Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wilco!!! In Fairbanks???

That's right. Friday night, alt-awesome banditos Wilco played a kick-ass show, at the Blue Loon in Fairbanks. For those of you unfamiliar with Wilco...get familiar! These guys know how to make a joyful noise, that's for sure, with Nels Cline and his AMAZING guitar work powering the engine, lead man Jeff Tweedy providing the lyrical sturm und drang, and the rest of the boys just playing their asses off, keeping funky and cool all the while. It was a great show, and the crowd was small enough such that it was pretty stinking easy for me to be about 20 feel away from the stage without even really trying. They rocked. I don't want to get in the way by saying much more than that.

I'm not quite technologically inclined to have taped the fact I didn't even copy down the setlist. I DID, however, find the setlist online (thanks to jmacomber16 @ WilcoBase), and I've posted a zip file at the bottom with all the songs in it, sorta. (To learn about zip files, go here. The file will take around an hour to download, so set some time aside for it. Also, you probably already have an unzipper on your computer.) The song files are the studio versions of the songs they played.

P.S. There were two new songs that I don't have files for, but I've listed their presence below anyways, as it was at the concert.

P.P.S. Read this interview with Nels Cline. Is this man actually God?

Wilco @ the Blue Loon, Fairbanks, AK, 7-25-08 (Sorta)

Either Way
Company In My Back
You Are My Face
Side With The Seeds
War on War
A Shot in the Arm
One Wing (New Song)
Jesus, etc.
Impossible Germany
Sunny Feeling (New Song)
Summer Teeth
Handshake Drugs
Pot Kettle Black
Poor Places
Spiders (Kidsmoke)

Encore 1:

California Stars
Hate It Here
Can't Stand It
I'm The Man Who Loves You

Encore 2:

Heavy Metal Drummer
Red Eyed and Blue
I Got You (At The End of the Century)
Outta Site (Outta Mind)
Hoodoo Voodoo

Saturday, July 19, 2008

It's a Prince Morning

Do we all think Prince is crazy now? I think we do. But in the 1980s he was probably the main recipient of that too often used-designation: "Musical Genius." (Sidebar: Once I wrote of one of my characters, who had the ability to time-travel, sorta, this: "Despite popular opinion, Adverbio found much good in American music of the 1980s." I tend to agree with Adverbio, my ancient Eskimo friend/creation.) Of course, now when we think of the music from the 80s, most of us think of "hair metal." But there was so much more: great pop, and the new wave scene; the continuing legacies of men like Paul Simon and Leonard Cohen; super-creative rock'n'roll from U2, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, etc. And in the middle of it was Prince. The guy was an icon in so many ways: star of movies, radios, and porn mags (one of my first sexual memories was from the age of about 7, when my next-door neighbor showed me a dirty magazine with a spread of Prince and Wendy & Lisa lookalikes getting it on...Wendy & Lisa were in Prince's band, The Revolution). He put the Minneapolis music scene on the map, and continues to be it's best product (though we should probably give Mason Jennings a shot at that least I would be so inclined.)

I love listening to Prince these days, too. He always gives me energy, a lift when my morning, day, or night is dragging, but his rock stylings never really get too manic, which I enjoy. He is both cerebral and energized, which I'd like to think is often my story, too. And he really is undervalued for the amazingly socially relevant lyrics he has always brought to the table--Prince is a teacher of several subjects, not just sex. There's nothing to dislike about Prince.

So in honor, here are my top ten Prince tracks, along with my favorite lyrics from each, for fun. Any dissent, or opinions out there?

1. When Doves Cry, Purple Rain
"Dream if you can, a courtyard / an ocean of violets in bloom / animals strike curious poses / they feel the heat / the heat between me and you."

2. Sign 'o the Times, Sign 'O' the Times
"Is it silly no / when a rocket ship explodes / and everybody still wants to fly? / Some say a man ain't happy unless a man / Truly dies /Oh why?"

3. Kiss, Parade - Under the Cherry Moon
"You don't have to watch Dynasty / to have an attitude!"

4. Raspberry Beret, Around the World in a Day
"I said now...overcast days never turned me on / but somethin bout the clouds and her mixed / she wasn't too bright / but I could tell by the way she kissed me / she knew how to give a kiss."

5. Pop Life, Around the World in a Day
"What you puttin' in your nose / Is that where all your money goes? / The river of addiction flows (You think it's hot) / But there won't be no water / When the fire blows."

6. Starfish and Coffee, Sign 'O' the Times
"Starfish and coffee / maple syrup and jam / butterscotch clouds, a tangerine / and a side order of ham / if you'd set your mind free baby / maybe you'd understand / Starfish and coffee / maple syrup and jam."

7. If I Was Your Girlfriend, Sign 'O' the Times
"If I was your girlfriend / would you remember to tell me all the things / you forgot when I was your man?"

8. Purple Rain, Purple Rain
"I never wanted to be your weekend lover / I only wanted to be some kind of friend / Baby I could never steal you from another / It's such a shame our friendship had to end."

9. Little Red Corvette, 1999
"Guess I should have closed my eyes / When you drove me to the place where your horses run free / Cause I felt a little ill, when I saw all the pictures / of the jockeys that were there before me."

10. Let's Go Crazy, Purple Rain
(Spoken intro): "Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life...electric word, life, it means forever and that's a mightly long time, but I'm here to tell you there's something else: The Afterworld. A world of never-ending happiness, you can always see the sun, day or night. So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills, you know the one, Dr. Everything'll Be Alright.... Instead of asking him how much of your time is left, ask him how much of your mind, baby...cause in this life things are much harder than in the Afteworld. In this world you're on your own, baby....And if the elevator tries to bring you down. Go crazy punch a higher floor..."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

For the Breakers

For the Breakers
1. So Sorry, Feist
2. Cry Me a River, Justin Timberlake
3. Goodbye Honey, Ryan Adams
4. Think Long, Mates of State
5. Hungry Heart, Bruce Springsteen
6. Fake Plastic Trees, Radiohead
7. Ain't That Lonely Yet, Dwight Yoakam
8. Just the Way It Is, Baby, The Rembrandts
9. If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free, Sting
10. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, U2
11. Seeing Things, The Black Crowes
12. Perfect, Smashing Pumpkins
13. Serious, Richard Hawley
14. Dolphins, Beth Orton and Terry Callier
15. Dear Chicago, Ryan Adams
16. Here's Where the Story Ends, The Sundays

I put together a mix this morning, in the context of some other work I'm doing...but I found this mix so interesting that I wanted to post it here. This one is called For the Breakers, and I call it that because it is half of a two-part set about breaking up. If you're keeping up, then, this mix is for the Breaker, that (sonuva)bitch who rips your heart out of your chest, stomps it, and throws it in the trash compactor. Yeah, here's to that guy.

Why, you ask? Well, I suppose just because being a heartbreaker, when you think about it, is one of the more complex activities human beings partake in. At it's basest level, breaking up with someone is the act of hurting someone you care a great deal for, and, hey, that's complex. You're sorry, but also relieved (to be moving forward); you're a slight bit upset with yourself for having to hurt someone (and probably for having made a bad decision in the first place) but also feel a need to console and be gentle with yourself, because it's hard on everyone. It's happy and sad and easy and hard and it's something they should have robots do for us (like how they take care of nuclear waste and our other messes.)

