Friday, February 24, 2006

A Real Tipping Point?

Malcolm Gladwell now has a blog. I only hope that his blog is as interesting as his books and his writing for the New Yorker, if obviously less polished.

NP: "The Moon" - Cat Power

Friday Music Report

According to the stats captured by Last.fm, I listened to the following artists the most last week:
  1. The Charlatans UK
  2. Uncle Tupelo
  3. Afghan Whigs
  4. Guided by Voices
  5. The Replacements
  6. The Smiths
  7. Luna
  8. The Drive-By Truckers
  9. The Wedding Present
  10. Bettie Serveert
Wow, there's not really much new there is there? You know what they say about old dogs.

NP: "Someone Says" - The Editors

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Champions League: The Knockout Stage Begins

The Invincibles Return!

Yesterday in the first leg of the first knockout stage of the Champion's League, Arsenal paid a visit to Real Madrid. Everyone in the commentariat gave the Gunners the chance of a snow cone in hell. Just like the Olympics, however, once the game began, it refused to stay on that script.

Mired in a disappointing season at home, Arsenal roared at Real Madrid and its Galacticos for all of the 90 plus minutes, looking more like the team that went undefeated two years ago (was it only two years?) and won on the road 1 - 0 (minute by minute). And it wasn't nearly that close. Arsenal easily should have had two more goals. Arseblog has an excellent report on the match. This is the first time an English team has won at the Bernabeu.

Now on the the match itself. For the first time in a long time, both the young players and the veterans played well. Jose Reyes had one of his best days ever in an Arsenal jersey, and Fabregas was masterful in midfield. Thierry Henry was, well, Thierry Henry. Who says he doesn't show up in big games--his game winner was just masterful. A lot of credit should be given to the defense as well, keeping Real out of sorts for most of the game. And finally, it's good to see you again Mr. Ljungberg!

I don't mean to get too carried away here. After all, they have to do this all over again at Highbury in two weeks, but to go to Madrid and notch an away goal and a win does mean something. It makes Arsenal favored to advance. All they have to do is limit Madrid's goals in their house, where they've played better this season than on the road. And, of course, some players will have healed enough to return to the squad.

Now, I'm hoping this lights a bit of a fire in the team that carries them to that all important fourth position in the league, retain Henry, and usher them into Ashburton Grove in style. On to Blackburn!

In other news, Liverpool and Chelsea both lost their opening legs to BEnfica and Barcelona, respectively. I usually pull for the English teams, even though I can't quite muster any support for Chelsea. I do feel bad for Damon though. I'm confident they'll get it done in the second leg.

NP: "Brother's and Sisters" - Blur

Friday, February 17, 2006

Friday Music Report

According to Last.fm's statistics, I listened to the following artists the most last week:
  1. The Charlatans UK
  2. Matt Pond PA
  3. Echo & the Bunnymen
  4. Blur
  5. Hüsker Dü
  6. Toenut
  7. The Clash
  8. The White Stripes
  9. Badly Drawn Boy
  10. Elvis Costello
Looking at that list, I think its time for another big infusion of new music into my library. Now, I only have to decide what to take off my iPod to make room. Silly me, I thought 40 gig would be more than enough.

NP: "Kicker of Elves"- Guided by Voices

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Dancing

This movie of a man (Matt) dancing all over the world just makes me smile. Many of you have probably seen it, but I find myself returning to it from time to time, especially when I need a lift.

NP: "In a Jar" - Dinosaur Jr.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Daniel Lanois and His Band + Telegram

Daniel Lanois and His Band made their first appearance in Atlanta in years last night at the Earl. I was pretty excited about the show because of the size of the venue. It's pretty rare you get to see someone like this in such an intimate venue.

Before we were treated to Mr. Lanois, however, the Atlanta trio, Telegram, took the stage. Telegram are Troy Bieser (Vocals, Guitar) Robert Henson (Double Bass), and Jamie Shepard (Drums). They delivered a good set that really seemed to get the audience going. One special note about Telegram: how can you not like a band that uses a stand up bass, with the bassist using a bow as well and plucking at it madly at times. A stand up bass always equals cool. And when he used the bow, I could certainly see a good connection to Lanois' sound.

According to Flagpole (the alternative weekly from Athens), "Atlanta's excellent Telegram ... plays their heartbreaking torch-songs with a decidedly Rock n' Roll bent. " I'm not one to argue with that assessment. They also handled the transition from slow and quiet sounds to decidely driving and loud sounds, something that always impresses me when its well done. Notable songs include "Greek Song" and "Precious Thing", both of which the band has made available for download on their site. Their sound was a nice amalgam of a lot of different good influences (or so it seemed to me).

