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.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

laura gibson

been pretty busy the past few days, a trend that doesn't look to let up anytime soon. but at least i have some good music to tide me by. the past few days i've been listening to a singer by the name of laura gibson, who comes from the same adam selzer (norfolk and western) portland-based scene that nurtured and gave rise to the decemberists and m. ward. this is pretty, quiet, acoustic, folk music heard especially well on a cold, dark, grey day like today. the vocals are delicate, wistful, and at times recall chan marshall or regina spektor at her least eccentric. the instrumentation consists of various arrangements of acoustic guitar, piano, various strings and trumpets, and even a saw on "nightwatch" and "wintering". i wish i had the time to devote to this record a more thorough review, but anyway i don't think that anything i could say would convince you any more effectively than you just listening to the songs.

laura gibson : "hands in pockets" mp3
from the lp if you come to greet me (hush records, 2006)
so goes another winter slowy
hands in the pockets of my coat
you'll be first to spin your story
i'll be the last to let you go
laura gibson : "small town parade" mp3
from the lp if you come to greet me (hush records, 2006)
well maybe i could turn you from your wandering ways
you could rescue me from all my stupid mistakes
you could be the saint and i could be naive
laura gibson : "wintering" mp3
from the lp if you come to greet me (hush records, 2006)
i may call you up
i may be inclined
to get drunk on words
to be short on time
[official site]
[on hush records]
[on myspace]

Saturday, January 27, 2007


just watch.

and then know that rodrigo y gabriela are playing at kcrw's sixth annual a sounds eclectic evening, saturday april 14th at gibson amphitheatre. also confirmed so far are the shins, lily allen, cold war kids, and bitter:sweet. there are always later confirmations leading up to the show, and it would not surprise me to see arcade fire show up this year. tickets on sale february 15th to members only, and you pretty much must be a member to get decent tickets to this show. not a kcrw member? their biannual subscription drive is on now, so now is your chance to support a great station and get some free stuff in the process. subscribe online or call 800.600.kcrw (800.600.5279)

rodrigo y gabriela : "diablo rojo (live on the tonight show)" mp3
from the tonight show with jay leno (january 26, 2007)
from the lp rodrigo y gabriela (ato records, 2006)


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

his lips are moving but...

blah blah blah blah 9/11. stand up clap clap sit down. blah blah blah terrorists. stand up clap clap sit down. blah blah blah blah extremism. stand up clap clap clap sit down. blah blah nucular weapons on the korean peninshula. stand up clap ("peninshula"?) clap sit down. blah blah blah al qaeda. stand up clap clap sit down. blah blah blah blah saddam, bin laden, zarqawi. stand up clap clap clap clap sit down. blah blah so we don't have to fight them at home. stand up clap clap clap sit down. blah blah blah blah victory.
the issue is much broader. it's whether we want to live in a free society or whether we want to live under what amounts to a form of self-imposed totalitarianism, with the bewildered herd marginalized, directed elsewhere, terrified, screaming patriotic slogans, fearing for their lives and admiring with awe the leader who saved them from destruction while the educated masses goose-step on command, repeat the slogans they're supposed to repeat, the society deteriorates at home, and we end up serving as a mercenary enforcer state, hoping that others are going to pay us to smash up the world.
-- noam chomsky - the history of u.s. propaganda (thanks shane)
radiohead : "sit down. stand up." mp3
from the lp hail to the thief (capitol records, 2003)

Monday, January 22, 2007

the puffy chair

among the tuesday releases for tomorrow, january 23rd, is the dvd wide release of the puffy chair, a film by the duplass brothers. starring and written by mark and directed by jay, the film is an unflinching, brutally honest take on relationships (romantic and otherwise), from creation to maintenance to--well, i won't spoil it for you. the performances are exquisite, with mark duplass and real-life girlfriend kathryn aselton playing their on-screen counterparts josh and emily, and rhett wilkins playing josh's brother rhett in a turn that can only be described as 'rad'. the title chair is the objective of a journey that takes the three on a bumbling series of travails that expose rifts and fissures in josh and emily's relationship that threaten to destroy them both. the dialogue and interaction between the three main characters are at times sharp and precise to the point that it is sometimes disconcerting how closely to home it hits. these are three people so obviously relationship-inept, and yet they are still so highly recognizable...could it be? everyone has a little of this inside of them, so yes, it be.

