Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Bad Day

Man, did I have a bad day yesterday. Actually I had a pretty rough time over the last week. Work's been really, really sucking lately. Yesterday the plan was to get my car inspected and head to the DMV to get my tags renewed. (Stories that start like that never end well.) Well four hours and $400 later, I got my car inspected. Didn't even make it to the DMV. I've been fighting with myself to head to the DMV today, but haven't picked my ass up yet.

Yesterday when I got home, I didn't want to think about anything because I was so mad. So I turned on the PS2 because I'm currently nerding out on Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII. I was getting to this sweet-looking boss battle, when I got up to get something to drink on, tripped over the controller cable, and the PS2 smashed to the ground. From then on, I was getting the dreaded "disc read error." I can fix it, but it just wouldn't work. I worked on that fucker for hours and nothing worked. Actually, when I would get it working, it'd stop once I put it back together. I had to give up eventually to save my sanity for one, but I had to go to work for a couple of hours.....another reason why yesterday sucked.

With all that crap going against me, and me being the ultimate optimist, I had to think of what didn't go wrong:

-Didn't get arrested

-Didn't drop my phone in the toilet

-Got drunk with co-workers and didn't put anything on fire out on my tongue (like last time)

-Didn't see any crickets (I hate those things)

-While I broke my PS2, the game survived intact

-Didn't step on Huxley's tail

All good and well. I finished off the day by listening to R.E.M.'s "Bad Day" over and over again. I love that song.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Rebirth of Cool

I'm exhausted tonight. Not really because today was my first day back at work from vacation. Rather it's because I've been listening for two straight days to the new Yo La Tengo album, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass.

There has been a ton of hype revolving around this album. Not really because it's simply a new album from one of the most prolific indie bands of the last 20+ years. More so because this new album is a throw-back to the best era of one of the most prolific indie bands of the last 20+ years. That Painful/Electr-O-Pura/I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One era.

I first got into Yo La Tengo in 1997. I had just seen the video to "Sugarcube" on 120 Minutes and was blown away. Just a week or so later, a friend at work asked if I wanted to go with him to see Yo La Tengo at the Blue Note in Columbia, Mo. "Uh, yeah." I had a week to buy up their latest album (I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One), listen the hell out of it, and obsess with it.

At that point, I didn't really know what the band looked like. Right before the show started, these three dweeby-looking people came out on stage to get everything set up....one big guy with glasses, this little scrawny guy with curly hair, and a blond chick. Whatever. When they finished, they left the stage, all the lights went out, then there was a big dramatic entrance.....of those same three people.

The show itself just blew me away. I still remember Ira screaming "False Alarm" and the what seemed like 45 minute version of "Blue Line Swinger" and me screeching like a girl when they played "Sugarcube." The most memorable thing to me Ira's guitar solo on "We're an American Band." He was throwing his guitar in the air above his head and making the most beautiful noise I've ever heard come out of that instrument. That performance alone still makes "We're an American Band" my favorite Yo La Tengo song.

This band seemed just so cool, so untouchable to me. It took a while for anybody to say something and it really flattened me when the first thing anybody said to the speechless crowd was Ira asking, "So you guys have a lot of Schnucks out here, right?" Turns out the band was very obtainable. After the show, Georgia came down to talk to me for about 30 minutes. Outside, James was chatting up a bunch of folks.

That night, I became absolutely obsessed with Yo La Tengo. I quickly snagged up all their albums (except Ride the Tiger....don't know why, but I haven't ever picked that one up) and memorized every little note of feedback. For the next three years, hardly a day went by where I didn't listen to Yo La Tengo....seriously, I was obsessed. I was convinced that there wasn't a better band on Earth. I even wrote an essay on the band in high school. I even covered their version of Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby" in a coffee shop in college. Then in 2000 when I was living in Milwaukee, the day finally came for a new Yo La Tengo album.....And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out.

....and I just didn't get it. I wrestled with that album for a year or so, and I just didn't get it. It had some great moments, especially "You Can Have it All." However, I just couldn't get it. Three years later, they followed up with Summer Sun....and I didn't really care anymore. I bought it on its release date, but it didn't really interest me at all. Even know, I'm looking at the tracklist and can't think think of how any song goes.

With the anticipation of the release of this week's I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass, I kept reading about how it's the return of the Yo La Tengo sound. I was skeptical, but the great reviews kept pouring in. Okay if I'm going to be forced to be excited, I guess I will be.

And guess what....

....everybody was right.

This album is so freaking great. I was stunned as I listened to the 10+ minute opening "Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind" and I barely even noticed how great the next three songs were. As soon as "The Room Got Heavy" ended, I got up to jump around and pump my fist. I couldn't help but drum and bop along with "Watch Out for Me Ronnie." Yo La Tengo was freaking back on top of what they do best. During its 75+ minutes, this album is full of those noise-rock, psychodelic, shoegazing jams that made me love Yo La Tengo to begin with. Everything just fits perfectly and everything just makes sense.

