Monday, April 30, 2007

I love Vice

I saw this on the "DOs and DON'Ts" section of and needed to share:

"You know a band’s set is going long when you look down at your watch and realize you’ve become old."



X Marks the Knitting Circle

Good bands may master one style of music. Great bands, on the other hand, have so much ADD flowing out of every orifice in their heads, even those small spaces in the corner of their eyes, that sticking to just one style is painfully impossible. The Beatles did this with a handful of their albums, and often mixed up the styles within some albums. I never get enough of flip-floppers like those guys. My favorite Bob Dylan album is Nashville Skyline, a stark departure from his traditional fare. My boy Beck regularly hops from folk, to rock, to electronica, to hip-hop and back again. The invention of quality music has no stylistic borders, no structure or audience to consider, only the pure intention of a delicious end.

Until recently, I had never heard of the L.A. punk band called X, but I probably should have. Formed in 1977 by songwriter and bassist John Doe, his future wife Exene Cervenka, rockabilly guitarist Billy Zoom, and drummer D.J. Bonebrake (the name I would’ve been given if I had been a girl), this apparently “legendary” rock group was known for crossing musical boundaries. In 1985, the group (minus Zoom) with Dave Alvin and Johnny Ray Bartel, recorded the country-roots album Poor Little Critter on the Road under the moniker The Knitters. The album introduced a fresh mixture of punk rock and country to which the current alt-country scene owes a sincere debt of gratitude. After a twenty year hiatus, the brief flicker that was The Knitters came back in 2005 with The Modern Sounds of…The Knitters. Tonight they’ll be at World Café Live singing songs from Modern Sounds and hopefully selling a few CDs. Swing on by if you get a chance.

X – We’re Having Much More Fun
X – The New World
The Knitters – Walkin’ Cane
The Knitters – Rock Island Line (goofy cover of a classic Leadbelly song)
The Knitters – I’ll Go Down Swinging (off The Modern Sounds of… The Knitters)


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Guest Post #3: Alyssa Mendoza

Here’s some musical insight from the queen of McKean on her birthday.

Since Jacob’s post on The Canals was so popular and in his picture he was wearing my coat, clearly I should be soon to follow. It’s not gonna be good at all, but hey it’s my birthday so they let me become the canals first lady.

I’m a big fan of Maryland. GBURG rep! So I want to spend some time loving what I love. I mean it’s a good state, we got beaches, mountains, big cities, farmlands, annoyingly rich people, DC but we don’t have to live there, I mean we have it all. Three bands that I can think right now have come from Maryland; Good Charlotte, OAR, and Ballyhoo! Since Good Charlotte and OAR have become oh so corporate, let’s focus on Ballyhoo! Ok I really like Maryland and the band a lot. But not that much, they actually have an exclamation point in their name, and their album, Do it for the Money!

I was first introduced to the lovely sounds of Ballyhoo! by my buddy Sam. They are Maryland-grown just like me and so naturally Sam knew Ballyhoo!’s lead singer’s brother’s teacher’s boyfriend’s pledgebrother’s niece’s camp counselor, loosely. Clearly Sam was really excited about this special connection and told us to come see them perform in the sketchy part of our town. At the time I was only 17 and since it was at a bar type place I thought I would have to use my older sisters ID to get in (The second time ever- the first was to get into chucky cheese- more on that later). Sam assured me that it wasn’t 18 and over. So I went to see this crazy exclamation-pointed Ballyhoo! concert and hoped they wouldn’t mind that I wasn’t 18 quite yet. When we got there the extremely scary and extremely tattooed bouncer asked for IDs. I said fuck and went behind my friends; the jerks kept going in without me so me and bouncer could hang out during the concert. They proudly flashed their IDs and got promptly yelled at for trying to get into a 21 and over bar. This is why I like Ballyhoo! – they made my jerk friends feel stupid. And they are really really good. Listen. Do it.

And a little shout out to my boy Benjy with my Maryland boys OAR talking about Benjy’s Columbus, Ohio home.

