Category Archives: Music

Captain’s Log Week 26: Kicks, Books and Music

I’ve kind of fallen off the wagon when it comes to my commitment to document The Captain’s in utero progress, but I’m determined to get caught up. This week has been particularly crazy when it comes to little Wish’s growth; As far as three weeks ago, January was feeling movement and kicks. Even last week I was finally able to feel the vaguest flutters coming from inside her belly. It’s not flutters anymore; If I sit really still I can feel actual kicks on the outside of January’s belly.

It’s strange, because this isn’t at all what I thought “feeling the baby kick” would feel like. It’s so incredibly subtle, almost as if January just has hiccups. And although it’s slight, it’s defnitely there and incredibly cool. It’s also so cool to me that January is able to feel her moving around continuously and usually knows right where her head and feet are. We’re starting to get to the point where we can, to a degree, manipulate where she goes; In meeting with our doula last week she told us that by using heating pads or a flashlight to direct her, we should be able to get her in a more comfortable position and ensure that as we get closer to the due date she’s oriented properly.

Now that we’re officially in the third trimester, we’re trying to introduce her to more and more outside stimulii. She can hear everything going on outside now, so at night I’ve been reading her some books that I read as a kid, starting with the classic Sheldon’s Lunch. She’s also starting to respond to music. Last night, January asked me to download the latest album from Taylor Swift, so I was playing the album as I was getting it imported into our music collection. I don’t know whether Wish loved it or hated it, but she was definitely responding to it. We even got the headphones out and put them to January’s belly so she could get a better listen and she started moving closer to the headphones and pushing out toward them. It’s really cool to see that something that little — and someone I won’t really officially meet for another three months — start responding to our influence in her life. It’s kind of a big responsibility.

Tonight, I’m introducing her to The Clash.

Best of the Decade: The Oughts

Growing up, I didn’t really listen to very good music. In my younger years is was mostly contemporary Christian music mixed in with whatever they were playing on Sunny 95. As I made my way into high school, I mixed in a little Pearl Jam and They Might Be Giants, but my listening habits still largely consisted of crap. Even throughout college, where my favorites consisted of Live and Red Hot Chili Peppers, my taste in music wasn’t really where it is today.

It really wasn’t until I got my first job out of college that I started listening to indie rock. So while I call this compilation my “best of the decade” mix, it’s really the best of indie rock that has been the soundtrack of my past ten years. I’m not claiming these are the best songs written in the past ten years, only that they carry the strongest memories for me in my post-college life. And in true “High Fidelity” style, I present them to you in autobiographical order.

2009 in Review: Music

Every year when I put together my “best of” music mix, I have three very strict rules:

  1. Only include tracks that you’ve first heard in the past year
  2. Include music with strong memories associated with it
  3. Don’t go overboard

While I would prefer to include only music put out in the past year, there is almost always a large chunk of the mix that has been around for years, but I’ve only just heard it at some point in the past 12 months. I feel pretty good about this year’s mix: only half of the tracks are from 2008 or earlier.

I tried to add all the tracks that have a strong memory attached, but also really didn’t want to violate the third and most important rule. What kills a good mix, nine times out of ten, is too many tracks that just don’t all go together. So I’ve got a nice 11-track mix here that sums up 2009 nicely for me.

I hope you enjoy it, click here to give it a listen

Theme Songs

In general, televion has come a long way in the past ten years.  The top rated shows in 1999 included Friends, Frasier and The Drew Carey Show — all fine shows, but with significantly lower production values than we’re used today.  I don’t have any hard numbers, but I’m certain that the average cost for a hit TV show is many times higher today than it was for these shows, but there’s one area that has been severely sacrificed in our continual investment in special effects and high paid actors: Theme music.

All I have to do is type out a couple of lines, and you know exactly what classic TV show I’m talking about:

Come and knock on our door…

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…

Thank you for being a friend…

While I sometimes appreciate the shortened introduction sequence to today’s shows — less theme means more show, right? — I wonder if we haven’t lost an integral part of the show that we’ll miss later on when it’s in syndication.  Not only have theme songs gotten shorter, but most of them have cut out the lyrics entirely.  I loved the TV show Alias, but I really can’t bond with another fan over the theme to that show:

Unnh. Unnh Unnh Unnh. Du-du-du-du-du-du-duuuuu

I guess it’s not entirely true that the theme song has gone the way of Kelsey Grammer. I have to give big kudos to a couple of shows that have really great theme songs with lyrics.  The Big Bang Theory‘s theme song is one of January’s favorite’s. And I’m not just talking about theme songs, I’m convinced it’s one of her favorite songs period.  Every Monday night when it comes on, she sings right along even though the 30-second skip button is right there on the remote. In all fairness, I’m right there next to her, bopping right along. Here it is.

If you haven’t seen FX’s drama Damages, do yourself a favor and rent/Netflix/download the first season this week.  Season two didn’t grab me quite as much, but the first season was brilliant. It has an equally brilliant theme song, written and performed by an unsigned Los Angeles band The VLA. The version used in the intro is incredibly short, but it’s catchy and sets the tone for the whole show. Here’s the full version.

So maybe there’s hope yet. But just in case, it might be a good idea to put together some theme songs for our currently favorite shows to suggest to the producers.  Any suggestions?

Hang Them All

I couldn’t spend a month in LA, possibly today’s mecca for independent-slash-pretentious bands, without catching a show.  I admit I was a little disappointed when I checked the concert calendars for the major venue and didn’t see any big-name bands for the entire month of January.  Maybe I just wasn’t looking at the right venues, who knows.  I finally settled on a band whose name I recognized, but whose music I hadn’t had a chance to really get into up until now: Tapes ‘N Tapes.

