Califone & Michael Hurley-Two Tracks

February 1, 2007

Happy February! These aren’t exactly brand new, but I’ve seriously been getting into these two CDs lately, and I had to pass them along.

The first is a Califone record called Roots & Crowns released in October of 2006, which has been on plenty of “Best of 2006” lists.

The second song is by a man called Michael Hurley who apparently was discovered by a Jazz and Blues Historian. His debut record, appropriately called First Songs, was released in 1965 by Folkways Records. It’s an incredibly intimate record, with both vocals and guitar rusty as weathered nails, yet they possess such an emotional familiarity that it’s impossible to avoid being entranced. Hurley belts out chillingly beautiful and delightfully simple American Folk songs that leave one filled with a sense of “less is more”, and humility is kingly.

Califone – Tea Song[.m4a]

Michael Hurley – Burned By The Christians[.mp3]


January 24, 2007

Here’s a mix I made for a friend, and I thought I’d share it with anyone who wanted it. Some new, some older.

album leaf – writing on the wall

aqualung – easier to life

grizzly bear – on a nick, on a spit

joanna newsom – sawdust & diamonds

the rosebuds – leaves do fall

the rapture – callin Me

tokyo police club – nature of the experiment

xiu xiu – boy soprano

the zombies – what more can i do

emily haines and the soft skeleton – doctor blind

devotchka – we’re leaving

the clientelle – (i can’t seem to) make you mine

beirut – postcards from italy

someone still loves you boris yeltsin – i am warm + powerful


President Bush’s State of the Union Address

January 23, 2007

Holy smokes.

1)  Who was the guy Bush presented, who saved someone from a subway train killing him?  Selfless act?  Absolutely.  Ridiculously hilarious?  “You the man.”

2)  What an amazingly heartwarming Democratic response.  Oh, snap!

Emily Haines @ the Magic Bag (Metro Detroit)

January 13, 2007

A friend and I ventured down to Ferndale on Thursday to see Emily Haines in concert at the Magic Bag.  Granted there are a few okay songs on her album Knives Don’t Have Your Back, for the most part I haven’t been digging her solo project.  I’m much more of a Metric fan.  But she ruined both for me after seeing her live.

Between songs she spoke to Detroiters in a drunken or drug-enduced stupor, periodoically taking swigs from her flask that she kept on top of her grand piano-keyboard.  She told stories of her previous times in Detroit, using the word “like” every chance she could, and “totally”, as if she were some weird hybrid mix between musician, sorority chick, valley girl, hipster, and drunkard.  Touring as Metric, she said that the last time she was in Detroit someone gave her guitarist a hash brownie, which he in turn forgot he had eaten, and was staring at the moon “contemplating, like, what it all meant”.  Deep, Emily.  Profound.

I don’t mean to turn this into a bash fest about Emily Haines, but it was so disappointing to hear her speak, after hearing how well she can write lyrics.  As someone at the concert put it, “whatever childish crush I had for her has been ruined, but the music is okay”.  I couldn’t agree more.

Out back after the show I asked about her line in the Metric song, “I wish we were famers//I wish we knew how to//grow sweet potatoes//and milk cows”, and she stated, “I’m totally gonna buy some land, man…”

“Oh?  Where?”

“Like northern Ontario, yeah”

I’m pretty sure you can’t grow sweet potatoes in northern Ontario.

5th Anniversary of Guantanamo Detainees

January 11, 2007

Today marks the 5th anniversary of the first detainees at Guantanamo Bay.  Around the world people are organizing in opposition to US practices, and I sit at a coffee shop smoking cigarettes and drinking roasted coffee with sugar and cream.  I look around me and people are conversing, happy, enjoying the warmth of the fireplace, and just winding down.  It’s amazing how detached we all are from the real happenings, the real human rights violations that our country is committing.  I’m am no better.  Maybe worse for knowing it’s happening and not doing anything about it.

There’s a write up in the London Financial Times about Guantanamo detainees ‘driven insane’ by the cruelty of the camp.

“Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Right’s Watch says the isolation regime at Guantanamo has tightened in recent months, piling the mental pressure on inmates who have ‘no fair procedure’ that would lead to possible release.”

Kenneth Roth went on to say in interview that it is not his belief that the Bush administration plans on closing the camp, even though Bush was quoted saying he would “very much”  like for it to but shut down.  “Very much”?  Apathy is inaction.

“Brent Mickum, a defence lawyer, says one of his two clients, Bisher al-Rawi, an Iraqi-born UK resident ‘ is slowly but surely slipping into madness” because of ‘prolonged isolation couple with environmental manipulation that includes constant exposure to temperature extremes and constant sleep deprivation.’  He says Mr. Rawi’s ration of toilet paper was removed because he used it for shielding his eyes from the light and his prayer rug was taken away because he used it for heat.”

“Jonathan Hafetz, an attorney for Brennan Center for Justice at New York University school of Law, says the five years of the Bush administration’s detention policy and related practices may have ‘done more to reverse 200 years of democracy than any other government act in US history.'”

There are still about 400 prisoners at Guantanamo of which potentially only 60-80 will be prosecuted.  How do you compensate for the lost time and torture and deprivation of human rights that the other hundreds of prisoners have been subjected to?  Will those prisoners that are “proven” innocent have rights to file charges against the US government for wrongful prosecution (prosecution in the way of oppressive, sanity-stretching, physically abusive crimes of humanity)?

Hostel 2 Coming Soon (to a Vacant Theater Near You)

November 21, 2006

I remember toward the end of last fall when I was stomping around L.A. that there were huge billboards all around town for some new movie called “Hostel” by Quentin Tarantino. I got a little excited by the hype, especially after the Kill Bills. But I was lead astray. That was a terrible movie. Absolutely horrible. Apparently it grossed over $20 milliion opening weekend, but I’d be surprised if all that money didn’t go straight to paying for all the Clear Channel billboards. IMDB persons rated it a 5.8 overall. I don’t think America will be fooled again when it comes out in the spring…my Ouija board spells F-L-O-P.

So I Missed ‘So Good Saturday’ [Grizzly Bear’s Newest]

November 20, 2006

Let’s just say I was sick as a dog…everyone is getting this one. While you’re down and out this week, groove to some Grizzly Bear with your snuggle bear.

Grizzly Bear – On A Neck, On A Spit (.mp3)

Buy it on Amazon

Kramer Kills Komedy

November 20, 2006

I suppose this is a few days old by now, but I still cannot believe the scene at the Laugh Factory on Friday: Michael Richards profusely word-vomiting the word nigger at a heckler in the stands. Not lightheartedly so, but with conviction. I don’t know if it was at first meant to be a joke that went terribly wrong, or if he was drunk, or if he truly meant it, but he is quite deservingly receiving a huge lashback. Imagine some hideous act that you’ve done, some terrible slander you’ve spoken…the ones for which you’re most ashamed…now imagine broadcasting it to millions over YouTube, worldwide media outlets, and blogs. This man will live in shame wherever he goes, and regret that day until he dies. I feel sorry for him. Not because of the shame and regret, but because of the ugliness that is within him, and in many people. Here’s the video.

So Good Saturdays

November 12, 2006

Not as, well, DISCO as last week, but a beautiful track regardless.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – No Bad News (.mp3)

And of course, available on Amazon

Russia Joins the WTO?

November 12, 2006


From the BBC:


Russia and US poised for WTO deal

Russian Vladimir Putin (left) and US President George W Bush

The leaders of the US and Russia can put their heads together in Hanoi

Russia has finally cleared the last hurdle in its bid to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The US has agreed in principle to approve Russia’s membership, after holding out in lengthy bilateral talks.

Russia and the US hope to sign a WTO accession deal at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam next week.

Despite previous Russian hopes of a break-through, negotiators failed to clinch a deal at the G8 summit in July.

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