Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Oh, the paragraphs I could dedicate to the subject....
We're going to talk some Counting Crows in a second, but here's a couple of things that led up to the Counting Crows subject matter:
This past week, I was in Target picking up a copy of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation for a friend - an occasional purchase each year for friends who love the film but don't own it, or worse.....haven't seen it!
Seriously, what rock are you living under if you haven't seen Christmas Vacation?
While I should immediately remove you from my friend roster for such a thing, it seems that I have a charitable side that likes to broaden the horizons of others.
Last night I went to my DVDs to pull out my own copy for a viewing and it was missing! A spontaneous phone conversation with Brian from Broken Headphones revealed that his copy was missing as well! What's happening here in Cleveland?
Later that evening, I sat down at the computer to see what was happening on email, Twitter, etc.
I threw a quick Tweet:
Still love the latest Counting Crows album....but the person who mixed it deserves a nice kick in the face. Overmodulated sonic mud.
I was listening to Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings this weekend, a listen that was inspired by thoughts I was having as we head towards the end of 2008. SN/SM is certainly on my mental best of list for the year, but I hadn't listened to it in a while because of how sonically unpleasing the first half is from "1492" to "Cowboys." Since it had been a while, I thought I'd give it a spin in the car to see if my opinion would be modified at all. Sadly, the answer is still a failing grade for the Saturday Nights portion.
To play catch-up for you if you haven't heard the album, SN/SM was conceived as two separate albums with the more electric material comprising the Saturday Nights portion, and the quieter material (for the most part) makes up the Sunday Morning half. Gil Norton (Foo Fighters, Del Amitri) produced Saturday Nights with James Brown mixing, and Brian Deck produced and mixed Sunday Mornings.
So where do we assign the blame? Taking a look at the recent Police DVD/CD release, I hear we can assign the blame for the unbelievably poor packaging to the band, who wanted to use the most environmentally conscious packaging method possible. Fair enough, I guess. And your complaints about the sound quality of Metallica's Death Magnetic? You guessed it, the band is the alleged culprit.
So what if we look at the problematic sound on Saturday Nights starting with producer Gil Norton? Norton has a long line of respectable production credits including *ahem* Recovering The Satellites by Counting Crows. Gil also produced Del Amitri's Change Everything album - is it wrong that I'm inclined to give him a pass just for being involved with those two albums? Plus, the dude produced an entire SR-71 album and still retained the desire to have a career in music!
I kid. I like the first SR-71 album a little, shhhhh!
I'm left with inclination to place the blame on mixer James Brown and his suspiciously named "Just Managing" production company, but is that the right move?
I can somehow see the scene now: Adam Duritz is cackling maniacally like John Cusack at the burger joint, overseeing the Saturday Nights mix with instructions to make every-thing louder than every-thing else........and then make everything else louder than that!
Once you get past the sound issues, Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings is one of the best albums that Counting Crows have made in years, and I'm saying that as a someone who has been a fan of generally everything they've put out. Duritz has a historical knack for wrapping his voice around some of the greatest miserable songs and he does it so well. As one who trends toward the more miserable side of music, you won't be surprised to hear that I really love the Sunday Mornings side of the album, and songs like "Washington Square" and "When I Dream of Michelangelo."
Mel was asking on Twitter if there was anywhere that she could stream the album, and indeed there is. You can stream the album via the band's Myspace page - Navigate over to the music player, and click on the album cover, and the entire album loads as a playlist.
I also found the following "in the studio" performance videos that I hadn't seen:
Counting Crows - Washington Square
Counting Crows - 1492 (Couldn't embed this one - here's the link to the video stream)
Counting Crows - Cowboys
Counting Crows - Le Ballet d'Or
And here's an oldie - "Have You Seen Me Lately" performed earlier this year on Fuse and worthy of inclusion because of the two chuckleheads that intro the band at the beginning of the performance:
Counting Crows - Have You Seen Me Lately (live on Fuse)
One of my favorite songs from Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings is one of the first songs I heard via the "digital 45" released by the band prior to the album release in March. If you haven't heard the new album, "When I Dream of Michelangelo" might be the one song you need to hear to sell you on the release. Classic Duritz.
