Monthly Archives: September 2010

5. Road Trip 2008, Day 3-4: The Obnoxious Drunk and the Zen Master

“The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.”

Theodore Roosevelt

Paul and I sat behind the VFW for another hour talking over the muffled sounds of some blues band with a Fiona Apple sounding singer (it wasn’t as good as you’d think). I asked him why the hell he had been talking to the old lady at the bar for so long, and he tried explaining that she gave him the inside scoop on the Bozeman area. For example, since we had been planning to climb Lone Mountain in a few days, she suggested we climb it from the backside. She claimed it would be a much more scenic climb.

“I don’t trust a word that annoying woman said,” I told him.

“Dude, you don’t trust a Montana woman? She’s lived her for 25 years!” We both burst into laughter.

When we heard Fiona and her blues band finish up, we moseyed inside to finally see our fellow patriotic crooners, The Dodos. After grabbing a couple of Olympia’s, I made my way into the crowd, while Paul stood in the back, leaning against a pillar. He had been vacant most of the night; I didn’t know if the drinking caught up with him or if he was just tired.

I decided not to worry about him and began scanning the people around me. Maybe my beer binge altered my vision, but I seemed to be surrounded by beautiful women: a tall brunette with rosy cheeks sipping a PBR to my left, a cute little hippie red head to my right, and in front of me a slender woman with shiny black hair and a dark complexion. Could my night get any better?

The Dodos took the stage and began their set with some older material. Although unfamiliar with the songs, I was fascinated by Meric Long’s guitar playing. I’ve been obsessing over the guitar riffs on “Visiter” for months, and now I could finally see him at work, his fingers pitter-patting across the fret board as Logan Kroeber drummed away like a lunatic. Long switched guitars almost every song (I think he had five), which led me to believe he did a lot of open tuning. I used to think he layered the guitar tracks on “Visiter”, but there he was, playing all the string parts on one guitar.

If only he'd had his trombone during our singing of The National Anthem.

He also relied heavily on a looper pedal, infusing back-up vocals and even pulling out the trombone, which he looped into a haunting back-drop to a song. I turned to look for Paul when they kicked into “Fools”, not only the best song on the album, but probably the best song of 2008. I didn’t see him anywhere, but I didn’t get too concerned, returning my attention to the pandemonium on the stage. The audience joined in the singing with the chorus, “Whoa-Oh! Whoa-Oh! Whoa-oh-oh-oh!” I know, pretty primitive lyrics, but sometimes the simplest choruses are the catchiest.

A clip of The Dodos performing “Fools”, although not from the show in Bozeman:

Being so caught up in the music, I had forgotten about the hotties around me. That is until the girl in front of me decided to take out her ponytail, and commence flipping her long black hair into my face repeatedly. The first few times it annoyed me, especially when her flowing locks hit me in the eye. But when she turned around and smiled at me between songs, I got the feeling the hair toss was an intentional move. I wasn’t sure though. Her girlfriends and her seemed to be with a group of hippie frat guys.

"After we shotgun these beers, are you guys up for some extreme tree hugging!?"

The hair tossing and coy smiling would go on the rest of the show, but I couldn’t give her all of my attention – it was The Dodos for after all. As the band broke into “Joe’s Waltz” for the encore, she kicked the flirting up a notch and began dancing, moving her hips back toward me. I’m horrible at reading woman, but I had no doubt that her bouncing into me was not an accident. One of the frat boys in a flannel shirt seemed to notice, and didn’t seem too happy. I turned around thinking, “If only I could find Paul!” but I couldn’t locate him. I took a step back from the girl as a sign of peace, but she continued moving her butt back, blindly searching out my torso. I stood my ground, but didn’t reciprocate her hip shake. I didn’t need to get jumped by a bunch of college guys.

When the band finished up, the frat boys clear out to try and buy a final drink, leaving the hair-tosser and her girlfriends huddled by the stage. I knew I should say something to her, but I wasn’t going to walk into the estrogen slaughter alone. I needed a wingman; I needed Paul. I scanned the bar one last time. With the crowd thinned out, he should be easy to spot. No Paul. That’s when it hit me.

“That fucker went to the car.”

I would have to do this on my own. I stood back for a while, trying to figure out what to say. “I’m visiting Bozeman. Do you know anywhere I can stay?” Nah, too forward. “Hello, I’m the guy you kept hitting in the face with your hair.” Too rude. The longer I stood there trying to compose myself, the creepier I felt staring at the group of girls. I had nothing. Defeated, drunk, and embarrassed, I walked outside, prepared to take my disappointment out on Paul. I looked into the car window, and there he laid, lost in dreamland with a smile on his face. Asshole.

“What the fuck dude? Where’d you go? You’re such a fag!” the drunken insults and accusations came flowing out like the waterfall we had seen in Spearfish.

