Monday, July 31, 2006

Temporarily Insane

I am going crazy. I've recently been updating all the hundreds of albums and thousands of songs on my computer. It's crazy, I'm ridiculous, help me.

I used to use this file name format : track - artist - song title
Now I've switched to this format : track - song title

For example a song that is currently named 05 - Long Winters - Bride and Bridle needs to be renamed to simply 05 - Bride and Bridle. And I have over one hundred albums to go, and it's not an easy or fun task. It's rather boring. It's what I expect a data entry position to be like. Oh well, at least I get to listen to music while I'm doing this. Otherwise I really would be crazy.

As soon as my file server gets back to working [down for a full week now, rubbish] I'll post some music. Until then, chill out.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Over the Rhine

Linford and Karin are the names of this too serious looking couple which makes up the group Over the Rhine. Hailing from the mean streets of Cincinnati they've been making gorgeous Midwestern folk pop for the last fifteen years. At times intensely introspective their music finds a way to touch your heart and get you to really think about what's most important in your life.

While on tour in 2003 Karin and Linford did just that. Their marriage was faltering and they opted to quit their summer tour and retreat back home for a little bit of time alone. The story goes that they bought two cases of wine and each evening a new bottle was opened. Every night they would sit up and talk over this bottle of wine until it was gone, some conversations went quick, some took all night. And in they not only strengthened their marriage but they had begun to put together one of the most tragically beautiful albums of 2005, Drunkard's Prayer.

The highlight of this album, for me, is the song Born which autobiographically details the journey they took alone together in the fading light of 2003.

mp3 : Over the Rhine - Born
mp3 : Over the Rhine - Flown Free

buy Drunkard's Prayer
on Amazon for 13.99

Thursday, July 27, 2006

My Brightest Diamond

New Asthmatic Kitty upstarts My Brightest Diamond are touring with Sufjan Stevens this summer. And I must admit that the fact they are touring with the king of blogged about acts is their most impressive stat. With a voice a bit like a folk singer mashed into Karen O. and songs flushed out with awkward rhythms I really can't see My Brightest Diamond making it past this summer tour.

It reminds me a bit of when I saw Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks open for Radiohead. Granted, maybe no band sounds good when opening for royalty, but during their set the entire audience sighed collectively waiting for a real band to take the stage. In that instance we all realized that Mr. Malkmus would never truly be a household name, and I feel that My Brightest Diamond are condemned to that same fate.

I'm sorry, but they just aren't up to it.

mp3 : My Brightest Diamond - Golden Star

buy My Brightest Diamond - Bring Me the Workhorse here for 14.98

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Save the Internet

Please take a moment as a blogger or a blog reader to check out this website and use their provided resources to send a quick note to your congressmen or women. It's all automated and it's all quick and simple to use. You have no excuse not to become involved in the issues of net neutrality and keeping the internet free.

Please, check this out.

And in response to all of you who think that this website won't help the matter I am posting here the reply I received from Evan Bayh's office. Yes, I understand it's a form letter, but it still speaks volumes of how a simple email sent to your representatives and senators really can influence this nation.

From the Office of Evan Bayh,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me regarding net neutrality. I am grateful for your thoughts and always welcome the advice of those I am honored to represent.

The creation of the Internet represents the most important technological achievement of the last twenty years. It has fundamentally revolutionized the way that Americans work, play and interact. While the development of the Internet has created new challenges for our society, it has created far more new opportunities for companies and individuals alike to pursue their dreams and communicate with others. The success of the Internet rests on an important principle: equality of access. Every individual, every company has the same ability to turn on their computer and explore the Internet or share their content with the rest of the world. This has allowed innovative small companies to become big companies and has allowed every voice and idea - whether it is in a small town in Indiana or in Washington , D.C. - to be heard.

As you know, there is an important debate taking place about whether telecommunications companies have the right to discriminate among Internet users by charging access fees to certain individuals or companies. I believe that allowing network operators to pick and choose who can effectively access the Internet runs the risk of fundamentally altering the Internet as we know it. No company, individual, or government should control access to the Internet. The Internet belongs to the people who use it and should remain that way.

It is for this reason that I joined with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to cosponsor the Internet Freedom Preservation Act (S.2917). This legislation will ensure that every American can access the Internet on equal terms and that it remains a democratic medium, free from corporate control. S. 2917 is currently before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. While I am not a member of this committee, please be assured that should this legislation come before the full Senate, I will keep your views in mind.

Again, thank you for contacting me. I hope that the information I have provided is helpful. My website, , can provide additional details about legislation and state projects, and you can also sign up to receive my monthly e ‑newsletter, The Bayh Bulletin , by clicking on the link at the top of my homepage. I value your input and hope you will continue to keep me informed of the issues important to you.

