Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Goodbye Ghana

Brazil vs. Ghana

Ronaldo scored his record setting 15th World Cup goal in the early stages of the match against Ghana on a breakaway that for an instant made us all forget how overweight and terrible he looks on the field. From this point on Ghana clearly outplayed and outhustled the lethargic and defensive minded Brazilians. Brazil simply did not appear to have any of the football magic we're all addicted to, instead they looked flat and boring, much akin to the stereotypical German teams of the last decade.

Ghana on the other hand looked simply brilliant. Even though they couldn't seem to find the back the of the net, their passing was inventive and crisp, their runs were clean, and for the better part of the match the pro-Brazil crowd seemed to begin rooting for the underdogs to upset their all star cast. Honestly, who in the world wasn't rooting for Ghana at some point during this game, they simply play great football.

But to Brazil went the victory, and to Brazil I turn for a slice of music.

mp3 : Seu Jorge - Starman (David Bowie Cover)

This song hails from The Life Aquatic soundtrack.
buy it here at Amazon for 12.88

Spain vs. France

I know the match has yet to begin. I also know that the Spainiards are heavily favored to win, but I just cannot find it in myself to rule out the plucky Frenchmen. Henry has lived up to they hype and mystique that surrounds his name and Zidane is looking at the last international appearance he'll ever have. I'm predicting a high scoring, fast paced game for this evening's match. Final score France 3, Spain 2.

We all know that what this World Cup still needs is a genuine upset. Ghana had their shot today, but so far all the favorites are still cruising; Brazil, Argentina, England, Germany, Italy. Honestly the only team that should still be in the tourney that isn't is the Netherlands who were ousted largely due to horrible officiating.

In honor of their impending victory I salute you France

mp3 : M83 - Unrecorded

This song can be found on the album Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts, which just might be the best thing to come out of France since the Statue of Liberty.
buy it here on Amazon for 14.98

Monday, June 26, 2006

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

Thursday, June 08, 2006

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.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

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