“…wha?…is the show over?” he grumbled, sitting up and rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

“You know it’s over you dick! You left me hanging! How could you miss The Dodos?! They were the reason we drove up here! What the fuck!” He chose not to respond, closing his eyes, and lying his head back. That didn’t stop me. “I needed a wingman, and where were you? Sleeping, you shit dick! Little baby Paul is tired! Boo Hoo! I drove all day you dick; I’m the one who should be tired! “I screamed.

Maybe it was the dozen beers I drank, maybe it was the two hours of sleep I got in South Dakota, or maybe it was anger at myself for being such a coward, but I let it all out on Paul. Poor guy. He laid there half asleep, as I ranted into the night at him. I brought up issues that didn’t even relate to the road trip. “This shouldn’t surprise me. You always ditched me at shows in Omaha.” My complaints were endless, and he just sat there, bleary eyed and confused, taking all my drunken frustrations like a Zen master. When I finally ran out of wind, all I could hear was his heavy breathing. This annoyed me to no end.

“Well?! What do you have to say for yourself sleepy boy?!” I yelled.

“…………you’re a dick,” he mumbled and then rolled over to return to sleep. My anger fell on deaf ears. I sat back in the drivers seat, thinking I wouldn’t get any sleep with all my pent up frustration. Of course, I passed out within minutes. The long day of drinking had finally caught up with me.

The next morning I woke up with a pounding headache, confused with my surroundings. Why am I sleeping in my car, parked at a VFW? I looked to the passenger side to see Paul missing, once again. Did he camp at the bartender’s? Did he hook up with the old lady? I had no idea where he had gone. Alone with my thoughts, bits and pieces from the night began settling into my memory. “God I’m an asshole,” I thought. The guilt settled in and I knew I needed to go looking for Paul. I pondered if my temper tantrum had imploded our entire road trip. And it had been going so great…

Just then I noticed movement behind the bar’s dumpster. I glanced over to see Paul coming up from the squatting position and pulling up his pants. Now I felt worse. He could have easily waken my drunk ass up and told me we needed to find a public bathroom, but no, he decided let me sleep in, opting to drop a deuce behind the dumpster. I had a lot of explaining to do.

As he walked back to the car, I searched for the words to apologize for my outburst the night before. When he opened the door, I hesitated, and then finally let it out, “I’m sorry about last night.”

“Don’t worry about it…..hey, are there any napkins left in here? I wiped my butt with a leaf and it ripped my asshole all up.”

He had already moved past my tirade onto a more pressing dilemma. I decided I’m pretty lucky to have such a forgiving friend, more bothered by jagged edged tree leaves than his friend with a propensity to be a jerk when he’s drunk.

More annoying than a drunken asshole.

Leave a comment

Filed under Road Trip Blogs

Video Clip of the Week: Where you come from? Omaha Nebraska!

Since I spent this weekend in Omaha, Nebraska, I thought this would be a fitting clip for this week.  My friend showed me this video over a month ago, yet I still find myself watching it when I need a laugh.  Everything about it is hillarious, from the dramatic car intro to their attempts to rap during a blizzard. I love the vast difference between the demeanor of Lucky Charms and Flocain: LC is so over-eager and excited to be making a music video while Flocain gives that blank stare throughout the clip that says, “Get me out of here…”

Leave a comment

Filed under Video Clips

4. Road Trip 2008, Day 3: Home of the Brave

Somewhere in between this ocean and mountainside
I have this dream I think of it still sometimes
I know it’s just the season
I sense no time or reason
The sky falls down; it’s evening
The feeling goes; it’s leaving

The Dodos “The Season”

We returned to downtown Spearfish around 8 a.m. and headed to Alpine Coffee. As I was ordering up a grande Mocha, the girl behind the counter commented, “I love your shirt. Two Gallants are awesome.” The cute little red head in horn-rimmed glasses smiled and went off to make my drink. While waiting, I decided Spearfish would be a great place to live: a great micro-brew, the limitless possibilities the canyon offered, and beautiful women who appreciate quality beer and good music. My July 4th was off to a great start, and I knew it would only get better with The Dodos playing at the end of our day’s journey.

Once I had my coffee and Paul his bagel, we returned to the road, heading north toward Montana. We thought about backtracking for a couple hours to see Mount Rushmore, but we knew Bozeman sat 500 miles away. With Paul at the wheel, I began perusing our collection of Black Hills brochures. While reading a short article about Mount Rushmore’s construction, it mentioned that many questioned the addition of Theodore Roosevelt. It made sense; Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington are legendary presidents while Roosevelt was just some dude who had a moustache. Teddy is like the Ringo Starr of Rushmore – the untalented guy lucky to be standing awkwardly behind the rest of the other three geniuses.

Mount Fab-Four

With Paul being a history major, I decided to bring this point up to him. He of course disagreed with me. “Roosevelt is probably my favorite president.”

Figuring he had the wrong Roosevelt, I responded, “You mean FDR right?” (My favorite president).