Ballyhoo! – Cerveza
Ballyhoo! – Cali Girl
OAR – Road Outside Columbus

-Alyssa Mendoza

Friday, April 27, 2007

Guest Post #2: Steve Carmody, friend of the Doctors

Recently, my old friend Steve sold merchandise at a Dr. Dog show at the Mid East in Boston. I asked him to write a post, and instead he wrote a novel. So here’s a sample of the night:

I walk up to introduce myself, and Toby Leaman (the bassist) is first to extend the welcoming notion. Soon after, Scott McMicken (guitar/vocals) and Frank are meeting me too, with Juston Stens (drums/vocals) and Zach Miller (keyboard/vocals) close behind to say hello. We’re sitting around, and Scott says to me, “I’m thinking of setting up the merch’ table real soon, but I’m gonna smoke a cigarette first. Do you smoke?” I’m not a huge smoker, but of course I accept and we go out to the alleyway behind the building to smoke a butt. We get to talking, about their time on Conan recently (to which Scott and I both share in the excitement of that moment at the end of “Worst Trip” when Conan comes over and says, “That’s how its done!”), about their new publicist in NYC who got them the gig, about staying in strange, welcoming college housing from city to city, about how I got into the band recently much thanks to Benjy Brooke, about Benjy seeing Scott biking by one day (he’s pretty sure that it was him), and I just feel so welcomed to be around these kindly, laid-back guys.

* * * *

Dr. Dog finally takes the stage (now around 11:30), and the crowd goes wild. All the lights go off on the stage, and a rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, in wonderful a capella harmony, belts out as the now-drunken, excited crowd sings along. Then My Old Ways comes on, and everyone goes absolutely wild for these guys.

* * * *

With the concert over, the crowd swarms to buy more merch, or take some of the free stickers and buttons and posters. I got Scott and Toby (the only band members that I could find) to sign a poster for Benjy. If you get a chance, sometime look for the drunken scrawl of Toby trying to write “Thanks”, or Scott’s goofy “double-vision” rendition of “BENJI”.

Dr. Dog – Wake Up
Dr. Dog – ABCs
Dr. Dog – The Way the Lazy Do

-Steve Carmody

Friends of The Canals, Part IV: Audible Detonation

A disclaimer: All written below is based on hearsay and rumor.

My friend Ian, a guy noted for marching in a dress during high school band practice, wanted to join his friend Matt’s band. He didn’t play an instrument, so he showed up uninvited to the band practice with a tambourine. The band, Audible Detonation, was Matt’s brainchild and Ian was just secondary percussion. But soon they became “that band with the tambourine guy.” With Ian playing the role as the hype-machine, like the dancing man in The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Flavor Flav before him, the group began to take off. Then, with a cacophony of sound that must have been something like when you shake sheet metal, the egos started to clash. Although the band couldn’t handle a front man with a tambourine, before they collapsed they produced some high-energy, real heavy rock and roll tunes.

Audible Detonation – Leaving Here
Audible Detonation – Burger Cop
Audible Detonation – Back Up Baby

Don’t forget to check out Audible Detonation’s Myspace page.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Guest Post #1: Jacob "Cobb Salad" Schutz

If you haven’t noticed yet, we here at The Canals have been spending some time in the past week appreciating friends new and old. To compliment the “Friends of The Canals” series currently underway, a few of our amigos will be making some guest posts to fill up time and space. And this shall be known as the first annual Friends Fortnight! Give a big round of applause for our poet laureate, Jacob Schutz. Welcome back Cobb!

If you’re anything like me, you’re a misaligned youth who gets through daily existential crises thanks to the angry, quasi-angsty music from decades of misfits. You’re also University of Pennsylvania’s most eligible bachelor, but that’s a story for another day. The problem with summer is that sitting in a bedroom—angrily pondering the success of reality TV and railing against the man—becomes a lot less appealing. You just want to go outside, see the world a bit. So you can mock it again when winter comes. Throughout the years I have come up with some songs that fit summer cruising nicely, but still have that sweet soothing feeling that is a balm for the socially awkward. Let me take you through a typical day of summer:

Yellow Sun by The Raconteurs- You wake up on a sunny summer day thinking of the girl you fancy. Will you work up the courage to talk to her? “And if the sun should follow us into your room/Then the courage will be robbed from me to tell you the truth.” Doesn’t look good.