Well you know I don't like you but you wanna be my friend
Well, there are bodies on the ceiling and they're fluttering their wings
It's ok I'm angry
But you'll never understand
When you dream of Michelangelo
They hang above your hands
And I know that she is not my friend
And I know cause there she goes
Walking on my skin again
Counting Crows - When I Dream of Michelangelo
Just in case you missed it:
In one of my first posts here, I wrote about something that you won't want to miss:
For an extended trip behind the scenes of Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings as an album, check out the Counting Crows performance on World Cafe which can be found at I Am Fuel, You Are Friends. The World Cafe performance is a fascinating look at both halves of the new album, and reveals the genesis of each song, and the ties to the back catalog of Counting Crows songs you already know and love.
Check it out and grab the zip - that's the only link that is still active.
Counting Crows official website
Purchase Saturday Nights and Sunday Morningsmore
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
I guess I'm not surprised that they hated it, and it's entertaining to watch them bash a movie that is now considered to be a cult classic.
By the way - check out these Siskel and Ebert outtakes, if you haven't seen them. Great stuff.
My previous Better Off Dead posts:
Speaking of Cusack:
Gotta love this vid in which John Cusack is mixed up with Kevin Spacey by an interviewer, and Cusack has some fun with it:more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
While I'm not sure that Courtney has ever done the naked dazed Anne Heche street walk of shame, I'm pretty sure she's done everything else, and I love her for that.
I'll admit that I wasn't really a huge Courtney/Hole fan in the 90s - frankly, I was busy listening to Nirvana albums, and after that, Foo Fighters albums.
I've gotten to appreciate the 90s output of Love more and more as the years pass, and I was interested to see this recent blog post featuring some professionally shot live performances from 2007.
I found Love's stage persona more interesting than some of the songs - one moment channeling Dramarama frontman John Easdale during a performance of "Samantha," a bit of Iggy in "PCH," and during the last one? Well, I guess that's just Courtney being Courtney.
Courtney writes about the three performances, and I particularly like her insight on Samantha:
i dont think youll even know Samantha, its more "Spanglemaker" meets "This Corrosion" meets that trent f*ck you like an animal song meets a tad of "Enter Sandman" cos one must always have the ability to open for Metallica and have at least a shot at kicking major ass
Read the rest (and there's a LOT to read) here. Note: paragraph breaks are optional
Courtney Love - Samantha
Courtney Love - PCH
Courtney Love - Northern Star
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Thanks to my boy, Corey, King of the Rabble Rouser Kingdom for pointing me towards video of this - I had heard about this "very special moment" on this year's edition of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, but I hadn't had a chance to Youtube it.
Enjoy it for yourselves - you know what I'm talking about, and you know you want to!
And perhaps you need even more....more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
I hope this finds you well and stuffed full of Thanksgiving memories.
Today, I officially began the beautiful thing that some like to refer to as a "four day weekend."
Unfortunately, I made the mistake of trying to be semi-productive. For those of you that have been following the limited details of my recent postal adventures, let me get you up to speed a bit:
Two weeks ago, I decided to open a P.O. Box. I do this, and arrange to have all of my mail (which had been put on hold) forwarded to the new P.O. Box.
A few days later, I decided that I probably made a mistake, and needed to upgrade to a P.O. Box one size larger than the one that I had gotten.
Obviously, I wish I would have decided this before I put the forwarding order in, but oh well - what's done was done. I go to the post office thinking I can pay a few bucks extra and just upgrade.
In the eyes of the post office, this is a whole new transaction, and they'll conveniently refund half the cost of the other P.O. Box, even though it's been less than a week since I opened it. I silently decide to hold on to both boxes until I get the forwarding thing sorted out, and depart from the post office.