Let’s just face the facts here: I’m no spring chicken.  I have more than graduated from experiencing concerts to attending concerts, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.  I have no desire to jam into a venue, fight my way through the sweaty collective, stepping over crushed plastic cups, just so I can completely lose my hearing for two solid days.  That’s what I really liked about the El Rey Theatre. They have the central “pit” for the desperate masses while myself and the rest of the old-timers can sit or lean comfortaby in the “viewing area” on either side of the stage.  I took my position toward the back of my fellow geriatrics and settled in for the show.

After enduring two opening bands (Wavves and Wild Light), one $14 beer (Bud American Ale), and one extremely drunk girl from New Jersey, Tapes ‘N Tapes finally went on stage and delivered a fantastic show.  I spent a little time over the week prior to the show getting familiar with their latest release ‘Walk It Off,’ but the show was really enjoyable even without knowing the songs all that well.  There was very little crowd banter and they pretty much just stuck to playing their songs.

By the end of the evening I had finished the worst-and-most-expensive beer of my life and enjoyed a very good concert. If you have the cash, I definitely recommend grabbing their latest album.  Better yet, check them out in concert the next time they’re passing through your city — you won’t be disappointed.  Just make sure you don’t enjoy it too much, as the drunk girl from New Jersey learned the hard way. She passed out and was removed by security before the band finished their second song.  I guess everyone enjoys a concert in their own way.

The Best of 2008: Music

For the past few years, some friends and I have compiled our “best of” mixes to share after New Years Day.  It doesn’t have to be music that was written or even released in the past year, just music that we discovered for ourselves in the past year that we really liked.  I’ve gotten a bit of a jump on this year’s compilation and I thought I would share it here.  Give it a listen and let me know what you think.

I’m being stalked by the 2001 hit “Drops of Jupiter”

I really can’t explain why, but for some reason the hit song “Drops of Jupiter” by Train has been stalking me since it’s 2001 debut.   I think we can all agree that this song, while very catchy and upbeat, wore out its welcome by mid-2002, but for some reason I continue to hear this song on a regular basis even to this day.  It’s everywhere.  The supermarket. Gas stations. Random radio stations.  It’s even caught me while I’m out to eat at local restaurants.

Now, it’s possible that the song is still this popular, and I’m just noticing it more than the other oft-played hits from 2001 — such as Sugar Ray’s “Fly” or Bink 182’s “The Rock Show.” But I can’t help feeling the dread when that piano kicks in.  As if it’s whispering in my ear, “Hey, remember me? Yeah, I’m still here.  On the radio.  Forever.  And by the way, the Goo Goo Dolls say ‘Hello.'”

Sometimes a Pony Gets Depressed

I’ve hit something of a dry spell this year when it comes to finding new bands I’m really into.  A few years back, I discovered The Decemberists (along with the rest of the world) and went crazy exploring their entire back catalog.  Before that, it was the same thing with The Dismemberment Plan, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and the Mountain Goats.  But I haven’t really made any personal discoveries like this at all this year.  That’s not to say that there hasn’t been any good new music in 2008 — I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention solid releases by Tilly and the Wall, Mates of State, The Notwist, and The Weepies — but I haven’t come across any “new to me” bands that I’ve just fallen in love with.  And as much as I like getting my hands on new work by a band I’ve followed for years, there’s nothing as exciting as hearing a new sound, digging into its history, and realizing what I’ve been missing. 

I’m not going to get too far into a description of the sound or their history as, quite frankly, I’m only halfway through their 2005 release Tanglewood Numbers, but I’m really enjoying the sound of the Nashville band Silver Jews.   It’s a strange comparison to make, as I’m sure they’re more well known than the band I would compare them to, but their feel reminds me a lot of the band Goodtimes, Goodtimes out of the UK.  At any rate, this could be a band that brightens up my musical horizons for the summer, as it happens that they’re playing at the Milo Arts Studios on August 28.

Check out some of their stuff and, if you’re up for it, come on out to the show.  And of course, let me know if there are any other bands out there that I’ve been missing out on all these years.  My music library has plenty of room for more tracks.

Lewis & Clarke

I had the idea about this time last year that when I was short on writing ideas, I would consult my unnecessarily large email and instant messaging archive for topics of conversation. And appropriately enough, I cracked open my email archive file to this day last year, March 27, 2007, to find the beginnings of the following conversation between myself and Jay:

I love this one. Extremely mellow but there’s such a great flow to the whole thing. I could listen to it forever, I think. Though, I can see how it may not do anything for you at all. It just connects for me. Great background music for me. That’s how I listened to it, until it really grabbed me. I also didn’t know how I felt about the guy’s voice at first. It reminds me of someone, that I know well, but I can’t place it.

Give this one the chance it deserves.

Included with this was a link to a prerelease copy of Lewis & Clarke’s latest album, Blasts of Holy Birth. I’ve pulled this album out every now and then over the past year and found it to be a really solid album.

Coincidentally, January actually knows Lou Rogai from several years back. When the band was first starting out, they played several shows a year here in Columbus and would end up spending a lot of time after the shows with January and her roommates. Also coincidentally, Lewis & Clarke is scheduled to play in town tonight at the Surly Girl Saloon. I don’t know what the cover is, but with the Black Swans opening, it’s sure to be a good show.

If you’re not familiar with Lewis & Clarke, as I wasn’t this time last year, here’s an awesome ballad off of their latest album. It’s offered as a free MP3 on their site, so I assume there’s no problem with passing it along here.