They’re Singing Deck the Halls…

This season, I’ve listened to the least amount of Christmas music in… well, probably my entire life. And that’s interesting, because I thought I experienced my fa-la-la nadir last Decemeber. My holiday tune intake has decreased dramatically in recent years.

Granted, prior to last Christmas, I lived with someone who absolutely loved Christmas songs. One of her most beloved possessions was a beat-up CD-R entitled “Xmas and more” that somehow survived getting kicked around the floors of countless cars, and resurfaced just in time every season. So the music was unavoidable.

Am I less excited, less enthused about the holidays? Hardly. In fact, I bought and decorated my first tree in almost a decade. My new housemate has been on a holiday baking spree. As I’m typing this, I’m wearing my new Santa sweater.

Better late than never. And this is the greatest Christmas song ever recorded. Please come home? There are a few things missing in the house, to be certain. But fewer and fewer things every day. The full spectrum of Christmas cheer might have been one of the last absent pieces.

Chromatics – White Light

Just in time for the weekend, a beautiful new Chromatics track.

And just in time for more sunset commutes home, chilly nights at the edge of the world, and rainy stay-inside Sunday mornings. I love the fact the Johnny Jewel keeps sneaking Chromatics tracks — and songs from other projects — onto his Soundcloud. If for no other reason than to continue posting songs alongside gorgeous Ruth Radelet photos. Continue reading Chromatics – White Light

Noodles in my Inbox

Lost on the Internet somewhere, in a post, a series of posts, or a defunct Google Group conversation, is the transcript of that fateful day when Sweden came into my life. That midday car ride with two other original Idle Time members, the debut LP from Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, and a rousing “Noodles” singalong. It’s possibly a Nordic enchantment of some sort; no other way to explain the resulting obsession.

More recently, JN, back from a year in Scandinavia, educated me on all the Nordic music I’m missing out on if I narrow my exploration to songs sung in English.

Yesterday, RF sent me a song in an email subject-headed A little gift from Iceland. It’s warm-blooded nouveau soul straight outta Reykjavík. The file didn’t have the track title, so I had to investigate on my own. The name of the song is almost as fun as the music itself. “Sjáum hvað setur,” courtesy of Icelandic four-piece Moses Hightower.

This also served to remind me that, months ago, I emailed myself a link encountered via the back-from-the-dead SKWBN Twitter feed. Continue reading Noodles in my Inbox

Kansas City Here We Come

JD and BC are on their way to KC right now, one via SFO and the other outta OAK.* Only one of the two is actually going to the games, but I’m pretty happy for both of them nonetheless. BC has been prepping his BBQ safari for weeks.

Yeah, it’s been a cute story, Royals. And under any other circumstance I might be cheering you guys on this October. But I’m making room on my championship wall display this week… a spot labeled 2014.

I know quite a few folks who weren’t crazy about The Giants’ “Together” marketing campaign this season. But I have to say… I’m feeling it. Kansas City, here I come too.
Continue reading Kansas City Here We Come

Treasure Island 2014

And that’s a wrap. Festival season, over.

Asgeir in the open air.
Asgeir in the open air.

I didn’t attend half of the events I would’ve liked to this summer, and I still shambled onto Treasure Island with a severe case of Festival Fatigue. It’s a shame, too, because this has always been my favorite place to spend time outdoors with music, food, and friends. The vibe is great, the views are incredible, and the lineups have typically been a great mix of established acts and exciting up-and-comers. This year was no exception, and even though I only went one day, I wish I had been able to muster up just a little more energy and enthusiasm. Oh look. I just got old. There were bands that I had seen before and was happy to hear again, like Bleached, TV On The Radio, and The New Pornographers. There were bands that I liked more after seeing them live for the first time, like Polica and Washed Out; and bands that I liked a little less after their performance, like The Growlers. My first exposure to Asgeir was positive. My initial reaction to alt-j was lukewarm. Continue reading Treasure Island 2014

Violent Femmes and Biographical Musical Milestones

One of these days, I’m going to reorganize my records.

No fucking way.

And for all my buzz-band, new-music fervor, sometimes the most meaningful live performances are the ones that help reorganize our memories.

In the present: it’s 2014, and the overworked Fillmore security staff is squeezing through bodies all over the main floor with tiny flashlights. No video, no photography. Put your camera away, please. Not sure if this was by the band’s request, or just a new Fillmore policy. Either way, it was refreshing. I saw Gordon Gano et al soar through their entire debut LP, start to finish, without having to look through the shiny picture screens of everyone standing in front of me.
Continue reading Violent Femmes and Biographical Musical Milestones

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2014

HSB, Warren Hellman’s gift to the City, is not just one of the best things San Francisco has to offer, but one of the best musical celebrations experienced anywhere.

Yes, I’ve referred to it as a career fair for transients. And still, in this fourteenth edition of the completely free festival, the Upper Haight panhandle crew seems to relish the opportunity to recruit more nouveau hobos. The environs speak for themselves. Music, weed, and wagging tails all over Golden Gate Park. And on this first weekend in October (what I hope ends up being the hottest few days of the year) Hellman Hollow, Marx Meadow, and every other little patch of grass along JFK, seemed instilled with with a little more magic. A little more charm. A lot more b.o. Continue reading Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2014

Vissi d’arte

A bit of a departure, or perhaps an added dimension to a blog entering its seventh month. I wasn’t sure where I was going with this site, initially, other than I had finally felt the importance of music – both live and recorded – back in my life. But life continues to surprise. I spent more time realizing that this weekend; and more time reflecting on the surprising, wonderful life of someone very dear to me who passed away in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Angela Gheorghiu sings the aria “Vissi d’arte” (“I lived for art”) from Puccini’s Tosca. I don’t really know who she is; I have only a vague idea as to what constitutes an aria; and I know Giacomo Puccini and his opera really by name only.

But I expect that to change. To be continued.

Strobe Strobe Strobe: Raveonettes at Bimbo’s

The Raveonettes kicked off their tour in support of Pe’ahi last night at Bimbo’s in North Beach. And they played the hell out of the new album, which was okay by me. It’s my favorite Raves record since Lust Lust Lust.

photo 1 (4)They also burned the hell out of the strobe lights, which was okay by just about everyone in attendance, especially this one dude near us who bore a striking resemblance to Mark Strong. With every pulsing sonic wave, he broke into a arms-flailing, titanic stomp. Like a stone golem performing a raindance.

He also had some pretty interesting crowdshouts.
Continue reading Strobe Strobe Strobe: Raveonettes at Bimbo’s

Cookies. Still Good.

Earlier this year, I was attending a dry seminar at a bleak airport hotel, and the catered lunch carts rolled into the conference room like a SWAT team response to a hostage crisis. Oh, Subway. And under one of those clear plastic lids, a bowlful of equal parts snickerdoodle and chocolate chip.

“Mm. I haven’t had a cookie in years.” I meant it, too. For reasons I’ve only recently begun analyzing, the cookie has been out of my dessert rotation for some time now.

Another attendee, in front of me in the chow line, without looking in my direction: “They’re still good.”

On last week’s Bandcamp Weekly, Andrew Jervis playfully gave Ben Sterling a hard time for taking five years to release an album following the breakup of Mobius Band.
Continue reading Cookies. Still Good.