#UNBLOKME

I consider Derek Webb to be a friend.  Back when you needed things like fan sites, Bryan and I ran derekwebb.net to help him disseminate information.  Now in the Twitter era, musicians don’t need people like me to get the word out.  In a disintermediated world, I am the middle man that’s been cut out.

Twitter’s dangerous, though.  Sometimes you’ll say something and then … well, what happened, FV?

DW is exasperated by following Q.

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Mr. Webb followed your humble correspondent for about a month, and as we’ve established that I’m a prolific tweeter myself, I understood his exasperation, but I was more than a bit surprised that Quest’s follow-up was a block.

So where has this gone since?  The Houston Chronicle has covered the matter fairly extensively, in light of possibly educating ? about why he should reconsider.  In fact, Jason Bellini appears to have tried to broker a truce to this little Internet rap feud, pointing Quest to the story.  His one answer: “Well”?

Then Derek took it the extra mile.

Will this work?  Is it shameless promotion on Derek’s part?  Is it something that Questlove will respond to?  Will he bring Webb on the show and unblock him publicly?  Will I drive to NYC if that happens?  We can only wait and see.

C’mon, Q.  What kind of taco did you have for lunch?  D, I had a bagel with egg, bacon, cheese, green pepper, onion, and roasted red peppers around 2:45 this afternoon.  I got a bit of a late start.

Albums I Have Loved in 2009

This wouldn’t be a proper “here’s what I’ve been listening to” without a GeofCast episode, right? 🙂 Listen while you read.

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Let’s follow last year’s mojo:

  • Date is in the range: 01 Jan 2009 – 25 Dec 2009. Any cutoff point is arbitrary, but this makes sense to me. I’ve been willfully listening to Christmas music lately, so this helps hold the list growth down.
  • Kind does not contain AIFF [to filter out unprocessed bootlegs and demos].
  • Album Rating is greater than three stars.
  • Genre does not contain Concert Bootleg.

This list is unoptimized; it’s actually done in alphabetical order by artist. At the end, I’ll give a best-of list, countdown style. Because I like embracing constraints, I’ll give a one-sentence statement about each album as to why it’s just so darn good. If you’ve ever talked to me for longer than 90 seconds, you know that one sentence is an unreal constraint.

  1. Wilco (The Album), Wilco. There are so many good songs on this album, but I thought I’d start with the opening track—it’s a treatise for the record and, frankly, for Wilco as a band at this point.

    Are you under the impression
    This isn’t your life?
    Do you dabble in depression?
    Is someone twisting a knife in your back?
    Are you being attacked?
    Oh, this is a fact that you need to know

    Oh

    Wilco
    Wilco
    Wilco will love you baby

    As someone who “dabbles in depression”, yeah, I love this track … and this album … and this band.

  2. Andrew Osenga - Letters to the Editor, Vol. I and II Letters to the Editor, Vol. I and II, Andrew Osenga. Yes, this is a compilation of tracks that he gave away for free; if you’re cheap, you can get Volume I and Volume II online still. But if you like it, buy the disc and support independent music. I chose “Staring Out a Window (My Confession)” because it just hits home for me.
  3. Stockholm Syndrome, Derek Webb. Okay, you can argue that, as a friend of Derek’s and one of the three guys behind derekwebb.net, I’m predisposed to loving his music. You’re right. But this is a worthy buy for the following reasons: a) it tackles prickly issues of sexuality that most Christians are uncomfortable dealing with b) Fred Phelps gets made fun of c) it’s Derek and Josh Moore doing their best Gnarls Barkley impersonation, without sounding like a cheap knockoff and d) he says “shit” on the record and gets away with it. Sorta. I picked “The Spirit Vs. The Kick Drum” because it’s just a kickin’ little track.
  4. The Hazards of Love, The Decemberists. Many long-time Decemberists fans [of which I cannot claim to be; I’m late to the game] would argue that they feared what being on a major record label would do to their music. But give Capitol all the credit in the world for letting Portland’s finest put out what lesser reviewers would call a concept album, and what I think of as “literature set to music”. The arc of this album is one unbroken story, and it’s just so well-done, with themes repeated and twisted as the album builds on itself. That makes it difficult to pick out one song, but I chose “The Rake’s Song” because that will tell you whether or not you’ll want to listen to the whole thing.
  5. Noble Beast, Andrew Bird. I really thought that Armchair Apocrypha was going to be the apex of AB’s music for me. I didn’t think that he’d make a better record, but to my ears, he did with Noble Beast. Musically, it’s just so strong: songs with movement are just such a rarity in popular music these days that hearing tracks like “Masterswarm” is simply astonishing. It’s impossible for me to pick out a track I love the most, because I love them all, but I picked “Tenuousness” for this GeofCast episode.