Office of Senator Evan Bayh

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Things Change

The past week I've spent with my girlfriend. We've only been dating about three weeks, but it was an excellent choice to take a bit of time and just be together. Which explains why I haven't posted anything in quite some time.

In other news, the file hosting service that I use is currently down for the count. They're allegedly upgrading all of their hardware, but something was mixed up in the delivery process. Hopefully they'll be up and running again as soon as possible. They think by Friday. And if that's the case expect more good music soon.

Until then, if you're a blogger, or music lover, then this little program is just for you. It normalizes all of your mp3 files to a standard decibel level of your choosing. It has a slew of great features that make it as easy or as sophisticated as you'd like. Because let's face it, if you're constantly adjusting the volume of your player or speakers, listening to music tends to get a bit frustrating.

mp3 Gain - As with almost everything I endorse it's free and open source. You really should have something like this on your computer.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Josh Ritter

Saying that someone sounds a bit like The Wallflowers, Joe Purdy, or Damien Jurado, and a lot like early Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart might seem a bit like a mashup. True, it reads like Josh is going to sound like a mass confusion of influences and styles and run on sentences. And while his sound is varied and complex I would never for a second suggest that he is distracted. Underrated yes. Conflicted yes. Great musically and lyrically, double yes.

His latest album will easily find it's way into the best of 2006 lists that always seem to crop up late November. It's not a lock for the number one album of the year. It might not even have that much power to it, that much superb originality. What it does have is a weight and childlike mirth to the sound that is captivating. By the second track you'll have already decided that you're going through this album at least twice in a row, maybe more, and you'll want to understand what he's talking about because everyone wants to be a part of something this wonderful.

mp3 : Josh Ritter - Girl in the War
mp3 : Josh Ritter - Good Man (Live on NPR)

buy his latest album, Animal Years, on Amazon for 13.99

Monday, July 17, 2006

SS Mix vol. 1 - Just Say Words

And so begins the Summer Sounds series of mixes. Previously I've posted a slew of EA mix albums for download, and those will continue again this autumn when I return to my studies in East Asia. For now, it is summer, and here we go.

To download the entire mix in one sweet little package get it
here - at yousendit
here - at megaupload

for individual song downloads click below

01 : Dashboard Confessional - Don't Wait : Yes, this song is on every list over the past few weeks. Yes the album is out and waiting for you to own it [ has it for 7.99]. But, it serves as a great kickoff to the summer. This is what summer music has always been for me, and in this mix you'll find more of the same. Breezy, light, lovely, made to spin on the beach, it's all here.

02 : Guster - New Underground : Everyone has said that the new Guster album is a departure for their original sound, but let us all face it, every band out there grows up and matures. In fact, the best bands are the ones that change over time. Trust me, turn to any band that has staying power [at least 10 years] and compare track one of their first album to track one of their recent album and you'll see that this is just the standard of growing up.

03 : Phoneix - Long Distance Call : Sounding like the fresh new mashup of The Strokes and Maroon 5, this French group has a clean, crisp sound that in one way or another grabs your attention. Earlier in the year I recommended their latest album, and I say again, it will not disappoint you. This is my favorite track of the disc, but the rest is really solid.

04 : The Magic Numbers - Love Me Like You : I got their album almost seven months ago, listened to it twice and almost threw it away. Instead I filed it away and let it collect dust. And then a few weeks ago I saw them play this song live on Conan and they blew me away. Since then their disc has been getting heavy rotation and here I go promoting them again.

05 : The Weakerthans - (Hospital Vespers) : One of the most underrated bands since the year 2000. I don't know if it's due to marketing or bad word of mouth. Maybe they play horrible live shows. I just don't understand why this band isn't up there alongside Death Cab or Dashboard as undergound breakout artists. They're talented, they play superbly, and their lyrics tell stories that you care about in the end.

06 : Zach Williams and the Ramparts - Hospital Bed : Zach Williams is on the same level as Asher Lev. Great folk revival that pulls a lot of its morals and lessons from their Christian roots. Much akin to Page France or Sufjan Stevens. I am a firm supporter of Zach Williams and am even considering a myspace petition to get them to change their ridiculous band name. But, I will allow them to call themselves whatever they want as long as they keep making songs like this.

07 : Band of Horses - The Funeral - I just realized that on this mix there are two songs with the word hospital in their titles followed by a song called The Funeral. Maybe I should quick throw something by The Arcade Fire on here. Maybe that would be a bit cliched. Maybe it's all a subconscious reflection on the fact that while I was making this mix my father passed away. I'll never know. But I do know that if I die, I want this song played at my viewing, preferably as a live show by the Band of Horses.

08 : Thom Yorke - Like Spinning Plates : Radiohead will always and forever be at the top of my list of favorite bands. They are far and away the best live show I have ever seen, and I have been around the block. This little rendition comes from when Thom Yorke played a solo show where it is basically Thom and a piano. I love how this song captures the idea of total heart and head confusion. How it captures what it feels like to be lost, and to know that you are gone.

