I can never get enough of Choir! Choir! Choir! and this Sufjan cover is fabulous:
And here is a terrific live version of Sufjan playing the song at a Christmas show in 2012:
February 26, 2015
Choir! Choir! Choir! covers Sufjan Stevens- "For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless In Ypsilanti"
I can never get enough of Choir! Choir! Choir! and this Sufjan cover is fabulous:
February 25, 2015
(Everything below copied and pasted from the official Kickstarter page. They need your help; please pledge, and get some cool stuff!)
A feature length documentary about the band, Luxury. In the wake of a wreck and after several records, 3 Orthodox priests lead a band.
February 18, 2015
My first ever story on Medium, and the first review as a part of the Chrindie '95 publication, is live!
Sixpence None the Richer’s This Beautiful Mess
It the first of many reviews I hope to write for that publication, as I have mentioned countless times 1995 was a very meaningful year for me with so much amazing music.
It is also the beginning of what I hope is a dozen stories about Sixpence None the Richer's "This Beautiful Mess" as we approach the true 20th Anniversary of the album on April 18.
Finally, here is a collage I made of Sixpence memorabilia 6 or 7 years ago. The highlight of it is the setlist from a show in1997 in which "Kiss Me" was first performed live.
February 17, 2015
As I am spending a ton of time thinking about and writing about female-fronted bands with significant albums released 20 years ago (Sixpence None the Richer, Hoi Polloi, Fleming & John, and Morella's Forest, most notably), I am having an amazing discovery period during the first two months of this year. I keep finding awesome new female-fronted bands that are releasing new music NOW.
Earlier in 2015 I discovered and wrote about Bandit and Cayetana, who have both released debut albums in the past few months.
Just moments ago, I discovered Football, etc. Here is a terrific new tune from an upcoming EP/7", and they have a large discography you can stream/purchase on Bandcamp (including free downloads of all of their songs that have appeared on 7" records.)
Also this week I discovered Speedy Ortiz. I was so impressed by "Raising the Skate", the first song I have ever heard from them, I immediately pre-ordered their upcoming album on gold vinyl.
Feb. 19 update: So a day after I posted this, I discovered another great female-fronted rock band, Bully. Paste Magazine did a great profile of them. They are from Nashville and fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarist Alicia Bognanno.
February 11, 2015
Dustin Kensrue debuted a new song today, "Back to Back", from Carry the Fire, due April 21 on Vagrant Records. The track is excellent, and a return to form. He commented on it for Billboard.
Dustin Kensrue is one of, if not my favorite, musicians of the last decade. I love all of his work with Thrice (which should be releasing new music this year!). But when Thrice broke up, he moved up to Seattle from Southern California to work at Mars Hill Church. He did "worship" music for them, and released a solo worship album. Mars Hill recently dissolved (and Dustin resigned a couple months prior). While the Mars Hill circumstances were horrible for many of the people involved, the good news for us as music fans is that now Dustin has more time to commit to his solo work and Thrice.
Even as a Christian who feels it is important to worship God through music, I don't like The Water and The Blood, his solo worship album. It has a few good songs, but only one great one ("It's Not Enough"). I think the album, along with his two Modern Post EP's, are very cheesy. I don't want music like this played in church, and I avoid churches who use "modern worship music."
Dustin recently explained on his website the use of the Modern Post band name, and his desire to continue record worship music. Here is an excerpt: "When I put out The Water and The Blood, I made the decision to release it under my name. I think there were good reasons for this, but in hindsight I think it has been confusing to fans of Thrice and my solo work."
He goes on to say he will use the Modern Post moniker exclusively for his worship music moving forward. This is good news for me, and most of Dustin's fans I would imagine, because it means we can avoid The Modern Post stuff and focus in on Thrice and his solo work.
Finally, let me make it clear that I love the fact that Dustin sings about his faith in Jesus, and it is a big reason I have followed Thrice and his other work for so long. In fact, to me Dustin is a theologian in some ways, and I have learned a lot about God and the Bible through his lyrics and interviews. But to me there is a big difference between singing about his faith and recording worship music.
I'll end with a question. I know there are a lot of Thrice fans who are not Christians. If that describes you, do you listen to any of Dustin's solo work, and is there anything about The Water and the Blood you enjoy?
