John Peel will be missed, he was a true champion for good music and changed the world for the better in his own way. My sympathies go to his wife and children.
With Guided By Voices coming to an end with their New Year's eve performance in Chicago, it is only fitting that this week's tune pays homage to one of my favorite bands. The brevity of the song only adds to its charm, it is one of the wispy, magical fragments that earn Bob Pollard a gold star (for robot boy) in my book. The fact that the song mentions my home state doesn't hurt, either (it's the only GBV song to mention Alabama).
"Tropical Robots" first appeared on the Teenage FBI 7" and CD single in 1999, then on the Hold On Hope EP in 2000, then the Fading Captain vinyl release Daredevil Stamp Collector: Do The Collapse B-sides.
This track is from the 2004-09-11 Washington show at the 9:30 Club.
Recorded by Jeff Mangum solo for a May, 1998 XFM radio session, I'll let the lyrics from this On Avery Island track be its description:
There are beads that wrap
Around your knees that crackle into the dark
Like a walk in the park like a hole in your head
Like the feeling you get when you realize you're dead
This time we ride roller coasters into the ocean
We feel no emotion as we spiral down to the world
And I guess it's worth your time
Because there's some lives you live
And some you leave behind
It gets hard to explain
The gardenhead knows my name
Leave me alone, for you know this isn't the first time
In fact this is twice in a row
That the angels have slipped through our landslide
And filled up our garden with snow
And I don't wish to taste of your insides
Or to call out your name through my phone
For the glory boys at your bedside will love you
As long as you're something to own
Follow me through a city of frost covered angels
I swear I have nothing to prove
I just want to dance in your tangles
To give me some reason to move
But to take on the world at all angles
Requires a strength I can't use
So I'll meet you up high in your anger
Of all that is hoping and waiting for you
Franklin Bruno is an amazing songwriter, writing smart songs that even academics can love. In this week's Tuesday Tune, I'm offering the Mountain Goats covering Bruno's "The Irony Engine" in an October 19, 2000 WFMU performance.
The synergy of John Darnielle and Franklin Bruno is mesmerizing. Their album together (as the "Extra Glenns), Martial Arts Weekend, is one of my favorites of all time, but I won't bore anyone with that sermon again. Hear for yourself.
This past April I made a last minute decision to see Joanna Newsom and Smog. I had seen Smog several times and always been impressed with Bill Callahan, but was especially excited at the chance to see Joanna Newsom for the first time. She didn't disappoint, opening with "Yarn and Glue" (mp3 link) from the 2003 ep of the same name. Performing the song acapella with only her hands and feet as accompaniment to her room-filling voice, she had the audience in the palm of her hand after only a few notes. Her performance that night is one of my favorite live music experiences this year. Accompanied only by her harp, her voice filled the room and enchanted us all. Her 2004 album, The Milk-Eyed Mender holds that same distinction among this year's album releases for me.
Bonus Joanna Newsom love:
a 2003 Free Williamsburg interview, given while Newsom was touring to promote the Yarn and Glue ep.
"Sprout and the Bean" video [mov]
In 1994, Kim Deal and the Breeders were still riding high on the success of their "Cannonball" single and the band's 1993 release, Last Splash. The second single from the album was "Divine Hammer," complete with a lighthearted video that combined yoga, an adult cinema, guitar smashing and Jim Macpherson in a pickup truck.
The Flaming Lips were also touring, supporting 1993's Transmissions From the Satellite Heart which included their hit single "She Don't Use Jelly." On their tour, they occasionally covered the Breeders' "Divine Hammer." Here is a live version of the song, performed with the usual Flaming Lips enthusiasm, enjoy.
With the last Guided By Voices studio album out this month, I decided to pay homage to the band with a track near and dear to my heart. "Unleashed! The Large Hearted Boy" (mp3 link) is not only the namesake for this blog, but also for my domain (which I am undoubtedly master of). First appearing on the band's 1992 Propeller release, I have been in love with it since the first time I heard it. A short, powerpop gem, the song brims with vitality.
This version is taken from the 1994 bootleg Crying Your Knife Away, taped on June 18, 1994 in Columbus Ohio, enjoy.
My pal Brandon not only taped the recent shows at Mergefest (Merge Records' four night 15th birthday party), but he is also seeding them at EZTorrent (registration required). Already available are the following shows (with the rest to follow): Richard Buckner, M. Ward, The Rosebuds, The Essex Green, and Superchunk. He's also seeding the 2003 New Pornographers Atlanta show... Grab them while they're up.
Merge Records recently celebrated their 15th anniversary with Mergefest, a series of four nights filled with friends and musicians on the label. One of the highlights was the Superchunk show, the band of label founders Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance.