“No! Teddy was the man. He used to have boxing matches in the White House. When McKinley died, a lot of people hated him because he was this uncivilized cowboy. He didn’t give a shit what anybody said.”

“Like Bush…”

Paul went on to explain how Teddy was nothing “like Bush.” He talked about how Teddy was a huge conservationist, setting aside 16 million acres of land for national parks, which also pissed people off. He was in charge of the Panama Canal, was the first president to ride in a submarine, and often took expeditions to Africa to hunt elephant. Paul continued rambling off strange tidbits about Roosevelt, and after 10 minutes, I was questioning whether FDR was even my favorite Roosevelt.

I decided I wasn’t going to give up on my argument just yet. “Okay, okay, Roosevelt sounds like a rebel, but he still doesn’t deserve to be on Rushmore. The other three are legends.” Paul then spent another 10 minutes discrediting the American mythology of Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. I tried to defend Lincoln, but my lack of knowledge left me with little to shield the bearded fellow. I had to give it to Paul; I hated history in school, but his unique perspective on these presidents’ legacies had my full attention. I could tell he was fascinated by the subject matter, and for the first time I got a glimpse of the great teacher Paul would be in the classroom.

This oldey time cartoon forgot to include "Bad Ass".

As we rolled into Belle Fourche, South Dakota, we noticed people in lawn chairs lining the sidewalks. We deducted that we had just beat the start of the Belle Fourche 4th of July Parade. Paul slowed the vehicle, rolled the windows down, and commenced waving to the perplexed Belle Fourch-ians. I grabbed our plastic American hats (bought during our shopping spree) and threw them on our heads, giving our float a patriotic flair. The looks we received were a combination of annoyance, disgust, and confusion. They must have been wondering, “Who are these Texans riding in a strange orange box car?” I would have felt like more of an ass if it weren’t for the little kids waving back; they thought we were the start of the parade – the grand marshals.

"Look kids! They let the special kids drive the short bus this year!"

After getting us through Wyoming and into Montana, Paul seceded his driving duty so he could take a nap. Despite my 5 a.m. cow wake up call, I was full of energy from either the excitement of seeing The Dodos or the mocha I slurped down in 15 minutes. With Mission of Burma’s “Vs.” blaring, I flew through the endless green hills of Eastern Montana, crossing multiple Indian reservations. I actually had the opportunity to see Mission of Burma in Denver with Paul – it was one of his many failed attempts at getting me to head west. I don’t regret missing the elderly band, who are pushing 60. They are still releasing great albums 25 years after “Vs.”, but I’ve already had bad experiences with seeing great artists in the twilight of their career. (Paul and I saw Bob Dylan mumble through an hour set at the 2001 Iowa State Fair. The night would have been a complete wash if it weren’t for us spending the majority of the show trying to sneak past the security guards.)

Seeing Mission of  Burma back in 83′ is a different story:

When “Vs.” finally finished, we pulled over for a quick roadside lunch of cold ham sandwiches and Doritos. It was a nice relaxing meal, out in the middle of Montana without a house in sight, just miles and miles of hills and mountains. We cut our lunch short when a swarm of bees decided to join us. Paul took over driving. My two hours of rest in the land of screaming monkeys had finally caught up with me. I instantly fell into a deep sleep, but it lasted about 10 minutes. This was due to Paul’s music choice, Albert Ayler, a guy he claims is jazz music. The honking saxophone over the endless drum roll sounded nothing like the smooth jazz of Charlie Parker that I grew up on. The album contained two 20 minutes songs, both lacking any semblance of a melody. I have no doubt that my four year old niece could sit down with a saxophone and sound better than this garbage. I tried blocking out the music, but the racket continued jolting me from the brink of slumber.

"Hello Mr. Ayler. I challenge you to a saxophone duel!"

Here’s one of Albert’s “short” songs:

Being both grumpy and exhausted, I finally spoke up. “This has to be the worst excuse for jazz I’ve ever heard.” Paul ignored my comment, although he seemed irritated, and continued listening to what resembled a 5th grade marching band. Paul has always preferred noise over harmony. He likes early Animal Collective – I like their newer, more melodic stuff. When he heard the new Deerhoof, which I adore, he commented, “Why’d they have to start writing songs?”

Here’s the era of Animal Collective that I enjoy most:

…and here’s the era of Animal Collective Paul enjoys most:

With Ayler blaring away, I remained sleepless all the way to Billings. We pulled into downtown to check out our first brewery of the day, Billings Brewing Company. The city streets resembled a ghost town, with only an occasional homeless person stumbling down the street. By the time we found the brewery, we already knew it would be closed. We were right. Disappointed by our first failure of the day, and with both of us thirsty for a 4th of July beer, we decided to take a southern detour to Red Lodge so we could visit Red Lodge Ales Brewing Company. The scenic drive lightened my spirits. The curving, hilly path led us along the edge of The Big Slide Mountain. What I thought were mountains earlier in the drive didn’t compare to the peaks surrounding Red Lodge. The contrast of the gray mountains and the bright green hills encapsulated us with the kind of vivid colors that would give a kid epileptic seizures.