12:51 by The Strokes- So just call her. I recommend a line like, “We could go and get 40s/Fuck goin' to that party/Oh really, your folks are away now?/Alright, let's go, you convinced me.”

I Bet You Look Good on The Dance Floor by the Arctic Monkeys- At the party, dance. I can’t really dance, but I sure as hell can jerk arhythmically. And that’s what girls like. As the music dies down you’ll realize, “Oh there ain't no love/No Montagues or Capulets/We're just banging tunes and DJ sets and/Dirty dance floors and dreams of naughtiness.”

Bike by Pink Floyd- This realization leaves you feeling awkward, and you cease functioning in front of said girl. In a desperate attempt to save the evening, you confess your feelings. Unfortunately, you’re tripping on acid at this point and mess up your metaphors. You make vague sexual references like “I’ve got a bike/You can ride it if you like.”

My Best Friend’s Girl by The Cars- Girl doesn’t respond well. You become withdrawn, distant, unable to stop yourself from seeming sullen. That’s when your friend slides in on you and steals the girl.

The Denial Twist by The White Stripes (removed by request)- I normally deal with situations like these with a heaping plate of denial. Jack White tells me “Take a tip and do yourself a little service/Take a mountain turn it into a mole/Just by playing a different role.” This helps, as does valium.

So anyways, that’s a day in the life of Cobb Salad. If you liked that last song, check out the Stripes’ new single, “Icky Thump.” I’m obsessed with The White Stripes. A lot. And as I know Jack White is a big fan of The Canals, I just want to say: 1) Sorry for being awkward when we met last and 2) Please come to Colorado between May and September.

The White Stripes – Icky Thump (removed by request)

-Jacob Schutz, poet laureate

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Friends Of The Canals, Part III: Tim Urban

Tim Urban is both less and more than a friend of The Canals – less than a friend in the sense that I haven’t seen him in nine years, and more than a friend in that I have a slight man-crush on him.

Tim was my bunk’s CIT in the summer of ’98, and his blog, Underneath the Turban, is absolutely hilarious and inspired me to start The Canals. He was recently a contestant on The Apprentice, and would’ve won if his team hadn’t stabbed him in the back and if Trump wasn’t such a hypocritical, romance-hating thug. As one of his fans so eloquently put it on his website’s guestbook, “i cant believe that you didnt win. that really sux. i thought you were thebest by far!!! well t2yl Terri.”

As much as it must have hurt, hearing “Tim, you're fiahed” was probably a blessing in disguise. Since filming the show, Tim has recorded his original music with Grammy Award winning producer Glen Ballard and recently released his debut album, Turning Home. Benjy and I are pretty sure that the music was featured on The Apprentice, and if it wasn’t it should’ve been. It’s inspirational, movie/TV score type music, and is grandiose enough even for the Donald. Although cheesy at times, it’s an impressive release from a true Canals role model.

Tim Urban – American Fanfare
Tim Urban – Mr. G

Buy the CD here.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Friends of The Canals, Part II: Spare Change

Growing up musically inept is tough enough as it is. Compound that with the fact that nearly all of my childhood friends were some kinds of virtuosos, and all that leaves me to be is one half-cracked nut. For folks in my position there’s only one rule: get tough or get out of the kitchen. I like to be near the pudding, so naturally, I picked the former.

Despite the deep resentment I have for people better than me, at The Canals we like to give people, especially friends, the chance to show their skills. For part two of the “Friends of the Canals” series (following Danny’s Carmen Borgia post), meet my young buds of Spare Change.

