Springsteen does Seeger

Springsteen brought everything to Mr. O’Brian

First of all, who here knew that Conan O’Brian could play guitar? Apparently he really is the jack of all trades of late nite. Far and away he’s been the best all around late nite host over the last five years, but this time he took his game to another level. He invites a musical act on the show, and then plays guitar with them.

Now, granted, Bruce Springsteen has everything but the kitchen sink already in the band, but it’s still impressive to see America’s most loveable red head bouncing around and enjoying some folk revival music.

And folk revival is what the 21st album by Springsteen is. The story is that Springsteen has had a long love affiar with Pete Seeger’s music and for this special recording session the Boss decided to do things a little different. He invited a ridiculous amount of New York musicians out to his farm house in Jersey with the sole purpose of jamming for a couple of days just to see what they could find. What they found was fifteen reworked Pete Seeger songs that now have a decidedly Springsteen slant to them, as well as a new, more lively, possibly even more urban sound to them. The entire album is good fun, although if you’re looking for classic Springsteen this is the wrong album to buy.

Brought to you by YouTube are the two songs that this amalgamation of artists brought to the Late Show. Look for both Jimmy Fallon and Conan in the band, it’s a rare treat.

Pay Me My Money Down
Bring Em Home (If You Love Your Uncle Sam)

So, I guess this is what Jimmy Fallon has been up to since he wrapped filming Taxi?

Also, Culture Bully has the songs posted as mp3’s if you’d care to take them to go.

Buy this album on Amazon for just 11.88

EA Mix vol. 5 – Going Home

EA Mix vol. 5 – Going Home

This mix was prepared while I was living overseas this past year. It wraps up the EA Mix volumes for this school year [vols. 1-5, EA standing for East Asia]. I put a lot of thought into these songs, the order they are arranged in, and especially the lyrics they contain. It’s always good to be going home.

download the full mix in .zip format
yousendit : here
megaupload : here

[click on the song titles below for individual mp3 downloads]

01 : Neil Diamond – America : The line, “They’re coming to America,” is repeated again and again in this classic by the former sequined wonderboy of Vegas. This song comes from his glory days and kicks off the album with the appropriate flair.

02 : Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA : Ok, ok, I know that this song is about a guy, born in the USA, who is figthing in Vietnam. But I grew up with Mellancamp and Springsteen on the radio and it came down to a Born in the USA versus Smalltown battle. The boss just wins that fight my friends, and this song proves that the old guys know [or knew] how to rock.

03 : Simon and Garfunkel – Homeward Bound : Some of these songs are so ridciulously obvious that I feel a bit embarassed having to explain their inclusion. I mean, honestly, if they line “I wish I was homeward bound” doesn’t scream “put me on this mix, then I don’t know where to find lyrics more appropriate to this collection.

04 : Boyz II Men – It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday : Again, blast from the past songs battled it out for inclusion here on the mix. This time it was Boyz II Men against Michael W. Smith’s Friends are Friends Forever. I know this song is cliched, overplayed, trite, etc., yet it still fits perfectly with the overall mood of the mix. And it serves to transition from the older kings of music into the new kids on the block [of course, figuratively speaking]

05 : The Weakerthans – Left and Leaving : “My city’s still breathing, but barely it’s true. Through buildings gone missing like teeth. The sidewalks are watching me think about you, sparkled with broken glass. I’m back with scars to show, back with the streets I know will never take me anywhere but here.” The Weakerthans were the most underrated, overlooked band of the year 2000. Maybe it was all the Y2K buzz, maybe it was mad-cow, or maybe we just missed something great in the process of understanding that 2000 really wasn’t the new millenium [or was it?].

06 : Brendan Losch – You Go You Leave : “Cause you go, you leave, you’ll never come back.” Plaintive is the best word I can think of to describe this song by Mr. Losch. I met, discovered, became efriends with Brendan on myspace and so I don’t mind plugging his musich at each and every turn. And I love this line, half way into the song, “are you even listening to me, cause I feel like you were never there.” I can just imagine that line being spoken aloud to countless of my friends as they drift in and out of conversations this summer back in the states.

