Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Thank you Jesus!

Merry Christmas everyone! Many moons ago I promised a collection of some of my favorite Jesus secular songs. He's inspired tons of great music over the years and these four songs are an example of them. Jesus might not endorse them, but, collectively, all four songs comment on faith in the post-9/11 era, personal faith, and even the darker side of organized religion. In the least, these are well crafted songs with thoughtful lyrics accompanied with great instrumentation!

Even this guy wants to be a deity -- check out Joy of Sect on Season 9!

The Drive-By Trucke
rs: Too Much Sex, Too Little Jesus

Wilco: Jesus, Etc.

Slobberbone: Trust Jesus

The Hollies: Jesus Was a Crossmaker

That's all for tonight. My two month old computer decided to crash, thus delaying the premier of our webcast. Look for it soon -- it will highlight some of my favorites from 2006, a great year for music! Peace, I'm outta here!


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sounds of the Season

While Bryan's astute observation that jolly ol' Saint Nick seems to command the secular as well as religious airwaves this time of year is far from false, I'm here to argue that that's not all bad. Secular and religious songs or hymns may inspire pious thoughts, but such songs may also have the potential to inspire at least kind or warm emotions in anyone. Many of these songs, especially early hymns, are exceptionally well crafted pieces of music. Personally, I divide my favorite Christmas songs into two areas: choral and jazz.

First, there is choral. You know, many of these hymns were composed in European churches in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries, or earlier. "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing", for example, was composed in 1840 by Felix Mendelssohn. In the toil of those desperate times, gorgeous, rich, warm songs coming from the church doors may have provided some temporary relief. As Everett in O Brother Where Art Thou would say, "songs of salvation to salve the soul". There are numerous other examples. Admittedly, choral music is not something I listen to on a daily basis - but the holiday season provides the motivation.

Then, there is jazz. I think jazz lends tremendously well to Christmas music. Tons of these songs have been remade in a smooth or snazzy swing style. Its hard to argue with that. I, of course, would recommend Elle Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, or Dianne Reeves. Verve Records has a Very Best of Christmas Jazz that I would love to check out.

John Coltrane playing Greensleeves has to be good

So, there you have it. I'm more than happy to pop the Kooks or Cale/Clapton (which is pretty freakin good) out of the car stereo and drive to the sounds of New Orleans Christmas or even John Denver Christmas.

Have a Happy Holiday, folks. Your Christmas wish of a webcast may yet come true.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fantasy football blues....

Howwwwwdy ho dedicated readers. I know you've been waiting anxiously to hear about my latest music exploits, so I will not keep you waiting any longer. Plus, this will help me forget about my fantasy football teams forgettable performances today.

Craig Finn and The Hold Steady were in action on Friday night at the Southgate House in Newport. I do not feel like rehashing all the ins-and-outs and the what-have-you's of the show, but it was enjoyable. THS is not heavy on rock improv, but their songs are impeccable and that is why I am interested in them. Based on my experience, their live show doesn't vary much from show to show, but it was very much worth checking them out when they were in my backyard. And for those of you wondering, I did not walk home, despite the presence of the sweet, sweet PBR.

Tonight kicks off a new era for the Top 5 list that I like to do. Instead of just telling you about my favorite songs, I will start posting them for you to sample. Makes sense, eh? So, here are my current favorites:

1. Bonnie "Prince" Billy -- Love Comes to Me

This is mellow but beautiful. Off of the 2006 release, The Letting Go, Will Oldham keeps it simple with a gentle, folky acoustic backed by strings and the angelic voice of Dawn McCarthy. Some might describe it as ethereal, I would if I knew what the word meant. Nonetheless, the words and vocal harmonies create a place I don't mind entering and staying in.

2. Neko Case -- Star Witness

I <3>
Neko Case's release Fox Confessor Brings The Flood might be my favorite album of 2006. Neko's voice is incomparable and she writes some pretty damn good songs to boot. Although a departure from her more alt-countryish roots, the album features plenty of great songs. In fact, songs like Margaret vs. Pauline, Hold On, Hold On, and The Needle Has Landed, have all been in my personal Top 5 at some point during the year. Star Witness is currently in that rotation.

3. Ox -- Sugar Cane

The final 2006 release I'm currently in love with. These guys play Americana music yet hail from America Junior, or Canada to the non-Simpsons' fans (shame on you). From the album American Lo-Fi, this is my kind of love song.

4. Anders Parker -- So It Goes

I've been into this guy for a while now, but I only recently rediscovered his music thanks to his collaboration with Jay Farrar on the Gob Iron record Death Songs For the Living (you can bet some of this album will be featured very soon). A singer songwriter in the truest sense of the word, he has also released a new self titled album that I have not had the chance to listen to yet. This song, however, is from his 2004 release, Tell It To the Dust.

5. Wilco -- I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

Originally from their magnum opus
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, this version is culled from the Kicking Television live set the band released last spring. The power of the song is not lost in the live setting. Unfortunately for me, I don't foresee a time when this song will become irrelevant. Arrrgh!

For the love of God, get this album, yo!

That's it for now. Look for a special treat next week -- a tribute to Jesus. It seems Santa Claus gets all the secular songs at this time of the year. I mean to change that! Until then, adios.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Music, eh?

I hear music is good and no band sounds as good to these wax inundated ears as The Hold Steady. A mix of power pop meets punk and rock, these guys will throw you catchy hooks one moment yet give you a headache the next minute from the freebird-esque "rocking out" you'll do. These guys won't blast any 10 minute solos, but they know how to rock out while keeping it concise and telling some interesting stories.

Off the heels of their third and critically acclaimed album, Boys and Girls In America, the band will be making their way to my backyard this Friday at Newport's Southgate House. These guys say they're the best bar band in the country -- we'll see if they live up to that billing this Friday night. Another great looking band, Catfish Haven, is supporting, so get there early and throw back a beer or ten with me. Doh! It might be another evening of walking home from downtown Cincinnati to Camp Washington. As you ponder that, check out the first two tracks from the album below.

Stuck Between Stations
Chips Ahoy!

I know it's hard to believe, but we plan to incorporate more music into our music blog very soon. Actually, we're just waiting on Noog to get his lazy ass in gear and hook us up with server space. Unfortunately, Noog is a little busy these days with his starring role on South Park and all. Now that they are in repeats, we expect to have this trainwreck steaming ahead in no time.

Even pixelated, you will
respect his authority!

Concert review to follow on Saturday if I can remember anything. Peace out.


Saturday, December 2, 2006

Before the Music Dies

There's an interesting documentary playing at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville, TN next weekend that I thought I should bring to our global audience's attention. I'm not sure about the touring schedule of this documentary, but I can only hope that it makes it to your local theatre or place of rental in the near future. All I know about the movie comes from the posting on the Belcourt website and the trailer you'll see below.

It sounds very interesting to me in terms of the relationship between music and commerce/business. Obviously, there are some really important and controversial events and discussions taking place in the music industry today. The showing of this documentary at the Belcourt is in part sponsered by the local organization
Radio Free Nashville and the national movement Stop Big Media. I don't want to turn this into a political posting or blogsite, but I thought you should be aware of the sponsors and their missions.

Anyway, it looks like a pretty cool film with a lot of musician perspectives and interviews. Unfortunately, its only playing one night in Nashville and I have previous obligations. I sure hope to see it in some other form and I hope you do the same.

By the way, our first web cast is on the way!