Based out of my hometown of Arlington, MA, Spare Change is a goofball rock group comprised of four high school freshmen. Briefly described as “Zappa-esque” by poet laureate Cobb Salad, these young minstrels have recorded songs with topics ranging from monster-hunting cowboys to barroom brawls in Hell. Simply classic.

Spare Change – Prehistoric Wranglers
Spare Change – Hey Mama
Spare Change – Lucifer’s Bar and Grill
Spare Change – When I Think


The First Reading Day

I didn’t get any work done yesterday, but I got a ton of new music. These are my favorite tracks, mostly from artists I read about on the blogs listed to the right:

Alberta Cross – Lucy Rider (acoustic)
Alberta Cross – Old Man Chicago
J. Tillman – Evans and Falls
J. Tillman – A Fine Suit
The Jayhawks – Blue
The Jayhawks – I’d Run Away
Mother Hips – White Headphones
Mother Hips – Time-Sick Son of a Grizzly Bear
Wax Fang – Bi-Polar Bear
Wax Fang – Majestic

You know it’s a successful day when you find two quality “bear” songs.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

My Favorite Artists (Part 2 of 5): Nizlopi

I was going to follow up Benjy’s post with one about my home state, Connecticut. An island of tranquility between Boston and New York, Connecticut remains neutral by not offering much of anything. It’s a small state with big money, Martha Stewart, Joe Lieberman, and a silent “c.” As a result, Connecticut is the butt of quite a few jokes and the subject of exactly zero songs.

So, Nizlopi. Based in the UK, they seemed an obvious choice for today after seeing Hot Fuzz last night. I discovered Nizlopi in early November, and their music pretty much defined my first semester at college. The band consists only of a singing guitarist (Luke Concannon) and a beatboxing bassist (John Parker), but they achieve an impressively full sound in the studio.

My favorite thing about Nizlopi is that they come up with incredibly catchy melodies while maintaining their musicality, individuality and British humor. They offer guilt-free upbeat music with witty lyrics and distinct personality. I love literally every song off their debut album, Half These Songs Are About You, and the following EP, ExtraOrdinary.

There’s not much else to say about them, except that they’re the only band I know named after a Hungarian girl (Luke’s school crush), and that they’re currently #1 on my “top artists I want to see live” list. I had a hard time choosing which songs to post, since they’re all so different and so good. “JCB” and “Girls” are their two singles, and “Flooded Quarry,” “Helen,” and “Freedom” are my three personal favorites. Glastonbury” is a little different, but is a good example of the type of music on the EP and is another of my favorites.

Nizlopi – JCB
Nizlopi – Girls
Nizlopi – Flooded Quarry
Nizlopi – Helen
Nizlopi – Freedom
Nizlopi – Glastonbury
Pete Seeger – Yankee Doodle (CT’s state song)

Buy the CDs here. Really, buy them. Not to support the artist, but for your own good.


Last two weeks of camp

The year’s gone by like the last weekend of summer. Two weeks from today marks the end of our first year at university level, and the beginning of my trip back to my home in Ohio.

The Canals leaving camp.

So, before we top off the school year with a series of forthcoming guest posts, I’ll let you familiarize yourselves with my peoples. The name Ohio comes from the Seneca word ohi:yo, meaning “beautiful river” or “large creek,” the original name of both the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers. Serving as both the “Mother of Presidents” and the Midwestern Bridge between east and west coasts, this state has served as a pillar of sturdy leadership and a hub of pastoral tranquility for over two hundred years. And so, as a reflection of these values and as an homage to my secondary residence, the state of Ohio, I have compiled this humble yet powerful list of songs.

Damien Jurado – Ohio
Kyle Andrews – Amos in Ohio
Randy Newman – Dayton, Ohio-1903
Sun Kil Moon – Carry Me Ohio (Alternate Version)
RJD2 (A Columbus native) – Ghostwriter


Thursday, April 19, 2007

All You Really Need Is A Dollar And A Dream

If there’s anything I like more than exclamation points in song lyrics, it’s exclamation points after phrases like “tofu penis.” That’s what makes Carmen Borgia so appealing – he takes a good thing and puts his own, usually better, spin on it.