Nature's version of the NES game "Monster in My Pocket"

Red Lodge reminded me of any small town you see in Iowa, only that it was surrounded by mountains instead of corn fields. We drove down one of the few paved roads in town, leading us directly to a faded yellow machine shed with a sign reading “Red Lodge Ales”. It didn’t look like much, but we decided to check it out. Inside, we found a bar packed with people of all ages, ranchers in cowboy hats, elderly in their 4th of July best, and young hippies in hemp gear. I couldn’t believe how many people were in this little brewery. Red Lodge is only a town of 2,500. In Billings, population 90,000, not a creature was stirring, but in this little village everyone came out to enjoy a locally brewed beer for the holiday. After waiting in line to get our first brews of the day, we sat on the back patio and enjoyed the view of hazy mountains in the distance, Yellowstone stood right before us.

Machine shed or brewery?

I came to the conclusion that the quality of their beers hadn’t drawn all the business. Not that they tasted horrible, but they also didn’t have anything spectacular on tap (their best beer had to be the 10 year aged bock with a surprisingly sweet finish). I began to think about whether my hometown could support a brewery. Currently, if you want a tap beer in Estherville your choices are Bud Light and Bud Light. Would these Midwesterners break away from their light beer disillusionment and enjoy a lager packed with flavor (and alcohol content)? I doubted it. Regardless, I couldn’t help but feel fortunate to be here with these small town folk celebrating the 4th of July in their local brewery.

Walking back to the car, Paul was already feeling a bit tipsy, so I took up the driving once again. When I noticed him trying to sleep, I decided it was time for a little revenge. No, I wasn’t going to find noise to play – he’d enjoy it too much. I scoured my i-POD for an album jam-packed with infectious melodies. And there it was, the perfect poison to piss off Paul: Vampire Weekend.

Paul’s poison:

30 seconds into “Mansford Roof” Paul’s eyes popped open. “What the hell is this?”

I ignored him, singing along to “I see a Mansford roof through the trees, I see a salty message written in the eaves.”

“Damn it, what the hell is this?”

“The ground beneath my feet, The hot garbage and concrete, and now the tops of buildings, I can see them too!” I sang at the top of my lungs.

“This is Vampire Weekend isn’t it?…Isn’t it!?” He grabbed the i-POD and looked in disgust.

I slyly smiled at him and continued singing along to the upbeat music. He laid back down for a bit, but by album’s end, he was sitting up at full attention. I wasn’t sure if he enjoyed the music or not. As “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance” came to an end, he gave his final diagnosis. “Tracks two and three were amazing…the rest of the album sounds too much like Paul Simon’s African crap.” I agreed with him, although I’ve never found fault in Simon’s “African crap”.

Next we stopped in Livingston to check out Neptune’s Brewery. When we pulled up, it looked nothing like a brewery but more like a townie bar. The same vibe continued as we walked through the door. Maybe we were at the wrong place?

“Uh, is this the brewery?” I asked the girl behind the bar.

“Well, it’s just a bar first, but we do serve Neptune Beers.” I was confused. Is it a brewery or not? She went on to explain that a brew master rents out the back room to brew his beers. The bar serves his creations on tap, although not exclusively. We ordered a couple burgers and began sampling the drinks they had to offer. We were disappointed to say the least: the Bavarian was unusually dark and strange tasting, the Belgian resembled cheap rum, and the IPA was a mix of Pine Sol and gin. We had one beer left to sample: Toad’s Back Boch.

“This is Neptune’s most popular beer,” she said handing me my pint. I lifted the brown concoction to my nose and quickly pulled away due to the pond water stank wafting from the glass. I held my breath and took a swig. The name was fitting. It tasted exactly like a toad’s back, or at least what I would suspect. The syrupy texture hit my palette like a nuke, overpowering my taste buds with its mixture of rotted corpse and old people’s homes, finishing off with a bitter, dusty dry aftertaste. I couldn’t help but squint my eyes and wrinkle my brow at what, to this day, is the worst beer I’ve ever tasted.

When the bartender saw my sour look, she giggled and said,” I never said it was my favorite beer. I don’t like any of the beers he makes.”

Like licking a toad's back, minus the hallucinations.

We put the horrible Neptune experience behind us and drove the final leg of our day’s drive. Once in Bozeman, we zig-zagged through the streets for 20 minutes searching for both the VFW and a possible camping spot. We didn’t find any place to set up the tent, but we did finally come upon the VFW – a tin red garage, set back 20 feet from the road.

When we entered the bar it was pretty empty, except a girl sitting at the bar and a group of guys playing pool. While I made a bathroom run, Paul asked the bartender if he knew a place we could camp for free. The pony tailed metal band reject told Paul we were more than welcome to set up our tent behind his house. Upon hearing this option I felt uneasy. I didn’t like the idea of sleeping in a serial killer’s backyard. We decided to wait and see what the night would bring, keeping in mind we always had the scary looking bartender’s lawn as an option.

