fan base, Dr. Dog pops your eardrum with a repertoire of colorful throwback rock & roll.

Dr. Dog – Alaska (My original favorite track on We All Belong)
Dr. Dog – California
Dr. Dog – Wake Up
Dr. Dog – Die Die Die (Might be surpassing Alaska now)


Buy We All Belong here.

Friday, March 23, 2007

God Help Me

Campus Crusade for Christ is currently in 3rd place among the top corporate networks on Facebook in the overall NCAA tournament bracket standings. I was surprised at first, but it makes perfect sense. Every player and coach publicly thanks God immediately after winning a big game. Clearly, He has something to do with the outcome. And clearly, if any corporation is going to get its hands on the scoop before the official results are in, it's the CC for C. It’s probably a perk to compensate them for all the late nights they’ve spent crusading. It’s the least He could do.

Anyway, I figured that it couldn’t hurt to get in touch with the big guy up there, if only to help me through the rest of the tournament. I went 4/4 tonight and all 4 of my other elite eight picks are playing tomorrow, but I still need all the help I can get. Here’s my playlist for the rest of the tourney, or at least as long as C3 keeps it up.

Wilco – Jesus, etc.
Everlast – Black Jesus

Beck – Lord Only Knows
Guster – All the Way Up to Heaven
Vusi Mahlasehla – Heaven in my Heart
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals – Nothing But The Water (II)
Dave Matthews Band – Christmas Song
Mike Doughty – Thank You, Lord, For Sending Me the F Train


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

music in ads (part 2)

Benjy has gone on record saying that if he could go back in time and do one thing, he would be in the ensemble for this ad. I'm not sure what the official title of the song is, but I'm gonna go with "Big Beefy McD," which is in my opinion the most poignant lyric.

Jason Alexander Big Beefy McD


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I can talk to God too

As Stephen, the crazy Irishman from Braveheart, taught us, the Scottish and the Irish can get along just fine. Having a bit of Scot in me, I feel that it won’t be overly insulting to have a four day late St. Patrick’s Day post.

Anyhoo… we all found this song to be an integral part of the festivities this year:

Dropkick Murphys – The Auld Triangle


Monday, March 19, 2007

Shoot me now, I can die happy

The most recent movie featured in a long string of pre-release screenings here at school, Shooter, with Mark Wahlburg, is not only a fantastic political action thriller, but also a personal musical pleasure. As the opening credits passed over a burning Ethiopian village, my heart skipped a beat as the words “Levon” and “Helm” appeared on screen. I had heard of Levon’s acting career (including The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada), but had never actually seen him act. I completely flipped a wig when I saw his craggy old mug on screen. He was hilarious: a zonked out oracle, singing mystical artillery wisdom in his iconic gravel-tongued voice… and reading palms. Nothing gets better.

Listen up and pay respects:

The Band – Caves of Jericho
The Band – Key to the Highway

- Benjy

My Favorite Artists (part 1 of 5): Braddigan

Yesterday morning I woke up to the following Facebook message:

From: Bonnie Eisner
To: Danny
Subject: Braddigan in Philly
Message: (click on april 19) (click on Tours and April 19)

There were a few remarkable things about the message. First of all, I was notified of it by email. It always annoyed me that Facebook didn’t send out emails about private messages, and I was happy to see the apparently new feature in action. Second of all, I have no idea who Bonnie Eisner is. The only information on her profile is that she is “UPenn Staff” and that her birthday is February 17, 1953. Third and most importantly, it let me know that Braddigan is coming back to Philly to headline a benefit concert in April. I’d place this information at around #7 on the “best things to wake up to” list, right behind having breakfast in bed served by Hayden Panettiere, and a few spots ahead of being serenaded by Yanik. Needless to say, I immediately bought tickets.

Braddigan is the solo effort of former Dispatch lead singer Brad Corrigan. You can definitely hear some Dispatch influence in his music, but it has a much more laid-back, acoustic vibe. His songs are impressively diverse, especially considering he’s only released one studio album. In his live stuff the bongos are some of the best I’ve heard, and are a constant reminder of what Panama and the Canals could have been.

