Weekly Download Vol. V No. 21

Master Pretender by First Aid Kit

If anyone forgot, in 2012 (N.B. that ridiculous year of music) First Aid Kit helped us get our souls right, triage for our lives, with their beautiful album The Lion’s Roar. WD still can’t listen to it enough, and it’s become his go to music recommendation (N.B. ’cause no one listens to DBT).

When I read that FAK would release a new album in 2014, I realized that my soul was in need of a little triage. As such, the day Stay Gold dropped, I ran to Guestroom giddy as a schoolboy to purchase vinyl of two female Swedes born in the 90s singing reengineered American folk.

Let that sink in.

Today I’m 36, and I haven’t gasped many times in my life. Gasp: v. [intr.] inhale suddenly with the mouth open, out of pain or astonishment. (O.A.D. 2006). That means I’ve not often (N.B. or if ever) been in gasp-level pain (N.B. and you can bet your ass this is at least somewhat related to my physical-risk averse lifestyle, which here on the dawn of my 36th year I foresee only an increasing physical-risk aversion), and I’m not often gasp-level astonished.

As I loaded up Stay Gold for my first dose of pith soothing on the Tuesday drive home after I bought it, anticipating a gasp, an astonishment gasp, from WD was somewhere between WD falling asleep during Frontline and WD winning that evening’s psychological warfare with the G-Unit on the chart of things I thought might happen that evening. Nonetheless, at 2:29 of this amazing track amidst an album full of amazing and soothing Americana, WD got slapped in the face.

And WD gasped.

And WD, now 36-year-old husband and father of two, immediately thought: Kids these days…

Enjoy

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Weekly Download Vol. V No. 20

Would You Fight For My Love/High Ball Stepper by Jack White

Hello friends. It’s been a bit.

I’ve called him the dragon. He’s been referred to as rock’s Dr. Seuss and as rock’s Willy Wonka. He thinks he may be the last true rock star (N.B. and he may be right), but I’ve learned during the media blitz surrounding his sumptuous new album Lazaretto, is that Jack Gillis, III might be a cranky dick.

He’s said a few things in some interviews that are less than nice, or maybe just intentionally cranky and that he went on a subsequent apology tour for. Link if you’re interested in the full tale. But it’s not that interesting.

He made some valid points about the ebb and flow of popular music and the ways “credit” is both nebulous and never dispensed via meritocracy. And he sounded like a cranky dick doing it.

He called ubiquitous cell phones “fucking texting things” preventing people from clapping at his concerts and generally interacting with each other, and he’s right. And he sounded like a cranky dick doing it.

But what has alarmed me is that I can’t make myself care about any of his cranked up dickishness because I love his music so much.

I had a realization about JGIII and WD. He of virtually limitless musical aptitude and WD of none. The revelation is that our ears for music are freakishly the same.

If JGIII conceives a song in his venerated kaleidoscope of a head and creates it harnessing his opulent and breathtaking musical aplomb, then almost without fail (N.B. Maybe completely without fail) said song will resonate pleasingly in WD’s ADD riddled bramble bush of a head and fall victim to his impassioned amusia.

And this isn’t limited to the hits, (N.B. Like Would You Fight For My Love should surely be, and when coupled with Lazaretto’s instrumental track, High Ball Stepper (N.B. Which you’ve already heard if you’ve watched literally any of the World Cup on ESPN this summer) constitute the emotional core of JGIII’s more-frustrated-with-women-than-normal 11-song opus) but stretches to songs that I suspect even Jack would consider minor.

I’m not sure what, if anything, this means.

I hope it doesn’t mean I’m a cranky dick.

Enjoy.

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Weekly Download Vol. V No. 19

Never by The Roots

There have never been more white people who know who The Roots are due to late night impresario, Jimmy Fallon. Those white folks in flyover states who chuckled and goosed their wives after one of Leno’s insipid headline jokes, are now doing the same with Fallon but with funnier jokes, better music, histories of rap, lip synch battles, and The Roots five nights a week.

Thanks a lot, Obama…

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Weekly Download Vol. V No. 18

Natural Light by Drive-by Truckers

Enjoy

 

 

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Weekly Download Vol. V No. 17

An Ocean in Between the Waves by The War on Drugs

I bought Lost in The Dream by The War on Drugs about a month ago, determined to pick it up both because it had received generally good reviews from the music critics I respect the most and because I had given what I can only call a mediocre effort to obtain The War on Drugs’ prior album Slave Ambient (N.B. mediocre in that I checked at Guestroom two different times to try and purchase it, failing both.  Thus resigning myself to some kind of karmic determination that it must not have been that good anyway.).