We sat down at the bar next to one of the only other patrons, a middle aged woman dressed like an orphan flower child. Her freckled face smiled at Paul, and she jumped straight into a conversation. She definitely wasn’t shy. I became instantly annoyed. When she found out we were from out of town, she began regaling stories of all her run-ins with the Bozeman police force, with each story ending in the statement, “You don’t mess with a Montana woman.” When I noticed the long-haired bartender glaring at her, I knew I wasn’t alone in my disdain. I couldn’t stand her yapping any longer, so I stood up, hoping Paul would catch my drift to escape from the rambling wreck. But Paul didn’t budge; he actually seemed to be enjoying her company (or he was trying to score some old lady ass).

Paul taking a moment to appreciate our freedom in front of the Bozeman VFW.

With people starting to arrive, I strolled casually around the VFW trying to entertain myself. I’d glance over at the bar occasionally to find the woman’s mouth still chattering endlessly. When th opening act started – some fat sweaty dude playing Elliot Smith covers – I made the conscious decision to get shit-faced in order to enjoy my seclusion/boredom. I chugged one Olympia beer after another, occasionally rejoining Paul and his new friend, the yammering mess. The conversation had moved on from the Bozeman police to the local tourist destinations we should check out. Her new catch-phrase was, “I should know, I’ve lived here for 25 years.” When I heard her say this for the third time, I echoed drunkenly,” How long have you lived here?” Followed by, “So would you describe yourself as a Montana woman?” She didn’t get my sarcasm, nor did she sense how much I loathed her.

I filed outside with the other patrons to check the fireworks being shot off at the local rodeo. I sat down at a picnic table behind the bar and watched the bursting colors in the Montana night sky. I began thinking about how exactly a year ago I watched fireworks in Lake Havasu, Arizona with my buddy Justin LeSieuer. I hadn’t talked to him for a couple months, but he seemed to be doing fine, still living with his girlfriend and her daughter. The year before he dreamed of getting out of the place he referred to as hell, but now it seemed like those aspirations had settled like the firework ashes falling from the sky.

Midway through the fireworks, Paul came out and sat next to me. He joked about the annoying woman as we looked on at the night sky.  When the display came to a close, the crowd began scattering back into the bar to hear another local artist do his best Tom Waits impression. All that remained outside were the three pool playing guys, now sitting in the grass, and Paul and I on the picnic table. While Paul was lighting up a cigar, the three guys stood and began screaming the National Anthem, waving their arms around maniacally at the mountains silhouetted by the moon. When they reached the line “which so proudly we hail” Paul joined in on their mini-drunken choir. Soon the five of us were howling the anthem up toward the starry sky, feeling the cool Montana breeze wash over us. After screaming, “AND THE HOOOOOME OF THAAAAAAA BRAAAAAAVE!” the three guys fell to the grass in laughter.

One of them turned back toward us and yelled,” Nice singing boys!”

It was then that I realized, who our choirmates had been: The Dodos. The same band we’d driven two days straight to see.  Instead of being a fanboy, lauding them with my love of their music, I calmly replied, “Thanks!” and then turned to Paul whispering, “That’s the Dodos.” He nodded his head and smiled as cigar smoke rolled out of his mouth and upward, congealing with the settling firework smoke. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my 4th of July: watching fireworks behind a VFW in Montana, and singing the national anthem with the Dodos. Teddy Roosevelt would be proud.

Leave a comment

Filed under Road Trip Blogs

End of Summer Albums 2010

Summer’s almost over.  But that makes this even more pertinent.  And it’s not like the value of these great albums will diminish in the first few days of fall—although we may have to do another one for autumn.  We decided to do this after Android50’s Best Summer Albums of 2010. Not that we hated the list or the music of 2010.  Our input just wasn’t asked for, like Android50 had some sort of monopoly on summer tunes.  So here is our list, no restrictions, just albums we have been listening to this summer.  Looking through it, it gets me all excited, as it just might turn some on to some new tunes.  As for me, Kid Kilowatt took my Jawbox (I love Novelty), but besides that Iggy Pop’s first two solo albums (Lust for Life & the Idiot) are great to bike around to and have been in heavy rotation, Yo La Tengo have made a huge comeback (I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One) would be perfect for this time of year and autumn, but it was played constantly this summer as well.  I got hooked on Will Oldham’s Palace incarnations, especially Viva Last Blues and Sleater-Kinney (especially One Beat & All Hands on the Bad One)  once again—it had been a while.  Oxbow, Beach House (an obvious pick), Smog, Destroyer (City of Daughters is soooooo good), Dinosaur Jr.’s Beyond, Guided by Voices, High on Fire, Modest Mouse (I think I have Songssuck to blame for this one, as he made me revisit Moon & Antarctica due to the 2000 list), My Morning Jacket (their first three, don’t talk to me about them after that), Neurosis, Mastodon, and the Woods made up the majority of my playlists this summer.

