sand is overrated

all songs posted are for evaluation only. if you hear something you like and would like to hear more, please go ahead and support the artists by buying their music--i will always include links for you to do so. copyright holders: if anything on my site needs to be taken down, please email me and it will be removed immediately.

Friday, December 15, 2006

2006 is overrated, part 1: tracks of the year (13-20) and concerts of the year

here is the first of three parts of my 2006 is overrated end-of-the-year-lists. part two, tracks of the year (1-12), comes tomorrow; and part three, albums of the year, will run on sunday. enjoy!

tracks of the year (13-20)
i had hoped to provide comments for each of these tracks but i've run out of steam under the sheer weight of this whole undertaking.

loose fur : "the ruling class" mp3
from the lp born again in the usa (drag city)

damien rice : "9 crimes" mp3
from the lp 9 (vector recordings)

frank black and the catholics : "take what you want" mp3
from the lp snake oil (itms exclusive)

belle & sebastian : "sukie in the graveyard" mp3
from the lp the life pursuit (matador records)

joseph arthur : "black lexus" mp3
from the lp nuclear daydream (lonely astronaut records)

the lemonheads : "become the enemy" mp3
from the lp the lemonheads (vagrant records)

cat power : "the greatest" mp3
from the lp the greatest (matador records)

sufjan stevens : "opie's funeral song" mp3
from the compilation mews too : an asthmatic kitty collection (asthmatic kitty)

tracks 12-1, with meaningless comments, coming tomorrow in part two

concerts of the year

sufjan stevens : the wiltern theatre (october 9, 2006)

this was easily the best show i saw all year. from my post that night: the show, to put it simply, was amazing. sometimes the hype around a particular artist is so intense that it becomes impossible to not be let down upon finally hearing that song, buying that album, or seeing that concert. that's what i was honestly afraid of heading into tonight. i felt like my expectations were a little excessive heading into this show, so much so that i was worried that it couldn't possibly live up to what i dreamed it would be. but it was. it so was. and more. wow. pretty much everything about this show was perfect. from my brightest diamond playing an alternatingly beautiful and rocking set, capped off with a song by nina simone; to the atmosphere created by the 15-member band (my brightest diamond included) wearing an assortment of butterfly wings; to the myriad instrumental sections including strings and brass, guitar and banjo, piano and...what was that? a vibraphone?; to the acoustics and the lighting of the wiltern, which has never disappointed me; to the beautiful harmonizing provided by shara worden; to sufjan himself; this show was just perfect. he played a nice assortment of songs from 2003's greetings from michigan, 2004's seven swans, and 2005's illinois, including my favorite song of last year, "the predatory wasp of the palisades is out to get us!" and it is impossible not to like sufjan, for a more humble and gracious performer he could not seem to be. oh, and the other thing--LA fans tend to have a reputation for being disinterested, but this crowd tonight made me so proud. at the start of the performance, as sufjan prepared to play the piano, it was so unbelievably quiet you could hear a pin drop. that in itself speaks volumes about sufjan's importance and the attention that he commands (commands, but i get the feeling, does not crave). so, all in all.......WOW.

beth orton : the avalon (july 31, 2006)

from my august 16th post: this was the third time i'd seen beth live and the second time this year. she played a show in march, also at the avalon, during which she struggled a bit with her voice on account of a chest cold. this time she was healthy, in great spirits, and her voice was flat-out amazing. she played mostly songs off her most recent album, comfort of strangers, with her band for about an hour, came back with them for one encore, and then came back out by herself with her acoustic guitar for a second encore. she asked for requests from the audience and played songs from all of her albums, including crowd favorites "sugar boy", "someone's daughter", and "stolen car". her personality is a joy, both silly and engaging with a hint of over-gracious shyness. all in all, it was a great show and probably my favorite one so far this year.

foo fighters : pantages theatre (august 29, 2006)