During the Superchunk show, Lou Barlow joined the band onstage for "Brand New Love," a song Superchunk had covered for The Freed Seed 7" back in 1991. Mac and company amp up the Sebadoh original, adding a raw energy that transforms the song into a pogo party. It was a fitting way to end their set (before they were called out for an encore, it was their party after all).
Happy belated birthday, Merge.
The song comes from Superchunk's Thursday, July 29, 2004 show at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro.
With the new Drive-By Truckers album set to drop in two weeks, I've been listening to many live shows by the band and its songwriters. In particular, several Patterson Hood solo shows have caught my ear, since he's been touring extensively supporting his solo album release.
Hood often covers Tom T. Hall's "Mama Bake a Pie (Daddy Kill a Chicken)" in his live performances. To the casual music fan, Tom T. Hall is more known for his love of watermelon wine and old pickup trucks, but the man has the true grace of a storyteller in verse. This song is one of his Vietnam protest efforts, and rings as true today as ever. The Drive-By Truckers also recorded this track for an upcoming Tom T. Hall tribute album this year.
Today is the 35th anniversary of man setting foot on the moon, so here are the Drive-By Truckers performing "Putting People on the Moon" live on KEXP earlier this year. The song, written by Patterson Hood, is on the band's August release, The Dirty South. Listen, and learn why north Alabama once had "rocket envy" for Huntsville.
I have to admit that when I first heard that Jack White was slated to produce Loretta Lynn's latest album, Van Lear Rose, I was skeptical about the quality of the finished product. Then I heard Jack cover the title track on a February Peel session, and my worries lifted. The White Stripe treated the song with respect and allowed the lyrics and simple arrangement to shine, and the same could be said for the resulting album by Ms. Lynn. Enjoy "Van Lear Rose," performed by Jack White.
When Jason Isbell joined Drive-By Truckers, I wondered how adding yet another songwriter would affect one of my favorite bands. Isbell not only meshed well, he stood out with some of the strongest tracks on last year's DBT album, Decoration Day.
On this week's Tuesday Tune, he covers "The Assassin" from fellow Trucker Patterson Hood's solo release, Killers & Stars. The song will also appear on Jason's solo record, scheduled for a spring, 2005 release.
The third songwriter in the Drive-By Truckers, Mike "Stroker Ace" Cooley, was recently asked if he would be releasing a solo album. He replied that he already did, it was called "Decoration Day."
There are only a few musical things in life I unabashedly love, and this week's song, a live version of "John Coltrane" by the Mountain Goats, combines two: John Coltrane and the Mountain Goats (of course).
Of course, my favorite non-musical thing is my wife (she alleges that people pay her family not to sing). She has been legally bound to me six years today, and has been dragged to many shows, subjected to much music, and has rarely complained, even after beer bottles have bounced off head. I have been truly impressed and thankful, and continue to be.
Today's offering is "Going To Marrakesh," by the Extra Glenns. This song is a prime example of two musicians (John Darnielle and Franklin Bruno) hitting delightful synergy. Listen to this and pray to your god (or goddess) of choice for another Extra Glenns record. If you don't have the first one, Martial Arts Weekend, you're missing a true delight, one of my favorites of all time.
By the way, here's the studio version of the song [mp3 link].
Some songs scream "Spring!" "Bowling Green" is one of these songs, especially when covered by the talented Neko Case complete with delicious backing vocals by Kelly Hogan.
An Everly Brothers hit, this song first appeared by Miss Case on her solo debut album, The Virginian. This version is taken from her Maida Vale performance of September, 2000.
The Decemberists have been covering "Your Love" by the Outfield live this spring (mp3 link). It's easy to dismiss indie bands who cover older pop tunes, but the Decemberists manage to make the experience fun for both themselves and the audience, even engendering a singalong.
My wife recently burned her first mix CD, and I was pleasantly surprised that I introduced many of the artists to her. Here is a live rendition of one of the tracks, "No Children," by The Mountain Goats and America's greatest living songwriter, John Darnielle.
Chan Marshall has a reputation for choosing covers and breathing her own life into them, and even recorded an album solely of cover songs.
This week's Tuesday Tune is more of a fragment than a complete song. For her 2000 Peel session, John Peel specifically asked Marshall to reprise her cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird," to which she added an ethereal longing that even Ronnie Van Zandt could appreciate.
Of Montreal shows are always fun as well as always surprising. Last January the group played a special show in Athens, consisting mostly of cover songs from the 60's and 70's. The band led off with the Who's "Can't Explain" (from Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy) and an unforgettable concert experience was begun.
To jumpstart Tuesday Tunes (on a Saturday), I can't think of a better event to promote. I've made two YLT covers from last year's performance available: Nick Lowe's "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding," (mp3 link) and the Bonzo Dog Band's "I Want To Be With You" (mp3 link).