Carmen was my boss when I interned at DuArt Film and Video in NY two summers ago. He used to tell me that he’s been fascinated with sound since he was a little kid in Ohio, and that he’s just never stopped experimenting. He wrote most of the songs on his debut album, North, and plays most of the instruments – steel string guitar, ukulele, musical saw, and accordion, to name a few.

Some of the tracks are a little repetitive, but I’ve been hooked for the last few days. This is one of the only albums I’ve heard that consistently makes me laugh out loud, but not every song is filled with absurd humor. Some are hilarious, some simple and sweet, and others slightly melancholy. He describes the music as “avant-folk” and the album as “an almanac for watchful and upbeat travelers; a documentary roadtrip by Greyhound, Chevy, train and rocket.”

I’d like to think that my days spent organizing DVDs and stuffing envelopes served as inspiration for at least one of these tracks, but I’ll probably never know for sure.

Carmen Borgia – Domenic Rom
Carmen Borgia – All You Really Need
Carmen Borgia – Swan Song
Carmen Borgia – Slim

You can find the lyrics and some more free downloads here, or buy the full album here.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Dig this ditch: The Switch

The dry spell is over! After two long, soulless years of waiting, it’s finally here. As a follow-up to his 2005 release, Lost and Found, Will Smith is letting loose his spin-off reality TV show based on the smash hit single, Switch.

Maybe if he read any of my letters it'd be true, but for now...

The Switch, a Los Angeles rock group not affiliated with Will Smith, was recently featured on An Aquarium Drunkard to promote their first release, Hello Today. After enjoying the handful of live tracks there, I popped over to iTunes to snag the whole EP. To be honest, I’m more partial to the live songs than the studio EP, but don’t take my word for it, listen up:

The Switch – Country Song (live at Aquarium Drunkard)
The Switch – Just Smile (live at Aquarium Drunkard)
The Switch – Tongue Tied
The Switch – Living In Another World


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Beginning Of The End Of The RIAA

The demise of the RIAA has been a long time coming, but a new music service, Amie Street, might speed up the process. Amie Street is the way music should be: DRM-free, market-priced, high quality, and legal. Founded in July, the site allows independent artists to sell and promote their music in an innovative and profitable way. All music on the site starts out free, and the price increases to a max of $0.98 per song based on popularity. About a month ago they signed a deal with Nettwerk Music Group, bringing mainstream artists such as Barenaked Ladies to the site.

If this isn’t the future of music, I don’t know what is. It’s perfect for browsing – they provide 85 seconds of preview for each song, which is important since so many of the artists are completely unknown. They have an effective recommendation model that rewards the customer for promoting quality content. They’re growing fast – just this week albums by State Radio, Hem, Griffin House, and Josh Rouse are being released (and even big names like these start out free). And best of all, the artists pocket 70% of their sales and not a penny goes to the RIAA. The only downside is that I know I’ll be spending a few hours a day this week discovering new music instead of doing something more productive like catching up on Tivo or playing FIFA.

Here are a few songs I heard for the first time and bought today from Amie Street. When you register they give you $1.00 for free, so I basically haven’t even spent any money yet. I also posted a few Griffin House songs, and his CD Upland will be released on the site tomorrow (along with Hem’s Funnel Cloud). Join today and help turn the slow, painful death of the RIAA into a fast (but hopefully still painful) one.

Patrick Park – Your Smile’s A Drug
Jack Zerby – Said
PrincetonThe Indifference Curve
Selfish Gene – Daylight Savings (had to get this for the band name, pretty good song though)
Jets Overhead – This Way
Griffin House – Tell Me A Lie
Griffin House – Waterfall


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring Fling Flight Test # 1

Since the legendary Spring Fling concert is coming up in three days we thought it would just prime to take some time to go moonlighting with the three main attractions.

