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.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

flashback : the breeders, belly, pixies

so in addition to foo fighters awesomeness the other night, there was also frank black. i wish i was cooler and could impress with my knowledge of the songs he played, but alas, i cannot. at least, however, i can say that i knew it when he played "where is my mind", the pixies song i posted the other day. it sounded good, but i have to say i missed kim deal's part (woooo ooooo). anyway, since i don't know much else about him, i'll have to go off on a little tangent involving her. so during a break from the pixies, kim deal formed the breeders with tanya donelly. together they recorded pod, an album i used to own but never liked, and then tanya split to form one of my favorite bands of the 90's, belly. now separated, both kim and tanya struck alternative rock gold with their respective bands. the breeders had a 'huge' (relatively) hit with "cannonball", off their 1993 release last splash; and belly scored numerous hits, the biggest of which was "feed the tree" off their grammy-nominated 1993 album star. both of these albums were huge in my musical education, with 120 minutes again helping me to gain familiarity with them.

the pixies : "where is my mind?" (mp3)
from the album surfer rosa (1988)

the breeders : "cannonball" (mp3)
from the album last splash (1993)

belly : "slow dog" (mp3)
from the album star (1993)

finally, frank black and kim deal settled the differences that had driven them apart and reunited the pixies in 2004, highlighted by a performance at the coachella valley music and arts festival in may 2004. their set that evening included a performance of "where is my mind", and this time kim deal was there to do her part (wooooo oooooo). see, i tied it all together.

the pixies : "where is my mind?"
from the coachella dvd (2006)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

foo fighters, at pantages theatre, august 29th, 2006

"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...

foo fighters : "friend of a friend" (mp3)

from the album in your honor (2005)
he needs a quiet room
with a lock to keep him in
it's just a quiet room
and he's there
he plays an old guitar
with a coin found by the phone
it was his friend's guitar
that he played

he's never been in love
but he knows just what love is
he says nevermind
and no one speaks
he thinks he drinks too much
cause when he tells his two best friends
'i think i drink too much'
no one speaks


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

frank black

opening for the foos tonight is 1994's teenager of the year, frank black. to be honest i need to educate myself on the greatness of the pixies, but i did recently buy an itunes-exclusive collection of b-sides and rarities he put out with his band the catholics, called snake oil. if these are his b-sides, i can't wait to check out his a-sides. the first track, "take what you want", has a 50's prom night feel to it, so much so that i had to check to see if it was a cover of someone like a chuck berry. the second track is in fact a cover, of bob dylan's "belle isle" from the forgettable 1970 release self portrait. "belle isle" is the one that got me interested in this album in the first place, as the story it tells seemed to mirror concurrent events in my life, events which are probably too personal for me to ever put down here. but it's still a great song and black adds a little zest and electric guitar to the mix. just the first song for download for now, along with a little pixies love. i watched "fight club" for the first time the other night and was excited to hear "where is my mind?" at the very end of it. interesting movie and not at all what i was expecting. i think i may have to watch it again...

frank black and the catholics : "take what you want" (mp3)
from the album snake oil (2006)

the pixies : "where is my mind?" (mp3)
from the album surfer rosa (1988)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

::: fighter of foo :::

the next show i'm going to is foo fighters, at pantages theatre, this tuesday august 29th. i've never been a huge foo fighters fan, especially recently, but their first couple of albums were very good. and the chance to see a concert at pantages theatre was an opportunity i could not pass up. the three shows they are doing in l.a. are all acoustic performances, apparently highlighting disc 2 of their 2005 release, in your honor. i've been trying, but i just can't seem to get into that cd... but anyhow, the tickets indicate that the performance is to be filmed, so hopefully dave grohl and co. will play some other songs off their earlier albums. in any event, it should be good. my two favorite foo fighters songs come from their second release, 1997's the colour and the shape.

foo fighters : "hey, johnny park!" (mp3)
foo fighters : "up in arms" (mp3)

from the album the colour and the shape (1997)

apparently, petra haden of the decemberists has been playing with the foos on their current tour. i haven't had a chance to really check out the decemberists or any of petra's solo ventures (including an a capella exercise replicating the who sell out using only her voice, for instrumentation included), but i do know petra from that dog, a 90's band fronted by the lovely anna waronker. they didn't last too long, but did put out a few albums, including a nice one in 1997 that no one seems to have bought except me

that dog : "never say never" (mp3)
from the album retreat from the sun (1997)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

austin city limits : rilo kiley, part 3

part 3 of 3 of rilo kiley's austin city limits performance.

05 does he love you?

06 i love l.a.

07 interview


Friday, August 25, 2006

m. ward on the late show

apparently i am incapable of going more than a few days without posting something m. ward related...but hey, it's m. ward so that's okay right? the new album drops on tuesday, but in the meantime he made his network television debut last night on the late show with david letterman. good for him, finally some big time exposure. the song was "chinese translation", a great pick to initiate the uninitiated, and one of the guys in his band (i'll have to figure out his name because he was cool) played what dave said looked like "part of a truck wheel". and it did! carefully watch the guitar solo near the end of the song--when i saw m. ward solo last year at the john ansen ford amphitheatre, i swear it looks like he plays with six fingers on his hand. i have to say, i really, really appreciated his solo performance and so wasn't sure what to think when i heard the new album and the new tour would be his first with a backing band. but from the looks and sound of this performance it looks like it will be just as great. can't wait until september 28th!

m. ward : "chinese translation"
from the late show with david letterman, august 24, 2006


austin city limits : rilo kiley, part 2

part 2 of 3 of rilo kiley's performance on austin city limits.

03 ripchord

04 the absence of god


Thursday, August 24, 2006

austin city limits : rilo kiley, part 1

i don't really have much to say about rilo kiley, except that they are freakin awesome! jenny lewis and blake sennett both put out cd's on their own this year, and i consider both among my favorites for the year so far. still waiting on the next rilo kiley album though, which hopefully will be soon. in the meantime, here's the first of three posts of their performance on austin city limits, originally aired on october 8, 2005.

01 pull me tighter

02 more adventurous


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

the soundtrack of my life : sunset rubdown

sunset rubdown : "shut up i am dreaming of places where lovers have wings" (mp3)
from the album shut up i am dreaming (2006)

on my drive back down to orange county on sunday, i stopped off in monterey to visit the monterey bay aquarium since it had been a while since i had last been. after exiting the freeway, there is a tunnel in the city of monterey on the way to cannery row, where the aquarium is located. it's not a big tunnel, as tunnels go, but it is long enough to honk your horn to some effect. i think most people like driving through tunnels, if for no other reason than just the novelty of it. after all, how often do you get to drive through one? but i think there's something else to it too. i think there must be a survival instinct inherent in all of us, preventing us from feeling truly comfortable in situations in which we are surrounded by an impenetrable wall on nearly all sides. though it may not rise to the level of consciousness, maybe there is a quiet fear, hidden just below the surface, that once you get into that tunnel you may never get out. perhaps there is a certain amount of excitement--of risk--that accompanies driving through tunnels...

anyway, i was thinking of none of this on sunday as i was driving through monterey. i had sunset rubdown going on my ipod and was listening to the last track, "shut up i am dreaming of places where lovers have wings", as i approached the tunnel. and just as i entered, the song went to the solo part at 3:13 (i don't even know what that is--guitar? keyboard?). thirty seconds of hyperactive chaos which just seemed to embody the tunnel--the claustrophobia, the feeling of being boxed in and assaulted from all sides, and the delicate order of the cars next to me that could very well be on the brink of spinning out of control. and it just made sense to me, this part of the song, at this particular instant.