Of course the start of the summer saw me listening to nothing but Isis, Dio and Black Sabbath.  It was a sad time for a while.  But I said goodbye to Dio and Isis in my own way, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still miss them.  Lots of stuff to check and revisit (for some reason the 90s were in VERY heavy rotation this summer, hum), enjoy what’s left of the nice weather with these great picks!

Emitt Rhodes

s/t
(ABC/Dunhill Records: 1970)

8.6

Being a big Paul McCartney fan I was hesitant to try Pthestudp’s recommendation of this album. I started to hear about it in other places, and Pthestudp insisted we listen to it.  Forgive me, I should have proponent of Emitt long ago.  The McCartney comparison is unavoidable, as even his voice sounds like Sir McCartneys.  But unlike Paul’s work with Wings, these songs never veer towards overkill and are brilliant.  His four solo albums have been re-released, but it was his self-titled debut that one HAS to have in their collection.  Perfect summer listening.  – Suzy Creamcheese

Unwound

Fake Train/New Plastic Ideas/The Future of What/Repetition/ Challenge for a Civilized Society/Leaves Turn Inside You
(Kill Rock Stars: 1993/94/95/96/98/01)

Really I could have picked any Unwound album (and I did).  They are all fantastic.  Start with the beginning, (93’s Fake Train) if you wish.  I have always told people Unwound are Sonic Youth plus Fugazi.  And I don’t fucken lie about shit like that.  So fucking underrated it pisses me off. – Songssuck


Gandalf

s/t

(Capitol Records: 1969)

8.4

Psychedelic, poppy, spooky—this one, in a sea of lost 60’s artifacts, stands out as being legit. No hype here, these guys have it.  I dig it out every summer and it is a required listen on summer road trips, with no one I have played it for not being enchanted and won over. – Willie Rambo Strider


Fennesz

Endless Summer

(Mego: 2001)

9.1

I play this album over and over again.  Guitars processed & distorted beyond recognition.  The sounds come from summer, but not summer on this planet.  Summer in a much better time and place. Summer somewhere, when it rains, it rains drops of warm sunshine.  Though maybe, this place is just a summery state of mind. – Tyrannosaurus Banks

Leo Cuypers

Heavy Days Are Here Again

(BVHaast: 1981)

AK-47

I wanted to highlight this one during our ‘Best of 2000’ list, but Songssuck said absolutely no reissues.  So here we are, with an unheard of classic from 1981.  Have you ever seen those ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ posters/decorations?  Well, those schmucks should just hang this LP on their wall instead, because this album is just bursting at the seams with the exuberant energy from those three entities.  Pthestudp described it as Schroeder’s soundtrack to Charlie Brown losing his virginity on a roller coaster to Lucy.  Fuck yah! –Tyrannosaurus Banks

Band of Horses

Cease to Begin
(Sub Pop: 2007)

8.5

I did me some listening to the Band of Horses this summer.  Reminds me a bit of old My Morning Jacket, lots of grandiosity, lots of reverb, guitars making the night sky seem small.  Pretty great.  –Dr. Anonymous

Borbetomagus

Barbed Wire Maggots
(Agaric: 1982)

AK-47

Fierce.  Free.  Uncompromising.  Because something has to be.  The problem is most people go into this album looking for jazz.  This ain’t jazz.  It’s the sound of a herd of wild stallions that have never seen a harness.  And the fuck if these ones ever will. –Kid Kilowatt

Cold Sun

Dark Shadows
(World in Sound: 1973)

Deserves its Holy Grail status.

Roky Erickson fronting Pavement.  Captain Beefheart jamming with the Grateful Dead.  Good shit. – Ho Chi Unser Jr.

Jawbox

Novelty/For Your Own Special Sweetheart
(Dischord Records: 1992/Atlantic: 1994)

These are classics, one cannot rate a classic.

For these two, Jawbox may have become mightier than their labelmates, Fugazi.  Some songs on these two remind me of The Jesus Lizard, but Jawbox were always Big Blackier then Minor Threaty.  I like Novelty better than their major label debut (I know, I know, probably wouldn’t have been possible without major label money, but I would like to hear it with more balls), but both are essential 90s documents.  Make sure you take them both with you when rock climbing.  –Kid Kilowatt

Leave a comment

Filed under Top Albums Lists

Video Clip of the Week: Spoon Covering Jay Reatard

Spoon covered Jay Reatard’s “No Time” last week in concert. Fuck. Just makes me sad.

The original version:

Leave a comment

Filed under Video Clips

3. Road Trip 2008, Day 2-3: Heaven is a Place On Earth

“It is very easy to be underrated, because all you need to do is nothing. Everyone wants to be underrated. It’s harder to become overrated, because that means people had to think you were awesome before they thought you sucked. Nobody wants to be overrated, except for people who like to live in big houses.”