If you made it this far, thanks!

GeofCast: Episode #001

Here goes nothin’. The GeofCast is designed to be the music I would play you if you came over to my house. Since my townhouse is small and the Internet is ginormous, I’ve created the GeofCast.

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My model for this podcast is Steven Garrity’s Acts of Volition Radio, which has introduced me to some cool music. I hope to do the same.

Songlisting [and a bit of why I chose it]:

  1. The first song is “Epistemology” from M. Ward’s latest album, Hold Time. Hold Time isn’t as highly-rated in my world as Matt’s last two albums, but that doesn’t mean it’s not great.
  2. The most infectious song off the new eponymous Wilco album: “I’ll Fight”.
  3. I next chose “The Snow Leopard” from Shearwater’s album Rook. I came across Rook from my friend and fellow Whiskerino J.R. Caines, who is my closest musical neighbor on Last.FM. Rook was one of his top-ten albums of 2008, so I gave it a shot, and I’m glad I did.
  4. My favorite track from Iron & Wine’s recent demo and B-side vehicle, Around the Well, is “Love Vigilantes”. Often, these type of releases end up being so much filler between studio releases, but coming on the heels of The Shepherd’s Dog, this has some great tracks, and “Love Vigilantes” is in the top five songs I’ve heard in 2009.
  5. I next chose “The Wanting Comes in Waves / Repaid” off of the epic new album from The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love. As it’s just one big sonic work of art, it’s hard to strip one song out from the entire thematic arc of the story, but I have. If you know me, you know I love Shara Worden’s vocals, and she makes an appearnce in this track.
  6. There’s really no good way to follow that up, so I just took a massive left turn. One of the things I’ve come to in the last year are mashups, sonic creative destruction when multiple songs are put together. One of my favorite mashups to cross my ears in 2009 has been Jaydiohead from Minty Fresh Beats. Here’s the mashup titled “Dirt Off Your Android”.
  7. Let’s go from hip-hop to trip-hop. Somehow I missed Portishead in the 1990s, when I was listening to really bad contemporary Christian music and far too much 311 for my own good. A friend was playing this as house music before a concert I was recording, and I whipped out my iPhone to fire up Shazam to find out what I was hearing. It was “Numb” from Portishead’s Dummy, and in case you missed it back then, too, here it is:
  8. Hang on, folks, as I take another musical detour. This one takes us to the fields of Illinois, where songwriter Andrew Bird toils in solitude. His last effort, Armchair Apocrypha, was one of my favorites last year, so I jumped on his latest, Noble Beast, the moment it came out. Noble Beast focuses even more on musicality, providing depth and movement to his songs in an age when most music sounds the same at the end of the song as the beginning. To highlight this, I chose “Masterswarm”.
  9. For this last track, I figured I’d throw my friends a bone and send out a [then-]unreleased track. Yes, I’m going to bend the good will of my friend Derek Webb and play one of the tracks off of his upcoming album, Stockholm Syndrome, that he hasn’t yet leaked to the world. If you like it, please buy the album so the wee bald man doesn’t kick my ass. Most of us will remember the case of the Jena Six, and the female in this song shares that spelling. Keep that in mind as you listen to
    “Jena & Jimmy”

iMix of GeofCast Episode 001

Please leave me comments, including whether you want show notes, links, etc. I have them to provide and will go back and update this post. Mainly now, I want to go to bed.

Update, 1149 Monday: The download option will now work. Myyyyyyy bad.
Update, 2053 Monday: Show notes added.

Albums I Have Loved in 2008

Let me be clear: I’m cheating and using iTunes here. Specifically …

  • Date is in the range: 01 Jan 2008 – 31 Dec 2008
  • Kind does not contain AIFF [to filter out unprocessed bootlegs and demos].
  • Grouping does not contain Extant [to filter out where I migrated my library off of my old Mac to my new one]; I then did a manual check of the Extants with a similar list and my Musiclogging archives.
  • Album Rating is greater than three stars.
  • Genre does not contain Concert Bootleg. If desired, I’ll cover the best of the best concert bootlegs in a separate post, probably no earlier than Friday because I’m still adding bootlegs. [I am not adding any more studio releases at this point.]