February 1, 2015
Back to the main subject of the post, Mineral was spectacular. It is pretty mind-boggling to see them play in 2015, as less than a year ago the four guys in the band have admitted they had no plans to play a single reunion show, much less a world-wide tour. They were definitely raw and rough, but the energy was incredible. As I told Chris Simpson when I spoke to him after the show, I don't know how many people in the audience spoke English, but most everyone there knew all of Mineral's lyrics and sang along.
There is not much more I can say that hasn't been covered in the last 9 months since the band announced their reunion for their first shows since 1997 (and has since taken part in dozens of interviews, podcasts, etc.). I was impressed that they played both tracks off their outstanding 7", and of the seven "essential" Mineral songs I had my wife listen to on the drive down, they played all seven. (We also listened to Chris Simpson's newest Zookeeper album, Pink Chalk, which my wife greatly prefers.)
The setlist is below, and I am almost positive it is correct (but still from memory and notes I took). I took a ton of photos that turned out great. See one below or the whole set here. I also filmed my favorite Mineral song and uploaded it to YouTube (also below).
Mineral at Bloom in Mezzago, Italy
Solemn Sun opened
1. Five, Eight, and Ten
6. A Letter
7. For Ivadell
8. Sounds Like Sunday
10. If I Could
11. Waking to Winter
13. Love Letter Typewriter
15. Parking Lot
Lastly, as I was packing for this overnight trip I thought back to when I first saw Mineral in concert; in Birmingham, Alabama in 1997. I did a Google search to see if I could find the date of the show or any other information. What I could not believe is that I was able to find a video of the entire concert on YouTube!
I am unable to see myself in the video because of where I was standing at the venue, but watching it is like going back in a time machine. I didn't remember most of the details, most importantly that the Get Up Kids and Jejune opened, but also randomly that the show was the day of Chris Simpson's 23rd birthday.
I actually took a bunch of photos of this show--but on film--and they are currently in storage so I can't scan any of them. I was surprised to see that "February" and "M.D." were performed both times I have seen the band, as they appear exclusively on a 7" vinyl record (that I bought my copy of at the Birmingham show in 1997).
Mineral at Unity 1605, Birmingham, AL
September 16, 1997
The Get Up Kids and Jejune opened
1. (unknown instrumental)
2. Love Letter Typewriter
("Happy Birthday" sung to Chris on his 23rd birthday)
8. Parking Lot
Ponte di San Rocco photo by Rickseventy79 on Fli ckr.
January 23, 2015
You will probably see a lot of videos pop up between now and Kintsugi's release on March 31, but this one does have excellent audio and video, and is in HD. I have decided "Black Sun" is the only song I am going to listen to off the new Death Cab album before it comes out, and I believe it will be the first single.
Jan. 26 UPDATE: Official video has been posted.
January 18, 2015
This is my 3rd post of 2015 about this seminal label, as I obviously can't get them out of my head. I have been wanting to list my favorite Tooth and Nail albums for a few years, but wasn't completely inspired, and it wasn't until today that I finally got them all in one playlist. I own around 140 Tooth an Nail releases (which also includes Solid State and BEC).
I decided a top 20 list should be sufficient. As with all of my lists, I don't duplicate artists (if I had, half would probably be from Starflyer 59 and Stavesacre alone). Also going to list the top EP's, as I don't think there has ever been a better label at issuing essential "extended-plays".
What's missing? Most notably Roadside Monument, who I inexplicably missed out on in the 90's (just now exploring their discography). Also, at random: Zao, Mae, Copeland, Joe Christmas, Aaron Sprinkle solo.
Also, the Crucified is missing, but that is because all of Tooth and Nail's many Crucified releases are re-issues. It is crazy to think that Tooth & Nail is actually post-Crucified. Otherwise, The Pillars of Humanity definitely makes this list.