Chuck Klosterman, Klosterman: IV

Now we had a new problem before us – finding a place to camp for the night. Before leaving Crow’s Peak and saying goodbye to our new drinking buddies, we asked where we could set up our tent without having to pay. They told us we could probably park on Tinton Road without being hassled by cops or land-owners. They also recommended we check out Spearfish Canyon before leaving the next morning. We thanked them for their advice and company, then took to the darkened hills of Spearfish in search of Tentin Road.

We drove around for quite a while before accidentally finding Tentin, a winding gravel road leading into darkness. There weren’t many houses along the drive, so it seemed like a pretty safe area to set up shop for the night without getting disturbed. Once again I had a scare when we almost hit another animal, this time a cow running across the road and into the woods.

“Was that a wild cow?” I asked.

“Wild cow?! You’re a dumbass,” Paul answered. It just seemed strange to see a cow running all willy nilly up into the wilderness of South Dakota. We found a gravel inlet and decided to park. As a precaution, I parked the Element amidst some bushes. We scarfed down some crackers and hummus, and commenced setting up the tent Paul borrowed from a friend by flashlight. Once inside, it quickly became apparent that the cramped 6 x 5 floor plan wasn’t going to work very well for the two of us. Paul fell asleep instantly, and I was left, tossing and turning, trying to find comfort. As a sleeper I’m a sprawler, letting my limbs stretch out full length. This didn’t bode well with my 6’4 frame trying to stretch within the 6 ft length. To add to the discomfort, Paul began snoring and gradually overtook the already cramped space, pushing me to the edge of the canvas floor.

After about two hours of restlessness, I found a nice fetal position. Just as I was slipping into sleep, I heard screaming in the woods. Not human screams – the screams of some type of creature. High pitched and shrill, the shrieks echoed in the night air, moving me away from any semblance of drowsiness. What could it be? Bats? Raccoons? Or could it be the dreaded wild cow I’d seen earlier? Soon the cackling was coupled with other strange warbles and grunts. I couldn’t fathom what kind of creature could make such a plethora of obnoxious noises.

By three in the morning, laying in a huddled, shivering ball, exhaustion finally overpowered the fear, and I fell asleep. Even in a state of R.E.M, I dreamt about not being able to sleep; talk about a nightmare.

Around five in the morning, I awoke to a rustling noise outside our tent. I nudged Paul.

“Paul…Paul….you hear that?” I whispered. No movement. He wasn’t waking.

“MOOOO!” I sat up and looked out our screen window to see a black and white cow, five feet away from our tent, staring at me with big glossy eyes. Behind her were four other cows, all roaming around my car.

I would have been scared if it weren't for her pretty eye-lashes that reminded me of The Cown-tess on "Pee Wee's Playhouse".

“Paul, wake up! There are cows all over outside!” Paul opened his crust covered eyes slowly and glared at me. “They are surrounding my vehicle dude!”

Visually annoyed, he grumbled,” You woke me up because of cows?” He rolled back over. I was on my own. I cautiously unzipped the door, and stepped out into the dewy grass. The cows didn’t flinch. As I stood up, more and more cow faces appeared from behind the trees, reminiscent of when all the sasquatch appear at the end of “Harry and the Hendersons”. I looked down toward the road and found a herd of orange and white cows moseying up the hill. Did we park in someone’s ranch? Seeing that I didn’t want to sit around and find out (the arrival of a rancher with a shotgun is never a welcome sight) I again told Paul that we’d better get going. He reluctantly got up and helped me take down the tent as our audience of cows looked on. I thought cows were scared of humans, but this cattle just watched us with annoyance. By the time we packed everything in the car and ate breakfast, the cows were mostly gone; they were all following in the direction of the others on the road, like some type of cow cult marching to their mass suicide.

On the road we could see Heifer's Gate, walking like lemmings to their death.

With our path finally clear of cattle, we began heading back down the hill. As we came to the end of Tinton Road, I noticed a couple peacocks in the ditch. Where the hell were we? Wild cows, mystery creatures that scream and grunt through the night, and now peacocks running rampant in the ditches? I decided that the peacock must be the pheasant of the Dakotas. This belief disappeared quickly when we saw the sign in front of the next driveway: Animal Farm. The sign’s images of monkeys and donkeys explained the strange noises that kept me awake the night before.

We rolled into downtown Spearfish around 6 a.m. Thanks to my cow encounter, we were way ahead of schedule, so we decided to take the advice from the night before and go check out Spearfish Canyon. As we rolled up the hill and around the curvy path, we quickly understood why the insisted we check it out: splendor spread from one rocky wall to the next. The grey rock ledges went straight up like walls enclosing us. Trees, defying the laws of nature, were growing right out of the cliffside. With the sun peaking from over the top of the wall, I decided the perfect music was Fleet Foxes with their calming My Morning Jacket meets CSNY sound, fitting perfectly alongside the stunning landscape. We stopped several times to look at waterfalls, cascading down the canyon wall.