07 : Primitive Radio Gods – Standing Outside a Broken Telephone Booth with Change in my Hand : Yes, it’s true, there were bands with obscenely long song titles well before Sufjan came along. And just like Mr. Stevens, when you make gorgeous music, you are allowed to take all the liberties you desire with your song titles. For some reason this song has always reminded me of coming home. Maybe it’s the line “the plane takes off from Baltimore and touches down on Bourbon street,” or maybe it’s the repetitive chorus of “I’ve been downhearted baby, ever since the day you left.” Whatever it is, this song feels like home to me, and I love the lyrics.

08 : Zach Williams & the Ramparts – Hospital Dream : I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but they need a new name for their band. Sure, Zach is the frontman, maybe even the overall controlling genius, but still, the last band I knew that made it huge with a name like this was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers [or Max Weinberg and the Max Weinberg Seven – kudos to Conan]. Maybe it’s the “the” bands fault, but for whatever reason bands with “and the” in their name never seem to make it. And I really want Zach and company to thrive. He’s a great song writer, could easily be signed by Barsuk, and could make a killing if he moved to Chicago, Seattle, or Portland. But enough on that, this song is gorgeous.

09 : Phantom Planet – California : I know, I know, this song is overplayed as well. But as my friends are flying home from East Asia most of them will be landing first in California. And it just made sense to put a song that yells “California, here we come” over and over again on the mix. Not to mention that even though this song almost pushed them into T.V. song jingle embarrassment [see the Remembrants and the Friends theme song for one shining example] Phantom Planet has pressed on to reinvent their sound and their image.

10 : Stars – On Peak Hill : I love Stars, and stars. Both the noun and proper noun. And I felt like this song really had a home time feeling to it. It seems as if it’s a song taken from life in a small little town where you can talk about “the time I was five at the top of Peak Hill, and the wind almost took me away.” I could just imagine flying over oceans and looking out the window, back in time, and thinking about all those little stories and anecdotes that only make sense when you’re back home.

11 : David Gray – Shine : I feel if people besides Dave Matthews fans ever bought into this Brit then this song would be featured on all graduation mixes, goodbye finales, and funeral episodes for the rest of time. I mean really, just listen to the man sing. “And ours is a road that is strewn with goodbyes. But as it unfolds, as it all unwinds, remember your soul is the one thing you can’t compromise.” The whole song is a sad and yet strangely hopeful goodbye, after all “who knows what’s waiting in the wings of time? Dry your eyes, we’re gonna go where we can shine.”

12 : The Walkmen – Hang On, Siobhan : This is a song to a person with quite possibly the best name ever. Siobhan. Pronounce that correctly before listening to the song and you have won a free ticket to my heart. Really. From the first time I heard this song I’ve been in love with both it and the boys that crafted it. The opening line through the last straining lyric, it’s all amazing. “So hang on, Siobhan, we’re coming home soon.”

13 : Ben Kweller – Lizzy : Ben Kweller, or as he references himself in song and print, BK, is one amazingly talented individual. Granted, his early stuff with Radish might have been a little overrated, but when have music magazines [either in print or online] ever really been accurate at predicting the future? Anyway, this little ditty hails off of BK’s debut solo album from about five years ago, titled Sha Sha, and tells the story of two people spending time apart for the first time. “Lizzy I write our scene; telegraph, telegram, telephone, telling you I’ll be home soon.”

14 : Josh Garrels – Going Home : Question, how on earth could I not include a song titled “Going Home” on the going home mix? Question, how could I not continue to promote someone with as much tallent as Josh? I couldn’t find a reasonable response to either of those questoins, so Josh is here. “I’m going home. She’s, she’s going home. We, we’re going home. Going home when we die, we’re going home in the sky. Going home by and by, we’re going home to live with Christ. Hallelujah.” Writing out the lyrics does not do justice to this boys brilliance.