This list is unoptimized; it’s actually done in alphabetical order by artist. At the end, I’ll give a best-of list, countdown style. Because I like embracing constraints, I’ll give a one-sentence statement about each album as to why it’s just so darn good. If you’ve ever talked to me for longer than 90 seconds, you know that one sentence is an unreal constraint.

That’s 47 albums. Yowza! About one a week … that’s a very, very good year.

Now, I’m gonna take it to 11 … and be a bit more verbose.

  1. Radiohead, In Rainbows. There is nothing that I can add to all that has been said about this album, from the distribution to the music itself. I didn’t buy this until it came out on a physical disc [I’m a curmudgeon and have this problem, which I’m hoping to lick in 2009], but this is the album that made me a Radiohead fan, much as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot made me a Wilco fan. Favorite Tracks: “Nude”, “Reckoner”, “Jigsaw Falling Into Place”.
  2. The Weepies, Say I Am You. 2008 was a weird year for me; I spent a lot of it pursuing a relationship that didn’t ultimately work out, and a lot of this album was my soundtrack. This is right in my wheelhouse, to be sure—singer/songwriter-y, acoustic guitar-driven, solid melody and harmony. In a world where In Rainbows doesn’t exist, it’s my best album of the year. Favorite Tracks: “Painting By Chagall”, “Riga Girls”.
  3. Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha. I bought this album on a lark, because it was well-regarded. Some of my best musical purchases are done that way, and this is definitely one of them. I think what gets me about Andrew Bird is that he’s a self-comfortable artist who is willing to experiment and do big things with his sound. The analog to an artist I’m friends with is the amazingness of Jeremy Casella’s Recovery [and if Jerry ever sees this, he’s gonna hit me for putting him and Bird in the same sentence]. This is one of those albums I find myself singing often, and there is no greater tribute to me than that. Favorite Tracks: “Darkmatter”, “Plasticities”, and “Scythian Empires”. I never will forget whistling the last as I was walking through the Nashville airport on my way back from Philly after a whirlwind, 20-hour trip to see Caedmon’s Call play.
  4. Five O'Clock People - Temper Temper Five O’Clock People, Temper Temper. I was a big fan of 5OCP when they were making music in the 1990s, and so I grabbed this as soon as I heard it came out. It was … nothing like their old sound, in a lot of ways, but man, it frickin’ rocks. Favorite Tracks: “Gold Rush”, “Aftermath”, and “February”.
  5. Gnarls Barkley, The Odd Couple. I had heard all this buzz about Gnarls Barkley, but just … dismissed it for whatever reason. I do that; I’m dumb. But then one day “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul” was highlighted on NPR, and I almost had to pull over to the side of the road, I was so blown away. Favorite Tracks: “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul”, “Run (I’m a Natural Disaster)”.
  6. Death Cab for Cutie, Narrow Stairs. Like with Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, a lot has been made about this record coming out of Ben Gibbard taking residence where Jack Kerouac did at Big Sur. I’m of the mind that creative pursuits are often terribly lonely affairs, so I think this was a good idea. This record brought the lyrical brilliance and nose for melody that Death Cab’s always had, but they also exhibited their musical chops on it, too. For whatever weird reason, I want to draw parallels to this and Elliott Smith’s Figure 8. Favorite Tracks: “I Will Possess Your Heart”, “Cath…”, and “Long Division”.
  7. Iron & Wine, The Shepherd’s Dog. I simply did not think that Sam Beam had this much awesome within him. I am very glad to be wrong. Very, very glad. Favorite Tracks: “House of the Sea”, “Wolves (Song of the Shepherd’s Dog”, “Peace Beneath the City”.
  8. Tom Brosseau - Live at Largo Tom Brosseau, Late Night at Largo. At this point, you have to mail a check to Tom Brosseau’s management to get a copy. It is worth your time in doing so. I’ve written about Brosseau before, but here he is in a nutshell: North Dakota boy moved to LA that writes about home because he both misses it and hates it, in a way. If you grew up in a cold climate and have moved to warmer latitudes, you know where he’s coming from. His music has a sense of ironic detachment, but it’s also just plain good. Also, he sings so high that he makes Thom Yorke in falsetto sound like Barry White. Favorite Tracks: “Rose”, “Broken Ukulele”, and “Young and Free”.
  9. Matt Costa, Unfamiliar Faces. Okay, I’ve got a thing for young guys who write songs about not getting the girl, or getting the girl and losing the girl, but … dude, this guy can rock it up. Favorite Tracks: “Emergency Call”, “Heart of Stone”, and “Miss Magnolia”.
  10. Matthew Perryman Jones, Swallow the Sea. Unlike most years, this is the only time when an artist I personally know appears on the list. I think that most of that is because I’m becoming harder on my friends’ more recent albums, honestly. 😉 But MPJ made a killer, killer record here, a worthy followup to Throwing Punches in the Dark, which I was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to top. He topped it, though. Favorite Tracks: “Save You”, “Motherless Child”, and “Feels Like Letting Go”.
  11. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV. There is nothing I can add to this that hasn’t been said, eh? This is my favorite Zep album, even if it doesn’t have all of my favorite songs. Favorite Tracks: “Black Dog”, “Rock and Roll”, “Stairway to Heaven”. I mean, duh.