from my august 30th post: "are you guys ready? i am." was the way dave grohl prefaced the evening, solo in the spotlight, accompanied only by his acoustic guitar. the crowd hushed as he quietly played in your honor album closer "razor", towards the end of which the full band joined him on stage and promptly kicked the song into high gear. the music was perfect, the lights were perfect, the crowd was perfect. this was going to be goooooood. it's difficult to think sometimes that, at one point, dave grohl was known only as "the drummer for nirvana". he has so successfully reinvented and, purposefully or not, distanced himself from those years, beginning of course with the switch from drums to guitar, that you can't help but be amazed by how much talent this guy has. he is one of the most complete performers i think i have ever seen--he plays drums, he plays guitar, he writes good music, he writes good lyrics, he can sing the ballads, he can scream the rockers, he's engaging, funny, and witty, and, through all of that, still comes across as completely genuine and down to earth. he just loves what he does. and it was all on full display last night. i have to admit--i'm not a huge foo fighters fan and thus i was not overly excited to go to this show. but wow. i'm pretty sure it goes beyond the relative ease of surpassing low expectations, because these guys just sounded great. they were incredibly tight, every instrument seemed to be leveled perfectly, and they played a good mix of new songs and old classics. perhaps the only misstep of the night was when petra haden took the lead vocals of floaty, off the foo's self-titled debut. maybe it was just her microphone level was too low, but she just did not sound very good. add to that the striking difference in stage presence between her and dave grohl (although, to be fair, not too many people can match his stage presence), and it just seemed like a hiccup in an otherwise fabulous performance. i really hate to say that, because i was actually very excited to see petra perform. i was delighted when dave grohl introduced her and made note of her time playing with that dog, even though i think i may have been the only one in the audience who had any clue what he was talking about. but the song, with her vocals, just sounded, well, amateurish. ouch.

the absolute highlight of the evening though was the beginning of the encore, when dave came back out solo and told the audience that the great thing about these acoustic performances was that it gave him a chance to talk to the audience and tell some of the stories behind some of the songs. to my complete surprise, he then went into how he and his band were stranded in LA so many years ago and eventually got hooked up with kurt cobain and krist novoselic. it was fascinating to hear him tell about his initial reaction upon first meeting the two: "oh no....these guys are weird". it never really occurred to me until as he was telling the story, but dave grohl really only knew his two new bandmates for four years and, considering how vastly different the personalities seemed to be, it doesn't seem to have been as close of a friendship as i always seemed to imagine it. eventually, dave and kurt shared a one-bedroom apartment and when they weren't practicing it was, according to dave, hell. he took to writing songs on an acoustic guitar during those times and wrote a song about his two new friends, called "friend of a friend", that he put on the new foo fighters album. the best part about this whole sequence was that, after he had introduced the song and said "it sounds like this", the plug for his guitar malfunctioned. he tried it a few times ("it sounds like this...") and then finally a guitar tech came out to bring him another guitar, to which dave said "this tension right here is not unlike the tension i felt in that house". pure, spot-on brilliance...

and just in case you're wondering, these are the concerts i had to choose from:

death cab for cutie : uci bren events center (december 5, 2006)
jenny lewis with the watson twins

sufjan stevens : the wiltern theatre (october 9, 2006)
my brightest diamond

m. ward : the music box at henry fonda (september 28, 2006)

andrew bird : the music box at henry fonda (september 21, 2006)

foo fighters : pantages theatre (august 29, 2006)
frank black

beth orton : the avalon (july 31, 2006)

the flaming lips : hollywood bowl (july 23, 2006)
thievery corporation
os mutantes

camera obscura : the troubadour (july 19, 2006)

belle & sebastian with l.a. philharmonic : hollywood bowl (july 6, 2006)
the shins

pearl jam : great western forum (july 9, 2006)
sonic youth

neko case : the music box at henry fonda (june 23, 2006)
sonny smith

eels : the galaxy theatre (may 28, 2006)

kcrw presents a sounds eclectic evening : gibson amphitheatre (march 25, 2006)
death cab for cutie
franz ferdinand
ben harper
britt daniel

beth orton : the avalon (march 24, 2006)
willie mason

belle & sebastian : the wiltern theatre (march 19, 2006)
the new pornagraphers

stars : the avalon (february 11, 2006)
the elected

jenny lewis with the watson twins : vista theatre (february 2, 2006)
jonathan rice


Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok negative points for putting Sufjan in front of Damien, B&S and Cat Power.

Ohhhh but I am excited to see your 1-12 though. I know m.ward will be there. ;)

By the way I am so jealous you got to see B&S with the LA Philharmonic I heard that show was phenomenal!

Once again though you put Sufjan in front. I am so not on the bus!

I so just had deja vu. How odd.

December 15, 2006 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger tad said...

you are such a little stinker! :-P

yep you know i am all over the m. ward. m. ward for president!

the belle & sebastian show with la phil was quite unforgettable. it might have been #3 if dave grohl wasn't so freakin' talented

December 15, 2006 at 11:26 AM  

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all songs posted are for evaluation only. if you hear something you like and would like to hear more, please go ahead and support the artists by buying their music--i will always include links for you to do so. copyright holders: if anything on my site needs to be taken down, please email me and it will be removed immediately.

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