15 : Ben Gibbard – Recycled Air (acoustic) : Taking a music track, created by someone you’ve never met, and writing lyrics for it has to be hard. That alone would have qualified this song, as originally released by the team of The Postal Service, for the mix but Ben Gibbard takes this song to new heights with his solo rendition. Making it ever more melancholy, chill, and sad along the way. And the song is about flying away in an airplane. “I watch the patchwork farms, slow fade into the oceans arms. Calm down, release your cares, the stale taste of recycled air.”

16 : The Supertones – So Great a Salvation : Who would have ever thought I would include a throwback song from a Christian Ska band? Especially when it includes the line “Woke up this morning and I just had to pack up all my life. Just read through James’ book, start to pray and I ask God for a wife.” Doesn’t really seem like my bread and butter, I know, but the chorus is “Why me God? Why should you chosoe me? Your team God, can you use even me?” And I think that’s something we all felt this year, that we all go through, so it made the cut.

17 : Dntel – Last Songs : Such an appropriate ending to a mix album commemorating the end of living overseas for a year. I always have songs that, in my own little world, would fit perfectly in the soundtrack of my life. And this song always reminds me of that wait in the airport for that last flight on your way home. The one wait where you have to sit alone because all your travel friends have caught their flights and it’s just you from this point until you’re actually home. That’s what this song is to me.

And this concludes the broadcast of EA Mix albums for the time being, stay tuned for two new mixes in a new series, SS, coming soon this summer. Be aware, there is so much more good music in this world. Don’t limit yourself.

Check back often.

The Long Winters

The Long Winters – Commander Thinks Aloud (live at WOXY)

I first heard of The Long Winters way back when they were touring with then label mates, and soon to make it huge, Death Cab for Cutie. Like most of the people at the small Indianapolis venue I was there to see Death Cab and had never heard of The Long Winters. But their opening set was amazing. I was hooked from the moment they played Cinnamon and have been following them for the last three years.

And let me say, the last three years have been a long wait. Only one LP has been dropped during that time, and that was almost two years ago now. Admittedly, it’s brilliant, but still; two years is a long time to wait for another full length. Even U2 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers don’t make us wait this long.

Finally this past year they released a little four song EP, Ultimatum, that is a bit lush [read: produced] when compared to their indie-darling acoustic sound they’ve carefully cultivated over the years. And yet, at the same time, John Roderick captures the heart and soul of life and everything with his witty, somewhat slippery lyrics.

And all of that is captured beautifully in this live performance of Commander Thinks Aloud. The lead off track on the EP contains Roedericks musings on the Columbia space shuttle tragedy that took place early in 2003. The song begins by capturing the giddy childlike jubilation of being an astronaut with the oft repeated line “yay! yay!” while explaining how gravity returns on the descent, and as they float above the Tropic of Capricorn the crew turns to thoughts of almost being home. The entire song is melancholic, even during the most happy and most obscure lyrics, but it’s the final repeated phrase that really pushes it over the edge.

the crew compartment is breaking up
this is all i wanted to bring home

mp3 : The Long Winters – Commander Thinks Aloud (live at WOXY)

Buy this EP : The Long Winters – Ultimatum

EA Mix vol. 4 – The End Draws Near

EA Mix vol. 4 – The End Draws Near

See the previous post for more info as well as the option to download all tracks in a .zip file. Here they are all made available as single mp3 downloads. Enjoy at your own risk.