What about you? Do you have some of these records and violently disagree? Did I overlook something to the point that you’re ready to shake me for not listening to it? I wanna know.

Geof’s New Music: 7-13 Sep 2008

The studio recordings are a smorgasboard, but the bootlegs are a salute to the Bay State. [Bleu is from Boston.]

Last week was uneven, but the good stuff was very good:

  • Sandra McCracken’s Red Balloon. Predictably, I love it. There are a couple moments on the record that I don’t get, but all in all, I think this lives up to the hype that Derek has been giving it. Four stars.
  • Nirvana’s In Utero. Sadly, it doesn’t have the punch that Nevermind did, probably understandable as a sophomore major-label release. That, plus a dalliance into noise rock that I didn’t enjoy, got it two-and-a-half stars from me. The goods are great! The bads are … meh.
  • Jackopierce’s Promise of Summer. Quite, quite enjoyable. A four-star record for me, and I’ll be getting more JP records from the back catalog. [See? Giving stuff away for free works.]
  • 3 Feb 2006 [Las Vegas, NV, USA] concert bootleg of Coldplay. So meh. A distant recording from the audience, and … eh. Two-and-a-half stars.
  • 26 Oct 2007 [New York, NY, USA] concert bootleg of Over the Rhine. Fan-fucking-tastic. Four-and-a-half stars. If you love OtR, get it. Go. Now. You. NOW.
  • 17 Jul 2008 [London, England] concert bootleg of Death Cab for Cutie. Also kinda distant, but with a better base to start with. Three stars.
  • 26 Jul 2008 [Anchorage, AK, USA] concert bootleg of Wilco. No, I didn’t pick this in honor of Sarah Palin. 😉 This is the band whose debut release was titled A.M.; sadly, it sounds like it was recorded from an AM broadcast: over-compressed, tinny, and muddled. An example: when the band does their Wall of Noise trick in the opening cut, “Via Chicago”, everything is … the same sound level. Jeff is clearly heard. This … just isn’t the way it ought to be at all. Having looked at the mic used in the recording, I’m guessing that this is the sound guy’s fault, or perhaps just crappy mains. But, you know, if I lived in Anchorage, I really wouldn’t give a shit, because Wilco rocks. The good thing is that we get two new songs out of it, and new songs? Always good. The rating is two stars.

Geof’s New Music: 6-12 Jul 2008

Last week was abbreviated in an effort to catch up:

  • Sloan’s Parallel Play. Three stars: almost three-and-a-half, but not quite. Fun power-pop, though.
  • Eric Peters - Bookmark Eric Peters’s Bookmark. Two-and-a-half stars: it works as a tide-me-over album, which is what it was intended to be, best as I can tell. A worthy grab for EP fans and completionists.