Daniel Lanois and His Band were met with a very enthusiastic crowd as they started their set with "Where Will I Be" from Emmylou Harris's album, Wrecking Ball. [Ed. Note: If you don't have this album, go get it. Now.] I mainly knew Daniel Lanois from his work on this album and the soundtrack from the movie Sling Blade, but based on those two alone, I was confident I'd really enjoy just about anything I heard last night (and I wasn't wrong). Throughout the evening, they relied on great harmonies, Lanois' sublime guitar work, driving or quiet drums (depending on the situation), and solid back up instrumentation (more about the steel guitar later). The set itself was definitely not cookie cutter. Many audience requests were honored throughout the night, taking the band far away from the set list at times.


Since I don't know most of the track names, I can only report my impressions of the show. Throughout the night, I had a million musical references bouncing around in my head, all very disparate. But they all seemed seamless integrated into Daniel Lanois sound, each one playing very well off the other. At different times in the evening, I thought of The Clash, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Bob Marley, and Warren Zevon. Any sound that can set off such different musical perceptions in my head over a set (and sometimes in the course of a single song) is impressive indeed. The "Delaware Project" in particular was sprawling, beautiful, energizing chaos--a jam really that had yet to shape itself into a song.

Finally, Nashville should really pay attention to how Daniel Lanois plays a steel guitar. Although he only played two instrumentals on it, it produced sounds that I've never heard before out of Nashville. All of it very lovely. The second, in particular, would make a great driving song.

So now, I'm getting ready to fire up the iTunes and add some Daniel Lanois to my collection. (I also hope to add a few photos to the post this evening.)

NP: "Squires @ Bristol" - Shots Fired

Monday, February 13, 2006

Vice President Fellow Hunter in Mishap

I never thought I'd write a sentence with the words "Vice President" and "shoots hunter". I guess they really are the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

UPDATE: Ten Ways Dick Cheney Can Kill You.

NP: "My Little Problem" - The Replacements

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Friday Music Report

Yes. I know that it's Thursday, but I have to do this early since I'll be sunning myself in the garden state tomorrow thanks to work. Too bad I don't have The Feelies in the list. According to Last.fm, I listened to the following artists the most last week:
  1. Echo & the Bunnymen
  2. Elvis Costello
  3. The Charlatans U.K.
  4. Wilco
  5. Pavement
  6. The Mekons
  7. Death Cab for Cutie
  8. The Wedding Present
  9. Blur
  10. Pulp
NP: "All Her Favorite Fruit" - Camper Van Beethoven

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Friday, February 03, 2006

Firday Music Report

According to Last.fm, I listened to the following artists the most last week:
  1. The Hold Steady
  2. Echo & the Bunnymen
  3. Elvis Costello
  4. Wilco
  5. Joy Division
  6. The Cure
  7. The Velvet Underground
  8. Death Cab for Cutie
  9. Afghan Whigs
  10. Hüsker Dü
In other news, I'll be missing The Hold Steady at the Earl Saturday night, but at least I'll get to see Daniel Lanois there on the 14th.

NP: "I Get the Message" - Ivy

Thursday, February 02, 2006

100 Greatest Opening Lines Ever

For novels that is, according to the American Book Review. This has quite a mix of very literary works and some that are not so literary. My personal favorites (as you can see, I tend toward the simple):
  • Moby Dick (#1)
  • Gravity's Rainbow (#3)
  • Invisible Man (#10)
  • Neuromancer (#30)
  • Galatea 2.2 (#35)
And yes, it even includes "It was a dark and stormy night" (#22). What are your favorites?

NP: "Of a Life" - Echo & the Bunnymen

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

2005 Pazz and Jop Awards

The Village Voice just released they're annual Pazz and Jop awards. This year's number one album features a repeat from last year's winner, Kanye West. This is the first time this has happened in consecutive years since The Clash performed that feat. That puts Mr. West in some pretty august company.

The scope of this list goes way beyond my musical tastes, but it usually places some surprising albums on the list. For example, the last three Drive-By Truckers albums have made the list at rather lofty positions--Redneck rock in the Village Voice?--and I'm sure this year is no exception. I'll probably take some time to pore over it to see if I've missed anything.

NP: "Northern Winds"- Steve Earle