My top-20 all-time favorite Tooth and Nail Records full-length albums:
1. Luxury- Amazing And Thank You 1995
2. Stavesacre- Absolutes 1997
3. Poor Old Lu- The Waiting Room 2002
4. mewithoutYou- Brother, Sister 2006
5. Morella's Forest- Super Deluxe 1995
6. Blenderhead- Muchacho Vivo 1995
7. Velour 100- Of Color Bright 1997
8. Starflyer 59- Silver 1994
9. The Blamed- Frail 1995
10. Blindside- A Thought Crushed My Mind 2000
11. Focused- Bow 1993
12. MxPx- Teenage Politics 1995
13. The Juliana Theory- Emotion Is Dead 2000
14. Further Seems Forever- The Moon Is Down 2001
15. Fair- The Best Worst-Case Scenario 2006
16. Michael Knott- Strip Cycle 1995
17. Dead Poetic- Vices 2006
18. Demon Hunter- Demon Hunter 2002
19. Havalina Rail Co.- Havalina Rail Co. 1994
20. Stretch Arm Strong- Rituals Of Life 1999
My top-5 all-time favorite Tooth and Nail Records EP's:
1. Pedro the Lion- Whole EP 1997
2. Starflyer 59- Le Vainqueur EP 1995 and/or She's The Queen EP 1994 (Couldn't pick between the two)
3. Velour 100- Songs from the Rainwater EP 1997
4. P.O.D.- Warriors EP 1998
5. Joy Electric- Five Stars For Failure EP 1995
January 17, 2015
Many things inspired this post:
1. I finally got my No New Kinda Story BluRay last week, which is a documentary on the first few years of Tooth and Nail Records. That inspired me to figure out the chronological/numerical order for all of the label's releases of the first few years. I created an iTunes playlist, and ended up stopping with TND1051, which for me was the turning point to the label's mediocrity (although they continue to put out great albums today, but it is less than 10% of their overall output). I own(ed) and love(d) 45 or so of the first 50 Tooth and Nail releases, but only 20 or so of the second 50.
|Page from a 1994 Tooth and Nail Records Catalog|
2. My iPod has been finicky. It is a 2008 80gb iPod Classic, but I love it. I would prefer to buy an 160gb Classic to replace it, but now that they have been discontinued by Apple they are insanely expensive. I recently began researching other MP3 players for the first time in over a decade, and discovered the best new option is apparently the FiiO, and when my iPod does die, I'll probably buy a an X1 with a 128gb SD card. (If you are reading this and own a FiiO--any model--I would love for you to comment about your experience with the MP3 player.)
3. I read an article on Pitchfork a few days ago, Life After Death (Of Your iPod). I doubt many of you will click that link, so here are some important excerpts from the story written by Hazel Cills (but could have very easily been written by me, as I feel the same way on almost all aspects):
"My iPod is dying, a slow and painful digital death, having begun to fritz and refuse to sync early into this New Year. The device was condemned to death in September, when Apple quietly killed off the iPod Classic... What’s concerning about the discontinuation of the iPod Classic is that Apple is making a concerted effort to move into streaming services which signals a future without mp3 holding devices...
"I don’t use Spotify though I do use Soundcloud and Bandcamp (until I buy the actual album.) Downloading music to a device is how I’ve come to primarily own music. Whether it’s a file on my computer desktop or a 7'' in my bag, I like owning the music. I like burning files to mix CDs...
"I like having my entire library in my pocket and not having to worry about roaming data charges or hooking my phone up to WiFi to hear my favorite songs... There is still a huge market for large mp3 players, with people snatching up new and old Classic models already for double the price online... Also, I think the Classic is a more distraction-free listening experience—I’m more likely to get through a full album on one."
There is more to that article than what I have quoted, but the main theme is what I feel so strongly about: I want ALL my music on my iPod (or maybe a FiiO in the future) and I want it ALL to be music I have intentionally purchased. I only stream music to preview it, and I use Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and Amazon to do that. After I like a few tracks well enough I hear through those methods, I will then commit and buy the album to support the artist (ideally through the artist or label website, but often from Amazon). I will not continue to stream it; I hate Spotify more than Taylor Swift does.
Another reason I like to own all my music, and have the actual MP3 files on my hard drive, is because I still burn CD's. I LOVE making mix CDs (and I still really miss making mix tapes). My ideal way to listen to music in a car is on my iPod with a direct connection to my car stereo. My car stereo for the last few years had an iPod-specific connection (even better than a traditional line-in aux port). But I moved across the Atlantic, and my new car has a cassette player and a 6-disc CD changer. Most of the time (almost daily) I listen to my iPod through a cassette-adapter. (Side note: I bought a cassette-adapter for my Sony Discman CD player in 1994, and it worked for 20 years! I only had to buy a replacement a couple months ago).