In lieu of this week's Tuesday Tunes (while I hunt for storage space and bandwidth) is a collection of eight The The live shows spanning seventeen years.
This week's Tuesday Tunes are dedicated to the state of Oklahoma, fishing with your bare hands, and the Flaming Lips.
The documentary, Okie Noodling, is released on DVD February 3rd, and combines all of the above. The Flaming Lips performed the soundtrack, and released a promotional EP only available at early screenings of the documentary. The two songs available this week come from the resulting soundtrack:
In 1999, Amy Linton of Henry's Dress (and currently Aisler's Set) and Stewart Anderson of Boyracer put out a split single, which melded their styles and instantly became one of my favorite releases of all time. This week's Tuesday Tunes come from that release. "Hipsters, Scenesters, Teenstars and Fakers" (mp3 link) is 83 seconds of pure fuzzed-out bliss, followed by Anderson's closer, "Romance Baby, I Don't Care," a fittingly raw powerpop gem.
The United States presidential campaign is in full swing, the theme of "Christ For President," if not its literal interpretation, seems to be appropriate. This version is by Wilco (mp3 link), from their April 4, 1999 show. and was originally released on Mermaid Avenue, their collaboration with Billy Bragg and the departed, yet still timely voice of Woody Guthrie.
"We don't like gambling or chasing women, but we love our Lord and Pabst Blue Ribbon." The second song this week always makes me smile, "Drinking Beer For Jesus," (mp3 link) by Deral Fenderson, underappreciated musical genius of our time (and self-proclaimed "cooler than Graham Smith" of Kleenex Girl Wonder). For more beer songs, try this Russian site I found while Googling Mr. Fenderson (now there's the name for a teen comedy): Beer Songs In RealAudio and MP3.
I'm finally getting around to putting up this week's mp3's. In honor of my favorite show of the year, here are two live tracks from the Kill Rock Stars band Deerhoof. Taken from their September 15, 2002 show in Berkeley are "This Magnificent Bird Will Rise" and "Dummy Discards A Heart." These are great songs to start the new year.
Deerhoof is one of a short list of bands that I berate friends to see live. Their live shows are a musical fireworks display that simply should not be missed, full of deconstructed pop masterpieces and bursting with sloppy energy.
Since Christmas is two days away, here are two Christmas songs from the wonderful Kindercore Christmas In Stereo compilation.
Of Montreal's "My Favorite Christmas (In A Hundred Words Or Less)" is the second holiday offering, a quirky song that only Kevin Barnes could pull off.
In the spirit of these songs, I'm off to hang out at Wal-Mart (and the mall) and finish my Christmas shopping. Feliz Navidad, baby.
The first track is a cover of "Play It All Night Long," originally by Warren Zevon. If the only familiarity you have with Zevon is "Werewolves of London," you owe it to yourself to examine the catalog of this talented, dark and witty American songwriter. A good place to start is his greatest hits package, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead. Rest well, Warren.
The second song is "Carl Perkins Cadillac," one of my favorite songs of the year. I heard this song for the first time after reading Carl Perkins' autobiography, "Go, Cat, Go!: The Life and Times of Carl Perkins, the King of Rockabilly." Imagine a tour consisting of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis... Johnny Cash was a true friend to Carl Perkins for most of their adult lives, so this song pulled a lot of heartstrings, especially after the death of the man in black. The studio demo of this song (mp3 link) can be found on the DBT website.
If you had the extremely good fortune to see The Mountain Goats this year, they probably closed their set with one of the two mp3's this week.
First up is "The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out Of Denton," the opening track from the band's 2002 release, All Hail West Texas. To see a crowd chanting along the chorus, "Hail Satan," at the end of a show is a truly mesmerizing experience.
(from Carrboro 2002-11-08)
Chan Marshall is mesmerizing on plastic, all smoothness and lilting voice. It's to her recorded persona that I dedicate this week's post of downloadable tunes, not the difficult, put-out live performer that I've seen twice and vowed never to waste my time on again.
Chan Marshall is known for her cover songs, even putting out an album, The Covers Record, consisting solely of them. At her Atlanta show this year she covered the White Stripes' "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground."
I was moving some older video files yesterday (music videos, by the way), and found a clip of the Amps on Conan O'Brien, playing the title track, "Pacer," to their 1995 album. I've mentioned before that this is my favorite album of all time. Kim Deal's pet project (besides her other pet project, the Breeders), this band's only album captures a rawness and spirit that amazes me with every listen. An added plus for me is the Guided By Voices connections: Nate Farley (who played guitar for the Amps) is currently playing rhythm guitar for GBV; Jim "Hillbilly Boy" Macpherson played drums for GBV; Kim herself produced several songs for the band; Bob Pollard co-wrote "I Am Decided."