Consequently, the music on a mix for these daring heartbreakers has to be equally confused and conflicted. On "So Sorry" Feist sings that she is sorry, but never thinks to say it until after her Other has departed; Justin Timberlake is actually the one who has been dumped, but he has turned his own heartbreak into completely danceable rage. On "Goodbye Honey" Ryan Adams moves effortlessly betwixt feelings: "It's been a long time coming / And I won't miss you / It's been a long time comin' / And I ain't I blue?" "Think Long" by Mates of State has always sounded, to me, like my ex-girlfriend yelling at me, and Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" lays these contradictions bare, carving from the desperate abstractions we usually use to cloak such hard emotion a more concrete and devastating narrative form. Dwight Yoakam, U2, the Crowes and the Pumpkins weigh in on the situation, and then Ryan Adams shows up to show us that, ultimately, the Breaker never really escapes unscathed:

The wind's feelin' real these days
Yeah and baby it hurts me some
Never thought I'd feel so blue
New York City you're almost gone

I think that I've fallen out of love
I think, I've fallen out of love
I think, I've fallen out of love
With you.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I Bought Two Great New Albums Today

Sunday morning, and here we are, Kevin, Brian and myself, sitting outside in Fairbanks at our rummage sale, waiting either for people to show up or the rain to fall. An excellent time, I thought, for some music shopping. (Thank you wireless technology, where I can sit in my garage drinking beer and purchase music simultaneously.)

Anyways, my shopping led me to two full-album purchases--pretty rare for me, who usually buys everything by the song and spins them into mixes. But these were two artists I couldn't deny.

Beck's new album, Modern Guilt, came out last Tuesday. Right away I bought the title-track, and I love it a lot, so today I had to finish purchasing the rest of the album. There is a lot to like here: Danger Mouse (pretty much of Gnarls Barkley fame) produces, my love Chan Marshall sings backup on some tracks, and more than any of that, IT'S BECK! Beck has made so many amazing songs and albums over the years, there is bound to be a few tracks that blow your mind here. "Modern Guilt" is certainly one, as is the straight-ahead bossa nova/rock (maybe?) of "Gamma Ray," and the Beach Boy-inflected "Chemtrails." It's good times.

This other album, entitled The Symphonies: Dreams Memories & Parties, is by Emily Wells. Now, honestly, I'm not sure how crazy I am about this album at this point; I like the first song "Symphony 1 In the Barrel of a Gun" (all the titles are like that), but overall I'm not sure I'm crazy about what she's up to here (oh, and she's up to something very thoughtout and earnest here, if perhaps a bit too high-minded for me from time to time). But when Emily starts laying it down there is nobody better; honestly, this girl covers a huge range between from Tori Amos to M.I.A., all the while doing her own wonderfully creative, electronic/funk/classical-tinged thing. Her last album, Beautiful Sleepyhead and the Laughing Yaks stopped me dead in my tracks in Summer 2007, and I'm sure she's going to do it again this summer, as well as many summers to come. And her voice is unique; it has "personality," one might say, but only in the same good ways as singers like Amos, Ani, Cohen, Dylan, and Waits. And, quite honestly, this new album is growing on leaps and bounds as I write this. I'm sure my official review on iTunes (well, I don't know which is official for sure) will rate the album much higher. I'm realizing I need to add "hip-hop" to the above "tinged" list, and wow, that's an amazing statement about an amazing artist.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hypermiling: Like a Prius in Every Pot

By Steve Goerger

[Ed here: In his ever-increasing concern for the state of our crumbling world, Kevin "Kurd" Peters decided a few weeks ago that it would be a good idea for all of us bloggers to each contribute our ideas on a singular topic: Gas. Kurd said we could do with that one word whatever we liked, as long as we addressed it somehow; below is my contribution to this roundtable of sorts. You can read Kurd's offering here, and I'll try to link others as they appear.]

By nature, I have always been a Do-It-Yourself kind of guy. When something around the house needs doing, I actually get quite happy—it’s a chance to wield my tools, use my muscles, and flex my mind. When a door needs to be hung, I break out the screwdriver and butter knife (that’s right) and get to work. If a furnace blows up, I put it back together at thirty below. If an old truck needs to pass an IM Test, I break out the ratchet set and…fail miserably at fixing the thing. But the point remains: Steve Likes to Try.

Being the DIYer and problem-solver that I am, then, I was quite happy when my boss introduced me to the idea I want to introduce in this blog: Hypermiling. “Hypermiling” is, essentially, any and all behaviors that help drivers save fuel and increase their fuel economy when driving. It’s kind of a do-it-yourself approach to the one of the biggest problems around: our addiction to that very limited resource known as petrol.