the movie also works because it is just teeming with indie pop gems. the unreleased soundtrack for the movie includes death cab for cutie (used in the movie as a lloyd dobler update for the 00's), spoon, decibully, saturday looks good to me, matt pond pa, and of montreal.

death cab for cutie : "transatlanticism" mp3
from the lp transatlanticism (barsuk records, 2003)

spoon : "the way we get by" mp3
from the lp kill the moonlight (merge records, 2002)

decibully : "meg and magill" mp3
from the lp sing out america (polyvinyl records, 2005)

saturday looks good to me : "alcohol" mp3
from the lp all your summer songs (polyvinyl records, 2003)

matt pond pa : "closer" mp3
from the lp the nature of maps (polyvinyl records, 2002)

of montreal : "disconnect the dots" mp3
from the lp satanic panic in the attic (polyvinyl records, 2004)


"i would love some"

just because this made me laugh harder than anything has in a long time. and because don hertzfeldt is The Man. visit bitter films.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

camera obscura and arcade fire

what a busy week. i am now in the midst of the last class i should ever have to take, so that's good. but class coupled with work coupled with a decision to explore some other job opportunities has left me short on time. and unfortunately that looks like the way it will be for the next few months. hopefully i'll find time to do one or two posts during the week and then one or two posts on the weekend. for now here are just a few music items from the past week.

i listened to my 10,000th song on yesterday. my most-listened-to artist is now camera obscura, who through 3 lps and a handful of eps and singles i have yet to hear a song from that i don't like. let's get out of this country was my favorite album of 2006, and they could become my m. ward of 2007--an artist that i mention seemingly every other post.

neon bible, the forthcoming album by arcade fire, can now be pre-ordered directly from the merge records site. pre-orders of the regular cd have a special price of $10 and will be shipped to arrive on or around the march 6 release date. but, what you should really do is pre-order the special deluxe edition for $15, which includes two 32-page flip books designed by the band. or, if vinyl is your thing, you can get the lp for $17. whatever you decide on, all pre-orders also receive a neon bible poster and "other assorted goodies", which merge is always very good at. head on over there.

and while you're there, you can also pick up "if looks could kill", camera obscura's new sin-glay from let's get out of this country. the digipak cd includes two b-sides, "hands up baby" and "alaska". it's apparently a 2,500 count limited edition single, so better act fast. head on over there.

there is also a limited edition 7" vinyl version of "if looks could kill", available through what i guess is the band's international distribution label, elefant records. the vinyl version includes a different b-side than the cd single, a cover of the paris sisters song "i love how you love me". head on over there.

camera obscura : "hands up baby" (stream)
from the cd single if looks could kill (merge records, 2007)

camera obscura : "i love how you love me" (stream)
from the vinyl single if looks could kill (elefant records, 2007)

per the band's request, no downloads today only streams. right-click and copy the link locations, then open them in real player (or real player alternative). "i love how you love me" can also be streamed on the band's myspace page. and come tuesday, you should be able to download these tunes for 99 cents through the itunes music store.

Monday, January 15, 2007

just a test

i switched on over to the new blogger today, so just to make sure that everything is still working...

beastie boys : "just a test" mp3
from the lp hello nasty (capitol records, 1998)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

letters from iwo jima

letters from iwo jima, clint eastwood's companion piece to flags of our fathers, finally arrived at my local independent theater and i could not run fast enough to see it. it's a devastating condemnation of the futility of war, made all the more poignant by the current global atmosphere and president bush's address to the nation this past wednesday.