Since my purchase of Lost in the Dream I have taken it out of my CD player, put it back in its case, and thrown it in my console at least four times with the resolution that I would never listen to it again.

But there’s something about it that I can’t get my mind around.  Let me start with the things that I don’t like about it.  Length.  The album is long; all the songs are long.  They all have these what seems like 7 minute tags at the end that sound like nothing more than some kind of locked groove at the culmination of some mid-80’s experimental roots-rock LP.  Lyrically they don’t say anything very important that I can tell, or really anything witty.  The lead singer’s voice is some bastardization between Tom Petty and Bob Seger.  (N.B. and you’re shitting yourself if you don’t think that track number 6, Eyes to the Wind, doesn’t feel like some type of indie reboot of “Against the Wind”, however in a way that I don’t actually mind at all and in no way conjures images of Gump running across America.)

Overall, the album sounds like the soundtrack to a movie about “Real America” written and directed by Lars von Trier, or the guy who directed the Swedish versions of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movies, or some other European film auteur obsessed with rainy think pieces.

But I still keep listening to it.  And I may have decided that the things listed above are also the reasons why I really like it.  Well, really like it may be over-selling it.  But there is something about it, and as these long ass songs continue to stretch out I find myself getting mesmerized like watching one of those Atlantic City taffy pulling machines.

(N.B. And if you really want to get your shit right, watch the taffy on mute and listen to this song.)

Maybe Lost in the Dream is something that rewards patience.  Patience that I don’t particularly expect you, loyal downloaders, to have.  (N.B. Please don’t take this as a slight to those of you prone to broodingly over-contemplate (N.B. how’s that for a split infinitive?) minutia such as that which this humble blogger seems to wallow. However, I know quite well there are several of you out there prone to bouts of said over-contemplation.  (eg. killamike/Episode VII)).  Take for instance an Ocean in Between the Waves, it has one of the most killer (N.B. killerest?) grooves I’ve heard in any song this year.  But you have to wait 6 minutes to get to it.  So I don’t know.  I guess it’s difficult for me to call Lost in the Dream a disappointment given that I keep going back to it, but each time I listen to it I’m expecting the thing, the hook, the hammer to strike me, and I can’t say that it ever has.

I’ll prolly just put it back in my console.

Enjoy

 

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Weekly Download Vol. V No. 16

I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You by The Hold Steady

We missed The Hold Steady.

From 2004 to 2008 they released four albums, the Core Four. Two very good, heady, sometimes poetic ones (Debut: Almost Killed Me (N.B. With the impossibly great line in the first track: I got bored when I didn’t have a band / so I started a band, man), and their fourth album, Stay Positive); and two stunningly brilliant rock novels (2nd and 3rd albums: Separation Sunday and Boys and Girls in America), both bramble bushes with intricate weaves of divergent and convergent story lines of characters, their choices, their lives, their religion (N.B. Lead singer/songwriter, Craig Finn is definitely indie rock’s most famous Catholic) encased in guitar riffs and piano flourishes punctuated with Finn’s seeming cast-off but brilliant lines spat at you in his oddly effecting sing/speak about lives in the scene (N.B. And there are several scenes: Minneapolis, Penetration Park, Ybor City, The Mississippi River, Denver, and Chicago)

In the last six months, I’ve been on THS overdrive. I’ve begun to think about the Core Four chronologically, how they presented when they were released in the life of THS (N.B. Even though the stories in them aren’t in any way linear). I decided they’re like scaling a mountain.

In AKM, THS introduced Finn’s cast of characters (N.B. See below). In SS he took the seeds sown in AKM and got us worried about Holly and the crew (N.B. and SS is also the album WD first fell in love with and is still prolly his favorite). In BGIA Finn took them and your concerns and propped them up and let them say something important about…us (N.B. The peak of the mountain), and finally SP (whether intentional or not) plays almost as an epilogue:

There’s gonna come a time
When the scene will seem less sunny
It will probably get druggy

And the kids will seem too skinny

Finn’s characters, who lived the scene (N.B. in graphic, poetic, and memorable ways) and then watched it pass them by, have proven to me to be the most enthralling part of the Core Four–of The Hold Steady’s work–of Craig Finn’s story, because they’re his friends too.

(N.B. I’d be completely remiss to not credit the indispensable (N.B. for song/lyric nerds) RapGenius for the assist in pulling me into all this shit.)

Holly (aka Hallelujah and Your Little Hoodrat Friend) If THS has a protagonist, it’s Holly. She’s certainly Finn’s muse, the extension of all the fucked up Catholic shit still inside him; someone’s he’s created and seems pretty desperately attracted to. He puts her (a recovering Catholic (tiny little text etched into her neck / says Jesus lived and died for all your sins) through much. Drug addiction, prostitution, I think even murder, and maybe even resurrection (actual and/or metaphorical) and Finn is disgusted by her too (Your little hoodrat friend makes me sick, but after I get sick, I just get sad) but he ever loses faith in her, and consequently never loses his faith. And because of that she turns into a testament of his faith. Remarkable

Charlemagne, a pimp (you can guess he’s relationship with Holly) who seems to get in over his head, which is hard to do if you’re a pimp, but he ends up coming around.

Gideon, a gang member/skin head who runs drugs and gets Charlemagne in over his head.

Saphire, the other women (N.B. Since I  assume that both Charlemagne and Gideon were carnal with Holly) who can predict the winners of horse races which she does to fuel a pretty (un)healthy drug habit (He came out six lengths ahead / she spent the whole next week getting high).

With these four characters (and prolly himself as narrator as well), their interactions, their drug use, their lives in the scene, their damnation, and for some their salvation, Finn said something important about America and religion and redemption.

And he did it all in four albums from 2004 to 2008, and I had no idea it was happening.

WD’s introduction to THS was with undoubtedly their worst album, 2010’s bloated and insipid Heaven is Whenever for which WD (with no knowledge of THS’s prior achievements, such that I might have been disappointed in Heaven) offered a two letter review…eh

Regardless, given my THS emersion the last six months, I really anticipated their new album, Teeth Dreams. Although they hadn’t found a new keyboard/piano player since Franz Nicolay left the band after Stay Positive (N.B. And weirdly this lack of keyboards/pianos on the last two albums has struck me maybe as the thing most separating them from the Core Four), I read that they had quit trying to be rock stars like Heaven is Whenever had smacked of.

Well, that’s true. But what they did do was try and sub in another guitar for a pronounced two(or three)-axe attack. Which I guess plays OK. The problem with Teeth Dreams (and it’s not a bad album) is that it fundamentally changes what THS is. They are no longer America’s best bar band (which I once read them described as such struck me as so accurate it hurt), but just another band trying to say/scream important-ish missives over thrashing guitars. Holly and Gideon became she and he, and I already miss them.

I can only imagine how I’d miss them if I hadn’t known them only six months or so, but was instead a full-on THS groupie like I should have been in their prime living my late 20s with them.

This makes me both sad and relieved.

Weird?

Enjoy

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Weekly Download Vol. V No. 15

Devil by Horse Thief

(pshew, been a bit. Apologies) OMA (N.B. -ish) Horse Thief is a neuvo-indie-folk-rock (N.B. sorry) band of guys originally from Denton, TX now making their home in the 405. Horse Thief is the first (N.B. But my guess not last) great (N.B. the well-schooled, talented, imaginative, and sincere great) band to foment at ACMUCO (N.B. The Academy of Contemporary Music University of Central Oklahoma) in Bricktown. Fear and Bliss is their first album, and it blows my mind.

Horse Thief’s lead singer Cameron Neal is a sonorous blend of Cat Stevens and Jim James whose voice at times threatens not to work, but comes through each time in ways that make me happy even while he flirts with both depression and with recovery. Horse Theif’s instrumentation is tight, their songs invigorating, cathartic even.

All of the above is a fairly staid music review from WD. That ends now:

Fear in Bliss is the best album I’ve heard this year. Devil is the first single released from it, and it’s pretty damn good, but it’s about fourth best song on Fear and Bliss. The Intro and the second track (I Don’t Mind, which I couldn’t locate a youtube of and was too lazy to upload on my own) will figuratively make your ears warm and then your head explode in a gorgeous burst of sonic wonder as you sprout angel wings and soar above…

I’m serious about how great Fear and Bliss is. Not in the big fish in a small pond Oklahoma music scene sense, but it’s great anywhere, nationwide. It’s that good. I can’t listen to it enough. Consider this my highest recommendation. Get this album.