To start off, there’s Eef Barzelay of Clem Snide. I know a number of folks out there aren’t thrilled about this choice to open at the ‘cert, but I happen to think that with a little magic in the air things could rock like a cradle. With lyrics like, “if a Civil War buff can love a diamond in the rough, it’s great,” it couldn’t be anything but golden. Anyway, I saw Eef open for Damien Jurado back in 2006 at the World Café Live, and since then I’ve become a fan of both Clem Snide and Eef’s solo stuff. He’s an energetic and absolutely hilarious performer. Granted, those people I’ve heard spewing garbage like, “he’s going to be too mellow for the Fling show,” do have a point. Eef was (and most likely will be) just his voice and a guitar, singing goofy folk ballads. Hopefully the audience will be able to chill out a little and laugh along with him.

Eef Barzelay – Ballad of Bitter Honey
Eef Barzelay – I Wasn’t Really Drunk
Clem Snide – Action
Clem Snide – Happy Birthday

Buy Clem Snide's most recent album here.


Can You Spot The Difference?


Monday, April 9, 2007

The Best Team In The World

Kurtis Blow – Basketball

One of the bookshelves in my bedroom is dedicated to the New Jersey Nets. It’s a remnant of my middle school years, when I was proud to be the only Nets fan in Westport to enjoy the team's rise from perennial loser to king of the tri-state area. Six years later, being the best NBA team in New York/New Jersey/CT is about as exciting a distinction as being the best Rec Intramural team in Fisher/Ware/Riepe (a title the Delicious Corn came within 2 mercy rule losses of securing).

Since I haven’t added to my memorabilia collection in almost a decade, I tend not to pay much attention to it. Over spring break, though, this magazine caught my eye:

There is so much to say about this image that I really don’t know where to begin. I guess I’ll start with the simple fact that Todd McCullough is featured on the cover of SLAM (that’s his big, white, Canadian mug right on the “L”). Keep in mind that this is a publication that bills itself as “The ‘In Your Face’ Basketball Monthly Magazine” and includes segments with names such as “Sla – of – the – month.”

Not only is Todd prominently displayed, but the headline “The Best Team In The World” is referring to his team. SLAM is claiming that Todd McCullough is a starter on the best basketball team on Earth, while featuring the likes of AI, KG, Kobe, MJ, Stockton, the other TMac, and Lebron James ON THE SAME COVER. It looks like one of those pictures you’d take home from Bar Mitzvahs where they’d crop your face into a movie poster or the cover of TIME magazine’s “Man of the Year” issue. I honestly think the juxtaposition would be no more striking if Benjy were photoshopped in to replace Todd.

Anyway, I felt like the best team in the world deserved a post on The Canals, and I’ve created a playlist with songs for each player (excluding Keith Van Horn – I only remember him for his high socks and couldn’t think of any musical representation for that, but I’m open to suggestions) and for the Nets as a unit of basketball domination. Once you’ve finished listening to Kurtis Blow’s greatest hit, try these out. They actually happen to be some really good songs.

Rocky Votolato – White Daisy Passing (Todd McCullough)
moe. – Captain America (Jason Kidd)
DJ Danger Mouse – Justify My Thug (Kenyon Martin)
Elbow – Grace Under Pressure (Kerry Kittles)

Josh Rouse – Jersey Clowns
Khia – The Nets, Are Back


Sunday, April 8, 2007

Jacob Schutz, poet laureate of The Canals

Aside from being the musical institution that it is, I feel that The Canals is also both a cultural and literary experience by definition. Thusly, I publish this photo with accompanying piece of prose:

From left: Jacob, Alex
: This is after I won my appeal and was released from prison.
Benjy: You must have really liked prison.
Jacob: No. See, what I'm thinking is, "Boy I am glad to be out, but who will take care of little Jerome in cell 3B, who will only have his coffee if it has two sugars. And what about Lamar, who cries himself to sleep everynight." I won the freedom of my soul, but lost the soul of my freedom.

From now on I will keep a look out for other tidbits worthy of our recognition. Who knows, maybe someone will someday dethrown Mr. Schutz as the poet laureate of The Canals. Anyone could be next. Yeah, even you... Panama Lee.

