Tunesday (THIS is my Jam): Jason Molina

I used to do these posts, and well, I got lost in social media and life…this evening though listening to music on my back porch (Airplay is awesome!) I went down a rabbit hole of my music library and found myself listening to Jason Molina.

I’m not sure when/how I discovered him; might have been after seeing My Morning Jacket at the New World Brewery in Tampa and finding his band Songs: Ohio did a split EP with MMJ. However it went, I was a fan. Pretty sure I saw him with Songs: Ohio, but I know I saw him solo. At least twice.

I was sad to read that he lost a battle. Think I read there’s a tribute album out there, but too lazy to link to it. Suffice to say, if you didn’t experience him when he walked this Earth, you might want to put him in your queue.

I have no idea if this was a “sanctioned” video or not, but it’s quite well done. I almost want to make my own with the epic Florida summer storm clouds I see daily while driving in west central Florida.

Tunesday – Neko Case

Perhaps today’s Tunesday was inspired by the plethora of tweets I’ve seen from her the past few days (to raise money to help students with creative writing), coupled with a beautiful woman I recently met giving me “bonus points” for liking Neko Case. Or it’s just that I love Neko Case’s voice.

I’ve had a love affair with her voice for about 8 years, since I first heard Porchlight from the soundtrack to Slaughter Rule.

At the time, I was working 100hr weeks, and rarely had time to find music outside of emusic.com, but I was able to get my hands on Furnace Room Lullaby. And while I didn’t race out to buy more of her music, I often came back to that album. A couple of years later Fox Confessor Brings the Flood was released, and if I wasn’t smitten (mind you, I’d probably never even seen her photo, it was purely the soul and emotion of her voice, not some school boy crush on a pretty face – though I now know that’s the case too).

Margaret vs Pauline immediately joined my heavy rotation list, and is still on one of my favorite play lists. Since then I’ve acquired The Virginian, an earlier recording, as well as what I think is her latest recording, Middle Cyclone.

Unfortunately, by the time i discovered she was playing in Orlando a little over a year ago, the show was sold out. I’m anxiously awaiting the next opportunity, in the meantime I leave you with Star Witness off of Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, from the aforementioned sold out show in Orlando, Florida December of ‘09.

Neko Case – Star Witness

Tunesday: Band of Horses

I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to truly discover Band of Horses. I’d owned Infinite Arms for a while, just hadn’t really listened to it. Perhaps it was the fact that Funeral is on the jukebox of my favorite dive bar, and the girlfriend of one of my close friends played it over and over after he committed suicide. What ever the case, I’ve recently been digging into their music and lyrics, and the vibe they put out really is speaking to me these days.

This live acoustic version of Factory is a perfect example. They were recently on Austin City Limits (The National were on the same show), and now I really want to experience them live. Several years ago they played a SPoT show at the outdoor amphitheater in the Cuban Club, and from my porch in Ybor Heights I could hear them great. The band shell seemed to direct the music right over the interstate onto my porch. But I simply didn’t have the same appreciation for their sound as I do today. Can’t wait for them to get back from Europe and travel the states again.

Tunesday – The Late Edition – Whiskeytown / Gram Parsons

When I was going through a really bad breakup about 10 years ago, a friend gave me two CD’s. Ryan Adam’s Heartbreaker and Whiskeytown’s Whiskeytown. I still turn to those two recordings when things are going bad. Adam’s lyrics and voice strike a distinct nerve with me, and is the perfect companion to a bottle of bourbon and introspection.

I came across this video of Whiskeytown covering the Gram Parson song “A Song for You”, and it resonates for many of the same reasons.

This isn’t a video, rather the original by Graham Parsons with Emmylou Harris set to some great old photos of Florida and Georgia (Parsons was born in Winter Haven, FL). This too struck a nerve.

Only in the last few years have I begun to really appreciate Parsons, but rediscovering this song will certainly spur me on to learn more.

On a side note, the woman playing fiddle in Whiskeytown, Caitlin Cary is awesome in her own right. If you haven’t listened to a more current project she’s in, Tres Chicas, or any of her solo stuff, I highly recommend seeking it out.

Tunesday: Lucero

I skipped Tunesday last week as I was in a bit of mourning finding out that morning that Langerado, a huge music festival planned for next month had just been canceled. I had been really looking forward to 3 days of getting away, and just seeing live music. One of the bands that was scheduled to play is one of my all time favorites, Lucero.

I discovered Lucero via a jukebox. One of those jukeboxes in a hip downtown bar: dark, smoky, someplace you can both go to hang with friends, or sit and drown your sorrows as you suffer a broken heart. It was during one of those times of broken heartedness that I first heard them. It was soon there after that they came through town, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I was sitting at the bar, throwing back a few whiskeys, and struck up a conversation with a guy at the bar. We wound up buying each other a shot, listening to the opening act. As the first band ended, he got up, we exchanged a few pleasantries, and he proceeds to head towards the stage. Damned if it wasn’t Ben, the lead singer. They proceeded to play one of those sets that you just never forget, and set the stage for me not missing another opportunity to see them live.

As with a lot of music I listen to, they have that Alt-Country/Americana edge, think

somewhere between the Pogues, Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, and Tom Waits,

with just enough punk influence to not just have a twangy Skynard cover band sound. Their early cover of Jawbreaker’s Kiss the Bottle is a perfect example of that synergy.