The first song this week is Kim's demo of the title track from the album. The second mp3 is the Breeders performing Tipp City at the 2002 Reading Festival. As an added bonus, the aforementioned video is offered in all its lo-res, grainy glory, worthwhile if only to see a very young Nate Farley bobbing his head from side to side and thoroughly enjoying himself.
The theme for this week's mp3 selections is simple: my birthday on the 15th. Saturday begins yet another year filled with wine, women and song (well, good song, at least; one great woman; and a beer or two).
Bjork has always been fascinating, I remember hearing the Sugarcubes' Life's Too Good for the first time and falling in love with her vocal instrument. For your listening enjoyment, I've unearthed a copy of the band's Icelandic, vinyl-only version of "Birthday."
Since the early '90's Mary Lou Lord has been wowing audiences and listeners with her heartfelt folk rock sensibility and an innate sense of perfect cover songs. At home on stage with just her acoustic guitar for accompaniment, her shows are intimate and wonderful. This week I'm sharing her cover of Ween's "Birthday Boy," from Mammoth's Jabberjaw Compilation, Vol. 2: Pure Sweet Hell.
This week's mp3's celebrate the first annual "Largehearted Musician Of The Year," Ben Gibbard. Not only did he continue the string of great albums with his band (Death Cab For Cutie's Transatlanticism), but he also worked with Jimmy Tamborello and put out my favorite album of the year, The Postal Service's Give Up.
In his solo shows, Ben is known for his unique choice of covers. He adds a subtle poignancy to the Kirsty MacColl-penned, "They Don't Know," which was made a hit by none other than the comic Tracey Ullman.
The Postal Service toured this year with largehearted hearthrob Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley on backing vocals, and the second mp3 of the month is this band covering "Against All Odds," the Phil Collins classic from the movie of the same name.
The holidays are creeping up on us. I know this because the oracle that is Wal-Mart moved out their gardening supplies and moved wrapping paper, gaudy lawn ornaments and artificial trees in their place. To me, the holidays mean one thing: Christmas mix CD's for our friends and family in place of seasonal greeting cards. Last year spawned two mixes, one for our more traditional friends and my wife's clients, Christmas At The Largehearted Lounge. The other mix, I'm Getting Coal (Because I Burned This CD) was sent to our irreverent and more tolerant friends.
I have to admit a fetish for Xmas music, I have too many holiday CD's, from Mannheim Steamroller to Punk Rock Xmas, Ol' Blue Eyes to Bright Eyes, The Smurfs to the Osmonds, and I honestly love them all. Putting our audio seasonal missives together is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season.
So in the spirit of the season, the mp3 downloads of the week are Christmas songs of the variety my mother-in-law would call "strange and wonderful." First up is "White Christmas" by Japanese noise-rock band Melt Banana... just listen, it's a match made in heaven, my favorite holiday piece for headphones.
The second holiday treat is from Bright Eyes Christmas Album, "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." This was my favorite holiday release last year, enjoy!
"Anticipation" is the keyword that links this week's selection of downloadable mp3 files. First up is a live track from Robert Schneider's side project, Ulysses. The Apples In Stereo frontman explores weightier issues in this band whose album is due next year. This song was recorded at their first public show on August 1st of this year in beautiful Athens, Georgia (home of the #4 rated Georgia Bulldogs, by the way).
The second track is from The Mountain Goats' upcoming (and currently untitled) album. This followup to the stunning Tallahassee is said to be a song cycle based in Portland, Oregon, and the first single will be "Palmcorder Yajna," which is played live here.
Both of this week's songs have a common theme: love, in honor of my lovely wife's birthday today...
First we have a classic rags to riches love story from Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers. "18 Wheels Of Love" was his wedding present to his mother, and is found on the band's out of print live album, "Alabama Ass-Whuppin'." This song has one of my favorite choruses: "Momma ran of with a trucker, momma ran off with a trucker, momma ran off with a trucker, Peterbilt, Peterbilt!"
I've added a new feature to largehearted boy: interesting, yet odd songs that often have a tangible relationship to me. This week there are two:
"St. Swithen's Day" - Ben Gibbard. Originally released by British songsmith Billy Bragg, this song is given a warm solo treatment by Death Cab For Cutie and Postal Service frontman Ben Gibbard in a Seattle 2002 performance.
"Dooley's Junkyard Dawgs" - James Brown. The godfather of soul shouts and grunts his love for Georgia football (4-1 at the moment). This song always brings to mind the sights, sounds and smells of tailgating around Sanford Stadium with 82,000 of your closest friends.