I also like to keep my six-disc changer loaded for when I don't have my iPod in the car, or charged. And when I travel and drive other people's cars, they usually only have CD players, so I like to bring some CD mixes along. And the last school I worked at I made mix CDs for the senior class every year as a graduation present.
Now, back to Tooth and Nail Records. I have been listening to nothing but music from this label from the years 1993-1996 in the new year (Except for Bandit!). Lots of things have me thinking about that era and that label; from the documentary, to the Old School Tooth and Nail Facebook group, and new podcasts from Bill Power and Mark Salomon. Watching the documentary is one way to learn about the history of Tooth and Nail, but a completely different way is to listen to 5+ hours worth of conversation between Power and Salomon. Anyway, I am not going to get into it here, but that record label literally changed my life.
|Page from a 1994 Tooth and Nail Records Catalog|
What is the next step? Make a mix. Part of me wanted to see how many of the early releases I had from the label. I had over 40 of the first 50 releases in my iTunes database, and it didn't take me long to fill in the gaps. Goal number one was just to figure out what the first 50 releases were, in chronological order. Tooth and Nail numbered their releases simply enough, that if you can find the number (one the spine of the CD, or on Wikipedia), that is one way of putting it all together. But all these albums weren't actually released in that order. But if you try to sort by release date, that doesn't work either, because so many of the release dates you find in online research are wrong. Starting with TND1001, which was definitively released in Nov. 1993, yet everything online says mid-1994 (I had even heard it before then).
So here you go, the first 51 Tooth and Nail Records releases in semi-chronological order. After I created the iTunes playlist, I noticed right away that is was close to the length of two 80-minute CDs. When selecting the songs, I intentionally picked a combination of my favorite and the shortest song on each album to get as many songs as possible. I replaced a few tracks to get the time right, and impressively it was possible to fit 51 songs on 2 CDs.
If someone wants a challenge, how about you create a 2 CD set for me of the next 50 or so Tooth and Nail releases?
Disc 1 (79:25)
TND1001 Wish For Eden "Ocean" Pet The Fish 1993
TND1002 Focused "Blinded" Bow 1993
TND1003 Starflyer 59 "2nd Space Song" Silver 1994
TND1004 The Crucified "A Guy In A Suit And The Pope" The Crucified 1989 (re-issued in 1994)
TND1005 PlankEye "Scared" Spill 1994
TND1006 Sometime Sunday "Crawl" Stone 1994
TND1007 Chatterbox "Epignosis" Despite 1994
TND1008 The Blamed "The Ballad of the Blamed" 21 1994
TND1009 The Crucified "Rebellion" Nailed/Take Up Your Cross 1986/1987 (re-issued in 1994)
TND1010 Blenderhead "Power Trip" Prime Candidate For Burnout 1994
TND1011 Unashamed "Blessed Redeemer" Silence 1994
TND1012 Mend "Token" Helpless Amongst Friends Vol. 1 1994
TND1013 Havalina Rail Co. "Ragtime" Havalina Rail Co. 1994
TND1014 MxPx "Want Ad" Pokinatcha 1994
TND1015 Starflyer 59 "She Was My Sweet Heart" She's The Queen EP 1994
TND1016 Luxury "Flaming Youth Flames On" Amazing And Thank You 1995
TND1017 Everdown "Degenerate" Sicken 1995
TND1018 Rose Blossom Punch "Sowing in the Sun" Artcore Vol. 1 1995
TND1019 The Blamed "Breeze" Frail 1995
TND1020 Joy Electric "The Girl From Rosewood Lane" Melody 1994
TND1021 Don't Know "Bad Cop, No Donut" Coodli P. Ramaswami Memorial Cheesecake EP 1995
TND1022 Strongarm "Stand Together" Atonement 1995
TND1023 PlankEye "Open House" The Spark 1995
TND1024 Focused "Red" The Hope That Lies Within 1995
TND1025 Mike Knott "Tattoo" Strip Cycle 1995
Disc 2 (79:23)
TND1026 Sometime Sunday "Blind" Drain 1995
TND1027 Rob Walker "Dream" Strobe 1996
TND1028 Bloodshed "Inside" Helpless Amongst Friends Vol. 2 1996
TND1029 Morella's Forest "Wonder Boy" Super Deluxe 1995