being of japanese ancestry, i am uncomfortably familiar with the reputation of the world war ii era japanese as a viciously ferocious enemy, capable of committing outrageous war-time atrocities. given the historical evidence, how much of this reputation is based on patent truth versus propagandizing is probably not even up for debate. it is a behavior that is a product of a historically intense cultural and civic pride, and one that favors suicide as death with honor over the humiliation of defeat. it is a result of the dehumanization that must occur, to varying extent, for ordinary civilians to become soldiers, willing to kill and be killed in the name of reasons they may not truly understand. and it is not a condition restricted only to those we fight against, as evidenced by the events committed at iraq's abu ghraib prison. letters from iwo jima raises one of the most important truths about war--that despite the dehumanization forced upon ourselves, and the demonization of our enemies, humanity still lies beneath the cloak and uniform of the men on both sides. and all is most certainly lost, no matter the military outcome, when that humanity is lost altogether. that is a lesson that men in all corners of the world would do well to remember in times like these. from kenneth turan of the l.a. times:
it's not that we want the japanese to win the war; it's that we absolutely do not want these men we've come to know intimately to lose their lives. the laconic, pitiless way eastwood shot the violence of battle underscores what a waste it all is, underlines the futility that so many have to die because of the misguided ideology of a few in leadership positions.

that notion is summarized beautifully in, of all places, a short story by sholem aleichem, the great yiddish writer. he tells of a naive young man drafted into a european army in world war i who is commanded to shoot when the enemy attacks. the attack comes, the recruit doesn't shoot and the enraged officer points at the enemy and repeats the order. "over there?" the man asks, confused. "but there are people over there."

just so.
"masters of war" is a song released in 1963, and yet it remains strikingly relevant today. who else could write it but bob dylan himself.

bob dylan : "masters of war" mp3
from the lp the freewheelin' bob dylan (columbia, 1963)
come you masters of war
you that build all the guns
you that build the death planes
you that build the big bombs
you that hide behind walls
you that hide behind desks
i just want you to know
i can see through your masks

you that never done nothin'
but build to destroy
you play with my world
like it's your little toy
you put a gun in my hand
and you hide from my eyes
and you turn and run farther
when the fast bullets fly

like judas of old
you lie and deceive
a world war can be won
you want me to believe
but i see through your eyes
and i see through your brain
like i see through the water
that runs down my drain

you fasten the triggers
for the others to fire
then you set back and watch
when the death count gets higher
you hide in your mansion
as young people's blood
flows out of their bodies
and is buried in the mud

you've thrown the worst fear
that can ever be hurled
fear to bring children
into the world
for threatening my baby
unborn and unnamed
you ain't worth the blood
that runs in your veins

how much do i know
to talk out of turn
you might say that i'm young
you might say i'm unlearned
but there's one thing i know
though i'm younger than you
even jesus would never
forgive what you do

let me ask you one question
is your money that good
will it buy you forgiveness
do you think that it could
i think you will find
when your death takes its toll
all the money you made
will never buy back your soul

and i hope that you die
and your death'll come soon
i will follow your casket
in the pale afternoon
and i'll watch while you're lowered
down to your deathbed
and i'll stand o'er your grave
'til i'm sure that you're dead

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

oops, did he do it again?

i've been sitting on this post for about a week and a half now, hoping that i wouldn't have to actually publish it in the event that our fine president actually came to his senses. but, as seems to be his habit, he has chosen to ignore reason in favor of his own misguided ambition. so, here we go.

in november, the nation made what it thought was a repudiation of bush's policy on iraq, wresting away control of both houses of congress from the republicans, essentially making the statement that the current state of affairs in iraq is unacceptable. soon after, army gen. john abizaid, the central commander (!) of u.s. forces in the middle east, expressed his opposition to a surge in troop levels in testimony to the senate armed services committee. his language could not be more clear: "i do not believe that more american troops right now is the solution to the problem. i believe that the troop levels need to stay where they are." two weeks later, the bipartisan baker/hamilton iraq study group issued its assessment of the iraq situation, making 79 recommendations of action, including a strong urging for a phased withdrawal. a december los angeles times/bloomberg poll found only 12% of americans favored sending more troops to iraq. just before the end of 2006, the u.s. military surpassed 3,000 lives lost in iraq, with nearly all (nearly 2,900) of those deaths occurring since bush so proudly declared "mission accomplished" in may of 2003.

