Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Mates of State's new album, re-arrange us, came out last Tuesday. I've barely even listened to it yet, but I knew right away it was a must-buy. Mates of State are an awesome band! Their last album won me over completely: lush, ambient, and unabashed, 2006's Bring It Back is intelligent, original pop music of the highest caliber. It's emotional, too--nearly every song I've heard by the Mates comes across as a love song between keyboardist/wife Kori Gardner and drummer/husband Jason Hammel (yes, they're really married and seem perfectly, innocently, in love). Their song "Think Long" is about a good a song as I've ever heard--seriously.

So now that you know how much I enjoy them, you know how terrible I would feel to post their entire album here for everyone to copy. However, I don't feel bad about spreading the Mates around a little (and perhaps prompting you to go buy the album yourselves!)

So here's the first song off the new album, for your download: "Get Better."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bob Dylan Turns 67 Today!

Happy Birthday Bob Dylan!!!

[Editor's note: I came across the fact that it was Dylan's birthday while cruising for music at the super-excellent, and totally streamable, Minneapolis radio station The Current. They had also posted a forum there for the discussion of favorite Dylan songs. Those of you who know me will know that, of course, I had to weigh in. So the following are the comments I posted there.]

Hi folks!

I'm sure I'm going to write too much here, but this is just too sweet a discussion not to contribute my little thoughts. I love Bob Dylan so much--I'm glad the Current has reminded me that his birthday is here!

I'm pretty anal-retentive about upkeep on my iTunes statistics, so, according to playcount, here are my five favorite Dylan songs of all-time:

1) Lay Lady Lay--from Nashville Skyline, another underrated album. I always laugh at myself for this somewhat cliched choice, but at the same time, an ex-girlfriend and I once shared a deep affinity for this song, and its truly a beautiful song about love, so it makes sense.
2) Time Passes Slowly--again from an underrated disc, New Morning. Also from Biograph. I live in Alaska now, so to hear Dylan singing about the mountains in such a plaintive voice is heavenly.
3) Girl from the North Country--because I'm from North Dakota, neighbors :-)
4) Like a Rolling Stone--my guess is that this is the Dylan song no one says no to.
5) Idiot Wind--from Blood on the Tracks. I just like how mad Bobby D. gets here, rallying against the stupidities of our sad humanity (stupidities for which he too is culpable, the lyrics reveal). I like to scream along sometimes.

There are so many others, though: "It Takes a Lot to Laugh...", "Abandoned Love," "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright." I truly believe the man has made a GREAT album in every decade since the 60s, and every single album since Oh Mercy in 1989 has been fantastic. He likes to tour baseball stadiums, hangs out with Victoria's Secret models, and simply seems attuned to the essense of the human condition. For all these reasons I love him.

To weigh in on conversation here a little [Ed: there was a commenter who mentioned that Dylan disliked his Minnesota roots, and arguments back and forth at the original posting site], I too think Dylan likes being from Minnesota, ultimately. His biography doesn't really say anything negative (if I remember correctly), and the song lyrics seem to suggest a fondness, as well. Lately my favorite Dylan discovery has been "Went to See the Gypsy," and the song ends with an elated-sounding Dylan singing, "And that pretty dancing girl / she could not be found. So I watched the sun come rising / from a little Minnesota town / from a little Minnesota town!" It seems a loving sentiment, to me.

My apologies for writing so much! Best to all of you, fellow fans and friends!

[Ed again: I'll try and post links to the above five songs after Memorial Day weekend.]

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


That's Bruce Campbell (who Wikipedia describes as a "B-movie icon") covering Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" for an Old Spice commercial. I have to say, I love it. Smelling good was never quite so sexy...especially in Alaska, where body odor is carefully cultivated by many.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Folk & Funk

Well, as always, I am behind with the mix blogging; I ascribe this to the lovely warm weather that has finally taken hold here in Alaska. I have been able to be out in the garden the last couple weekends, and have also been out on the deck, grilling, , horseshoeing, enjoying local outdoor music, etc. Things are good in the Banks! Over Memorial Day weekend the Beechcraft gang & myself are planning a camping trip somewhere, so the sunbathing shall continue.

But on to the mix...this one came about pretty organically over the last week. Most of the mix is actually stuff I've had in my collection for a while--both things I wanted to hear again and things I "discovered" hiding in my hard drive (I love it when that happens)--and just a few new purchases. Neko Case got some good run here because she's the muse of the Alaskan spring, as far as I can tell. "Folk & Funk" describes the mix nicely, as all of the songs here could be shoehorned into one genre or the other, and many of them share qualities of both, which seems interesting. Enjoy!

Folk & Funk
1. Went to See the Gypsy, Bob Dylan
2. Star Witness, Neko Case
3. That Teenage Feeling, Neko Case
4. Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, Neko Case
5. The Needle Has Landed, Neko Case
6. Darkness Between the Fireflies, Mason Jennings
7. Nude, Radiohead
8. Finer Feelings, Spoon
9. Rock Star, N.E.R.D.
10. It's Love, Chris Knox
11. Untitled (How Does It Feel), D'Angelo
12. Falling Down, Tom Waits
13. Your Koolest Smile, Flunk
14. Tugboat, Galaxie 500
15. All Blues, Miles Davis

"Went to See the Gypsy" is the best Dylan song I hadn't paid attention to yet; New Morning is a very underrated disc...Fox Confessor Brings the Flood from lovely Neko Case is an excellent album that I recommend to everyone who is at all into folk, bluegrass, or alt-country...Mason Jennings is classic...still super-excited to see Radiohead in August!...have been listening to a ton of the Spoon album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga lately, and "Finer Feelings" is one of its finer tracks...the entire N.E.R.D. album In Search Of..., from 2003, reminds me of playing Mario Kart back in the day..."It's Love" may be recognized from a recent Heineken commercial..."Untitled" by D'Angelo has to be one of the sexiest songs ever, n'est pas?..."Falling Down," here (and originally) by Tom Waits, was recently covered by Scarlett Johansson, who is apparently trying out a singing career now, like every other Hollywood starlet these days. I don't like the studio version she recorded, but I do, surprisingly, quite enjoy the live version of it here. Glad it's getting me further into Tom Waits, at least...if you're into triphop or electronica, I think you should be into Flunk...love "Tugboat," by Galaxie 500, which just came on my iPod one day while playing horseshoes. "Who is that?" I wondered to Katy. Thanks to Amy for the track!...Miles Davis IS cool. I might have to do a jazz mix one of these days.

Folk & Funk

Well, as always, I am behind with the mix blogging; I ascribe this to the lovely warm weather that has finally taken hold here in Alaska. I have been able to be out in the garden the last couple weekends