Why wait for Toyota or the Government or somebody to make more fuel-efficient cars when you can just modify your own behaviors and increase (even double or triple, in some outlandish cases) your MPGs yourself? Hypermiling is the solution to all your problems! (It’s so good you’d swear Ron Popeil had invented it.)

I myself have been hypermiling in my 1992 Subaru Legacy lately, and I’ve definitely seen my mileage increase, from perhaps 20mpgs to about 27mpg the last two tanks. That may not sound like much…until you realize that works out to a free tank of gas every fourth trip to the pump! And my car’s not even optimal for such things. Some of the more disciplined and, um, invested hypermilers on the Internet have taken their hybrid vehicles up around the 150 mpg mark during extended trips. Hypermiling may sound like a crazy idea, but it is a crazy idea we should all embrace. It’s something that needs to happen, for both Earth and our wallets.

I’ve read up on hypermiling and its behaviors a bit, and I wanted to share some of the easier things you can do to ease your own burden at the gas pump. Now understand that some of these behaviors can get a bit crazy—for example, those invested hypermilers I spoke about earlier achieve their top efficiencies by drafting very close behind tractor trailers on the highway, something I would never recommend. But then again, there are some very easy things you can do that will go a long way. So here are some ideas, ranked from “easiest to implement” to “slightly scaring your passengers.”

1. Try to brake as little as possible. Put another way: since braking is the loss of acceleration, and acceleration is a loss of gas (gas is burned to create acceleration), braking is the loss of gas. Try to “time” lights so you aren’t flying up to them and then screeching to a halt; play the space between your car and the car in front of you in an accordion-like fashion, so that you always have room to coast, rather than come to a complete stop.

2. Accelerate slowly. In fact, there’s even a magic number for this one: 2000, as in RPMs, as in keep your car under 2000 RPMs as much as possible. When you rev your engine, when you accelerate very fast, obviously your engine is working a little harder. Keeping yourself under 2000 RPMs keeps your engine working at a nice, easy level. As with a bike, your car will do its best work when it’s in a high gear, gently chugging along. This is why 55 mph is so nice: Your car is in a high gear, but not doing too-too many RPMs. If you can accelerate slowly toward 55 all the time, you will be doing your car, your pocketbook, and the air a great good. Now and again you'll get a strange look from another driver, but so what? You've got the moral highground on this one, friend.

3. Put the car in neutral at stoplights. It kind of follows from #1: braking wastes gas. And what do you do at a stoplight?—you brake, because otherwise the car would start creeping forward. Putting the car in neutral disengages the engine from working against those brakes. Sure, your friend stares at you a bit here, as if you’ve just blasted off toward outer space. But truly, this is one of the more common—and effective—hypermiling tips out there.

4. Shut the car off at stoplights. If you’re going to be sitting at a light for any more than 30 seconds, it makes sense to shut the car off. With fuel injection in every car today, it is a complete myth that starting up the engine is the big waster of gas. And there are plenty of lights out there that last more than 30 seconds.

5. Coast in neutral. Now, this is recommended mostly for manual transmissions—honestly, I don’t know enough about transmissions to comment, but I have read that this is just fine for manuals, but can be damaging for automatic transmissions. Personally, I still do it now and again, even though my Suburu is an automatic. If I’m coming up to a stoplight, sometimes I will throw it into neutral as I coast up. My feeling is that at low speeds it couldn’t be that bad for an automatic. And besides, if I’m traveling at higher speeds and wanting to coast, what I usually do is…

6. Coast with the car turned completely off. That’s right, I do this, all the time now. I get up to a sufficient speed (say, 50 mph), put it in neutral, and turn the key, shutting the engine off completely! And then, importantly, I turn the key all the way back over into the “on” position so that the steering wheel won’t lock up. If I need to turn the car back on…I just do it, from neutral obviously. You would be surprised how far you can coast like this. Just the other night I used this “pulse and glide” maneuver to go at least half a mile, coasting into my parking spot at Freddie’s at the end. It was sweet. I told everyone I did this, and everyone thought I was nuts.