Flash forward to earlier this week. I go to the post office to pick up my mail, and finally the forwarded mail has been routed to my P.O. Box, and I get mail for the first time in two weeks. While I'm there, I decide to try my key on the new P.O. Box, and it doesn't work. I'm bummed, but after having been to the post office the previous two consecutive Saturdays, I'm cool with going back again to get things sorted out. After all, when I got my initial P.O. Box there, I had the same key issue, went back to the counter that same day, they did something, and suddenly everything was golden.
So I wasn't worried - a simple mistake on the post office side of things that had happened to me twice - it will all work out.
Today, I go to the post office and walk in the door to see not a SINGLE soul in line - SWEET! I walk up to the front, and the postal person finishes with the customer he's working with, and calls me up to the counter.
Me - Hi. I just opened a new P.O. Box, and my key isn't working
Postal Dude - You DIDN'T try your keys before you left?
Me - Um, no.
Postal Dude - Do you have your receipt?
Me - No, but here's my driver's license.
Postal dude disappears to go check the keys, and I'm mildly irritated, but it's cool. But then he comes back.
Postal Dude - That box ISN'T available to be rented
Me - Uh, okay.
Postal Dude - I don't show that you have any P.O. Boxes rented at this post office.
Me - Okay, well that's a problem, because I have two.
Postal Dude - Well then you need to either come back with your receipt today, or come see the postal box clerk, who is here from 4am until noon each day. She is the only one that has access to the records for all of the P.O. Boxes.
So I leave the post office, feeling great that apparently I am the a-hole for having keys that don't work for a P.O. Box that I paid money for. Let's not assign any blame to the previous postal person that apparently hit a wrong keystroke and put the wrong box number on my receipt. I'd love to produce that receipt that will apparently magically make things all better - only problem with that is that the receipt is sitting on my desk in my office, 40 minutes away in a building I don't have keys to.
There's a message somewhere in all of this, but I'm not quite sure what it is.
Oh, yes I am: Going to the post office sucks. All hail the automated postal machine. I can't wait for the day that it can handle all of my postal problems and needs, because I am fine with never having to talk to a live postal person ever again!
Perhaps life would be easier if all of the mail personnel were like the mailman in the Chevy Chase film Funny Farm?
It would be funnier, at least!
Funny Farm clips (including the crazy mailman)one
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
My mom asks me what I'm looking forward to about the family Thanksgiving celebration tomorrow. I quickly replied that I was looking forward to arriving at 4pm, and being back home before 6pm. The response on the other end of the phone line as you can probably guess, was silence.
Of course I was being sarcastic.
Truthfully, I'm completely at ease with the holiday season so far - and perhaps that has a lot to do with the fact that the celebration doesn't involve a long drive, or a plane ticket.
I've got so much to be thankful for, and I'm looking forward to celebrating some of that with the family tomorrow.
Here's hoping that you all will get some of that action, as well.
To help you prepare for T-Day, here are a few links that you might enjoy:
First, good ol Pete over @ Blogness has a nice column on his other blog detailing why Dad never gets to offer HIS advice on Thanksgiving dinner.
Speaking of Blogness, Pete also has a special Thanksgiving playlist featuring songs about "thanks" and "giving" that will be available for one day only. Guess when it ends? If you guessed after Thanksgiving is over, well then you might just be a rocket scientist.
Then again, you might just be kinda smart.
(p.s. - congrats to Blogness on the Edge of Town on that one year anniversary!)
If you've got a good amount of driving to do, or just need some tunes to help maintain your frail grip on sanity, Amazon MP3 is offering up 50 of the bestselling albums from 2008 for $5 each - from Coldplay to BB King - there's a lot to choose from. The list is updated hourly - Check it out.
You can count on the fact that many classic rock stations will be giving Alice a midday spin on Thanksgiving, and you can also get your online fix via legendary New York public broadcasting station WFUV at 12:10pm. WFUV will celebrate Thanksgiving with an "FUV Feastival" on Thursday and Friday of live broadcasts recorded in the past year including Joan Osborne, My Morning Jacket, and more.
Stream WFUV online here.
That should give you plenty to do, listen to, and enjoy after you've stuffed yourself to the brim with all of the Thanksgiving goodness you can possibly handle.
Cheers, and Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
That first official day of fierce in your face winter with lots of snow, snow, and more snow, accessorized with wind, really took it out of me yesterday.
It was snowing pretty good as I left the west side yesterday morning to drive to the east side for work. While at work, it snowed all day, and the driving conditions got progressively worse as the day went on. The drive home was pretty bogus until I got back to the west side where magically, there was NO snow.
That, my friends, is why the west side of Cleveland rules. And it's also why working on the east side sucks, because you never really know what you're in for - i.e. is the weather REALLY this crummy everywhere....or just here?
On the plus side, I got mail for the first time in two weeks now that everything is starting to re-route properly to my P.O. Box.
Phew. I was starting to wonder.
Speaking of mail:
I'm starting to think that my buddy Kevin Mason might be onto something with the whole video blogging thing.
You see, yesterday was apparently the day that the entire internet decided to reach out and email me regarding Addicted to Vinyl related items/questions.
I felt the love x 200 on the day that I needed it most. You see, I was feeling a bit fragile.
Actually, that's not true at all. I was feeling pretty darn good, except for that pesky snow issue.
What the ATV readers don't know (well, some of them do...) is that one of my personal issues is that I'm sometimes not the best on getting back to emails I receive. And this has been the case lately - heck, I know I've even been a bit lax on responding to comments here.
So if I could have put up a video blog last night, it would have gone something like this:
*fade up from black revealing Matt's smiling face*
Hello my beloved Addicted to Vinyl readers.
I would like to thank all of you for visiting the website today.
I would especially like to thank those of you that took time out of your busy lives, to send me personal email messages.
*camera zooms in*
You see that? Those are real tears, ATV readers. Real tears that I weep of joy, especially for you.
Now speaking of that, I'll suggest that you all should listen to the fine Smithereens album Especially for You, which was created especially for each and every one of you.
I'm going to bed now.
*camera fades to black*
That's just a rough draft. I promise that if I ever actually do get around to doing video blogs, they'll be more interesting, or padded with special video blog special guests. Everybody loves special guest appearances.
Anyway, in other news - I thought I'd share a couple of things with you.
First, I continue to realize that I need to update my list of links, which ties into the following item:
Between Like and Love, who apparently love this site enough to feature it in their list of links (thanks guys!!!) hipped me to a very cool contest going on right now in which you could win your very own IKEA shopping spree with Pavement!
How fun would that be? IKEA + hanging with a random Pavement member, sounds like a good time to me!
I've updated my original Chinese Democracy posting with links to several different reviews that have popped online since I originally posted my item. Check 'em out now for a whole buncha perspective on GNR version 2008.
Among the reviews: My comrade Chris Akin says that Chinese Democracy wouldn't have been worth a six month wait.
She's just a Girl In A Coma:
Girl In A Coma have two tracks on the new holiday album from Joan Jett's Blackheart Records that I mentioned a couple of days ago. Site regular Chris dropped me an email to share news about the Texas trio who recently wrapped up a tour supporting Tegan and Sara. The band has a new video for the song "Their Cell." The tune comes off of their debut album for Blackheart Both Before I'm Gone, and was filmed in an allegedly haunted prison built in 1885 in Gonzales, TX.
Girl In A Coma - Their Cell
Here's a press release about the vid....dig it, and I'll talk at you all later!!
Girl in a Coma premiered their latest video for their song "Their Cell" recently, a track from their debut album 'Both Before I'm Gone,' released on Joan Jett's Blackheart Records label.
The video was directed by Jim Mendiola and filmed at an old prison 75 miles outside of San Antonio. The Gonzales jail, built in 1885 and one of the great historic sites in Texas, is now a museum. Early in the video we see Phanie Diaz (drummer) reading 'Ghosts Of Gonzales,' a book on haunted places in Gonzales with a chapter on the old jail.
Also featured in the video are drawings of Nina Diaz (guitar, vox) by artist Shizu Saldamando, who draws inspiration from paño arte, a form of prison art in which inmates use ballpoint pens to draw loved ones and religious icons on cotton handkerchiefs.
This San Antonio trio joined the October Tegan and Sara tour for a set of US shows and played several dates on the True Colors tour in June. They were also handpicked by Morrissey to open his US/European 07/08 tours.
Says Filter Magazine, in a recent live review of the trio on tour with Tegan and Sara: "...the true beauty of their sound is the patient way that [Nina] Diaz' vocals ride over near-punk with an artful sophistication of Linda Perry or Siouxie Sioux."
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
I woke up this morning and the weather outside was (a bit) frightful....
Snow on the morning commute is so wrong.
I'm guessing that all of the warm weather ATV readers have no idea what I'm talking about.
Trust me, it sucks.
The city streets were backed up with people who hadn't seen snow before (sarcasm) adding an extra 20 minutes to my trip. The interstate was thankfully fine.
Not sure what the weather forecast is for this afternoon/tonight - hopefully not a planned recipe for a lousy commute home!
I saw a funny bumper sticker in front of me on the exit ramp. "Knitters for Barack Obama" - which begs the question, is there a bumper sticker that says "Soapbox Derby Enthusiasts for Barack Obama"? How about "Space Camp Attendees for Barack Obama" (thanks to Rebecca for that one)
Bruce Springsteen - Waitin' On A Sunny Daymore
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Any Tonic fans in the house?
I've been listening to Tonic's second album Sugar a lot this week. It's probably my favorite from the three albums that they've done, (so far?) and I feel like they often got the short end of a stick as a band. Take a look at their three albums, and from where I'm sitting, there ain't a dud in the bunch.
It's hard to believe that it's been nearly 10 years since Sugar was released, and in that time, I've grown to appreciate it as an album more and more. I can recall being a bit disappointed when I first heard it initially, but after additional listens, I really began to understand it. After winning the hearts of soccer moms across multiple radio formats with "If You Could Only See" from the first Tonic album Lemon Parade, one might have expected Tonic to make a ballad-heavy album with album number two.
They did the opposite and made a ROCK record, something that in 1998, was already becoming a bit hard to find. Sugar summed up for me the ups and downs of being in a relationship - The good times, and that feeling that you would go to the ends of the earth to make someone happy, mixed with the bad times.....the "why am I still doing this" times, and even the book of mixed feelings when it's all over. When you talk about albums that "hold up" Sugar is definitely a winner in that category for me. Typically I'm driving while listening to the album, singing along with the various tracks, and I'll ponder for the umpteenth time how I might resequence the album slightly.
It's JUST about right - I love the opening with album opener "Future Says Run," but I've always felt like "You Wanted More" was a bit out of place in the musical flow on Sugar - the album for me picks up with "Knock Down Walls," and is perfect the rest of the way. Take "You Wanted More" out of the equation, and instead imagine the killer one/two punch opening of "Future Says Run" followed by "Knock Down Walls." Suddenly, you've got yourself a perfect 12 track album, and you can leave "You Wanted More" on the American Pie soundtrack.
Yeah, these are the things I think about while I'm driving. I'm weird.
I heard the title track this weekend while driving, and thought of "her." Tonic was one of those early bands that we connected on together. "Sugar" was always a great driving song that made me think warm and fuzzy thoughts of her every time that I would hear it. Only this time, we're not together, and haven't been for quite a while. The feelings this time around were thoughts of a few of the many good times we had shared together through the years. We were good together, but in the end, we were better apart. I'm happier, and I assume that she is too.