Enjoy

Post Script:

I know, the OKC restaurant post. It’s coming. It got really daunting, so I’m reeling it back in. I haven’t finished reeling.

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Weekly Download Vol. V No. 14

Disappear by Parker Millsap (ups to Court on the recco and ups to the VDub sessions on the video)

OMA: I’m an ageist. Ageism: n. prejudice or discrimination on the basis of a person’s age.  Oxford American Dictionary – 2006.

Parker Millsap is 20, born and raised in Purcell, Oklahoma in nineteen ninety-fucking-three and so baby-faced it makes me want to puke.

He was featured on NPR, played at SXSW, plays a serviceable guitar, has a gravely cadence that belies his  years, is potentially the next big thing in folk/Americana nationally (N.B. not just in the 580), and is so young he cannot reasonably say anything to me in a song that I might find of the slightest importance.

(N.B.

Court: “Then why do you like Chance the Rapper so much?”

WD: “…”

Court: “…”

WD: “Because he’s black.”)

So, I am ageist, and little boy Millsap is the target of my ageism. What is this song about? I don’t know. Snapchat or Glee or something (N.B. I can’t even come up with witty references for the shite that 20 year olds must obsess over. (N.B. And actually, were I to remove the veil of ageism from my ears, I’d hear a decently crafted story about something little Millsap couldn’t have lived, but is dutifully retelling like a Spiderman remake.)) But I wish nothing but the best for Parker Millsap, and I can’t wait to hear about him winning Grammys that don’t make the broadcast.

(N.B. Dubious segue.)

James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem) has a song about his beloved New York that is decidedly un-techno with a chorus of “New York I love you, but you’re bringing me down.”

It’s April. I grilled out on Saturday. Fucked around on the back porch and in the pot (N.B. No silly) garden with the G-Unit and generally had a pleasant time.

It snowed on Monday.

Oklahoma I love you, but you’re bringing me down.

Enjoy.

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Weekly Download Vol. V No. 13

Digital Witness by St. Vincent

Oklahoma Music April: Short entry this week, because Annie Clark a/k/a St. Vincent is from Tulsa in about the same way AZH is from Yukon or Hump is from Perry, but a little less than how Bob is from Okinawa. But her fourth album (N.B. eponymous, in that later career Pearl Jam/Metallica/Wilco self-title album statement that I know I’ve discussed before and is Supposed. To. Mean. Something. but I’ll be damned if I can remember where. (N.B. Part of the problem with doing this for so long is forgetting when/how you said what about whatever in the past.)) since leaving perpetually cheery hippie commune choir The Polyphonic Spree is getting fantastic press.

I’ve had this album for awhile and ultimately decided to lead off OMA with it this year because of her vague 918 connection and the vague way and I think I may really like both St. Vincent and St. Vincent. She is one of the better guitar players I have ever heard, and that’s no shit. Find some youtube clips of her mutilating the ax. Like this one.

But she just so…precious. She & Him did I Put a Spell on You on Conan once, and I read it described as watching a kitten drive a bulldozer. For some reason that’s the vibe I get when I watch Annie shred. Thoughts?

Off again next week to get my beach on with Wife sans rats. Leaving Saturday. My guess is we’ll be missing them so bad by Monday night that we’ll claw each others eyes out. But we’ll soldier on.

However, to whet your appetite, my big finish for OMA this year should be the definitive guide to over and under rated Oklahoma City restuarants and the bands that correlate with them. Yeah.

Enjoy.

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Weekly Download Vol. V No. 12

Wavering Lines by Willis Earl Beal

Downloaders, on this first day of spring after the worst fucking winter ever, give your soul a scrub. Listen to this track by wunderkind Willis Earl Beal. (N.B. Find the album cut if you can, off of 2013’s again overlooked Nobody Knows by WEB, compared to Tom Waits in a way that I don’t really agree with, but at the same time understand. WEB’s voice is beautiful. TW’s voice is perfect. People can confuse the two). Ideally in your car, at night, on an empty highway. But any time will do. Listen to it a couple times, so you can (kinda) sing it with him. Trust me.

If you feel bad, you’ll feel better.

If you feel heavy, you’ll feel light.

If you feel cold, you’ll feel warm.

If you feel lonely, you’ll feel together.

What more do you want from a song?

Enjoy

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