Yo La Tengo, as nerdy as they appear on the outside, understand what is cool more than I ever will. Yo La Tengo is the only band that can use a near-nine minute piano-laden instrumental as an intermission and not make it pretentious ("Daphnia"). Listen to "I Should Have Known Better," blast it out of your car stereo at full-blast, and you will be the coolest kid on your block. No other band can portray the kings of cool, the Velvet Underground, and make it make sense (I Shot Andy Warhol). The nerds of cool are back on top. Even if this won't be the most important album of the year to most, it is to me.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Finding Something

I haven't been buying much music lately, but there is some killer stuff already out there or about to be released. Here's a recap of my last three purchases:

Mountain Goats - Get Lonely

Possibly my most anticipated release of the year. I'd be lying if I wasn't a tad disappointed. More than likely, it's just the post-masterpiece letdown. Or maybe I just don't get it quite yet. The Sunset Tree is one of my favorite albums. It's hard to follow that. However, maybe this album just makes sense as a follow-up. The Sunset Tree was the climax. Get Lonely is the resolution. The thing that really strikes me about this album is just how quiet it is. Compared to the anger and triumph and beauty of the Sunset Tree, Get Lonely just falls down a tad.....like a hangover. Oh, wait, I get it! Maybe I shouldn't be comparing Get Lonely with the Sunset Tree. Give a few more spins, and I will love this album.

Feist - Open Season

I can usually care less about remix albums, but Feist has quickly become one of my favorite artists and I was really hungry for some new stuff. Thankfully, Open Season definitely fills that void. Better than most (or all) other remix compilations. I won't say anything is better than the originals, but the Postal Service remix of "Mushaboom" is really something to behold. Other standouts are Feist's duet with Jane Birkin on "The Simple Story" and the cover of Peaches' "Lovertits."

Now It's Overhead - Dark Light Daybreak

Oh, dear. I really shouldn't be reviewing this one right now. Dark Light Daybreak is really shoved to the backburner with everything else around it. There really isn't much special about it. It really sucks too because I love Now It's Overhead. However, every one of their releases seems a little less interesting than the last. I love their debut. Fall Back Open had some great moments ("Reverse" especially), but not as strong. Dark Light Daybreak really doesn't interest me at all. Again, this will require a few more spins.

Wow, I'm a little overwhelmed right now with good stuff. This Tuesday sees the release of the new Bonnie "Prince" Billy. Last Tuesday had new stuff from Magnolia Electric Co. and Viva Voce, neither of which I've bought yet.

Oh yeah, something else did get released Tuesday......but, it's so damn cool that it will require a separate post.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Been on vacation since Monday, and return to work on Saturday. Today is recovery day. Ahrens, Coombs, and Rishi are all gone now and I'm exhausted. At least it was a blast. Lots of drinking and trouble-making all around. Oh and if you got a drunk call from any of us this week, I apologize.

Maybe the strangest thing that happened was Tuesday night. We were partying downtown. After the bars closed we came outside to find a cab and saw tons of police and tape blocking about anywhere we could go. Some dude was telling us that four people got shot, including a cop. I called the station and was told that it was a big fight that escalated into shooting and a photog was on the way.

We started gathering up witnesses for interviews, all while tanked mind you. We found two drunk girls and some guy that lived right next to the scene. Shows how scummy we were too because the two girls were all shaken up and we naturally started trying to hit on them. After the cops starting clearing out and the media was mostly gone, we really had to find a way to get home. First though we all had to find a bathroom. I asked one of the guys that saw the shooting and he took us up to his apartment and showed us his gun collection. Creepy. Down on the street, I payed a homeless guy a buck to find us a cab and we went home.

By the way, only one guy got shot in the stomach and the cop hurt his hand punching in a car window. I told them I'd give everybody the Richmond experience, and I think that sums this city up pretty well.

I need to keep recovering. I got up at 7am to get Josh off to the Greyhound station, and Rishi left shortly afterwards. I got a couple more hours of sleep and have been cleaning this place up all day. I've lived here for a little over a week and we trashed this place. I still haven't started balancing my checkbook. That where the real recovery is needed.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Okay, I'm all moved in. It took forever on Saturday, but it happened. Spent all day Sunday getting organized, all day Monday cleaning the old place, and all day yesterday sleeping. I love my new place. Nice neighborhood, very quiet. Basically near all highways and tons of shopping. Takes less than ten minutes to get to work. It's so comfortable too. Just nice all around. I'm very happy.

I'll to write up some stuff this month, but I'm going to be very busy all month. It's already been non-stop. This Sunday (or Monday) got some folks in from out of town (Ahrens, Coombs, Rishi). I'm going to be off Monday through Friday next week, so I'm ready to get this week over with. Later in the month my folks are coming into town. Don't know when yet, but they are coming.

So yeah, busy.