“Whirlwind” is a Dispatch cover and the other four tracks are his, posted in the order that they were my favorite songs.

Braddigan – Whirlwind
Braddigan – Sailin’
Braddigan – City on a Hill
Braddigan – Pura Vida
Braddigan – Fare Thee Well (live)

Buy his album here. Almost everything Braddigan sells and does is for a good cause.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ide like to hear some music

It’s the Ides… officially. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. On account of the fact that March is the official month of betrayal, here are a couple songs to commemorate the occasion. (They're both live tracks for no particular reason... don't look too far into it.)

Townes Van Zandt – Pancho & Lefty

Clem Snide – Jews for Jesus Blues (Look out for some more Clem Snide coming up for a Spring Fling post)


Wednesday, March 14, 2007


It’s official: today is the first day of summer. I know it might seem like I’m jumping the gun a little, but I have to call it like I see it. Today for the first time since September I wasn’t the only person in Dunkin’ Donuts ordering an iced coffee, bikinis reappeared in the Quad courtyards, and I’ve been miserable in my dorm without air conditioning.

The arrival of summer means that summer music is close behind. Summer music is great because guilty pleasures lose their guilt. It’s like it evaporates in the heat and just leaves the pleasure behind. Music like this makes me miss my car.

Smashmouth – All Star

Jurassic 5 – Concrete Schoolyard

Mungo Jerry – In The Summertime

Slightly Stoopid – Mellow Mood

Fatboy Slim – That Old Pair of Jeans

G. Love and the Special Sauce – Don’t Drop It

Wilco – Jesus, etc.

Secondhand Jive – Lemonade (acoustic)

Dave Matthews Band – Best of What’s Around


So Seu Me

Over spring break I watched City of God in two sittings. I guess it was just too good to watch all the way through without taking a break. Well, anyway, in my off time I tried to figure out why the character “Knockout Ned” looked so familiar. Then it hit me. He was played by the Brazilian singer-songwriter, Seu Jorge, also featured in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Check him out:

Seu Jorge – Team Zissou

And for a sample of what I hear is really popular in Rio today, check out this baile funk track that I heard in the Vice Guide to Travel.

Bonde do Role – Marina Gasolina

Buy Jorge’s new album, Cru, here, and Bonde Do Role’s EP here.


Ollabelle and then some

As noted by D-Roc below, we saw Hem perform at the World Café Live in October, and it just so happens that another terrific band, Ollabelle, opened for them with a mind-blowing set. They’re best described as of a folksy, gospel-infused, “multitalented, democratic collective” of pure rock.

Ollabelle – Reach for Love

Ollabelle – Fall Back

P.S. Amy Helm, one of the lead singers for Ollabelle, is none other than the daughter of the bourbon-voiced percussion legend Levon Helm, of The Band.

Ollabelle covered this in concert:

Bob Dylan & The Band – Ain’t No More Cane

P.P.S. Here’s another terrific cover of the same song:

John Hiatt and the North Mississippi Allstars – Ain’t No More Cane

Plus- another, unrelated cover:

Little Feat – On Your Way Down (Originally Allen Toussaint)

Buy Ollabelle’s newest release, “Riverside Battle Songs,” here.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Music in ads

I’m a die-hard Tivo loyalist. I’ve been spoiled by commercial-free television and can’t imagine primetime without a fast-forward button. Still, as much as I hate to admit it, commercials have some redeeming qualities. They can be mildly funny, present a new useful product, and sometimes feature some pretty good music. Once in a while I see an ad that ends up introducing me to a new favorite artist. I can think of two off the top of my head, and they’re posted below. I’m going to be watching a lot of ads these next few weeks during March Madness, so I’m hoping this will be a recurring feature that shows up again soon.

Liberty Mutual (Hem – Half Acre)

I saw this ad in September and six months later Hem is my 3rd most listened to artist. We got to see them play at World Café in October and it was one of the best concerts I’ve been too. Here’s one song from each of their first three albums.

