Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Spacier than an astronaut

Things I learned while in L.A. last week for my tri-annual camping trip with my Rice roommates:

1. "California Love" by Tupac and Dr. Dre is so much cooler to listen to when you're actually driving in California with a gat held sideways in your hand; doing it in Houston is nice, but it loses a little something in West U. or the Medical Center.

2. There is nothing comparable to Amoeba Records in Houston.

3. Nada Surf is not a half-bad band.

While Nada Surf is not a California band (they're from New York), I got some extended exposure to Nada Surf on the drive from L.A. to Los Olivos, and they grew on me. I had never really paid any attention to them, and in fact had kind of written them off simply because I thought their name was impossibly dumb. Also, I knew only three songs by them: the Weezer-esque "Popular," the Cake-esque "If You Leave," and the (unsurprisingly) Pixies-esque "Where Is My Mind?" (from the 1999 Pixies tribute album of the same name). My conclusion: meh.

Since coming back to Houston, though, I have to admit that I've warmed up to the band. While their music is not earth-shatteringly good, it is very melodic and pretty (though the lyrics are just okay). The main allure is just how absolutely straightforward their music is. They don't seem to be trying for too much, and for some reason, that works out for them.

Here is a live version of "Blonde on Blonde" (from 2003's Let Go):

And, just for fun, here's perennial favorite Kevin Devine performing an acoustic cover of "Inside of Love" (also from Let Go):

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

MMJ and the Milky Way

This past Sunday night, I was at Griffith Observatory in L.A. and what kick-ass band happened to be playing at the adjacent, outdoor Greek Theatre? If you guessed the original New Edition, you would be wrong (about their playing at the Greek Theatre on Sunday, not about them being a kick-ass band). No, it was My Morning Jacket and I could hear them very clearly from the grounds of the Observatory. The innerneck doesn't have very good footage of the show, but here's a good video of "The Way That He Sings," one of my favorite MMJ songs, from one of their ACL Festival appearances:

And here is Jim James taking the room down a notch on "Steam Engine":

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Day 6 without power

AN OPEN LETTER TO CENTERPOINT ENERGY: After six days of waiting for electricity, I've decided I don't want your power, so don't bother hooking up my house. Your laziness has taught me to do without. Move on to the next house; I'm sure they need it more than I do. I'm doing just fine on my own, thank you very much. And please, whatever you do, don't come crawling back to me on your hands and your knees, begging to give me power. Because I won't accept it. I'd probably just throw your electricity in the trashcan.

Monday, September 15, 2008

You have a "Join My Tribe" invitation!

BREAKING NEWS: The heavy devastation caused by Hurricane Ike has destroyed the city as we know it, but from its post-apocalyptic ashes, New Houston has emerged. It is the Year Zero. Federal American dollars are but worthless paper here; the only currency of value is silver and gold, potable water, gasoline, . . . and fear. I have adopted the name Maximillian Seven Guns ("Max7G"), and I have declared myself Ruler of New Houston. I have also put a spiked collar and an eyepatch on my dog, Gertie. My roving band of mutant punks, armed with chainsaws attached to our dune buggies, will fight against other warring tribes for survival and for domination in this barren wasteland. You are welcome to join my tribe, and I offer you my benevolence. And my mercy.

But first, a song:

Friday, September 12, 2008

My playlist for this weekend

"Shelter from the Storm" (Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks)
"Stormy Weather" (The Pixies, Bossanova)
"Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" (Creedance Clearwater Revival, Pendulum)
"Wild is the Wind" (Cat Power, The Covers Record)
"Happy When it Rains" (The Jesus and Mary Chain, Darklands)
"Hurricane" (Bob Dylan, Desire)
"The Wind" (Cat Stevens, Tea for Tillerman)
"Rain" (The Cult, Love)
"City Rain, City Streets" (Ryan Adams, Love is Hell, Pt. 2)
"Rock You Like a Hurricane" (Scorpions, Love at First Sting)
"Dry the Rain" (The Beta Band, The Best of the Beta Band - Music)
"Pissing in the Wind" (Badly Drawn Boy, The Hour of Bewilderbeast)
"So. Central Rain" (R.E.M., Reckoning)
"And it Rained All Night" (Thom Yorke, The Eraser)
"Like a Hurricane" (Neil Young, Decade)
"November Rain" (Guns 'n Roses, Use Your Illusion I)
"Evolve" (David Garza, Culture Vulture)

EDIT: How could I forget this gem, by a Houstonian, no less? I am ashamed. THIS is the theme song for this weekend, no question:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

We are having a heavenly time!

In my recent move to a new house, I had to throw out a lot of things because, well, Gwen made me. But one thing I couldn't part with was my favorite concert t-shirt from high school. Issued in 1985 to promote R.E.M.'s tour supporting Fables of the Reconstruction, it was such a kick-ass t-shirt, especially since I was wearing it in 1992. This, of course, allowed me to portray myself as being rad enough to have gone to an R.E.M. concert when I was in fifth grade, when the reality was I had red parachute pants in 1985 and almost had a crush on El Debarge (three reasons: I thought he was a girl with a mustache, "Rhythm of the Night" was just so ding dang catchy, and my grasp of masculine/feminine articles in Spanish was let's just say suspect). 

Anyway, a good article on R.E.M.'s early t-shirt designs can be found here.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Matt Costa > Jack Johnson

Former skateboarding pro Matt Costa started focusing on the guitar after a skateboarding injury (a shattered leg) in 2003 sidelined him for eighteen months of rehab. He began writing and recording songs and eventually ended up on Jack Johnson's 2005 summer tour. But unlike Jack Johnson, Costa is not an incredibly lame, surfer version of Jimmy Buffett with a carefully-cultivated "Hey, I'm all about chillaxing. Did you notice that I'm wearing sandals on stage? That's because I'm chillaxing" vibe.

Anyway, I'm a sucker for finger picking, and this song ("Astair" from 2005's Songs We Sing) has been stuck in my head all Labor Day. Here is a live version, performed at a Vans store: