Monday, August 21, 2006

Go Folk Yourself...

There was a long period where I wouldn't be caught dead listening to uber-mellow music. It had to be loud and agressive. Apparently, those days have come and gone.

I've been preaching about Iron & Wine, aka Sam Beam, for about two years now and must admit that I'm a little surprised he hasn't gotten bigger than he has. On one hand, I find it kind of upsetting that someone graced with this kind of talent slips through the cracks. Then again, earlier today a friend pointed out that Fergie's "London Bridge" or whatever was the most downloaded single on iTunes, so I suppose there is no accounting for taste. On the other hand, I kind of enjoy that he hasn't gotten bigger. Don't ask me why. Maybe it's just the music elitist asshole in me that wants to keep him to a small, truly appreciative group. Safe from the masses.

I had the absolute pleasure of seeing him perform live this past Thursday at McCarren Pool Park in Brooklyn, NY. A rather strange concert venue, but a magical evening nonetheless. He sounds as perfect live as he does on his studio recordings. If you aren't familiar with his music, I suppose it would be described as indie folk. A lot of people compare him to Nick Drake, but I don't see it. Yes, they both play acoustic guitar and craft very minimal songs, but that is where the similarities stop, in my opinion. Iron & Wine's songs are full of lush harmonies crafted over fingerpicked or gently strummed acoustic guitar. Sam Beam's voice is that of an angel. If Jimi Hendrix is God playing guitar, then Sam Beam is God singing.

I am sure that this is the first of many posts featuring the musical stylings of Iron & Wine. These songs are from one of Iron & Wine's early demos, simply know as Home Recordings 9.20.02. I believe this is one of the two demos he sent to SubPop, which landed him a record contract. I am pretty sure these were recorded on an analog 4-track recorder which explains the hiss that is present throughout. Honestly, it only adds to the songs. If you own any of his albums, which you definitely should, you will recognize some of these songs. Download. Turn the lights down low. Light a candle. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Enjoy...

Recording provided by the fine folks over at the Passing Afternoon website / message board (Aarvid [webmaster] for audio). THE Iron & Wine fansite.
Photographs taken by Ryan Pardue.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Foundation: Volume 2

As I said in the last post, the first two posts would be dedicated to the two events that had a profound and lasting affect on my love for music. The first, as discussed in the last post, was Pearl Jam. The second, which will be discussed in this post, was Led Zeppelin.

Now, as I mentioned already, my love for Led Zeppelin actually preceded my love for Pearl Jam. For some reason, unknown to me, a good number of my memories from my childhood involve music. A song playing in the background. An album that was being played a lot at the time. Some form of music playing as the soundtrack to these memories. There was a substantial amount of classic rock surrounding me when I was growing up. Everything from the Beatles, to the Who, to the Beach Boys. The one band I didn't get much exposure to was Led Zeppelin. I guess neither of my parents were all that into Led Zeppelin. Sure they enjoyed their music, but I don't ever remember any of their albums being played or anything like that.

I remember driving in my dad's car, a gray Jeep Cherokee to be exact, on the way to a basketball game. I must've been in 7th grade or so. We were listening to The Q, as usual, and this song came on that completely blew me away. It was one of those moments where you can feel a song penetrating into the deepest recesses of your brain. The experience is almost surreal and I am sure I'm not the only one who has had this experience. The song played for maybe a minute and I had to ask my dad who it was. It wasn't that I wanted to know...I NEEDED to know. He said he was pretty sure it was Led Zeppelin, but didn't know the name of the song or what album it was on. For days, that song was stuck in my head. It wouldn't leave. I couldn't remember the words. I could barely even remember the melody. It was haunting me and I knew I needed to hear it again. Again, this was before the internet, iTunes, and the like. To find a song, you basically had to sing it to someone and hope they knew what in God's name you were singing, but that was going to be quite a problem because I couldn't sing it. It was just floating around my brain, but not in any tangible form. It would only reveal itself upon being heard again.

I needed to get to the record store as soon as possible, but being 12 years old, I basically had to wait for the next time my mom was going to the mall. I hopped on board the first opportunity I got. I remember going to the record store and going to the Led Zeppelin section. In my naive brain, I hadn't realized how difficult this was going to be. I hadn't really given much thought to how many albums they had made. So there I was, facing ten albums or so, with no song title to go on. My thought process at the time was to randomly pick one and just hope it was on there. If it wasn't on the one I picked, buy a different one next time. I chose Led Zeppelin IV that day, basically because I knew Stairway and figured that if it wasn't on there, at least I knew one song. Needless to say, the song wasn't on there. To save this from being any longer than it already is, I will condense the rest of the story. Bought another album or two, to no avail. I think it was the fourth album I bought, Houses of the Holy, when I finally heard it again. I knew instantly, "This is it!!!" After all this, if you are even still reading, you must be just dying to know what song it was. Ok, probably not, but whatever. It was "Over the Hills and Far Away," still one of my favorite Zeppelin songs.