P.S. Here are two slightly relevant songs that are also just plain great:

Yo La Tengo -- Mr. Tough
Little Feat -- Trouble


Friday, April 6, 2007


A recent episode of Future Weapons with Richard "Mack" Machowicz showcased the awesome power of a new riot control device called the "Silent Guardian." This massive ray gun fixed atop a military vehicle induces the sensation of fire on the skin, making the dispersion of crowds a piece of cake. In my mind it's the sissified descendant of Nikola Tesla's "peace ray," otherwise known as the "death ray." Unfortunately, after an unsuccessful attempt to market the weapon to the US War Department, Tesla's plans were seized and locked away by the FBI for fear of public safety.

In the 2006 film "The Prestige," (my hero) David Bowie plays (my other hero) Nikola Tesla convincingly enough to make me wish that the "Silent Guardian" was both silent and deadly.

David Bowie -- Heroes


Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Undaunted Something

Last Sunday, JC and I had to give thanks. Thanks to World Café Live, WXPN, and YRock for hosting a free members-only concert featuring Dr. Dog and, unexpectedly, the folk duo Jeffrey and Jack Lewis. The main event, Dog MD, rocked as usual, so I won’t go into detail about them. The Lewis brothers, however, were an entirely different breed of musicians. Cut from a more indie-folk cloth than the Dog, the brothers led by singer-songwriter Jeffrey, played sped up Subterranean Homesick Blues-ish poems put to music. They played mostly songs of sob stories lamenting a failed career in comic book illustration and the fickle and unappreciative ways of the music industry. A little to heavy-handed for the likes of me and JC, the brothers laid it on pretty thick with lyrics like, “maybe the world would be better off if we were all uncreative drones.”

I don’t want to judge too much, but it seemed that Jeffrey sang the songs as fast as he did because he knew the lyrics sucked. What we did appreciate, however, were the low budget “short films” with accompanying performed soundtracks. Less films than slideshows featuring Jeffrey’s Daniel Johnston-esque illustrations, these performances had lighthearted stories about multi-handed monsters, nuns, invincible heroes, and villains named Celery Sam. Was it enough to redeem them? Ask JC. Anyway, I’ll let you judge for yourselves.

P.S. It’s two in the morning, and I think I’m starting to like these tracks. In a way.

Jeffrey Lewis – Don’t Let the Record Label Take You Out to Lunch
Jeffrey Lewis – The Last Time I Did Acid I Went Insane

Buy the Lewis brothers' newest album here.


Sunday, April 1, 2007

Mind Your Manners

A few weeks ago I put in an order to have my windows fixed. Friday afternoon I found this note on my desk:

Carpenter was here to fix windows. I have to order new windows for repair. To access window had to stand on shelf. Sorry I broke shelf. If it’s a problem call 573-3822.


My first reaction was anger. I use that shelf to hold my alarm clock, lamp, cell phone, hand sanitizer, magazines, and books. My second reaction was disbelief. I couldn’t believe that he thought the shelf could have supported him, and I couldn’t believe that he thought it potentially wouldn’t be a problem that he broke it.

But I didn’t stay mad for long. The carpenter was sorry that he broke shelf. That one, simple word softened the blow of the whole incident, much like my bed must have softened the blow of his fall from the windowsill.

Never underestimate the power of good manners—the carpenter and these artists clearly don’t.

Jim Bianco – Sorry
Sufjan Stevens – The Dress Looks Nice On You
Sly and the Family Stone – Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
Wilco – Please Be Patient With Me
Dispatch – Walk With You
The White Stripes – I’m Finding It Harder To Be A Gentleman

Few notes about the music. Jim Bianco is a great new artist with a unique voice. You can buy his CDs here. The Sufjan song is my favorite of the past week and the first I learned on guitar. The Wilco song is off their new album Sky Blue Sky, to be released on May 17. I'm pretty sure that we're literally the first blog to post this song, so maybe that will help our average of 3.5 unique hits per day.