i love it when that happens, when a connection is made with the art we love, in which a particular song or film or writing takes up residence in our everday life. when real life and make believe meet, in the middle of the vast expanse which is the human experience, in which lines intersect and boundaries are blurred. it doesn't happen that often but i certainly recognize when it does. and for me, listening to this song will forever trigger the memory of this place, this time, this version of myself. the phone is ringing...shut up. i am dreaming


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

there are no bad words for the coast today

being a california boy for life, it's sometimes easy to take for granted the magnificent scenic beauty of this place i live. i've lived much of my life not more than 5 miles from the ocean and yet sometimes it's obscene how rarely i actually see it. and usually outta sight equals outta mind...

enter this past weekend. i was up in the bay area for my cousin's wedding (a lucky guy he is, but that's another post) on saturday. i typically try to make the drive each way as quick as possible, not wanting to waste a whole day in the car. on a good day i can do it in five and a half hours. but this time, feeling the need for a bit of a battery recharge, i decided to take monday off from work and take highway 1 along the central coast, a drive that is much longer and slower but, as it turns out, completely worth it. here are just a few of my highlights...

a little secluded spot just south of carmel.

the sheer, rocky cliffs that line the shore are just magnificent and really make you appreciate that this is, in fact, the edge of a continent.

mcway falls, just south of big sur, is possibly my favorite sight that i have ever witnessed. the combination of ocean, waterfall, sand, rocks, and surf is just breathtaking to behold.

sometimes you have to consciously remind yourself of the existence of a world on the other side of the highway. if i had forgotten, look at what i would have missed.

it just keeps going and going, an endless bounty of the beauty of mother nature.

sand is overrated. it's just tiny little rocks.
sunset in morro bay. the perfect end to a perfect day.
in the end it was the most rewarding drive i have ever taken, leaving me refreshed and recharged. while i know it will always be easy, in the hum and drum of everyday life, to lose focus of the beauty that surrounds me, i will always be able to quickly recall the visions in my memory of this trip. and in those visions are a constant reminder of how much i love california. and i know i'm not the only one...

tom petty and the heartbreakers : "california" (mp3)
from the album songs and music from the motion picture "she's the one" (1996)
california's been good to me / hope it don't fall into the sea / sometimes you gotta trust yourself / it ain't like anywhere else

billy bragg & wilco : "california stars" (mp3)
from the album mermaid avenue (1998)
i'd like to dream my troubles all away / on a bed of california stars / jump up from my starbed and make another day / underneath my california stars / they hang like grapes on vines that shine / and warm the lover's glass like friendly wine / so, i'd give this world / just to dream a dream with you / on a bed of california stars

rilo kiley : "pictures of success" (mp3)
from the album take offs and landings (2001)
they say california is a recipe for a black hole / i say i've got my best shoes on / i'm ready to go

Thursday, August 17, 2006


one of my favorite things about living in southern california, besides maybe the weather, is kcrw, 89.9 on the fm dial. kcrw is a national public radio ( station on which you'll usually hear news and news-related programs, but they do have an independent music program directed by one of the savviest, most knowledgable guys in the business, nic harcourt. he hosts a weekday morning show called morning becomes eclectic, along with a syndicated sunday evening show called sounds eclectic. during the week on mbe, he'll have two to three live in-studio sessions with an assortment of bands and artists, nearly all of which are archived in audio and video on the kcrw website. it's a listener-supported station, funded for the most part by contributions from its many subscribers (will ferrell called in this morning and gave $5000 to help the pledge drive get back on track after the system computers crashed...aww). as such, they don't have anyone telling them what to play, and the product is in stark contrast to the mind-numbing banality of commercial radio. for me, kcrw represents one of the few conventional outlets left to find good new music.

i say all of this because they are currently conducting one of their two semi-annual pledge drives, and i just renewed my membership for the fourth year. i can be as thrifty as they come, but i have no problem giving money to things i really believe in, and kcrw is definitely one of those things. through their music program i have been introduced to so much new music over the past five years, and for that i am eternally grateful. as part of my subscription this year i took a four pack of cds by zero 7, the raconteurs, the submarines, and the concretes. here's a little something from each of these artists...