I’m also a big fan of Ben’s lyrics, probably due to my propensity for finding myself in those melancholy introspective moments. Lines like

I think I’ll stay right down here on this floor
Cause if I get back up I’ll only fall down more
It ain’t the liquor and it ain’t the beer that keeps me down
It ain’t the sad songs or heartache it ain’t even this town

From the song I’ll Just Fall

Or

The beer tastes like blood, my mouth is numb
I can’t make the words I need to say

She had a weakness for writers
And I I was never that good at the words anyways

From Nights Like These

If I were to suggest albums to start with, certainly Nobody’s Darlings and That Much Further West would top the list, but from my blinders on position, you can’t go wrong with any of their recordings, and as I’ve said, they are a can’t miss live outfit.

All of Lucero’s music is available on emusic.com. If you’d like a invite to emusic for a trial membership and 50 free downloads (you’ll have to give a CC#, but they don’t charge until after the first month), leave a comment with the email address you’d like it sent to, and I”ll send one your way. Shameless confession – you can do a trial membership without the invite from me, but if you were to sign up with emusic after the trial via invite, I’d get a 50 song credit

Tunesday: Pavement

ticketstubFor my second installment of Tunesday, I thought I’d do a little reminiscing and highlight my single most favorite band of the ’90s, Pavement. Certainly it’s always difficult to say “favorite band”, or “favorite song”. Heck, its often difficult for me to say “top ten…”, but I can honestly say that Pavement is my favorite band from that time, and is still a band that gets heavy rotation.

I discovered Pavement in the fall of ‘92. Discovered probably isn’t the best characterization, as I didn’t know who they were when I saw their name as the opening act for the incredible lineup of Mudhoney, Sonic Youth and Primus (it’s amazing what you can find with a Google search. The ticket stub, complete with the relatively cheap price of $17.60 is from that show). The show was at the legendary open air amphitheater Red Rocks. I had moved to Denver that spring, and this was my first visit to the venue. I was only familiar with Red Rocks from the classic U2 concert video, Under a Blood Red Sky, but all of my friends in Denver spoke of it with reverence. I was a huge fan of both Mudhoney and Sonic Youth (still am), and though not a zealot in regards to Primus like some, I had seen them earlier that year in a small club in Tampa and knew they’d be a nice way to end the evening and was really looking forward to the show.

Anyway, Pavement were setting up to open the show, and they really looked like a bunch of roadies who were a pick up band to just warm up the crowd. A bunch of young guys, with this considerably older drummer who came out, stood on his stool, and in one fell swoop, dropped to a seated position and kicked off the first song. It was love at first note.

Pavement is now considered one of the trailblazers of the lo-fi sound, along with bands like Sebadoh and the lesser known outfit Slint. Often coming across as dissonant and harmonic at the same time, with intelligent, sometimes cryptic lyrics, their dynamic sound is infectious. (And that’s where I stop trying to sound like a music writer. )

Pavement broke up somewhere around the fall of ‘99, but not before putting out 5 albums, and a slew of EPs, including my favorite of all their recordings, Watery, Domestic. As far as must haves, their first two full length albums, Slanted & Enchanted and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain should be in every fan of ’90s, American indie rock library. Of the last 3, it’s decidedly split amongst fans which were better, with me being in the Brighten the Corners camp.

Steve Malkmus continues to record and perform with his band the Jicks, and fellow guitarist Scott “Spiral Stairs” Kannberg has recorded a couple of albums with the band Preston School of Industry. I quite enjoy Monsoon, particularly the track Caught in the Rain.

I stumbled onto an interview recently with Malkmus in which he was asked about the possibility of a Pavement reunion, and he seemed to imply the door was open. I’m not sure they’d be able to recapture the magic, or if it would just be a nostalgic trip down memory lane, but either way, I’d be one of the first in line to see it.

Pavement recorded all of their albums with the label Matador Records, and are all available, along with expanded re-releases of several of their albums at emusic.com. If you’d like an invite to emusic for a trial membership and 50 free downloads (you’ll have to give a CC#, but they don’t charge until after the first month), leave a comment with the email address you’d like it sent to, and I”ll send one your way. Shameless confession – you can do a trial membership without the invite from me, but if you were to sign up with emusic after the trial via invite, I’d get a 50 song credit.

Tunesday: The Gourds

Today I bring the first installment of an idea I had, Tunesday. Get it, Tuesday + tunes = Tunesday? OK, not the most ingenious idea I’ve ever had, but since getting my iPhone, I’ve been listening to a lot more music since it’s always with me. And subsequently, I thought it’d be nice to feature some of my favorite bands, as a nice little break for anyone who wanders through, or follows me on Twitter.

First up in the installment is The Gourds. One of my all time favorite bands, especially live, I thought it would be appropriate to feature them as they’ve got a new album out, Haymaker!.

The Gourds hail from Austin, TX, and for the casual listener, might characterize them as country, however their sound is definitely more than that, despite the types of instruments they play. (Ironically enough, I’ve chosen an in store performance of a new track, Country Love to feature from YouTube).

I would simply characterize their sound as “feel good”, albeit with a definite Alt-Country/Americana bend.

I was first turned onto the Gourds about 10 years ago by my friend Sandy. Soon there after, I found a copy of their second album, Stadium Blitzer in a thrift store of all places, but it wasn’t until she started working at Munich Records and gave me a copy of Bolsa de Agua that I really saw the light. I must have played that album straight through 5 times that first night. Hallelujah Shine is still one of my all time favorite songs.

Since then, through the beauty of Emusic and Munich Records, I’ve been able to collect all of their albums, and each has been a treat to listen to. That said, their aforementioned release, Haymaker! is their best since Bolsa de Agua in my opinion.

If you’d like a invite to emusic for a trial membership and 50 free downloads (you’ll have to give a CC#, but they don’t charge until after the first month), leave a comment with the email address you’d like it sent to, and I”ll send one your way. Shameless confession – you can do a trial membership without the invite from me, but if you were to sign up with emusic after the trial via invite, I’d get a 50 song credit.