Cheers to that.
While we're mushing out - my buddy Mel wrote a great post exploring the simple pleasure that is holding hands with someone. But what does that whole hand holding thing mean to you? Check it out and weigh in with your own answer.
And you know what, here's one more thing, since I'm thinking about favorite albums from the 90s - I LOVED Bringing Down The Horse by The Wallflowers. Wore out a couple of cassettes of it before I got a CD player in my car, and like Sugar, Bringing Down The Horse remains one of my favorite CDs to this day. My new pals over at The Frontloader.com had a great weekend post about "6th Avenue Heartache" that jogged my memory on a few details, and also clued me in to a couple of things that I didn't know. Must read stuff as a fan, and you can also dig the acoustic version of "6th Avenue Heartache" posted there as well.
Back to Tonic - anybody want to take me as their plus one to see Tonic on The Rock Boat in January? Man, I would LOVE to see Tonic again...it's been so long!
Come on baby get your shoes on
You're looking like you need a rescue
Underneath the southern moonlight
Where only I can find you
We can do it with our eyes closed
We can sit and talk for hours
Underneath the golden flowers
Where my sunshine grows
Sugar my love
Sugar my burn
Sugar may hide
Sugar may learn
"Sugar" by Tonic from the album Sugar
Here's a live version from the radio promo single for "Mean to Me." In my dreams, Tonic would release something live from this tour, because this is the only high quality live stuff from Sugar that I've ever found.
Emerson Hart - Sugar (live)
Purchase Sugar from Amazon - CD
Tonic official website
Tonic lead singer Emerson Hart on Myspacemore
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Kristen was looking for suggestions for a holiday mix, which sent me digging into my collection to throw a few tunes her way. Around that same time, Joan Jett's Blackheart Records drops their new holiday release A Blackheart Christmas into my lap.
"Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You" has been covered at least once before, by SR-71 (remember them?) and the new version by The Cute Lepers is good campy fun that doesn't veer too far away from the original version by Squier.
Believe it or not, I never saw the original video for Squier's version, and actually I didn't even know there was such an animal.
Now that I actually know where most of my holiday CDs are, I'm contemplating my first holiday mix in years to get all of my favorites whittled down to a disc or two. If I actually get around to it, I'll share the rundown with you all.
What are some of your rock and roll holiday favorites?
Billy Squier - Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You
Stream the A Blackheart Christmas album here.
Purchase A Blackheart Christmas via Itunes.
Here's the full press release:
Joan Jett's Blackheart Records Holiday Album Available Now on iTunes
Features Newly Recorded Holiday Standards, Original Tunes and a Joan Jett Classic
The holidays are right around the corner and Blackheart Records, Joan Jett's record label, will be celebrating with a holiday album available on iTunes. The album features newly recorded holiday standards from Girl in a Coma, The Dollyrots and original tunes from Seattle punks The Cute Lepers and veteran Blackheart band The Vacancies. A modern take on "Silent Night" closes out the 11-track offering. Recently recorded with Joan Jett on vocals and guitar, the track includes excerpts from Barack Obama's victory speech in Chicago earlier this month.
Girl in a Coma, The Dollyrots, The Vacancies and The Cute Lepers are all featured artists on Jett's Blackheart Records, a company she started over 25 years ago, making her the first woman to start her own rock label.
1. Blue Christmas - Girl in a Coma
2. The Elf Song - The Vacancies (original)
3. Santa Baby - The Dollyrots
4. Little Drummer Boy - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
5. Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You - The Cute Lepers
6. Father Christmas - The Vacancies
7. I'll Be Home For Christmas - Girl in a Coma
8. Winter Wonderland - Thommy Price featuring Nefertiti Bones
9. Home For Christmas - Kenny Laguna
10. All I Ever Want (Under The Christmas Tree) - The Cute Lepers (original)
11. Silent Night - The Blackhearts and special guests