so what does our president decide to do? send in more troops, of course. well make no mistake--hopefully it works. but is there any specific evidence that a troop increase of this size will actually make any difference? is there any timetable for an exit in case this doesn't work? and what will he do if prime minister malaki's government does not take responsibility for security throughout the country by november? is there really a strategy here?

maybe he truly believes that he is right and everyone else is wrong. maybe god is talking to him again and telling him that those muslim souls still can be saved. but it sure looks to me like he figures he's got nothing left to lose, so he might as well go for the hail mary. if it works--or, more likely, if it doesn't fail miserably, he can salvage what's left of his credibility. and if it doesn't work, well he'll still be considered the worst president ever--nothing new there. it just seems like his pride, his ego, his hubris makes him incapable of accepting advice that he doesn't want to hear. how stubborn, obstinate, and single-minded must this man be before he recognizes that this misguided attempt to change his historical legacy is not worth the cost of more american lives. how many times will he keep ramming his head on this wood rail before he realizes how much it is hurting the nation?

grant lee buffalo : "even the oxen" mp3
from the lp copperopolis (slash/reprise, 1996)
here is the one here is the one here is the one mistake that cannot be made
there is a line that is crossed over once and only once let it be said
all of the hubris clenched in our fist won't punch our way out of here
you know what i've told and i tell but you won't let it pass into your ears

even the oxen ramming their heads on wood rails
come to know pain before the rusted barrier falls

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

oops, did they do it again?

sure looks that way to me. what apple did for personal music players with the ipod may be peanuts compared to what the iphone, unveiled today at macworld expo 2007, may do for cell phones, pdas and well, ipods. this thing is a monster when it comes to the amount of technology that apple has packed into a device that is just slightly larger than the current full-size ipod: 3.5 inch widescreen display, mac os x with email and web browsing, wi-fi, bluetooth, a 2mp camera, and a new multi-touch on-screen user interface. the only drawbacks are the limited storage capacity (4gb or 8gb) and, of course, the price ($500 and $600). that's probably a little too pricey for most people (me included), but you can bet once the price comes down a bit and the skeptics are quieted, this will be a must-have come next holiday season.

see what else it can do (the interface on the ipod side is pretty sweet)
ilounge's coverage of macworld expo 2007

oh yeah, and they dropped the "computer" from their name. just call them "apple".

arcade fire : "my heart is an apple" mp3
from the ep arcade fire (merge records, 2003)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

odds and ends and cat power

pretty slow day today, mostly because i seem to have caught another bug that's going around. nothing nearly as bad as that stomach flu i had last week, but still a pain. i never usually get sick, so hopefully this is just a little bad luck.

but my bad luck is relative--charles at heartache with hard work had his laptop, ipod, and digital camera stolen out of his car as he's been visiting los angeles. as if the financial burden of replacing those items wasn't enough, his laptop contained all of his music and his ipod was his only backup, and now both are gone. i suppose only fellow music fanatics can appreciate how disastrous a situation that is, so head on over his way and if you can, think about helping him out a little bit.

cat power was on the episode of austin city limits that aired in my neighborhood last night, along with the raconteurs. i missed out on seeing her when she came through southern california last year, and i think i will be kicking myself for years to come. especially because it was at my favorite venue, the john anson ford amphitheater. now sober, she has apparently overcome the stage fright that plagued her early in her career, and now performs with an enthusiasm and self-assuredness that can only be described as radiant. and she is ever so beautiful when she's happy. she even does a little jig that is oddly reminiscent of elaine's "dancing" on seinfeld. anyway, here's two of the songs she performed, in video and audio.

cat power : "i don't blame you" mp3
from austin city limits (december 30, 2006)
i know, there's a little hiccup towards the end of this song that's going to bug me to no end...oh well

cat power : "(i can't get no) satisfaction" mp3
from austin city limits (december 30, 2006)

EDIT: thanks to eli, i now sheepishly realize that chan is doing a "mick jagger" in the above video, not an "elaine". so just to show that i'm not crazy, here's cat power on the late show with david letterman from last year, where chan actually does seem to do a little "elaine". or maybe i'm just an idiot.

cat power : "living proof"

from the late show with david letterman (june 14, 2006)