That was entirely longer that I expected. I am aware that the first couple posts were a tad verbose, but I promise that from here on out, they will not be as long. Alright, I can't promise, but I will try my best. Anyway, finally onto the songs. Here is a little Zeppelin for you to enjoy...

Led Zeppelin - Over the Hills and Far Away (live)

Led Zeppelin - Going to California (live)

Page & Plant - Kashmir (live)

If you are interested in obtaining the full shows and don't know how to go about doing so, feel free to leave me a comment or send me a message and I'd be happy to introduce you to the world of Dime-A-Dozen.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Foundation: Volume 1

I felt that it would be appropriate to begin at the beginning. I know what you are thinking, but let me explain. For my first two posts, I decided that it would make the most sense to start with the two events that really planted the seed that has blossomed into a full fledged love for music. Make sense now? I thought so.

The first, actually second chronologically speaking, event that really threw me head first into music happened when I was a sophomore in high school. I'd like to say what year that was, but it will just make me feel so old, so you'll just have to use your imagination. I really remember this as if it happened a couple days ago. I was in a friend's car getting onto the highway...287 north, to be exact. He put in a tape and said, "You guys gotta hear this. You'll love it." I asked what it was and he said, "Pearl Jam...but I bet you guys have never heard these songs." He was right. He played Footsteps and Crazy Mary. The former being, at the time, a hard to find B-Side and the latter was a cover of a Victoria Williams song recorded for the first Sweet Relief album. That was all it took. After that night, I went on a mission to find these songs. I found them, but it didn't stop there. Pearl Jam, at the time, had a lot of rare songs that took some searching to discover. I just kept buying new bootlegs and singles(mind you, this was before the internet really took off and mp3s weren't something we could even conceive of). I couldn't get enough of them. I had an insatiable appetite for all things Pearl Jam. Come to think of it, very little has changed. Pearl Jam has been my favorite band for quite some time now and over the years they've introduced me to many bands that I may never have explored, such as The Ramones, Ben Harper, Mother Love Bone, My Morning Jacket, The Finn Brothers, Idlewild, and even The Who to a certain extent.

Now, I've got a lot of Pearl Jam material to choose from, so why did I pick this particular show (that isn't even an excellent sounding recording)? Perhaps it's because I was just discussing it the other night. Or maybe it's because these songs are of the exact nature I talked about above...rarities. Most of these songs were only played this one night, some a couple nights earlier...never to be heard again. However, a couple of these songs did end up on the album Riot Act. They are also exceptions as far as Pearl Jam songs go...highly personal. Most Pearl Jam songs are either in the third person or slightly abstract which leaves the song to personal interpretation. Not these. These are probably the most personal songs you will hear Eddie Vedder sing. And maybe, just maybe I decided to post this particular performance because Eddie invents a new, albeit small, genre..."speed thrash ukelele." "A genre so small, I think this is the only song," he said, referring to "Can't Keep" (track 3). This performance was taken from the All Tomorrow's Parties concert held at Royce Hall, UCLA in Los Angeles on March 15, 2002. Like I said, the sounds quality is not soundboard, by any means, but it gets the job done. I wish I had the taper's name, but I do not. If you are listening to this and it's your recording, by all means take credit it for it. Without any further ado...

Allow Myself to Introduce My...

Welcome to the first post, of hopefully many, in my new blog.

Everyone who knows me is well aware that my passion for music eclipses almost all other aspects of my life. If you look to the top of the page, you will see a quote. "Without music, life would be an error." I was browsing through quotes about music and none of them rang as true as that one. For me, like wouldn't be life without music. If you are reading this, there is a good chance you feel the same way. Maybe that sounds pathetic, but it is what it is. That is why I have chosen to create this blog. Things may be a little slow at first, so please bear with me. It will take me a little while to get this to look exactly how I want it to look. It's all new to me...and maybe also for some of you visiting for the first time.

I just recently started browsing music blogs and was hooked immediately. After a week or so, I began to wonder why I couldn't do something like this. It didn't seem too difficult. Creating my own blog seemed like the perfect way to introduce people to artists that they are unfamiliar with and to share random songs and / or concerts with people. Again, those who know me well know that I love introducing people to songs / artists that they have never heard of. Some may call me an elitist asshole...maybe they're right.

In the end, maybe this will just be a way to document my long and torrid love affair with music. I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I will. That said, please check back often, as I plan to make semi-regular updates. Also, if you ever have any suggestions / comments, don't hesitate to let me know. And now, onto the music...