09 : American Dollar - Everyone Gets Shot : In almost every single one of my mixes I've found a way to include an instrumental piece, and here it takes a prominent position. The mix takes a definite left turn after this piece, assuming before this slice of heaven from American Dollar was going in a straight line of melancholic and mostly new music. The next five tracks focus mainly on the voice of lead singer, and so this track serves as a little musical sorbet to reset your palate.

10 : The Strokes - I'll Try Anything Once : Originally a demo take for what would later become You Only Live Once, my first band to hit the obsession mark in my collection, The Strokes, gave this song away for free on their website as well as including it as a b-side on their second single from the album First Impressions of Earth. Although it's obviously a rough cut with some fuzzed keyboards and Julian's scratchy vocals I think I like this version more than the jazzed up, full band version that's on their third album.

11 : Regina Spektor - Samson - I can never decide if she uses Biblical imagery because she believes it or because it tells compelling stories. But in the case of this song I don't care what her motives are. Now, true to Spektor's past, this is one of two or three great songs off of the album it's found on, where the rest are mediocre at best. And I would say that she benefits from the age of digital downloads, where kids buy one song at a time. Anyway, this song is great.

12 : Snow Patrol - Set the Fire to the Third Bar : I don't know why bloggers and critics have trashed on the latest effort by these lovely Brits. This is exactly the type of music they've always made. Strong anthemic ballads. Songs that soar and reach peaks reminiscent of Coldplay or earlier Radiohead. And on this track there's a nice duet vocal with Martha Wainwright, quite a fine catch for such a song.

13 : Feist - Mushaboom (Postal Service Remix) : The original version of this song was included on an earlier mix, one of the EA mixes, and it was good enough to make a second go round. This time Jimmy Tamborello and Ben Gibbard have put their own twist and some of their own vocals on it. They don't change the chemistry too much, but they easily give the song a little bit of an upper, a nice beat, and the pure genius of Ben Gibbards voice.

14 : The Long Winters - Ultimatum (Live at WOXY) : What do you get when you combine one of my favorite bands with one of the best radio stations out there? You get sheer genius. Where the album rendition shines with it's production, sometimes, almost to the point of being overproduced, this live version illustrates how the song is brilliant regardless of how it's reworked. And, if you read this blog enough, you'll find that I'm almost always a sucker for the stripped down version of anything.

15 : The Beta Band - Al Sharp : This song is truly a blast from the past. Very rarely do I find a friend who actually has a Beta Band album on their shelf. And also, just as rarely, do people not fall in love with this quirky little band after the give them a chance. They'll probably always be a fringe band, but I'm not sure that will ever phase the Beta Band at all.

16 : Sufjan Stevens - The Perpetual Self : Everything is lost, oh oh, but I know that you can take it to the Lord. Everything you want, oh oh, is it all that you can gather for yourself? I love Sufjan not simply because his music sounds great. Although a huge part of his allure is the fact that he is a master when it comes to arrangements, the bigger draw for me is that his lyrics are intensely intelligent. He writes brilliant songs, and I guess he would after basically going to school to be a creative writer.

17 : The Walkmen - Another One Goes By : What a perfect ending to this mix. I probably should have saved this song for the ending track to the summer, but it found it's way into my heart and thereby onto this site. I can see this song being played on season finale's from The O.C. to North Shore to the end credits to any big romantic comedy over the next five years. I would even go so far to request this as the last dance at prom, if I was ever to go back in time to attend that wickedly weird even we call prom. It fits great as an ending.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche

Ok, so I know that the venerable Sufjan has been blogged to death. Literally. blogged. to. death. But this blog is in desperate need of an update and, well, Sufjan just happens to have something up for all of us to enjoy.

That's right, on his website [of the asthmatic kitty variety] you can now stream the entire new album. How this helps his album sales I'll never know. I'm sure at least thirty of you have already ripped the stream and are sharing individual files. But I can't be bothered to repeat the dirty work that has already been done.

The Avalanche is the much anticipated followup to Sufjan's latest outing, Illinoise. I guess to call it a followup would be a bit pretentious as in all reality it's really b-sides, outtakes, and material that was originally scrapped from the Illinoise project. Rumor has it that Sufjan originally wrote around 50 songs in the first working over of his second state themed project and if he keeps it up he might surpass Rivers Cuomo as the king of writing too many songs for each album. [at last count Rivers wrote over 150 songs for the latest Weezer disc. ahh, perfectionists abound in the world of not so famous music.]

Anyway, make sure you take a look over on Asthmatic Kitty Records and while you're there check out the stream of Sufjan's latest.

or just click here to go right to the stream