"Days are just drops in a river to be lost always-" Fleet Foxes

After stopping and starting the car for the 20th time, we decided to escape the confines of the Element to go explore the magical canyon.  We found a pull-off when hiking trails and decided to try one out. After walking down a path for a while, Paul decided to go on a morning jog, which was fine with me. I was so overcome by nature’s dazzling display. The intimacy of being alone heightened the experience. Ducks swam by in the pond, hawks circled above, and deer trotted alongside me in the trees: it was like something out of a Disney movie. I wouldn’t have been shocked if two cartoon birds had sat on my shoulders and sang to me.

The only things missing were Brer Rabbit and Uncle Remus.

When the sun finally exposed its self to the majestic scene, spot-lighting the glory of the land, I stopped, sat on a boulder thinking, “This might be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” I must have sat there for 15 minutes, just basking in nature at its finest. As weird as it may sound, I felt like I was meant to be there, on that stone, at that moment, like God or Mother Nature, or whatever is in charge of this world had created this painting, set this scene, put on this performance, all just for me.

When I finally decided I’d better go find Paul, I began to wonder how I’d never heard of Spearfish Canyon. Why hadn’t we seen tourists running amuck? At a rest area in Eastern South Dakota, Paul grabbed a ton of brochures on the Black Hills, but I didn’t remember seeing anything about the canyon. What is wrong with this state? There were at least 500 signs for Wall Drug and not even a mention of this glorious retreat? The more I walked, surrounded by waterfalls and remarkable rock formations, the more irritated I became. Who cares about a bunch of man made faces in the side of a cliff when you’ve got more beautiful sculptures formed by the hands of nature?

The path ended at one final waterfall, more spectacular than any I’d seen all day. The crystal water poured over the ledge like something out of the blue lagoon and formed smaller falls at its foot. When I reached the top of the spouting waterfall, I could see Paul waiting for me. We exchanged looks, no words were necessary for what we had both witnessed on this glorious morning.

As we looked down from the top I noticed a cave-like inlet beneath the showering water. When I pointed this out to Paul, he began grinning. “I’ll be right back.” Before I could respond he was jumping over the edge of the platform and working his way through broken branches toward the water’s edge. When he disappeared from sight, I looked back over the edge of the platform to see Paul tip-toeing through the water toward the giant falls.

He cautiously approached the splashing liquid and then in one quick movement, he stuck his head under the frigid dowfall,  instantly jerking back. “Whooooooooo Hooo!” he howled, echoing through the canyon. He dashed under the falls and into the inlet, out of sight. I had the sudden urge to join him as the cascading water taunted me. I hopped over the platform and followed the path Paul had already created.

Once on the shore, I stepped into the chilly water and began walking carefully on the slippery rocks. When I reached the falls, hypnotized by its beauty, I walked right under its path without hesitation. I stood there for a moment, like a coach relishing the Gatorade raining over his head. After a moment, I stepped forward into the inlet where Paul was smiling at the magnificence around us. The inlet didn’t go in very far, but that didn’t matter. We were in a place far from the trappings of the modern world, a secret sanctuary hidden amongst the tourist traps of the Black Hills.

When Paul finally left the inlet, the freezing water once again shocked his body. “WhoooHoooo!” he howled. He turned back toward the falls and shouted joyously,” Hey Andy, that’s what it feels like to have the Pixies injected into your bloodstream!” . I stood in the cave for a moment, giggling at Paul’s comment and realizing that this canyon really was like the Pixies in many ways. Grand and inspiring, both were underappreciated by the masses. While over-weight tourists roam around Wall Drug and listen to the likes of Kid Rock and Kenny Chesney, the real gems go unnoticed by the masses, only to be discovered by those willing to search out something not plastered on billboards and played incessantly on the radio. In both, we had found something beautiful, original, and untouched by commercialism; havens providing escape for those seeking shelter from a bloated society.

Yes, the Pixies are an underrated band. And I’d like to keep it that way.

These monkeys have gone to heaven.

Leave a comment

Filed under Road Trip Blogs

Video Clip of the Week: Free Reign

With the NFL season upon us this weekend, I thought I’d raise a question for all of you: What’s worse than the Dallas Cowboys offensive line?

ANSWER: The Dallas Cowboys offensive line playing metal music.

Below is a clip I filmed from a free performance I caught after a minor league hockey game by Free Reign, the metal band comprised of three Dallas Cowboy linemen: Marc Colombo (vocals/guitar), Cory Procter (drums), and Leonard Davis (bass). While Procter’s drumming is passable, Colombo’s vocals/lyrics are laughable. The scary part is that these three recently got signed to a label. Who knew that Jerry Jones owns Riot! Entertainment?

You may also enjoy this bio-pic from NFL Network:

Leave a comment

Filed under Video Clips