Geof’s New Music: 18-24 May 2008

Yeah, so uh … no new music last week. I’m in Delivery Mode, which means excess mental energy doesn’t get expended unless necessary. The only new studio release is something I actually don’t have my hands on yet, but will probably get this afternoon as I head to the office to work [told you it was busy]:

Two weeks ago turned out pretty well:

Geof’s New Music: 4-10 May 2008

Last week:

  • The Weepies - Hideaway The Weepies’ Hideaway. This one did not grab me the way that Say I Am You did, but I’ve also not given it car/road trip time. I will be correcting that this weekend. Three-and-a-half stars, and I expect that’ll rise.
  • Carole King’s Tapestry (Legacy Edition). This was a bit of an impulse buy, although it was well-regarded in last month’s Paste. Very much worth my money. Four stars.
  • 18 Feb 1997 [Ottawa, ON, Canada] concert bootleg of Wilco. It’s hard to believe that this was recorded onto tape, at least for me. It sounds quite good! Three-and-a-half stars.
  • 26 Aug 2005 [Lexington, KY, USA] concert bootleg of Over the Rhine. Oh my holy heck. This is a fine, fine, fine recording. If you like Ohio and Drunkard’s Prayer, GRAB IT. Four-and-a-half stars.
  • Cover art for a bootleg of their 15 Mar 2008 concert in Austin, Texas. 15 Mar 2008 [Austin, TX, USA] concert bootleg of M. Ward and Jim James. Sadly, during Matt’s solo stuff, the recording is very distant sounding, which is surprising for Church Audio cardioids; must’ve been a hard room to record. I give it three stars.
  • Derek Webb - 20080404 cover 4 Apr 2008 [Dyersburg, TN, USA] concert bootleg of Derek Webb. I’m happy with how this one came out; I’m giving it four stars only because the songs off of The Ringing Bell really deserve to have a band behind them. I understand why that didn’t happen on this tour, but man … if Derek had been able to have Todd, Garett, Jeff, Josh, and Andrew backing him on these songs … that would have been awesome. Anyhow, some folks would probably like more of the SBD in this mix, but I’m a fan of how a recording actually sounds in a room. For those people, I’ve seeded the SBD and AUD recordings in their uncut forms on IndieRiver; they can do with it what they like.
  • Caedmon's Call - 20080404 4 Apr 2008 [Dyersburg, TN, USA] concert bootleg of Caedmon’s Call. The longer I think about this, the more I think about re-mastering it. It just could be better. That said, it’s decent. Three-and-a-half stars, mainly because of Andy O’s two killer guitar solos. That kid really can shred.

Geof’s New Music: 27 Apr – 3 May 2008

Surprisingly, I was able to hold out on listening to The Weepies’ new record until this week, despite having it Tuesday. Discipline, or something. 🙂

Last week was good in the studio spots, meh otherwise:

“I play the ones from yesterday”

When you perform
It’s so intense
When the critics pan
I write in your defense

I understand I am just a fan
I’m just a fan

Wilco, “The Lonely 1“, Being There

Andrew wrote about going to see Sixpence None the Richer play on Sunday night in Nashville, and a good chunk of what he wrote resonated with me.

I’ve lived here for eleven years and I’ve had the real honor of working with just about everybody I listened to in high school who’s not dead or in U2, Pink Floyd or the Beatles. It’s shocking and amazing at first, but it wears off and you realize they’re just dudes like you, and the magic fades away a little bit.

Except for this band Sixpence. I don’t care. I just freaking love them. They’re one of my favorites. They always have been and they always will be. I’ve played a few things with Matt, mostly at Andy P’s Christmas shows, and Leigh sang on the first Normals record. But somehow, they never faded to me. I’m a fan. And I love it.

Despite it all, Caedmon’s Call is still that way for me. [Derek or Andy solo? Not so much. Both of those are very much old hat, to the point that if either asked me to sing BGVs or something during a show, I wouldn’t be intimidated.] Every show is still pretty special for me, because the music takes me back to a far more formative period of my life. I connect to it in ways that really only I know about, because I’ve never talked about with anyone in the band. [Unlike, say, some of Andrew’s stuff.]

Another thing I want to note here: I try to maintain a certain distance with Over the Rhine. I freaking love them, and while I guess there are chances for me to get to know them—and they’re certainly inviting of those opportunities—I really just want to remain a fan. Unlike most of the shows of bands I attend whenever they’re in my area, I go to those shows, make my recording, take my photos, and go the hell home. No waiting for two hours after the show to talk to the band [because we want to talk to each other, but I’m willing to wait out the other fans] or anything. I just watch the show, capture it, go home, and revel in the remembrance later. I like that.

I think I set the trend with OtR when, at the first show I attended, Rick and I sat right along the walkway from the green room to the stage. Didn’t talk to them then … probably won’t in the future.