Hem – Half Acre
Hem – The Pills Stopped Working
Hem – Pacific Street

Buy Hem albums here

Volkswagen (Nick Drake – Pink Moon)

I actually heard Nick Drake for the first time on the Garden State soundtrack, but this ad was responsible for a huge jump in CD sales. Drake died in 1974 of an apparent suicide and his music went basically unnoticed during his lifetime. All of Drake’s albums are worth listening to, and chances are that he was an inspiration to most of your favorite artists.

Nick Drake – Pink Moon
Nick Drake – Fruit Tree
Nick Drake – Way to Blue
Nick Drake – Northern Sky

Buy Nick Drake albums here

Nike (Untitled)

This is just an amazing commercial with a cool song. I also included a fan edit with the original moves that inspired the ad.

Nike – MJ 2nd Generation


Monday, March 12, 2007

American Spirit: The Canals Begins

Greetings future friends,

I recently read in the Southwest Airlines magazine, "Spirit", that the angle between any tree's branch and its trunk is equal to the angle that delineates the veins of that tree's leaf. Such precision had yet to be matched in nature until the immaculate conception of a trio of tenacious young students from across the Americas: Panama and the Canals. United by a common groove and eager to quench the universal desire for a little more soul, Danny, Benjy, and Panama made a deal with danger and formed a titanium bond that would rival that of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Yet it would not -- no, could not -- last.

The three parted ways in the winter of 2006. Panama, demoralized and furious, broke Benjy's two best thumbs and ran off to the third floor, never to be seen again. Danny went on to become a successful entertainment attorney, defending such celebrities as Chow Yun-Fat and Denise Richards. Finding Benjy penniless and crippled, Danny nursed him back to health on a diet of boiled carrots and warm milk. Forever indebted to his former band-mate, Benjy swore to turn his life around.

He started by hunting down the man who ruined his life, Panama Lee. Armed with a blowtorch, a broom handle, and a gallon of icy hot, he began to make his way south of the border. Before he could exact his revenge, however, Benjy was arrested and charged on two separate counts of indecent exposure and libel in Gallop, New Mexico. After posting his bail, Danny helped his college dropout friend get an internship at the Washington D. C. studio of "America's Most Wanted," the program of one of his clients. From there, Benjy began working long-distance with Danny on their new musical venture, sans Panama. It was America's music blog; it was The Canals.

Listen up y’all- two tracks for where we are… and where we’re going.

Kool Keith- Livin’ Astro

Taj Mahal- Farther On Down The Road


An introduction to The Canals

Earlier this year, Benjy and I formed a band with our friend Panama. We called ourselves “Panama and the Canals.” The trio was unique -- comprised only of a banjo, a guitar, and a set of bongos. Our future looked bright. We were young, driven, and had a witty name. The only thing we lacked was talent. It turned out that bongos were more complicated than they looked, and that Benjy only knew one riff on the banjo. The band broke up after a week, but we remain good friends to this day. This blog is a result of that experience. While “The Canals” failed at creating music, we hope to make up for it here.

That’s my take on the history and decline of Panama and the Canals and the birth of this blog. However, there are two sides to every story. To read Benjy’s account, see above.

First, though, take a minute and listen to these Wood Brothers tracks. Like The Canals, the Wood Brothers continued to pursue music after branching off from a trio (Medeski, Martin, and Wood). We sympathize with them and respect their courage and perseverance. Two interesting facts about the Wood Brothers: First, somehow their debut album (“Ways Not to Lose”) is my 6th most played even though I have no recollection of ever listening to it straight through and only recognize two of the tracks by name. Second, we could have seen them perform at World Café Live earlier this year from front row seats, but we were busy playing our first intramural basketball game (final score-- Ware 3rd Floor: 42, Fisher Delicious Corn: 20, our first of two losses by mercy rule).

The Wood Brothers – Luckiest Man

The Wood Brothers – Atlas

Buy the album here