zero 7 : "home" (mp3)
from the album when it falls (2004)
featuring the vocal stylings of the lovely sia

the raconteurs : "steady as she goes" (mp3)
from the album broken boy soldiers (2006)
jack white's and brendan benson's other band

the submarines : "peace and hate" (mp3)
from the album declare a new state! (2006)
posted this yesterday, but worth a second look

the concretes : "say something new" (mp3)
also check out the video (mov)

from the album the concretes (2004)
victoria bergsman's vocals remind me of hope sandoval on this track, which i think was featured in a commercial recently, but i can't remember for what (coke?)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

male/female vocal...

what can i say, i'm a sucker for songs about relationships, especially when they involve male/female vocal duets where the verses alternate as if it is perfectly normal to have a conversation in song. here are three of my favorite recent such songs, along with what is probably my very favorite, from way back in 1994.

john dragnetti and blake hazard
the submarines : "peace and hate" (mp3)
from the album declare a new state! (2006)

torquil campbell and amy millan
stars : "your ex-lover is dead" (mp3)
from the album set yourself on fire (2004)

ben gibbard and jen wood
the postal service : "nothing better" (mp3)
from the album give up (2003)

(my favorite and just rereleased!)
jim reid and hope sandoval
the jesus and mary chain : "sometimes always" (mp3)
from the album stoned & dethroned (1994)

anything else?

what do you do with the pieces of a broken heart?


a bit of excitement for a monday...the merge records site is now streaming m. ward's new release, post-war, finally allowing a listen to the record in its entirety. this comes only one week before its official release, but still, c'mon. find the stream here:

meanwhile, the first single off post-war is chinese translation and, according to the merge site, a video for said song is "world premiering" today, august 14th, on mtvu and apparently they don't count youtube, on which the video was posted three weeks ago. in any event, pure, unadulterated awesomeness.

m. ward : "chinese translation" (mp3)

120 minutes


back in the days when mtv used to actually play music videos, there was a show called 120 minutes on sunday nights at midnight. i used to tape it and that was the highlight of my monday, watching it after school during my high school days. the earliest i can remember watching is sometime in 1991, my freshman year. what was playing that year...

lenny kravitz : "it ain't over 'til it's over" (mp3)

live : "operation spirit (the tyranny of tradition)" (mp3)

matthew sweet : "girlfriend" (mp3)

what's the use in regrets? they're just lessons we haven't learned yet


the most recent show i went to was beth orton at the avalon on july 31st. i've been a big fan of ms. orton for a long while now, since her first album trailer park came out in 1996. she would probably be most commonly categorized as a folk artist, but she's also shown an inclination for electronica, as reflected in several songs off her first two albums and her collaborations with the likes of the chemical brothers and william orbit. i think she's at her best though when it's just her, an acoustic guitar, and that voice. although she might not be the most technically proficient singer (not that i would know), she sings with as much emotion as anyone i've heard.

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.

the other thing that makes beth such a favorite of mine is her songwriting. heart of soul, off comfort of strangers, has a stanza that just blows me away:

"and you, you look at me in disbelief / like you could teach me God / when all of a sudden i’m consumed by love / and you, are all lighting up / with your heart of gold / and everything we touch just turns to soul"
"heart of soul" (mp3)

just beth and her acoustic guitar, feel to believe, off central reservation is one of my favorite songs by anyone. the emotion in her voice at 2:28 is unbelievably raw:

" if i lose you, could you find me? / or would you walk right by me? / the soul and the spirit, each have got their own limit"
"feel to believe" (mp3)