TND1030 Starflyer 59 "You're Mean" Gold 1995
TND1031 Blenderhead "Breaking Skin" Muchacho Vivo 1995
TND1032 MxPx "I'm The Bad Guy" Teenage Politics 1995
TND1033 Joe Christmas "Coupleskate" Upstairs, Overlooking 1995
TND1034 Starflyer 59 "Le Vainqueur" Le Vainqueur EP 1995
TND1035 Crux "New Morality" Failure to Yield 1995
TND1036 Bloodshed "Outside" Bloodshed EP 1995
TND1037 Danielson "Guilt Scout "A Prayer for Every Hour 1995
TND1038 Phantasmic (Tess Wiley) "Broken" Artcore Vol. 2 1996
TND1039 Morella's Forest "Art Of Love" Hang-Out EP 1995
TND1040 Upside Down Room "Milk Money" Upside Down Room EP 1995
TND1041 Overcome "Apathy" Blessed Are the Persecuted 1996
TND1042 Unashamed "Everlasting Father" Reflection 1996
TND1043 Joy Electric "Drum Machine Joy (The Woods are Haunted Mix)" Five Stars For Failure EP 1995
TND1044 MxPx "Drum Machine Joy" On The Cover EP 1995
TND1045 Everdown "Unleaded" Straining 1996
TND1046 Coolidge "Trapped" I'm You're Biggest Fan Vol. 1 1996
TND1047 Velour 100 "Flourish" Fall Sounds 1996
TND1048 Havalina Rail Co. "The Diamond In The Fish" The Diamond In The Fish 1996
TND1049 Roadside Monument "A Girl Named Actually" Beside This Brief Hexagonal 1996
TND1050 Stavesacre "Tranewreck" Friction 1996
TND1051 Driver Eight "Waiting For Godot" Watermelon 1996
January 12, 2015
One album we have known about for awhile, one we knew nothing of until about 4:00 EST today. Two terrific, prolific artists, two weird album titles. On March 31, Death Cab for Cutie will release Kintsugi, and Sufjan Stevens will release Carrie & Lowell. Both have the potential to be great.
Death Cab released much of the details about their new album last October when founding member Chris Walla left the band (thankfully after he contributed to the writing and recording of it). This Stereogum interview had a lot of revealing insight and got me very excited. But then the title and tracklisting weren't released until today through this Rolling Stone article, which also explains the Japanese title.
Death Cab for Cutie- Kintsugi
1. No Room in Frame
2. Black Sun
3. The Ghosts of Beverly Drive
4. Little Wanderer
5. You've Haunted Me All My Life
6. Hold No Guns
7. Everything's a Ceiling
8. Good Help (Is So Hard to Find)
9. El Dorado
11. Binary Sea
As far as Sufjan, I don't think anyone had a clue a new LP from him was on its' way, but that is the way he works. This email from Ashmatic Kitty record describes the album (at least to me) like a sequel to Seven Swans. And after the bombastic, electronic Age of Adz, this is exactly what I want to hear from him. The description from the email is perfect, and the 1 minute clip of one song is gorgeous:
These are aggressive times. Each morning we awaken to a psychic blitz of breaking news, social outrage, and millions of images and voices shrieking look at me and this onslaught does not cease until late at night when the last glowing screen fades to black. This world demands our attention with one hand and destroys it with the other. That such a noisy age can deliver an album as graceful and honest as Carrie & Lowell should reassure anyone losing faith these days. Let no one say philosophy is dead, for here is a 44-minute meditation on mortality, memory, and faith.
Each track in this collection of eleven songs begins with a fragile melody that gathers steam until it becomes nothing less than a modern hymn. Sufjan recounts the indignities of our world, of technological distraction and sad sex, of an age without either myth or miracle—and this time around, his voice carries the burden of wisdom. Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait. If youth knew, if age could.
1. Death With Dignity (3:59)
2. Should Have Known Better (5:07)
3. All Of Me Wants All Of You (3:41)
4. Drawn to the Blood (3:18)
5. Eugene (2:26)
6. Fourth of July (4:39)
7. The Only Thing (4:44)
8. Carrie & Lowell (3:14)
9. John My Beloved (5:04)
10. No Shade in the Shadow of The Cross (2:40)
11. Blue Bucket of Gold (4:43)