01 : Sufjan Stevens – Chicago (Live at KCRW)
02 : Big Japan – Rise and Fall of Bill
03 : Brendan Losch – Hear Me Out
04 : Final Fantasy – Peach Plum Pear (Joanna Newsom Cover)
05 : Andrew Bird – Tables and Chairs
06 : Ken Michaels : The Sun Gets In Your Eyes
07 : Kunek – Good Day
08 : Peter Walker – What Do I Know
09 : Josh Garrels – Joyful Boy
10 : Nanoo Nanoo – 14
11 : The Polyphonic Spree – Move Away and Shine
12 : Malcolm Middleton – A Happy Medium
13 : Tally Hall – Good Day
14 : The Legends – He Knows the Sun
15 : Venice is Sinking – Pulaski Heights
16 : Radiohead – Fog (again) (live)
17 : Sunset Rubdown – Shut Up I am Dreaming of a Place Where Lovers Have Wings

Oh there is so much more to come.

EA Mix vol. 4 – The End Draws Near

EA Mix vol. 4 – The End Draws Near

download it here, or here

sorry about the lack of individual song downloads, i’ll try to have those up and working soon, but it’s too much work for right now. sorry.

01 : Sufjan Stevens – Chicago (Live at KCRW) : kcrw has some amazing music online. let me just put it out there that this radio station somehow gets amazingly talented artists to come in and record their songs in a brand new way. this version of chicago will make you want to stop listening to anything but christian indie folk music, and in a good way. oh sufjan, you are a master.

02 : Big Japan – Rise and Fall of Bill : few, if any of you, know that big japan is a band that is linked to my favorite high school drama [the o.c.] in it’s own special way. adam brody, who plays character seth cohen as well as making appearances in mr. and mrs. smith and the recent thank you for smoking, is the drummer in this little slice of somewhat awkward indie goodness. but c’mon, you’d have to expect that from adam.

03 : Brendan Losch – Hear Me Out : granted, about half way through i don’t like the break from the acoustic folk that, in my opinion, transitions awkwardly into and out of a little drum driven bridge. but it’s not my job to find a bunch of music that’s all the same drivel you can find at pitchfork or some other pretentious indie publication. no, i bring you good music with a focus on the music being good. hence, brendan losch has made the cut.

04 : Final Fantasy – Peach Plum Pear (Joanna Newsom Cover) : every so often there is a band you discover that you don’t really like [ok, so more often than not this happens]. but, then again, occasionally there’s a band that you realize you don’t like all that much that totally redeems it with a nice little cover. which is the brilliance that is found here. final fantasy on their own kinda drift about, but on their covers they seem to lock it down and find their groove [albeit stolen groove].

05 : Andrew Bird – Tables and Chairs : andrew bird is another of those indie artists that seems to benefit largely from single song downloads. he just cannot seem to but an accessible full length album together. for every lp he puts out at least 1/3 is kind experimental noise driven rubbish. lucky for you, with this mix, you get the cream of his crop.

06 : Ken Michaels : The Sun Gets In Your Eyes : if you haven’t figured it out yet, i was trying to branch out a bit on this mix album. most of the time i get into the rut of singer/songwriter indie kid with a jones for folk tunes music and run it until it’s dead. but on this mix i was looking for a bit more. a bit of eclectic oomph. welcome to ken michaels, a never-quite-gonna-make it indie act. it just sounds too much like other bands, sorry ken.

07 : Kunek – Good Day : “today, it’s gonna be, such a good day. such a good day” these lyrics reads happy, but in the song they sound depressing. ahh, my bread and butter. music that for all intents and purposes should make you feel better, but at the end they still leave you drifting in the melancholy of life. thanks kunek.

08 : Peter Walker – What Do I Know : i met peter on myspace. man i love that little slice of e-music heaven. it’s such a great site to network and discover new talent. and peter walker is definitely on the upswing of acoustic driven power pop. he’ll make it big soon, in fact i wouldn’t be surprised if you heard this song on the radio soon. “oh you couldn’t wait, oh you had to go, oh darling what do i know.”

09 : Josh Garrels – Joyful Boy : if you’ve ever been around me you know that east central indiana native j.g. is a must see, must hear. and this little rendition of joyful boy is a rare b-side only available from his website. josh is a great guy who gives great hugs. and his music is like that too. it reaches out from some warm, loop driven, folk-hop roots and gives your life a nice long lingering hug.

10 : Nanoo Nanoo – 14 : every mix album deserves at least one instrumental piece and it’s even doubly warranted when that band [one member] references mork and mindy with his name, is from relatively close to your parents house, and puts out delicious tracks on myspace regularly. on top of that he’s a nice guy who likes to talk music, make recommendations, and has a lot of honest opinions.

11 : The Polyphonic Spree – Move Away and Shine : i first heard of this band about three years ago when their single appeared in a volkswagen ad. that thirty second slice of a song inspired me enough to buy two of their albums and also go see them live when they came through louisville. and. they. are. awesome. live. anyway, they recently recorded two versions of this song for internet release, and this is by far the better of the two.

12 : Malcolm Middleton – A Happy Medium : ok, this track is truly random. filled with extraneous noise, syncopation, and the line repeated again again of “woke up again today, realized i hate myself, my face is a disease.” it reads about as depressing as an lyric you could write. but true to my musical taste this song sounds incredibly upbeat and happy. a lot of vocal echoing, multiple voice tracks, and distortion. it’s gorgeous when it’s all put together.

13 : Tally Hall – Good Day : discordant harmony, piano, clapping, words spoke-sung too fast. what more do you want? and rumor has it my roomie scotty knows people in this band. the song is about as random as they come. moving from acapella to pop driven piano rock, even ending in this kind yellow-submarine era beatles like mash up of sounds, voices, and guitar.

14 : The Legends – He Knows the Sun : smooth is the best word to describe their sound. if you took a bassline and stretched all the notes together, dripped a nice electric melody over the top, and then poured your voice through a standard early ’80s distortion machine you’d have this sound. not that it’s formulaic, but that’s what it boils down to. and it’s chill, and laid back, and beautiful. overall smooth pop.

15 : Venice is Sinking – Pulaski Heights : they might have the greatest indie name i’ve heard in quite awhile. and on top of choosing a great name they make some solid tunes. a bit like the wallflowers early material, a bit like a symphony layered with fuzzy indie tracks, a bit like soaring melodies trapped like lightning bugs and made to dance for our enjoyment.

16 : Radiohead – Fog (again) (live) : i put this song up on my music blog awhile back, but it’s so brilliant that it deserves more attention than that site generates. radiohead is one of my favorite bands. ever. and seeing them live blew me away. hands down the best show i’ve ever seen. ever. and this song as recorded in the studio is ok. but here, stripped down to just thom on a piano, blows me away with every listen. “some things will never wash away. did you go bad?”

17 : Sunset Rubdown – Shut Up I am Dreaming of a Place Where Lovers Have Wings : when your song clocks in at over seven full minutes then you’re allowed to have any length of song title that you want. even if it is a full sentence. and here, with sunset rubdown [a great little band name], they’ve created a great song that stretches your ears and your mind and takes you to a place where you actually begin to believe that lovers really do have wings.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Stadium Arcadium

The new album is worth whatever you pay to get it. It’s been a few years since we last heard a studio effort from these four crazy boys, but it has been worth the wait. Releasing a double album is a brave thing to do in these days that are filled with single song digital downloads. In the face of this new trend, or as I refer to it as the dumbing down of album making, the Peppers have come full circle with just over two hours of continuous music that samples every era, trend, and genre they’ve dabbled in from Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik through Californication and By The Way.

Basically the boys came to rock on this album, and they’re mature and established enough to know they have nothing left to prove. They are and always shall remain one of the greatest American rock bands. This album, excuse me double album, only serves to further prove that the Red Hot Chili Peppers make music that is progressive, retro, and all around loveable.

from disc 1 – Jupiter
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Snow (Hey Oh)

from disc 2 – Mars
Red Hot Chili Peppers – If