"what's the use in regrets? / they're just things we haven't done yet / what are regrets? / they're just lessons we haven't learned yet"
"sweetest decline" (mp3)


darth vader being a smartass




so i go to a lot of shows. i started a blog on yahoo 360 to keep track of them for 2006, but this seems like a much better place to do that. so here's what i've seen so far:

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 and 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 of Spoon

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

little miss sunshine


i saw a great movie on sunday called little miss sunshine. it's about a clan of six, each dysfunctional in their own way, who make up a surprisingly functional family. they take a road trip from albuquerque to redondo beach in their beaten down vw van so that 7-year-old olive can compete in the little miss sunshine beauty pageant. and of course on the way hilarity ensues. great characters, great performances (abigail breslin as olive is a revelation), and a few unexpected surprises. it's a bit of an indie flick and not in wide release, but i would highly recommend it if you can find it playing near you. watch the trailer here

two music connections to note: this is the feature film debut for directors jonathan dayton and valerie faris. they are more well known, at least to me, for directing music videos, including those for the smashing pumpkins, red hot chili peppers, and weezer. their video for the pumpkins' tonight, tonight has to be considered among their best works

"tonight, tonight" (youtube video)

also, the film features two tracks by sufjan stevens, another favorite of mine. sufjan (SOOF-yun) plays every instrument i can think of, creating a multi-layered sound that complements his voice perfectly. many of his songs reflect his strong christian faith, but i always get the feeling that he's singing about what he believes, not what you should believe. that's something i can appreciate. this song, played during the credits of little miss sunshine, is not one of those songs. rather, this one is part of his supposed vision to make an album for every state in the u.s. so far he's done two, 2003's greetings from michigan and 2005's illinois. he recently released the avalanche, a collection of outtakes from his illinois sessions that includes the song no man's land. as such, this song takes him across the state of illinois and to the conclusion that

"this land is not your land / for the right hand takes what it can / ransacks with the mad man / for this land is not yours or mine to have /this land was made for the good of itself"

"no man's land" (mp3)

i love m. ward


fitting that my first music post is m. ward, one of the many merge records artists i love.

i was initially going to take the name for my blog from this song by mr. ward. although i didn't think his 2005 release, transistor radio, was quite as strong as his previous albums, particularly 2003's transfiguration of vincent, this song may well be my favorite m. ward song of all. there's just something about the gentle rhythm of his guitar and the quietness in his voice that just relaxes the soul.

"lullaby + exile" (mp3)

his new album, post-war, is due out august 22nd. first album with a full band for m. ward, and from what i've heard it sounds like it's going to rock quite a bit more than previous albums. even though i love his mellow side, the new stuff sounds sooooo good. this one's got backing vocals by the wonderful neko case, who i'm sure i'll be featuring soon.

"to go home" (mp3)

so what uh.....what's goin on?


who am i and what is the point of this place? i'm just a guy who loves music. i think everyone has their thing, in which they find their own bliss. for me, for whatever reason, it's always been music. it started when i was 9 or 10 years old and my brother and i got the cassette for inxs's kick. not longer after that i received u2's the joshua tree for christmas, which i still consider one of my favorite albums ever. when you find something like that, at such a young age, well i guess i had no other choice but to love music. my taste is fairly eclectic, but mostly focused on the indie rock scene.

for a while now i have been surfing the many music blogs that exist on the net, finding new stuff and old stuff alike. it's a great resource for someone like me and so i decided i might as well join in. the point is to share things that i love and that interest me, and spread the word on music i know a lot of people will have never heard before. if i can help just one person find their new favorite band or new favorite song, i will be happy. and in case you're wondering, i'm honestly not exactly sure what the legal issues are in regards to posting songs for download, but i do know that the record companies have left these music blogs alone--it is, after all, free advertising. and 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.


different name, same place

another name for my blog. hopefully this one will stick. the title is a line from the movie "eternal sunshine of the spotless mind"

i think since i've not yet done too much on musicisbliss, i might as well transfer over all those posts, eh?

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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