And maybe I am nuts—I guess that is for you to decide. Maybe I should just bike to work. Maybe I should pressure my government to get electric cars back on the market. Maybe I should do a lot of things, but you know what?—I’m just too lazy. I’m a stinking lazy American, and like so many Americans, I just don’t have the time. So I’m going to do what I can to reduce my dependence on oil, at home, as the stupid American that I am with the crappy tools I have. My Subaru may not be a Prius, but it’s sure trying.

If every Subaru/Ford/Chevy/Pontiac/Hummer on the road were trying, too, we might just be able to get somewhere.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sexy Time

Certainly it has been a while since I have posted a blog and/or mix sincerest apologies. BUT: I have been writing, I have been writing blogs, and I've even been writing about music! I just haven't posted any of it here lately. Today, however, I came up with a new mix, and one with a subject matter so interesting, so delicious, that I had to come post it.

The subject: Sex. A subject oft-broached, perhaps (so frequently discussed and disected that Rivers Cuomo & Weezer felt compelled to give us the classic irony-anthem "Tired of Sex" on Pinkerton), but one definately worthy of any and all focus one likes to give it. After all, what is better than the pure and physical embodiment of the singular, holy idea, best spoken in French: L'amor? And I'd never put together a mix that is completely focused on sex...which is preposterous, when you consider very often I find myself distracted by thoughts of the sensual arts (to put it delicately...)

It was a fun mix to make--it came together very easily, very honestly, and, I believe, very successfully. I would dare anyone to put this on the next time...well, you know...and test the validity of my claims. It is not the collection of dance floor tunes that most people think of as sexy (because, if you took those songs into the bedroom, you'd be ragged and breathless after 10 minutes--how much Britney or Kylie could you really handle?), but rather a mix of the sensual energy, erotic daring, emotional boldness, and, hell, even love, that marks the best love-making. In ordering the songs I even attempted to programme the playlist as I believe I'd want them for such an endeavour (oh, I know, salacious!). "Let's Get It On," for instance, seems the perfect opener for its being so well-known, direct, and inviting; "Doin' It" by LL Cool J through "Say It Right," by Nelly Furtado take the next twenty minutes to sensual and purely erotic plateaus; and Janet Jackson (from the peak of her mid-90s sexiness) leads us into the vigorous, lush tropicalia of triphop seduction, featuring Massive Attack, Zero 7, and Portishead. The sexiest song of all-time also factors in toward the middle-end, "Untitled" by soul voodoo master D'Angelo--and if you've made it that far, congratulations. Yo La Tengo, Mazzy Star, and Sarah McLachlan are here to lull you off to dreamland at album's end. Or, they'll ready you to lean over, hit repeat, and begin again.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need a cigarette...

Sexy Time

1. “Let’s Get It On,” Marvin Gaye, The Very Best of Marvin Gaye (2001)
2. “Doin’ It,” LL Cool J, Mr. Smith (1995)
3. “My Love,” Justin Timberlake, FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006)
4. “Pony,” Ginuwine, Ginuwine…The Bachelor (1996)
5. “Say It Right,” Nelly Furtado, Loose (2006)
6. “That’s the Way Love Goes,” Janet Jackson, Janet. (2000)
7. “Teardrop,” Massive Attack, Mezzanine (1998)
8. “Somersault,” Zero 7, When It Falls (2004)
9. “Untitled (How Does It Feel),” D’Angelo, Voodoo (2000)
10. “Glory Box,” Portishead, Dummy (1994)
11. “Our Way to Fall,” Yo La Tengo, And Then Nothing Turned Itself... (2000)
12. “Fade Into You,” Mazzy Star, So Tonight That I Might See (1993)
13. “Sweet Surrender,” Sarah McLachlan, Surfacing (1997)

Obviously I haven't posted the associated .mp3 links yet. Hmm...some comments requesting them might help!!! :)