Thursday, January 04, 2007

favorite song -- billy bragg & wilco : "remember the mountain bed"

this could very well be my favorite song ever.

the lyrics were penned by woody guthrie, the songwriter probably best known for his folk song "this land is your land". guthrie was a prolific writer whose experiences in life imparted on him the ability to identify and resonate with the every-man. his writings tended to focus on the social and political plight of the disenfranchised, with particular attention paid to his desire to kill fascists with his guitar. however, "remember the mountain bed" is, at its core, a tale of love, and more beautiful lyrics i cannot imagine. it is a song of deep sorrow but also radiant hope; the pain of death and the comfort of life; the labor of man's existence and the necessity of remembering what matters most. it is a song of passion, of memory, of beauty. of life.

in 1998, billy bragg and wilco set about the enviable task of putting some of guthrie's lyrics to music. jeff tweedy and jay bennett wrote the music to "remember the mountain bed", backing the lyrics with an easy, understated arrangement of piano, organ, and acoustic guitar. it's a simple arrangement that lets the lyrics truly live, and tweedy's vocals are letter-perfect, matching note for note the remorse and sadness of each line and every word. the song has become a staple of both wilco and tweedy solo shows, and with very good reason--it is simply one of the most beautiful songs i've ever heard.

wilco : "remember the mountain bed" mp3
from the lp mermaid avenue vol. ii (elektra, 2000)
do you still sing of the mountain bed we made of limbs and leaves:
do you still sigh there near the sky where the holly berry bleeds:
you laughed as i covered you over with leaves, face, breast, hips and thighs.
you smiled when i said the leaves were just the color of your eyes.

rosin smells and turpentine smells from eucalyptus and pine
bitter tastes of twigs we chewed where tangled woodvines twine
trees held us in on all four sides so thick we could not see
i could not see any wrong in you, and you saw none in me.

your arm was brown against the ground, your cheeks part of the sky.
as your fingers played with grassy moss, and limber you did lie:
your stomach moved beneath your shirt and your knees were in the air
your feet played games with mountain roots, as you lay thinking there.

below us the trees grew clumps of trees, raised families of trees, and they
as proud as we tossed their heads in the wind and flung good seeds away:
the sun was hot and the sun was bright down in the valley below
where people starved and hungry for life so empty come and go.

there in the shade and hid from the sun we freed our minds and learned.
our greatest reason for being here, our bodies moved and burned
there on our mountain bed of leaves we learned life’s reason why
the people laugh and love and dream, they fight, they hate to die.

the smell of your hair i know is still there, if most of our leaves are blown,
our words still ring in the brush and the trees were singing seeds are sown
your shape and form is dim, but plain, there on our mountain bed
i see my life was brightest where you laughed and laid your head...

i learned the reason why man must work and how to dream big dreams,
to conquer time and space and fight the rivers and the seas
i stand here filled with my emptiness now and look at city and land
and i know why farms and cities are built by hot, warm, nervous hands.

i crossed many states just to stand here now, my face all hot with tears,
i crossed city, and valley, desert, and stream, to bring my body here:
my history and future blaze bright in me and all my joy and pain
go through my head on our mountain bed where i smell your hair again.

all this day long i linger here and on in through the night
my greeds, desires, my cravings, hopes, my dreams inside me fight:
my loneliness healed my emptiness filled, i walk above all pain
back to the breast of my woman and child to scatter my seeds again.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007


i'm not really sure how my last two posts fit in with my only-substantive-post policy, but the well is a little dry lately. so bear with me.

i finally started up one of those myspace thingamajigs last week and finally started messing around with it. starting the process of adding friends, how could i not have this song in my head?

camera obscura : "i need all the friends i can get" mp3
from the lp let's get out of this country (merge records, 2006)

more camera obscura
in case you missed it, that was my favorite album of 2006

sand is overrated on myspace (i need all the friends i can get, so what are you waiting for?)

maybe i'll actually have something meaningful to say in the coming days.

Monday, January 01, 2007

i have nothing nice to say today.

but it is new years day, so there's that. happy new year.

here's a new years song you might not have heard.

madder rose : "happy new year" mp3
from the lp panic on (atlantic records, 1994)

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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